It’s no secret that the holidays can be an expensive time of year. In fact according to a survey by CPA Canada, Canadian’s plan to spend over $500 on gifts in 2019 over the holiday season. With a plan, a budget and determination, most of us can keep ourselves and our spending on track fairly easily. For others, however, we may not have carefully planned our gift buying and are finding ourselves making the mad dash to the mall in search of the perfect present.
Waiting until the last minute generally doesn’t work in people’s favour when it comes to shopping. The longer you wait, the less inventory the stores will have and potentially fewer sales will be available. This can lead you to make rushed impulse purchases that can end up making you spend more money than you were planning.
To help ease your panic and the amount on your credit card bill, we have compiled a list of five last-minute non-traditional gifts that are not only thoughtful but won’t break the bank.
- A donation in their honour. Many amazing organizations and nonprofits depend upon the support of community members. Try finding a cause that is important to the person you are gifting and make a donation in their honour. You don’t have to make a large donation to make an impact on someone in need. Drop off some pet supplies to the local shelter, give $20 or $30 to a cancer society or medical nonprofit, purchase school supplies for a child in need, donate feminine hygiene products to a women’s shelter, or spend $20 to purchase a baby chick through World Vision. If you plan to donate money on their behalf, keep your receipts as you might be able to claim the donation on your taxes.
- A DIY present. There is something extra special about receiving a homemade gift. You don’t have to be a professional crafter to make a thoughtful present for someone you love. In the world of Pinterest and YouTube, there are many how-to videos and blogs available to help you make unique and affordable presents. If you aren’t the most artistic or creative person, try making a photo gift using a site like Walmart Photo Centres, Shutterfly or Vistaprint, or look for reasonably priced templates on Etsy.
- A keepsake. Do you have a special memory with this person? An inside joke or maybe a shared hobby? Using this insider information, consider making them a keepsake present. Do you both like to bake? Make them a recipe box or book filled with your favourite recipes or ones you know they love. Did you go on a trip together? Get a photo printed and put it in a frame or an ornament with the place you visited. Do you share a favourite movie or T.V. show? Try finding them some small merchandise from the show or put their favourite quote on something. Do you both enjoy music? Make them a playlist on Spotify or go “old-school” and make them a mixed CD. There are lots of creative and cost-effective ways to make a keepsake or materialize a memory that you two have shared.
- Write them a letter. In today’s age of technology and text messages, it’s very rare for someone to receive a handwritten letter. Because of this, there is something extremely exciting about getting one in the mail. This is a great option if you are trying to think of a gift for someone who is far away. Go to a stationary store and buy some nice paper, write out your letter and tell that person how much you mean to them. The great thing about letters is that they are automatically personalized and can truly be one of a kind. This thoughtful gift will sure to put a smile on the face of anyone who receives it and will simply cost you the price of the stamp.
- Give the gift of your time. If you are running low on money for gifts this year, why not give the gift of your time. Give free babysitting or pet-sitting for loved ones with kids or pets. Give a coupon for one whole day spent with you doing a certain activity that the recipient loves. Parents and grandparents who are tricky to buy for are great recipients for these types of “time coupons”. You can also make “coupons” for chores, yard work, housesitting, etc. that can be used at a later date.
The above ideas are all thoughtful gifts that any friend or family member would be grateful for. They also put less pressure on you to buy something fancy or feel the need to impulsively make a purchase for the sake of buying a present. This is just a small, general list of ideas to get you thinking, but there are many blogs and helpful resources online to help you get creative and find the best reasonably-priced present for everyone on your list.
The holiday season can be financially straining on the best of us. If you are experiencing financial difficulties or are trying to save, don’t be afraid to share this information with your loved ones. While it is an awkward conversation to have, in most cases, they will be understanding and encouraging when it comes to trying to save during the holidays. Your family might even agree that everyone should have a cost-effective celebration, keeping not only yourself but others accountable for sticking to a budget.