Budget. It's often a dreaded word around Christmas time. I'm a part of a local moms' group on Facebook (buy, sell, advice, etc.) and the budget question has come up a lot in the last few weeks. How much should you spend on family? How much should you spend on kids? (I'm in the minority on this one, I'm sure.) How can you give meaningful gifts to family members while on a small budget?
Our Solution:When it comes to our extended families, I think we've come up with a good solution: we draw names. We buy gifts for immediate family - parents, siblings, and our niece - but then we swap with the extended family. As cousins get married and babies are born, the gifts start adding up fast! We began the swaps over five years ago and have come up with a pretty good system:
- Each family member (including kids after their first Christmas) draw a name for the person they will give to that year.
- All wish lists are sent to one family member, who sends out a master list the week before Thanksgiving. (Gift cards are allowed, but should not be the only things on the list.)
- Gifts should have about a $30 value.
- The name you drew is a SECRET which will be disclosed at the time of the gift exchange. (Christmas Day or family Christmas get-together)
Why We Love It:The gift swap has been a great solution for our family for several reasons:
- The Surprise. Like a Secret Santa exchange, it's fun to watch who receives what gift from whom!
- Less Shopping. Buying for a few specific people saves me the time, money, and hassle of trying to find a perfect gift for each family member.
- A Clear Budget. Knowing exactly how much to spend per person gives us a clear budget, meaning we won't over-spend.
- Purposeful Giving. Because we have specific people in mind and a clear wish list, we can buy a few nice gifts that we know our assigned family members will want, rather than a large number of smaller, clutter-type gifts just because it's Christmas and we have to buy a gift.
Stockings:If you still have a hard time not buying a little something for your extended family members, stockings are the answer. When we began our swaps, both of our families exchanged stockings. We'd lay the stockings out and as they arrived for the family party everyone would fill them with small items - gift cards, sweets, chapstick, books, calendars, etc. My side of the family still does stockings. However, with the addition of two babies and a few marriages, it was getting hard to keep up with Hubby's side of the family. Sadly, it was agreed that we stop with stockings last year.
How do you give gifts on a budget?
I would love to hear your tips, tricks, and ideas! Leave a comment below. I promise I'll respond to every single one! :-)