According to a survey done by the National Retail Federation, during the holidays of 2012, "the average holiday shopper will spend $749.51 on gifts, décor, greeting cards, and more." Out of that total, $548.56 is expected to be spent on gifts. For those of us watching our pennies, that's a pretty big chunk of change to spend regardless of how much we love giving presents. So why spend that much when you don't have to? Over the years, I've learned some excellent ways to save a huge amount of money on Christmas gifts without resorting to re-gifting or giving sub-par presents. You already know the standard shop sales and use coupons tips, but there are several other ways to save money on holiday gifts this season.
Make a budget per person
Before you even start shopping, it's important to figure out how much you can afford to spend. Start out by coming up with a total amount you can spend. Next, make a list of people you have to shop for, then divide your amount by the number of people. Now, you can adjust your totals. I don't spend the same amount of money per person. I'll typically spend more money on my best friends and family than I would for friends I'm not as close with. When you're adjusting your totals, move the money around without changing your budget. For example, if your division leaves you with $15 to spend per person, but you'd rather spend more money on your aunt than a friend, change your aunt's budget amount to $20 and your friend's budget to $10. Continue down the list until you've finished with everyone.
Give a photograph
If you know of someone who loves putting up photos, giving a personalized print is a great present, and it's inexpensive. You can either take a new photo or enlarge one you already have. Another option is to create a collage print. Whichever option you choose, put it in a beautiful frame and you're all set.
Shop thrift stores
Some may not be fond of the idea of giving thrift store items as gifts, but you'd be surprised what you can find. A friend of mine wanted a set of teacups, and I found a beautiful set at the thrift store for $10 - no chips, cracks, stains or mismatched pieces. Best of all, the money went toward a charitable organization. Search local thrift stores in your area and see what you can find.
Get crafty at home
My aunt loves her garden, and she's been talking about how she wants a new birdhouse. Rather than spending $20 to $40 on one already decorated, I spent $5 on a plain wooden one, and I'm going to paint it myself. Everyone has a talent that can come in handy when it comes to making gifts during the holidays, whether it's cooking, sewing, photography, or painting. Figure out yours and put it to good use by making gifts at home.
Make your own gift baskets
Gift baskets are so expensive; it's ridiculous. Several years ago, I spent $60 on a gift basket for my boss when I could have easily made it myself. Ever since, I refuse to purchase pre-made gift baskets. A favorite of mine to give is a wine gift basket. I'll pick up a bottle of wine, a good complementary cheese, two wine glasses from the dollar store, a good chocolate and some crackers, put them in a basket, wrap it all up, and put a bow on top. Putting it together yourself costs a fraction of what you would pay if it were pre-made.
Give a magazine subscription
One reason I love giving magazine subscriptions is that they're inexpensive, and it's a gift that continues throughout the whole year. I just purchased one for a friend, and it cost me $10, but she'll get more use out of that present than I can imagine. There's a magazine for every interest, so check what's out there and see if any would be ideal to give to someone on your list.
Hit up the dollar store
Some are probably thinking there's absolutely nothing at the dollar store worth giving as a Christmas gift, but you'd be surprised. For example, I purchased a beautiful set of 6 cut glass champagne flutes for a friend a couple of years ago. She absolutely loved them, and although they looked expensive, they only cost me $6. Other great items to give from the dollar store include plates, kitchen items, toys for kids, and décor.
Use a price matching app
There's an app for everything, including one that can help you with price matching. Before you purchase a product in store, scan the barcode into an app such as ShopSavvy. You'll get a list of all the places that carry that item with their prices, so you can compare before buying.
Use deal sites
Deal sites such as Groupon and LivingSocial are giving consumers the ability to purchase a variety of items for a discount price. For example, on Groupon right now, you'll find a variety of massage deals available. If you know of a friend who could benefit from one (and really, who couldn't?), they have a slew to choose from for a variety of price points. You can send it right to the recipient via the site as soon as you buy it, so it's also an excellent option for last-minute presents.
With so many ways to save money on holiday gifts, there's no reason to have to pay the average cost of $548.56 this year. All it takes is a little planning, and you'll be able to spoil all those on your list with incredible gifts without emptying out your wallet in the process.
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