■ Metro Service
The holiday season is a magical time of year when many people celebrate their faith and express their love and appreciation for their families. Such expressions are often made through the exchange of gifts, which can stretch families budgets.
The National Retail Federation reports that retail sales in November and December of 2016 reached $658.3 billion, marking a 4 percent increase over the same period a year prior. For budget-conscious families, entering the holiday spending fray can have lasting effects that cast a pall over their finances for months to come.
Staying within budget is not impossible during the holiday season. It might take a little creativity and discussion among family members, but there are ways to exchange gifts and avoid debt this holiday season.
Embrace a “Secret Santa” exchange. Large families can save money by engaging in a Secret Santa exchange. Rather than asking each member of the family to buy gifts for one another, a Secret Santa exchange asks each participant to pick a name out of a hat and then only buy gifts for that person. This is a great way to save both money and time, and it saves participants from the potential hassle of returning gifts after the season.
Establish spending limits. Whether families embrace a Secret Santa exchange or not, they can save money by agreeing on a spending limit for each gift. Families participating in a Secret Santa exchange can set their spending limits a little higher than those families who will be buying gifts for multiple people.
Share experiences in lieu of exchanging gifts. Adults tend to be more difficult to shop for than children, as many adults can simply buy their own gadgets, clothing and other items commonly given during the holiday season. To save money, adults can forgo gifting traditional gifts to one another, instead resolving to provide an experience for a loved one. Invite a loved one over for a homecooked meal or offer to take a family member out to dinner once the holiday season has come and gone and there’s more room in the budget.
Connect with your creative side. In lieu of purchasing a gift made by someone else, make your own gift. Skilled crafters can create a one-of-a-kind gift out of supplies they already have on hand, while woodworkers can follow suit. Such gifts are thoughtful and inexpensive, and they will likely prove more memorable than another video game or sweater.
Budget-conscious families don’t have to sit out of holiday gift exchanges, as there are plenty of creative ways to express your love and appreciation for family without breaking the bank.