As much as I LOOOOOVE Christmas (I love the Christmas tree lights, I love the smell of Christmas, I love Christmas music, and I even love the Christmas burning fireplace channel).  But to be honest, I usually dread the potential massive credit card bills of this holiday season and usually begin ruminating about how much this tradition is going to cost me.  I usually think about how much I need to spend for each person.  I usually make a list and check it twice. 😉

I have a few girl friends who I travel with and who I love hanging out with, but there are about 5-6 of them.  If I spent $25 to $30 each on a present (which is pretty much what I’ve done in the past), that could easily add up to $200 spent on Christmas presents.  And this DOES NOT include presents for my family and BF’s family!

So I suggested to my friends that we start a tradition of homemade gifts for each other (but absolutely refuse to call it: Recession or starving student budget presents haha).  There are a few good reasons for making your own gifts:

PROS of Homemade Gifts:

  • gift Pictures, Images and PhotosCheap!  Buy a bunch of supplies or ingredients and make a batch of presents
  • You can show off your creative side
  • Unique and unforgettable- isn’t it the thought that counts?
  • Everyone gets the same thing so friends don’t feel alienated or left out if their present isn’t as good as others’

CONS of Homemade Gifts:

  • It takes time
  • It is easy to go overboard and want to make/create the best homemade gift
  • It might not be useful
  • Sometimes the supplies and cost of purchasing new ingredients can add up too

Some ideas that are practical and useful and people may look forward to receiving them.  I think I would much rather receive something practical that I can use rather than something that would just sit there to collect dust.

Some Practical Homemade Gift Ideas (the “How To” can easily be Googled)

  • Homemade Baileys (this is what I’m doing- and no, it’s not an excuse to buy a 750mL bottle of Irish Whiskey for myself haha).  I’m planning to buy cute mason jars and decorate them with a candy cane.
  • Homemade spice rubs (for example, taco seasoning, meat rub etc.)
  • A Hollow Book (I personally LOVE this idea but I’m worried my friends might think its tacky- you carve a hole in an old book so you can hide your expensive stuff in it in case of a break and enter!)
  • Homemade magnets
  • Homemade bath salts
  • Homemade soap
  • Chocolate Syrup or any cookies, baking, etc. etc.

Initiate a Secret Santa Gift Exchange

Another way to save money (which thankfully BF’s family suggested and not me) is to do a Secret Santa gift exchange.  So instead of buying presents for my BF’s brother in law, and two sisters, I just need to buy a gift for one person now.  You can make your own rules with the gift exchange (e.g. spend no more than $50, the amount of presents doesn’t matter as long as it is under $50 in cost).

BF found this website called Boogspace, which claims to be the ultimate Secret Santa Gift Exchange website.  It’s free to sign up and you input the people in the gift exchange, and it randomly generates your secret santa for you.  You can even post up your wishlist (which I personally find tacky, because then what’s the point of secret santa?) and you can then invite your family and friends to view the name of the person they need to buy a gift for.

Other Secret Santa Generators are:

Most Importantly…

Try and stick to your budget.  Make your list and add the costs of each gift up.

It can be really easy to get carried away, especially since, according to Statscan and the Canadian census, the average Canadian spent $800+ on Christmas gifts in 2005 (can you imagine what is is in 2011??)   Apparently Albertans are even more generous, and spent over $1000+ on Christmas gifts in the same year.

Readers, how much are you budgeting to spend this year for your Christmas gifts?  Do you usually stick to your budget or do you find you go under or go over?