Money 307: Big Decisions – Holidays

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Money 306: Big Decisions – Home Ownership


  • Make your gifts more creative and less expensive, which is more meaningful and thoughtful
    • Personal gifts
      • Busy board decorations
      • Homemade cards, letters or notes
      • Frame a picture of you with them or make a scrapbook/photo album
      • Personalized T-shirt
      • An “I appreciate you” jar
    • Creative endeavors
      • Self-made works of art like stories, poems, paintings, sculptures, etc.
      • Jams or jellies
      • Homemade bread
      • Soup mixes or cookie mixes in nice jars
      • Bake cookies or snacks
    • Practical things
      • Homemade sugar scrubs
      • Lotions, bath oils or scented candles
      • Decorated journals
      • Spice basket
      • Small plants
      • A blank recipe book with your favorite recipes written in the first few pages
      • Tea or coffee
    • Unconventional gifts
      • Coupons for doing things for them
  • Stick to your gifts list, even if someone unexpected gives you a gift
  • Wrap them in tie-dye newspaper or cut-out paper grocery bags turned inward
  • If you put some serious effort into it, nobody will look at you as “cheap”, especially if they know you’re climbing out of debt
  • For kids, go by the 4-gift rule to make them feel truly valued
    • One thing they want
    • One thing they need
    • One thing they wear
    • one thing they read
  • When giving flowers
    • Buy flowers other than roses or the popular flower of the season
    • Take advantage of when the flower industry isn’t in season by avoiding:
      • Christmas/Hanukkah
      • Mother’s Day
      • Valentine’s Day
      • Easter/Passover
      • Thansgiving
    • Try getting flowers at supermarkets instead of at professional florists
  • If you’re giving a gift card
    • Do research on what that person will actually enjoy
    • When in doubt, get something universally helpful like a grocery store, hardware store or large department store card
    • Shop gift card resell sites that offer used or unwanted gift cards at a discounted rate
      • Be sure it’s not a random amount, since $26.71 is a suspicious balance
  • When receiving gifts
    • Gift cards
      • Treat the card as if it was money in the store and buy items on sale or marked down
      • Repurpose the gift card by buying a gift card from a different store
      • Re-gift it or sell it


  • Throw out bad or worn-out decorations instead of hoarding them
  • Buy decorations and supplies for the next year’s holiday immediately after the one you just experienced


  • Keep a running tab on how many family members you have and how many you want to gift to
    • Consider sending a simple card for the extra-extended family members
  • There is no guilt necessary on casual friends
  • If your kids give something to someone in a classroom, it’s implied that they give to everyone
    • This doesn’t mean anything extravagant, and can be as simple as taping a candy cane to a handmade card
  • With coworkers, there is no expectation of gifting, even if they give to you, but it is worth it to thank them
  • When having a Christmas party, make it more informal
  • If you enjoy looking at lights, don’t go in excess about decorating the house with lights
  • Cut out the stocking stuffer tradition
  • Skip the family portrait Christmas cards
  • Have family fly out to meet you at any other time of the year that isn’t Christmas time
  • Try an artificial tree as an alternative to a pine tree

Valentine’s Day

  • Instead of giving an extravagant gift, put the money into an IRA in their name
  • Generally, time together with a handmade gift is more meaningful than expensive items, especially if they share your attitude on finances
  • When eating out, avoid the promoted menus since they tend to be much more than the standard items
  • Buy standard-priced high-quality chocolate bars instead of the heart-shaped chocolate boxes
  • Save diamond jewelry for a more meaningful day, like an anniversary
Next: Money 308: Big Decisions – Vacations