Do I love my family? Yes, absolutely. Do I love them enough to only eat ramen for a few weeks so I can afford gifts? Not really. (I have a huge family.) 

Shopping for gifts can be so stressful. What do people want, and where can I find the affordable version of it? 

The best thing to ever happen to the holiday season and gift-giving is the Secret Santa. Oh my goodness, is this the most fantastic thing of all time. You mean I only have to buy one present for one person, and then I’m done? (Except for my mom and sister, of course.) Blessed!!! 

But sometimes we aren’t so lucky, and there isn’t a Secret Santa going on that year, so what do you do? I could sit here and list things like “make a budget, or shop with only cash, so you don’t overspend. Or maybe try online stores for deals.” But that’s obvious, so here are a few things I’ve done outside of the norm to help save some money during the holidays. 

Selective Gift Giving

I’m not saying to play favorites here but maybe play favorites at Christmas. 

If you have a giant family like me and don’t make all the money in the world like me, then sometimes all you can do is selectively shop. I switch it up every year. If I got someone a gift last year, I’ll skip them this year and give someone else a gift. Or sometimes I’ll see something at the store that I think someone in my family will love, and that lucky person is getting a gift. 

Want to save time and money? Buy a gift for those closest to you. If you’ve been paying attention, you’ll know what their wants and needs are. 

(And if you haven’t been paying attention or just have some impossible to people to buy gifts for, check out my ideas for 5 Gifts for Those Hard-Gift People)

Hopefully, your family understands that you can’t afford to buy everyone a present. And if not, I’m sorry. 

Quick tip: If someone is a reader in your family, they are the easiest person to shop for. Either ask them what books are on their TBR (to be read) list or ask them what their favorite book is and find a leather-bound edition if they don’t already own one. My roommate got me a leather-bound edition of The Hobbit, and it is one of the best gifts someone has ever given me. (Shoutout to Tyler!)  

Gag Gift

I think somewhere along the line, we forgot that gift-giving is supposed to be fun. We stress about finding THE perfect gift for someone to the point of pulling out some hair. And while there might be an ideal gift for everyone, it might not be worth it. After all, it is just a thing. I think my favorite gift to give is a memory. Memory? Yes. Let me explain…

I have this one Tia (Aunt) who LOVES elephants. She has some of the nicest paintings you’ll ever see of elephants. So I adopted an Elephant in an African Rescue Center in her name. But that isn’t really funny like a gag gift should be. 

One year, I want to say I was 16, and my uncle decided that it was time for me to become a man. So what did he do? He bought me and gave me my very own “Man Card” pressed out onto metal. It also functioned as a bottle opener, even though I wouldn’t use that function for a few more years. We probably laughed for 20 minutes when I opened it. 

People say buying gifts for my mom is super easy. I wholeheartedly disagree. My mom is the type of person who, if she wants something, she will just buy it for herself. Why wait? Or the things she wants are out of my budget. So what do I do? I will write her a note like the good son I am and gain brownie points. And then absolutely lose them with the stupid things I buy her. One year, I bought her like ten 12 packs of diet coke. (She is addicted.) She laughed. I laughed. And then she drank one of those packs that day. Just because it was a gag doesn’t mean it can’t be functional. 

A gag gift is all about creativity. What is the most random object I can find that will make a recipient laugh out loud? I have a cousin who, if I bought them an apple, would bust out laughing. Give them a good laugh and a fun memory they can laugh at later down the road. 

DIY Gift

I am not handy, and I am not an artist by any standard, making getting DIY gifts from me even more fun. The easiest thing to do is go to the dollar store and buy a few white mugs, some paint, and a few brushes. Now you have a few options. You can recruit the help of any 5 year-old in your family, if there is one, and have them paint the mugs to their heart’s delight. What cruel person wouldn’t use that mug after a kid painted it for them? You can also paint them yourself. (If it comes out bad, then just say the kid painted them.) And finally, you can just gift the mug, paint, and brushes as the gift itself. Giving a painting DIY gift to the artist of the family is the easiest route. You just bought them the supplies to enjoy their hobby. 

To sum it up…

Gift shopping can be a pain. The endless aisles and random trinkets you have to sift through to find anything even remotely good can be taxing at best. So take a step back and breath. Remember that this should be fun. Maybe you don’t have to buy people the most optimal present for them, but instead, make them laugh. I feel like we can all use a good laugh after this absolute rollercoaster of a year. Good luck out there in the malls. Remember to stay safe. Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas!!! 

EDDY tip: Don’t have a budget? Learn how to start one right here.

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