It can be hard to get into the Christmas spirit when your bank account is basically pleading with you to halt any and all spending. Although it doesn't make things any easier, we're all feeling the pinch this year.
But fear not, we're not turning into Grinches this year and we're not getting into debt to buy wasteful, OTT presents that might get ignored right after the Christmas lunch leftovers expire.
Make Online Shopping Work Harder For You
Online shopping can feel overwhelming at the best of times, thanks to the endless options, but there are a few ways to make it work harder for you (and not the other way around).
It's time to start signing up for newsletters from all your favourite retailers because we are bargain-hunting this year. Heck, even making a separate email account to ensure notifications about sale events and one-off discounts don't get lost in a sea of spam could be a good shout, too. Mark the dates in your calendar, get your wishlists and card details ready, and go.
Planning early so you can make the most of sales events is also a great option. From Black Friday to random flash sales, you'll be surprised how much you can cut down on your spending. Downloading plugins such as Honey for your browser can also help scour the internet for discount codes while shopping.
Checking online stores for their curated gift lists could also provide some inspiration for budget-friendly gifts when all feels lost. For example, The Body Shop has a huge range of thoughtful gifts for $25 and under, which would work perfectly for an office secret Santa present, or a gift pack for a friend heading on a luxe Bali getaway.
Lastly, shopping for more than one person at each retailer will also help you save some coin on shipping when you are shopping online.
Head To The IRL Stores (But Try To Beat The Crowds)
I know that the thought of heading into a major shopping complex, finding parking and getting nudged by fellow stressed shoppers might sound like the seventh circle of hell at this time of year (not to mention Michael Bubl`e playing on repeat at every store). But it's a great way to save some money.
Firstly, you won't waste money on shipping fees. Secondly, if you go into a shopping centre with a pre-prepared list of everything you need to get, it will curb any aimless wandering and frazzled, last-minute spending. Lastly, given just how stressful heading into the shops the week of Christmas is, it'll force you to get your shopping done early and eliminate the need to shop on Christmas Eve, when you'll inevitably spend a significant amount on a gift purely because you didn't plan your gift properly.
There might be something wrong with me, but getting into a shopping centre at 9 am (before the crowds) on a stiflingly hot December day, grabbing a coffee as a little treat, whacking in your Airpods and attacking your Christmas shopping like a mission sounds exhilarating.
Opt For Something Sentimental
When done right, nothing can top a sentimental gift. There are plenty of ways to go about it. For a coworker, you could get a mug printed with one of their iconic Slack one-liners; for a good pal, a scrapbook of memories from a holiday or high school is always a safe bet.
My friend Celeste and I always get each other sentimental gifts. For example, for my 18th birthday, she bought a skate deck from Kmart and painted it herself with blink-182's logo. This year for Christmas, I'm getting the sheet of lyrics she hand-wrote on the back of a schoolbook that I've kept for nine years framed.
The idea struck me as I was cleaning out my desk — which is just some extra motivation to get spring cleaning and search for a bit of nostalgic inspiration.
On the flip side, you could also opt for a gift that gives back to a cause close to the giftee's heart. For example, making a donation in the name of your wildlife-warrior friends' name to a charity like Pet Rescue or RSPCA could be an amazing shout. Seeking out gifts that were both ethically made and give back to the community — like The Body Shop's Christmas gift range — could really mean a lot too.
Sentimental gifts that are also an inside joke or a novelty also generally tend to be on the more affordable side, so it's a win-win.
Get Busy In The Kitchen
Making gingerbread cookies, brownies and fruit mince pies in bulk (and wrapping them up in cute little jars or boxes) is a cost-effective and thoughtful way to spread Christmas cheer. Given just how much plastic packaging is involved with most bought gifts, reducing your waste with a baked good is an eco-friendly gift option, too. Besides, who has ever been disappointed with receiving cake as a gift?
Organise Group Gifts
This one may seem obvious, but aside from major birthday milestones and bidding farewell to coworkers, group gifts seem to fall by the wayside around Christmas time. It's not only a great way to reduce the waste of multiple small gifts, but you'll manage to get one bigger and better gift split between multiple people. Anything from an investment bag, to a major upgrade on their skincare and makeup collection, could be a go here.
If you opt for just one of these options this year, you'll probably save at least an extra bit of cash that could be used elsewhere. Christmas is an expensive time in general, and on top of gifts, the parties, outfits and cost of getting to and from events can add up.
At the end of the day, this time of year is a chance to focus on generosity and kindness — the phrase 'it's the thought that counts' obviously gets thrown around a lot, but it does hold a lot of weight at Christmas. Going smaller and more meaningful with your gifts will always trump expensive and impersonal — at least to us.
Looking for more meaningful gifting ideas? Head to our Conscious Giving page to help you celebrate more intentionally this year.