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5 Ways to Give Great Presents Without Spending an Arm and a Leg

Now that Christmas is almost here, the holiday shopping season is almost over. Whether you have just your immediate family to shop for or your list is so long it even includes second cousins, you're probably oscillating between two seemingly competing concerns: Picking the perfect gift for each recipient and saving money overall. And if you’ve already bought all your gifts, you’re undoubtedly wishing you had a better plan for next year.

Well, do not despair. Saving money and great gift giving don't have to be mutually exclusive so long as you're willing to work a little harder and exercise a little discipline. Here are five ways you can give great presents to everyone on your list without resorting to spending an arm and a leg.

1. Make a Budget

The easiest way to avoid spending too much money during the holidays is to make a budget and stick to it. What if your budget doesn't at all seem like it will yield the presents you need to gift? Well, that's what the rest of this list is for.

Seriously, though, reining in spending so that it doesn't ruin the months and years that follow the holidays is essential to your family's overall happiness and well-being. Look into stretching your meager budget beyond what you think you can with a credit card that gives you bonuses you'll be able to use right away. Then, be sure to pay it off on time. Beyond that, stick to your guns. Even if all you have to work with is $50, don't deviate. That limitation may actually help you become a more resourceful and creative gifter.

2. Make It Yourself

Whether you've always been crafty or you've never been so, there's nothing like a stringent budget to get your creative juices flowing. Making gifts yourself is a perfect way to not only work your way through the names on your list without landing in the poorhouse, but it can also make for giving gifts that are incredibly meaningful — something givers and receivers alike enjoy. Whether you can your homemade salsa and beer cheese in decorative glass jars or you set out to knit 21 scarves for all your nieces and nephews, making gifts yourself will satisfy your list and your wallet.

3. Find It Used

Vintage and repurposed items are all the rage these days, and while much of what you'll find in upscale vintage and resale shops will set you back a pretty penny, if you scour your local thrift stores, flea markets, and garage sales, you can find a wealth of fantastic gifts.

Vinyl records, books, sweaters, mugs, radios, decorations, kitchenware, stuffed animals — what you can find is almost limitless, and you'll be able to stretch your dollar much further than you would be able to if you were buying the same items new.

4. Get Experiential

Do you have a talent, skill, or service you can offer the people on your list? If so, consider giving away the gift of you instead of something you purchased or made. Whether you can give massages or manicures, offer free childcare, perform a piano concert, or improve someone's landscaping, there are probably dozens of gifts hiding within your skill set. Especially for siblings, friends, and parents, giving away something that you do will often be received with much more gratitude than this holiday season's fanciest and newest must-have gadget.   

5. Do Your Research

Don't just assume because you find Product X at Best Buy that you can't find it cheaper elsewhere. Price shopping is a great idea when you're working with a tight budget. That being said, you'll need to factor in your time, the gas it may take to drive to a cheaper price if the store is further away, and any shipping charges you may incur if you're shopping online before you can be sure you're getting the best deal.

Another thing to research? Whether or not you can buy the item you're after from a local, independent seller. Sometimes, your local stores will be able to order items they don't carry, and every now and then, they can even beat the best price. If they can't beat the lowest price, but buying from them won't put you over budget, purchase it from a local and independent purveyor anyway. Your local economy will be improved, and you'll spread good holiday cheer throughout your neighborhood at the same time.

Give gifts. Save money. Just follow these five tips, and you'll see how easy it is for the two to work in tandem.

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