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Creating a Budget-Friendly Christmas List – 5 ways to make the holidays less expensive for your friends

It’s that time of year–friends and family are asking for our Christmas lists. Sometimes it’s tough to know what to tell them. After all, most of us are frugal-minded and we don’t want to break their banks. But at the same time, they want to give us something we’ll really appreciate.

I’ve come up with a few things I do to create a budget-friendly Christmas list.

  • First, I specify that I’m perfectly fine with all books and most other stuff on the list being purchased used.

After all, what’s the point of demanding a new book? I’d prefer one without lots of underlining, but if having a broken spine doesn’t detract from my reading pleasure. There’s plenty of lightly-used books available through Amazon and such for a fraction of the price.

Used DVDs are normally fine as well. Gifters might want to give it a quick run-through and make sure it works.

  • Second, if you want something really big and expensive and come from an understanding family, explain that it’s all you really want for Christmas and ask if they’d consider going in on it together.

I didn’t exactly do this last Christmas, but I told my parents (who are quite generous and normally buy me several gifts), that I really wanted a certain quilting software and that I’d be perfectly fine if that was the only gift I got. I think I included some other ideas on my Christmas list–but I got the software, and it’s a lot of fun!

  • Third, only put one or two big-ticket items on it and puts lots of reasonably-priced stuff you like.

This is another tactic. That way you have a small chance of getting some thing more expensive you like, but you’re being understanding of other peoples’ budgets. Micah and I did this with our wedding registry. We asked for a few really nice things, but kept a lot of it below $40.

He’s opposed to registries, and I don’t like pressuring people to buy us stuff, but we went with one to help people get ideas of what we’d like. We also used “” which lets people buy the object from any store and simply mark it as bought. It takes a little while to figure out, but it allows people flexibility and bargain-shopping. We didn’t want to limit them to one store or its prices.

One of my cousins did this with an e-Christmas list he set up. Lots of items for $20 or less. I think that improves his chances.

  • Fourth, write a note on the list to the effect of “And no, I don’t care if it was on sale or a 2 for 1 deal.”

Ok, that came out a little crass. But some people get quite nervous over whether or not it’s valid to buy gifts on sale. Apparently some people care more about the price tag than the gift itself or the thought or the relationship. Those people should be given money. Or nothing.

  • Fifth, point people to freecycle, bookswap, etc.

Ok, I haven’t done this myself, what do you think? Freecycle or Bookswap often have good things basically for free. Of course, there’s the disadvantage that your giver will be expected to put something up for trade. But if they already use it, you could just suggest that they find something interesting for you on there and save themselves plenty.

  • Sixth, you don’t actually have to write a wishlist.

I come from a family where it’s the tradition. But if you tell people that you’re most interested in seeing them, and that you’d really like to plan some time together after the holidays (be considerate, since they may be quite busy during the holidays). Tell them that you would, of course, be grateful for anything they gave you, but that their friendship is what you really appreciate.

And mean it. This is no good if you then talk behind their backs about how cheap they are. People find out. Then you’ll get the reputation for being a two-faced jerk. And none of us wants to be a two-faced jerk. Right?

Really? Well, suit yourself…

This can, of course, translate to weddings, birthdays, babies, and any other time you’re expected to come up with a giant wishlist.

It’s supposed to be a happy time of year. Let’s not strain the pocketbooks of those we love most, but instead celebrate with them.

photo by Ali Edwards

{ 9 trackbacks }

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plonkee December 11, 2007 at 5:24 pm

Helping other people have a frugal Christmas. What a great idea.

I think people who care that the cost be as great as possible should definitely be given nothing.

Hilda December 11, 2007 at 8:27 pm

One of the biggest stresses of Christmas for me is figuring out what gift to give members of my family. Luckily, we’re doing secret Santa this year so, I’m only responsible for one person’s gift. I’m not as stressed anymore!

mrsmicah December 11, 2007 at 8:29 pm

Our family does the one-person thing too, which I find a lot less stressful. πŸ™‚ Though I’m not participating this year, which is also ok because everyone who’s in still gets a present. πŸ™‚

Ali December 11, 2007 at 10:46 pm

Thanks for using and crediting my photo :).

hank December 12, 2007 at 1:13 am

Grrrr – I actually posted and hit submit and my machine reboot, lets see if I remember what I wrote. πŸ™‚ So I was first just going to say I see you name on a lot of blogs I visit regularly as well, so we are clearly like-minded, but this is the first time I’ve landed (stumbledUpon) your site –
Like this post and I’m on board with Hilda and the Secret Santa gifting. I wish my family was that simple though. I’m going to bring it up this year and see how it goes – I was shopping for my fam this year mostly through Amazon. I’ve been too busy to shop in a REAL store, but I’ve found some good ways to find good deals on products so I think I kept it to one of my lowest spending Christmases (is that a word?) yet – Now just to count up my wifes spending… πŸ™‚ Nice post!

SavingDiva December 12, 2007 at 9:24 am

My family also requires a Christmas list…If I don’t make one, I get quite a few phone calls! I feel a little ridiculous, but at elast my family feels proud that they picked out something that I want.

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