9 Awesome Gift-Giving Strategies for a Low Stress Christmas


“It’s the most wonderful time of the year?” Or is it?  For many of us, the wonder of the season fades when we find ourselves doing the umpteenth lap around Macy’s, wondering what to get our mother in law. Or until the bill from our credit card comes in the mail and we choke on our eggnog. Figuring out how to choose what to get our friends and families can cause a sleigh full of anxiety. So how do you make a list, check it twice, and get your gifts wrapped with some holiday cheer? Good question! A little pre-planning can ease a TON of Christmas stress. This year, consider these nine gift-giving strategies to have a holier, jollier holidays.

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Gift-Giving Strategies #1: Set a Budget & Work Backwards

Alright, y’all. I’m gonna lay it straight. I started with this first because it’s not so much a strategy, but a LAW. Set a budget, set a budget, set a budget. And then (here’s the kicker) STICK TO IT. (Yes, it’s so important I’m using shouty caps.)

No holiday gift is worth running yourself into debt. Nothing will ruin the holidays more than the lump of sick feeling growing in your tummy with each purchase.

Figure out how much you’re willing and able to spend. Then work backward from that amount. If you’re able to spend a total of $200 for everyone, determine who you need or want to buy presents for this year. Then divvy up your total budget for people on your list.

And, hint, this only works if you stay committed to your budget. It’s SO EASY to add another $10 here or $5 there. And before you know it, you’re $200 limit has skyrocketed to $350.

Feel like you don’t have enough dollars to go around? Keep on reading for other tips and gift-giving strategies to help your cash stretch further down Christmas list.

Gift-Giving Strategies #2: Coordinate with Your Partner

No matter what, you and your honey have to be on the same page with your gift-giving strategy. Sit down over some mulled wine and agree on a budget. Include EVERYONE: Aunt Betty, the in-laws, the kids, and each other. Know who made the gift list and who didn’t.

And then, agree on an amount you want to spend on each other. Sure, it’s not the most romantic of conversations. But are you going to spend $20 bucks on each other or $200?

Make sure you’re calibrated with your expectations. Not only will you avoid confusion or disappointment, but you’ll also avoid any financial surprises from someone spending WAAAAY too much.

Gift-Giving Strategies for a Low Stress Holidays!

Gift-Giving Strategies #3: Do the DIY Thang

So you’ve made your Christmas budget, but there doesn’t seem to be enough to go around. I’ve been there! In these moments, you can either trim the list, give smaller presents, or get creative.

DIY presents are a great way to give great gifts on a budget.  And, no, they don’t need to look crafty or homemade.

  • Consider making some DIY bath bombs,  or DIY bath salts.
  • These brownies in a jar are gorgeous and look delicious!
  • And you can print and frame one of the gorgeous free art prints from the Home Beautifully resource collection.  Done and done!

Home Beautifully Resource Library

Browse Pinterest for some amazing ideas.  Be sure, though, that the ingredients or supplies won’t end up costing an arm and a leg.  Making DIY gifts in bulk could help spread the costs around!

Gift-Giving Strategies #4: Embrace the Four Gift Method

Buying presents for the kiddos can hit the budget hard.  As a parent, it’s SO EASY to walk through the store and think “OMG, he would LOVE that.”  (This happened to me just yesterday when I saw a monster truck on sale for $10.   Yes, my son would have loved it.  But, no, it wasn’t in the budget.)

The four gift rule goes like this:  want, need, wear, read.

For each kid, they get four presents.  Something he wants, something he needs, something to wear, and something to read.  The four gift rule offers a way for parents to put boundaries around gift giving in a way that hits children’s wants and needs.  Plus, the rule is flexible to the family’s budget.

Gift-Giving Strategies #5: Recommend Secret Santa

Have a huge family with lots and lots of nieces and nephews?  You might consider recommending having the family practice being Secret Santas this year.

Each family member is responsible for buying one present for another family member or two.  Instead of buying presents for everyone, you only buy a few!  Before spreading Secret Santa responsibilities, agree on a price limit.

Deciding to delegate secret Santas is a great way to limit stress — less presents to buy!  Plus, it helps keep everyone on a budget.

Gift-Giving Strategies #6: Just Ask and Give

Sometimes the easiest way to buy someone a present is just to ask them what they want.  My sister and I do this every year.  We always end up having a convo like this:

“Hey, what do you want for Christmas?  The budget’s 50 bucks.”

“Oh, uh… Buy me a flat iron, okay?”

“Sure, which one?”

“I’ll send you the Amazon link.”

We chose the presents we want for ourselves, then send the idea for the other person to buy.  No, there aren’t any jazzy surprises.  But, yep, we get exactly what we want.

Gift-Giving Strategies #7: Buy All Online

Maybe you LOVE the mad rush of holiday shopping, everyone bustling with arms laden full of shopping bags through the store aisles.

Or, maybe you’re like me and would rather have a dentist appointment than going to the mall in December.

If you find holiday shopping to be super stressful, skip it all together.  Heat up some hot cocoa, flip open your laptop, and buy everything you need on Amazon.

I pretty much do this every year.  No kidding.  You couldn’t drag me out shopping for Christmas presents.

Gift-Giving Strategies #8: Give Experiences

Stuck on ideas for friends and family?  Consider giving experiences rather than gifts. Want some ideas?

  • Look online for tickets to a show or passes to a museum.
  • Instead of a pricey tech toy, book a hotel room and give a vacation to a nearby hot spot.
  • Give a hiking guide and set time to explore new trails.
  • Browse Groupon for appointments at a day spa.

Gift-Giving Strategies #9: Set Timelines

You’ve set your budget, you’ve pinned down your DIY gift ideas, you’ve eyeballed what you can buy online, now you just need to do it.

The last strategy: set timelines for yourself to buy, wrap, and send your gifts.  Sounds silly, but December tends to go far, far faster than we realize.  If you jot down when you wanna get your gifts, you won’t be caught in the mad frenzy that begins sometime around December 21.

Try to pace out what you gotta do so that you can relax into the holidays a bit.

So which strategies are you gonna try this year?  What’s worked well and where do you get stuck?  Leave a comment below to let me know!