This may be the most wonderful time of the year, but Christmas can also typically be the most expensive time of year. That is enough to put even the most money-savvy of us under pressure. We all know that when money gets stretched too far, it causes stress and can single-handedly ruin even the most promising festive season.
If we are not careful, this cherished time will be a far cry from the blissful family traditions and goodwill to all. Instead, it can land unceremoniously in the over-commercialised zone where it becomes about the price tag and not the sentiment. I mean, poor old St Nicholas started out in a green coat until Cocoacola deemed him better suited to red.
Do not fear.
I'm not going to bash you over the head and tell you not to spend a cent. However, I would love you to slow down, catch your breath and think about the end game here. What are you genuinely trying to achieve with gifting this year?
Why do we even gift at this time of year? What is it all about?
It's all about showing our loved ones that we care, cherish them, and are thankful to have them in our lives. Now that worth taking a few minutes of downtime with a pen and paper to work out what might be the best gift for them.
Just before we dive into this longer-than-average post.
The other side of the coin is that this year's money is tighter than ever. So thinking outside the chocolate box might not only ease the pressure on you this Christmas but also help the receiver breathe a sign of relief because there is a good chance they are in a similar position.
Let's make this Christmas really special
So this year, I brainstormed a list of budget-friendly, thoughtful gifts and Christmas ideas to help keep the budget in check while still having a fun-filled Christmas with family, friends, and loved ones.
I hope that you find a little comfort and nuggets of inspiration in this list. And know that it is possible to celebrate Christmas and still make it magical and memorable without stress or starting the new year with a headache-inducing credit card bill.
Gifts to friends and family.
1. A partridge in a pear tree.
One of the best gifts I ever received was a metre-high pear tree with a photocopy of a partridge sellotaped to the top. That was 4 years ago, and today the pear tree stands pride of a place in my garden, providing us with pears at the end of every summer. It's the give that keeps on giving. Every time I look at it, I think fondly of this friend. This is probably my favourite gift ever!
2. Be their sitter
Christmas is a time for giving, and what better way to show your loved ones how much you care than by giving them the gift of free house-sitting, pet-sitting, or babysitting? Coupons for these services would be welcome by any gift recipient, and it's a gift that keeps on giving all year long. Not only will they be able to take a break from their daily routines and enjoy some well-deserved rest and relaxation, but they'll also know that their homes and pets are in good hands. So if you're looking for a unique and thoughtful Christmas gift, consider giving the gift of your time. It's sure to be appreciated.
3. Design a scavenger hunt
Want something totally different for your friend this Christmas? Then the gift of a good old-fashioned scavenger hunt might just be what you need. Have them relive your favourite memories together by hiding clues at your shared favourite spots across your city, hometown, or village. Think of places where he or she made you laugh so hard, the spot where you hung out as kids or your go-to coffee shop. Not only will they have a blast searching for the clues, but they'll also appreciate the sentimental value of the gift. So get creative and plan the ultimate Christmas scavenger hunt for your friends. It can be a great day to catch up and go down memory lane.
4. Make your own mix in a jar.
Christmas is a time for giving, and what better way to show your loved ones you care than by giving them a homemade present with a well-loved recipe? Upcycle old pasta sauce jars this year and fill them with the dry ingredients for oatmeal cookies, hot chocolate, or another favourite treat. Add a Christmas ribbon and a tag with the recipe, and you will have a thoughtful and unique gift that will be appreciated. Not only will your gifts be popular, but you'll also be doing your part to reduce waste this holiday season.
5. Do a book exchange
Christmas is a great time to show your friends and loved ones how much you care about them. One way to do this is to give them a book exchange. This way, they can get an idea of what genres they enjoy and what books they might like. Plus, it's a great way to make low-budget Christmas gifts! So grab your favourite book or one you think your friend would enjoy, and start exchanging!
6. Make a bouquet
I mean, who doesn't love getting flowers? If you have a garden or a flowerbed, great. Maybe you have a great neighbour with one, and they owe you a favour, great. If you have a local flower store that might sell you a few stems for not that much, great (technically not free, but not pricey either). For the non-green-fingered people in your life, how about creating a door wreath with material flowers for them instead?
7. Coordinate a memorable photoshoot
Christmas is the perfect time to get your friends together and have a photoshoot! You can set up a space with Christmas lights and decorations, do each other's makeup, and take a million pictures for your 'Gram grid. This is especially useful if your friend hates taking pictures of themselves or wants to update their social media content. Plus, it's a great way to get into the Christmas spirit! Catch that moment and have it forever.
8. Food is the best gift…..Obviously
Christmas can also be costly. Between buying presents for loved ones and attending festive parties, it's easy to overspend. However, there are ways to celebrate Christmas without breaking the bank. One way is to focus on food. Christmas is a time for feasting, so take advantage of the season's bounty and cook a festive feast for your family and friends.
Not only will you save money, but you'll also enjoy the satisfaction of preparing a meal from scratch and inviting friends and family to your home. And who knows? With a little practice, you might even discover a hidden talent for cooking. So this Christmas, don't let your budget get in the way of your enjoyment. Instead, focus on the things that matter, like food. Who doesn't love food?
9. Get creative
Get crafty and show your loved ones how much you care. But what should you make? If you're feeling stuck, take inspiration from Christmas itself. For example, you could make a wreath out of recycled materials, turn an old piece of furniture into a Christmas tree, or even knit a blanket. There are endless possibilities when it comes to Christmas crafts. And if you're not the crafting type, don't worry. You can still exercise your right brain by giving your loved ones thoughtful gifts they'll cherish for years. So put away the store-bought gifts and get ready to get creative this Christmas.
10. Gift the thing they always borrow
Christmas is the perfect time to give your friends and family members the gifts they really want: your stuff! If your sister is always borrowing your favourite sweater, or your mom can't seem to find her measuring cups, just wrap up those items and place them under the tree. Not only will you get the satisfaction of seeing them put to good use, but you'll also get a kick out of watching them try to figure out who gave them such a thoughtful present. So go ahead and clear out some space in your closet or kitchen cabinets - Christmas is the perfect time to give your loved ones the gift of your stuff!
11. Make a sugar scrub
Sugar scrubs are a popular Christmas gift because they are both thoughtful and practical. Moreover, they are effortless to make at home with just two ingredients: granulated sugar and olive oil. Simply combine equal parts sugar and oil in a bowl, then store in a waterproof jar. They are great for even the most sensitive skin types. Then, add some essential oils for that extra bit of luxury.
12. Flower Bulb Basket
Christmas is the perfect time to give a gift that keeps on giving, and a flower bulb basket is a great option for both beginners and green thumbs. Bulbs can be sourced cheaply from your local nursery or plucked from your garden, and they will grow anywhere the ground is cool, and the soil drains well. It's the sort of gift that keeps on giving.
14. Put together your own cookbook
From Christmas cookies to spiced treats, there are countless Christmas recipes to choose from. So, where do you start? Why not put together your own cookbook? Compile recipes from your favourite food bloggers and any treasured family recipes. Choose themes relating to your life and introduce each section with a little personalised note. For example, if you love Christmas baking, include a section devoted to Christmas cookies.
Even if it is not Christmas-themed, a cookbook filled with much-loved recipes will be worth its weight in gold.
14. Do something good in their name.
This is the season of giving, and what better way to honour your loved ones than by giving back to the community in their name? You can clean up rubbish on the beach, donate to their favourite charity, or serve meals in a soup kitchen. Or, if you're feeling really generous, you can give blood in their name. It's not the most glamorous gift, but it's definitely right up there with the most thoughtful.
And who knows? Maybe, your act of kindness will inspire others to do the same. Either way, you'll make the world a little brighter this Christmas season.
15. Gift a low-maintenance houseplant
Plants are a great option for Christmas gifts because they bring cheer to dreary winter days. Bonsai plants are especially beautiful and convey peace. Jade or spider plants are low maintenance, and peace lilies are great air purifiers. These are also easy to care for, which makes them an ideal gift for people who may not have a lot of time for plants. So if you're looking for a unique and thoughtful Christmas gift, consider giving a low-maintenance house plant.
16. Home Spa Treatments
Home spa treatments are a great option for Christmas gifts, as they are relatively inexpensive, and many can be homemade while still being luxurious. Facial masks, nail care kits and bath bombs are all great choices for Christmas gifts that will help them feel relaxed and pampered.
17. Framed art
Christmas is a time for giving, and what better way to show your loved ones that you care than by giving the gift of art? Framed artwork is a different and lovely choice for Christmas gifts, as there are endless options available to suit any taste and budget. Whether you opt for a scenic photograph, a watercolour print, or a modern quote, your Christmas present will be sure to impress.
And best of all, framed artwork is affordable. You can always add a personal touch to your gifts and give the gift of your art. You might have more flair than you think.
18. Things to use at the Office
Finding the perfect presents for your colleagues can be tricky – you don't want to spend too much, but you also want to find something that is practical and will be used. How about fingerless gloves for a colleague who is always cold? Or for the person who is always hot, a mini desk fan would be the perfect solution. And for the caffeine-lover in the office, a fun Christmas mug would be sure to hit the spot.
If you're stuck, a pet rock is always an option.
19. Share your talents
Christmas is the perfect time to show your loved ones how much you care. One way to do this is by sharing your talents with them. For example, if you're an artist, why not draw a portrait of your dog? If you're a knitter, why not knit them a scarf? There are endless possibilities - the only limit is your imagination. So whatever your talents may be, put them to good use this Christmas and show your loved ones how much you care.
20. Research the family tree
Christmas is the perfect time to start researching your family tree. By becoming the family genealogist, you can help your loved ones learn more about their past. You can draw your family tree on paper and frame it for your history-buff loved one. By giving the gift of your time and effort, you can help your loved ones connect with their ancestors and learn more about their heritage. Christmas is the perfect time to start researching your family tree, so give the gift of knowledge this holiday season.
21. Regift - wisely
Regifting can be a bit of an icky subject and often the brunt of many jokes. But that is why regifting wisely is the name of the game here.
If you have unopened gifts at home that will never be used and are at risk of going to landfill, while at the same time you have a friend who might love that gift, then this could be the perfect opportunity to find a win-win scenario. Tick a present off your list, declutter and do your bit for the planet.
Gifting to a loved one
22. Souvenir box
A Souvenir Box is a perfect way to keep all the special memories of your holiday and fun times in one place. Put everything from matchbooks to postcards to currency in the box, and you'll have a beautiful reminder of your trip whenever you want to look back on it. Fill the box with all your favourite memories from your latest adventures. Whether it's a weekend getaway, a month-long journey, or just a time map of all the fun things you've done together over the last year. Sometimes, it's the little things to show you care that mean the most.
23. TV Night Punch Card
Christmas is a time for giving, and what better way to show your loved ones you care than by giving the gift of your time? With a Christmas TV Night Punch Card, you can do just that! Whether your loved one is a fan of Christmas classics or a particular TV program they love. This is a lovely way to show them you care. Watch a season or a number of episodes of whatever show they want to watch, and you'll be sure to put a smile on their face.
24. Favourite Creative Christmas Treats
Christmas is a time for giving, and what better way to show your friends and loved ones that you care than by making them their favourite homemade treat? Cookies, cake, granola, or anything else you can whip up in the kitchen will be sure to put a smile on their face. Christmas is a busy time of year, so it's all the more reason to take a break from the hustle and bustle and bake something special for the main person you care about. Not only will they appreciate the gesture, but you'll also get to enjoy the process of making Christmas treats!
25. Love Note
Christmas is a time to reflect on the past year and look forward to the future. Christmas is the perfect time to sit down and write a letter to your loved one. Whether you're telling them how much you appreciate them or sharing your favourite Christmas memory, a handwritten note will make their Christmas even more special. So hunt out a pen and paper and get writing! Christmas is the perfect time to express your love in the most personal way possible. It might be the only time of year when you can get away with being so open if you are one of those people who take advantage of the chance.
26. Make a Mixtape
Ok, we don't have to go entirely old school and create an actual mixtape here. Even if you did, there's a decent chance that they'd never be able to play it. Who even has a tape player anymore? Include songs that remind you of special memories add inside jokes or share new music you think they'll enjoy. Creating a song list that means something is a small gesture that will show them how much you care and get you both into the Christmas spirit.
27. Personalised Coupon Book
Christmas is a time for giving, and what better way to show your loved ones how much you care than by giving them the gift of your time? Personalised coupon books are a thoughtful and practical way to let your significant other know that you're always there for them, no matter what. Whether it's offering to do chores or just lending a listening ear, these coupons will be redeemable any time they need you. So grab some notecards and get creative - your loved ones will surely appreciate the gesture. PS the coupons do not have to be related to practical, mundane things. They could be an excellent opportunity to jazz things up a little. The more creative, the better.
28. A romantic picnic
This season is a great time to get out and enjoy a romantic picnic with your partner. Find a clear Christmasy day when the weather is beautiful, the leaves are changing colours, and there is a feeling of love and happiness in the air. A picnic is a perfect way to spend quality time together, surrounded by nature and enjoying each other's company.
29. Create a photo album
Now is the perfect time to create a photo album for your loved one. If you have been saving photos and mementoes from your time together, now is the perfect time to put them in a beautiful album. You can include Christmas-themed photos and memories from other times of the year. If you hold onto things like ticket stubs and mementoes from times together, arrange them scrapbook-style. This will be a Christmas present that your loved one will treasure for years.
30. A year's worth of outings
Christmas is the perfect time to start thinking about fun outings and dates for you and your loved ones. Grab twelve envelopes, and in each one, slip a piece of paper with plans for a free date/outing you can do together that month. Then, at the start of each month in the new year, have your partner open the envelope to see what fun lies ahead for you two. Visit a Museum together, go to an event, or spend an afternoon baking Christmas cookies.
Whatever you choose, make sure it's something that both of you will enjoy and have to carve out the time together to do so. Then, with a little planning, you can ensure that you'll have a year's worth of fun outings to look forward to.
Gifts to the younger ones
31. Jar of awesome Christmas memories
There is no better time of year to create new traditions than Christmas. So, if you're looking for a way to make your Christmas even more special this year, why not write down some of your favourite memories of Christmases past with the kids? Then, put all the slips of paper into a pretty jar with a label that says "Jar of Awesome Christmas Memories." Not only will this be a fun way to look back on all of the great times you've had together, but it will also be a reminder to make even more great memories in the years to come. Who knows, maybe one day, your Christmas memory jar will be as full as Santa's sleigh!
32. DIY some craft supplies
Homemade craft supplies can be just as thoughtful and meaningful as store-bought gifts, and they often come with the added bonus of being more unique. If you're unsure where to start, consider making some DIY art supplies. Playdough, slime, and finger paints are easy to make with ordinary ingredients you probably already have at home. You can also jazz up a blank notebook by decorating the cover and filling the pages with positive quotes and inspirational messages. DIY gifts personalised to them are a great way to show your little ones how much you care.
33. Make a 'year in your life' Movie.
Christmas is the perfect time to make a movie for your kids. They'll love watching all the footage you've recorded over the years, and you can even ask their parents for some adorable vintage footage from their childhood Christmas celebrations. Christmas is also the perfect time to include a personal message to them. Tell them how much you appreciate them and how Christmas is the ideal time to celebrate that friendship. Record them talking about their lives, what they love and don't love and how they see the world. They'll cherish the Movie for years to come.
34. Plan a day of (free) fun
Christmas is a time for giving, and what better way to show your loved ones how much you care than by giving them the gift of your time? So this Christmas, why not give a homemade gift card entitling the recipient to a thoroughly planned day of fun? Whether you take your nephew on a tour of the best local playgrounds or treat a parent to their favourite art museum (on free admission day), there are plenty of things to do together that won't break the bank. So get creative and show your loved ones how much you care this Christmas by giving them the gift of your time.
35. Gift an Annual Pass
Annual passes make great gifts because they can be used again and again throughout the year. Prices will vary depending on the venue, but there are yearly family passes for museums, theme parks, zoos, waterparks and even national parks. A pass makes a great Christmas gift because it can be used again and again throughout the year, providing endless opportunities for family fun. Dublin Zoo ad the national stud and Japanese gardens are two great places to check out.
36. Find a Free Event
Christmas is a great time to take advantage of free events in your city or town. In addition, many towns host Christmas markets, which are perfect for finding unique gifts and enjoying holiday cheer.
You can also often find free concerts and performances, from Christmas carols to full-blown orchestra performances of holiday classics. If you're looking for something more low-key, many museums offer free admission on certain days or during specific hours. Whatever you're interested in, doing a little research will help you find a great Christmas event that won't cost you anything.
Heading into the festive season, it's easy to get caught up in the hype of spending money you don't have on things you don't need. We've all panic-bought last-minute items, forking out more than we can afford without thinking.
This year, plan to do things a little differently and have a mindful Christmas. Focus on spending time with loved ones and enjoying the magical things about Christmas that don't cost anything.
So this year, let's get back to our roots and celebrate Christmas for what it really is: A time of togetherness, joy and peace on Earth And let's celebrate the New Year with a positive balance in our bank accounts and a clean plate for the year ahead.
You just can't put a price tag on that.
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