Thrifty Thursday: Holiday Gifts Throughout the Year

Over the last few years, Rick and I have gotten pretty good at managing our monthly budget.  The one place where we have a huge bump, however, is always at the end of the year.  The holidays.

Ugh.  Holiday shopping is a large hole in our budget.  Every year we say we’re going to save, going to put a little money away every month so we have a cushion for December to buy gifts (or supplies to make gifts) for our family and friends.  But we don’t.  And then we end up relying on Rick’s bonus money or selling items on Etsy (I did pretty good last year), or whatever to eek out just enough for Christmas.  And we always end up scrimping on the gifts we give each other.

This year, I’m trying something different.  Buying and making gifts as I go.  I know it’s not a new concept, but I have never been able to make it work.  I always forget what I bought or where I put it, or I give the person the gift I bought early because I just can’t wait.

This year, I have a plan.  It’s a list.  That I keep with me. 

Gift Log

First, I made a list with three columns:  Who, What, and Where.  Make this list somewhere when you won’t lose it.  Mine is in my planner on a Contacts page in the back.  Put it in your phone, whatever… just somewhere where you can find it and access it quickly.  Not on your home computer.  I’ve tried that, and I forgot to keep it up to date.

The Who column is for all of all the people you’d like to give gifts to.  Count them up.  For me, it is 19 people if I count individuals, or 14 if we do some couple/family gifts.  Looking at how many months before the holidays, and since I started this in January, I decided that if I buy or make two gifts per month, I’d have all of my gifts made or purchased no later than September.  And I can totally afford two gifts per month.  If I were starting now, I would still be able to make it by December, possibly November.


Ok, so two gifts a month.  Now here’s where the list is super important.  I need to remember WHAT I bought (and for whom), and WHERE I put it, so that in December, I can find the gift and give it to the person I bought it for.  That’s why you must have the list with you.

And then write down what the gift is and where you put it.

For example, I found this funny little mini-pinball game for my grandpa (I can share this gift because my grandpa doesn’t read my blog).  So next to my Grandpa’s name, I wrote Pinball Game in the What column, and then Pink Shoe Box in the Closet in the Where column.  At the old house we kept that box under the bed.  Since I moved the box, I made sure to update my list.  So I can find it later.

Box in closet

Simple, right?  I’ve stuck with it, and I really think it’s going to work this year.  And, it will leave me and Rick some extra money come the end of the year for each other, the kids, and the people we draw names for at Thanksgiving.

Do you budget or plan for the holidays?  What do you do that works?

Categories: Thrift | 6 Comments

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6 thoughts on “Thrifty Thursday: Holiday Gifts Throughout the Year

  1. Cynthia in Denver

    I’ve gotten to where the gifts are mostly made throughout the year. What gets me is tue cost of shipping due to all the relatives living out of state!

  2. Love your plan! My plan this year is to grow extra veggies (check) and make salsa for everyone in the fall. Along with a few other handmade gifts. Last fall we got to the lowes canning sale in time to buy lots of extra canning goods at half off. Yay for being prepared!

  3. Genius!

  4. hmk71

    I try to do this, but always seems to end up a mad rush making things in the last month. You’ve spurred me on to be more organised this year 🙂

  5. What a fantastic idea! Keeping the list with you is, I believe, the key to it. I’d like to give it a try, too! So glad I found your blog!

  6. I love this! With the exception of last year – we moved over the holidays and it was a logistical nightmare – I’ve done this for the last few years. Not only does it save money but the gifts tend to be more thoughtful and holidays can be spent enjoying time with family instead of rushing off to a mall. Warning: you’ll become that annoying person that’s done shopping by Thanksgiving! (It’s awesome)

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