I LOVE giving gifts. I love it so much I have to keep a pretty tight budget for my gift giving. Otherwise I'd be giving away every cent I earn to my friends but living on the streets. Okay, maybe that would be a more honorable way to live, maybe not. But I don't believe God has called me to that life. I do believe that he has given me this desire to give gifts. It's my favorite way of showing love to my friends. But I don't just give random gifts, I put a lot of thought into each one. I love picking out the exact right gift that will make that specific person feel loved and thought of and special. To me, few things in this life are better than receiving a gift that you completely LOVE and then realizing "that person gets me AND loves me". I used to not love receiving gifts, I wrote about how that is changing HERE. I still have issues opening presents in public, but my new love for receiving has made my gift-giving tendencies even stronger.
Last year, my dear friend told me that buying gifts for me was hard because she could tell how much thought I put into my gifts to her and her family. Hmmmm... yay for them picking up on the thought! Bummer on the fact that I was making things harder on them. I've been thinking about that on and off all year. I keep thinking, maybe not everyone thinks about gift-giving the way I do. Maybe it just plain stresses their whole Christmas or Hannakah or Kwanza or Diwali or whatever your family celebrates (But ya'll, I celebrate Christmas so I will be talking Christmas here, hope that's okay). So, I've decided to write a series on gift-giving. Eight posts with tangible tools and tips on the art of gift-giving.
I hope you will join me. If you are already an expert gift-giver than please chime in with me in the comment section of each post cause I'm not an expert I'm just sharing what works for me. And if gifts stress you out, my hope and prayer is that this series will be a helpful tool for you to use for years and that peace of mind will return to your Christmas! I hope you will take this small (and sometimes silly) journey with me. We will work together to stay on budget and give thoughtFULL gifts to the ones we love. There will also be TWO awesome giveaways during the series so keep checking back!!
Here we go...day one "Making a List and Checking it Twice"
The first thing you should do is make a gift list. Yep, LISTS, LISTS, LISTS! It's so important, possibly the most important. Make a list of the people you would like to give gifts to. You can make your list as long as you want today. Tomorrow, we will edit that list down. But for today, let yourself go. Write down everyone you would LOVE to give a gift to. I used to write it on a piece of paper and then I moved to the notepad on my iPhone. But now I've gone completely geeky and use an iPhone app. I can't seem to find the name of the app I use or find it on iTunes anymore. BUT, the Wrapped app is just as good. Yep, I'm a nerd.
The next thing you need to do is come up with your budget. You need to start with what you can afford for ALL gifts (including wrapping!!). You don't want to overspend at Christmas and then spend New Years Eve wishing you had money to go out and have fun. Just don't do it. Pick a reasonable price and STICK TO IT! I can't give you a number or percentage that you should use. Only you know how much you can afford. My paycheck doesn't allow for much so I do a LOT of bartering and I do special Holiday gigs that are specifically for my gift budget. If your budget is small, don't fear - I have some tips for that too!!
Now, take that price and divvy it up accordingly. Here's what I do...
Momma & Dad - 40% they get the biggest amount. They should and they do. They raised me and this is a simple way for me to appreciate them.
Family & "Family" Friends (Meaning friends that are like family) - 30%These folks usually get 1-2 gifts but they are "nicer" gifts. "Nicer" to you may mean something completely different to me.
Friends - 20% one gift that is thoughtfFULL but not expensive. Just like Momma said - It's the thought that counts!
Other - 10% I know that I will need to chip in for a boss gift and I will want to give my pastor and his wife a thank you gift. I also get two special dogs a special treat. You may need to buy teacher gifts. A lot of times this section is baked goods for me. I think gifting a yummy, handmade treat is one of the best ways to save money!
These percentages work for me, but maybe for you, your friends will get 60% or maybe your family does Secret Santa so you would only need one gift. That's all great, just plan ahead. If you have 50 friends you want to give gifts to, then that percentage may need to be higher than Mom and Dad. Make a budget that works for you.
My app keeps track of my budget for me and it's a place to keep track of the gifts I plan to buy. I took a picture of the salad dressing after Grandma said she loved the dressing. That way I won't forget and I will know the exact type. Then I took a note of where to buy it. I've even seen apps that have a "wrapped' check box too.
Once you have made your gift list and figured out your budget for each section then you should take a break, go have some cider or whatever your warm-wintery drink of choice is and take a big breath! Coming up with a budget is the most awful part of this whole process and now you are done! YAY!!
So, what do you think? Do you get stressed out about gift-giving or do you get excited? Will you be joining me during this series?