Holiday Shopping Does Not Need to be Expensive!

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5 ways to re-think your holiday shopping strategy

1. Narrow down your list to the people you absolutely have to shop for. Don’t feel you have to buy for every single person you know! When my cousins and I were in our early teens, our parents decided to buy only for the kids, and each of us got one gift. You could also put names into a hat, pull one out and buy for that one person.

2. Create a budget. How much can you reasonably spend? When I was younger, I opened a Christmas Club account at my bank and deposited money every week. In the fall, I had a healthy wallet for shopping. This is forced saving, which is good! You don’t feel the pain of the money going out quite so much! Try not to use credit cards unless they are interest free or have a cash back or rewards policy.

3. Make a list when you go to the store. Write down who wants what, and stick to that list. This will cut down on impulsive shopping and spending.

4. Know your recipient’s needs, loves and lifestyle. Buy something they can use often, or something they would never buy for themselves.

5. Shop online. Now we have Cyber Monday right after Thanksgiving. Take advantage of it! There are great deals, just like Black Friday. Look for free shipping to save money. Some sites have a minimum for free shipping, and others offer it all the time as an incentive. Check ebay for deep discounts on new items. I bought my digital camera through a store on ebay, and it was much cheaper than going to the local camera store. I have also found shoes and clothes that were discontinued.

Hard to believe, but the Holiday Season is just around the corner!

My mother used to call me in early October to find out what the kids wanted for Christmas. October! She was a die-hard shopper, and she spent the next couple of months doing what she loved most.

I did not inherit the shopping gene. I have learned to sew my own clothes, cook, recycle anything that can be used more than once, and make gifts and cards. I’ve been called ‘cheap’ and worse, but I just do not like shopping!

However, it’s hard not to get caught up in the lights, children, music and magic of the season and spend some money. We all shop this time of year, even if we are looking to save money for the essentials.

Here are some ideas to keep shopping to a minimum.

Homemade gifts

People love home-made items! There is something warm and fuzzy about a simple homemade gift. It gets more attention, and the recipient knows you took time to create something from your heart.

Recycled gifts

Wrap up something of your own, and give it away. Maybe someone saw a book on your shelf they wanted. Maybe you have clothes to pass on. Look around! Do some de-cluttering and share!

Shop at second-hand stores, yard sales and church rummage sales. Take advantage of what people don’t need anymore. Why waste natural resources to create new items, when there are so many perfectly good things to be reused?

Inexpensive holiday wrapping

Wrap presents in the Sunday funnies and put a color-coordinated ribbon on the package. I reuse brown shopping bags for wrapping paper, coloring a bow on top with crayons. Brown bags are in short supply, though, now that we use cloth bags.

I have made sacks from clothes I don’t wear anymore or leftover fabric from other sewing projects, and use these as wrapping. This is like getting two gifts in one! I save old Christmas cards to cut up for gift tags.

The gift of food

People love food! I dry the herbs I grow and package them in small, decorative glass jars. Baked goods are thoughtful and popular. Bring someone a pot of soup or a fruit and nut basket that you made. Get creative in your kitchen!

Low cost, low impact holiday greeting cards

I have always made my cards for holidays, birth announcements and birthdays. If you don’t make them, buy locally, and buy recycled paper cards. Digital cards are generally free and use no paper at all.

Homemade Holiday Card

Photo: Lauren Manning

Gifting should be from the heart

If you feel you have a huge list of family, friends and co-workers to buy for, shop sensibly. Gifting should be from the heart. Make them smile, not wonder what on earth you were thinking!

The holidays will be here before you know it, and they will be over just as quickly. Be a sensible shopper this year. You can save money, and still make everyone happy.

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Nan Fischer

Nan Fischer has been living and building green for over 35 years. Nan’s emphasis on the BuildDirect blog is about how to make your dollar stretch further, while also moving toward a more sustainable lifestyle, as well as upcoming and existing technology to help us live in an ecologically-friendly way. Nan also authors posts on the website of her seed business, sweetly seeds.