It has always been difficult for my family to save money on buying gifts. My mother taught us badly in this regard.
While she never suffered from the keeping up with the neighbors’ problem, she considered opulent gift giving to be a sign of her good status. She kept up overspending on gifts, somehow, even when old and poor, until the day she died.
Her sons, myself included, have had to unlearn her ways, so that we can, in fact, now save money on buying gifts.
We have learned a number of ways to do this, a few of which I thought that I would share with you.
It Is the Thought That Counts
First and foremost, give from the heart. The old saying is true, really. It doesn’t matter how much you spend. What matters is the thought. As the saying goes, it is the thought that counts. What is really important in gift giving is that you show that you care, by thiking about the person to whom you are giving a gift.
Someone you care about and who cares about you in return, will not measure the value of a gift by the amount that you spent on it. If they do, they probably were not worth spending your money on in the first place. The value of a gift is not measured by it’s price tag. Once you realize this you can stop spending large amounts on gifts.
Instead, find a gift that will have meaning to the receiver. It does not necessarily have to cost a bundle. You can show that you care by throwing thought at the gift giving process, not dollars.
Gift the Priceless Gift of Time
You can save yourself some money and make the receiver of the gift feel really special by giving the gift of time. In my old household, with my former girl-friend, we used to give “Time Certificates” for birthdays, anniversaries, holidays like Christmas and sometimes for no reason at all.
The Time Certificates were usually for relieving the receiver of some duty or chore, giving that person more time to relax and enjoy themselves. Meal-cooking certificates were always a favorite, as were dog care coupons. We had four dogs, which added up to a lot of care.
Doing the grocery shopping, mowing the lawn and taking the kids out all also qualify for Time Certificate giving. In fact, just about anything that lightens someone else’s load can qualify for a Time Certificate.
I believe that time is our most precious resource. What a great thing it is to be able to give more of that resource to someone you care about. And it comes with a very low price tag.
A closely related notion is to give something that you have taken the time to create. With both this idea and the Time Certificate, you are substituting your time for the expenditure of cash.
Create to Give
My family is blessed. Every one of us are creative. I am a world-class photographer, and I do works in watercolor painting as well (I’ve had a few gallery shows of these). The paintings are much more a part of me, they have for meaning. So it is these that I give as gifts. Often I will create one especially for the person to whom I it is intended.
These paintings are always well-received and I believe, cherished. Who knows, some day they may even have value.
Any little thing that you make is a potential gift. If you are involved in any time of craft or creative endeavor, you probably make something that ca be used as a gift. It does not matter if your creation is professional or perfect. So long as it is given from the heart, it should be well received. And the only cost to you of this gift is the cost of the materials that went into making it.
Make a Gift Budget
Another way to save money on buying gifts is to have gifts as part of your budget. Having a gift budget, agreed upon in advance, would have stopped my mother dead in her tracks. Not being able to spend whatever she wanted (assuming she stayed within her budget) would have saved her a ton of money.
Setting a limit on your spending, in advance, can hold down your spending too.
Gift giving can be expensive, but it does not need to be. Try substituting time and thought into the process rather than dollars and cents. You will find that you can save money on buying gifts and that the people you buy gifts for will really appreciate that you gave their gift that extra thought. It is the thought that counts!