Money 307: Big Decisions – Holidays

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Money 306: Big Decisions – Home Ownership

Give gifts correctly during the holidays

Stick to your gifts list, even if someone unexpected gives you a gift

More creative and less expensive gifts don’t only save you money

They are more meaningful and thoughtful

You don’t risk offending anyone from the gifts being too elaborate or valuable

If you put some serious effort into it, you’ll never be seen as “cheap”, especially if they know you’re climbing out of debt

Personal gifts

Make busy board decorations

Create homemade cards, letters or notes

Frame a picture of you with them or make a scrapbook/photo album

Make a personalized T-shirt

Send them an “I appreciate you” jar

Try other creative endeavors

Self-made works of art like stories, poems, paintings or sculptures

Jams or jellies

Homemade bread

Soup mixes or cookie mixes in decorative jars

Bake cookies or snacks

Give them something practical

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

Try unconventional gifts

Coupons for doing things for them

Silly things that don’t make any sense to anyone but the two of you

Wrap your gifts in tie-dye newspaper or cut-out paper grocery bags turned inward

Use the 4-gift rule with children for them to feel valued

  1. Something they want
  2. Something they need
  3. Something they wear
  4. Something they read

When giving flowers

Buy flowers other than roses or the season’s most popular flower

Buy flowers at supermarkets instead of at professional florists

Avoid holidays when the flower industry is in season

  • Christmas/Hanukkah
  • Mother’s Day
  • Valentine’s Day
  • Easter/Passover
  • Thanksgiving

If you’re giving a gift card

Research what that person enjoys

  • When in doubt, get a card for something universally helpful like a grocery store, hardware store or large department store

Shop gift card resell sites that offer used or unwanted gift cards at a discounted rate

Nobody will turn away cash

When receiving gift cards

  • Treat the card as if it was money in the store and buy items on sale or marked down
    • Avoid reckless spending from the extra degree of emotional separation from the cash
  • Buy a gift card from a different store with that gift card
  • Re-gift your card or sell it
    • Reload a gift card with enough to round out the balance, since $26.71 is a suspicious balance


Throw out bad or worn-out decorations instead of hoarding them

Make decorations yourself whenever you can

Buy decorations and supplies for the next year’s holiday immediately after the holiday ends

Sell or gift unwanted decorations to others


Keep a running tab on the family members you want to gift to

  • Consider sending a simple card for extra-extended family members

Casual friends don’t expect Christmas gifts

If your kids give to someone in a classroom, they should give one to everyone

  • It doesn’t have to be extravagant and can be taping a candy cane to a handmade card

Coworkers don’t expect gifts, even if they give to you, but it’s appropriate to thank them

Make Christmas parties more informal (more on parties much later)

If you enjoy lights, don’t excessively decorate with them

Cut out the stocking stuffer tradition

Skip the family portrait Christmas cards

Have family fly out to meet you at any other non-holiday time of the year

Get an artificial tree instead of a pine tree

Valentine’s Day

Instead of giving an extravagant gift, put the money into an IRA in their name

A handmade gift is usually more meaningful than expensive items, especially if your partner shares 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