7 Budget-Friendly Tips For Smart Holiday Gift Giving

The holiday season is full of celebration, social gatherings, good cheer along with exchanging gifts. The problem is gift giving can get rather expensive if you're not making a plan and monitoring your spending. A happy holiday doesn't have to mean stressing about finances or going into debt. You can enjoy the holidays and save money with some smart strategies for gift giving on a budget.

Create a gift list: Are you feeling pressure to get gifts for everyone? Thoughtfully consider who's on your list this year. While a gift may be appropriate for some people, others might simply prefer to spend some time together rather than exchanging gifts. Perhaps invite someone over for lunch or plan a cookie exchange with friends.

Make a budget early: Deciding on budget limits for your holiday gifts will help guide your spending. You might have an overall holiday budget and then a specific budget to target for each person on your list. Then, with your gift list in hand and budget in mind, you can shop for appropriate and affordable gifts. What's more, by starting early, you can take advantage of sales and other promotions that can help you save even more.

Stop worrying about perfect presents: Worried about finding the ideal gift? Coinstar's recent holiday survey found about one-third of people don't recall what gift they received last year, so stop feeling pressure to get the perfect present. Ultimately, it's the thought that counts. Whether it's a card or small, reasonably priced gift, the recipient will be glad you took the time to show you care.

Use change to stretch your budget: You probably don't think much about coins, but the holiday survey found that people believe they have about $71 in spare change in and around their home! Collect and cash in that spare change at a supermarket Coinstar kiosk to boost your holiday budget. This can also be a fun activity for kids who can gather coins or dip into the family coin jar for spending money and then buy gifts for family members. Visit www.coinstar.com/findakiosk to find a location near you.

Create a group gift exchange: If you have a large, extended family or a group of friends that you typically buy for, consider a gift exchange. It's fun and budget-friendly because you're not buying a separate gift for each person. Smart tip: Set a price limit per gift to keep everyone in the same ballpark for presents and prevent any competition of one person outdoing another.

Opt for services as gifts: Rather than giving a physical present, is there something you could do that the recipient would appreciate? Consider an act of kindness like cleaning a family member's home or watching their children. If you have a particular talent, consider how that can be incorporated into your gift. Know how to play the piano? Offer to give children lessons. Do you have a snowblower? Offer to help clear a neighbor's driveway after a snowstorm.

Consider charitable donations: Giving to charity on behalf of someone else can be a nice holiday gesture. Whether it's animal welfare, disaster relief, a children's charity or something else, think about what the person is passionate about and select an appropriate charity.

The Coinstar holiday survey revealed that if there were no obligations or expectations around gift giving, about 10% of people would give to charity. Keep in mind, Coinstar kiosks in supermarkets allow you to donate your change to certain charities, making it easy to put your change to good use and give a meaningful gift.

No matter what you choose, gift giving can be meaningful and affordable. Let these ideas inspire you to stay on budget and shop wisely this holiday season.

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