There are few other times of the year that are as exciting as Christmas. With all the fun traditions, happy memories, and family gatherings, Christmas is a special holiday. However, for some, Christmas is merely a time full of stress and aggravation. Those feelings that you need to buy all the gifts and to be the perfect hostess can be quite burdensome and really take the joy out of the season. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Let me share with you some of my tips for buying Christmas gifts, and hopefully, your Christmas can be a little more merry.

Don’t feel obligated to buy a gift for everybody.

Do you feel pressured that you need to buy a gift for everyone that you are related to? How about everybody that you know? Well, let me tell you that you don’t need to feel this way. Christmas is a wonderful time to exchange gifts and have an excuse to buy something that someone really wants/needs, but this doesn’t mean that we need to go bankrupt. While it is not wrong to buy gifts for everybody, it is unnecessary to put yourself into deep debt and immense amounts of stress just to buy what’s on people’s wish lists. Try buying for only immediate family (spouse, children, parents, siblings, etc.). Once you get beyond this evaluate if you really need to buy anyone else a gift. If you think that someone may be feeling left out, you could try doing something else, such as taking them some baked goods. Another option is to give Christmas cards. This is an inexpensive way to give something while still being able to express your love and appreciation for that person. Remember, getting presents is not the true meaning of Christmas. So don’t be afraid to leave your second cousin, twice removed, married to a friend of your father’s sister’s great-nephew off of your shopping list.

Try buying one gift instead of several.

Don’t feel the need to buy everything on the wish lists. Try picking one item that you know that person will really enjoy and appreciate. Looking back, I can remember a few gifts that really stuck out to me and were truly special. Meanwhile, there are countless gifts that I have long forgotten and can’t remember who they came from. Children are especially susceptible to this. One minute they can’t live without such-and-such item and the next they’re begging for something else. And yes, adults do that too, in case you haven’t noticed. 😉 If you feel the need to buy more than just one item, you can try putting together a gift basket or a set of items. There are several great ideas on Pinterest that can give you inspiration, such as spa items, movie night gifts, and so on. None of these individual items cost much, but together they make a special gift that can easily be customized to whoever receives it.

Put a limit on how much you spend.

Look over your finances first and foremost and then look at the number of gifts you need to buy. Put a limit on how much you will allow yourself to spend either on the overall total of all the gifts, or a limit on each individual gift. For example, Tim and I decided to spend only about $25 for each of our gifts. For everyone else, we decided to spend between $5-10 for each gift. You might be surprised at how much you can buy for that much money. If you do a little shopping around, compare prices, and watch for sales, coupons, or discounts, you can hunt out some great finds. Do what works for you, but try to set a limit and keep to it.

Only spend what’s in your bank account.

As easy as it may be to whip out the well-loved plastic rectangle and watch your checking account go untouched, this is not helping your finances. A good rule to follow is that if you cannot afford to make a purchase with the money in your bank account, you cannot afford to buy it. If you do choose to pay with a credit card, make sure that it is small purchases, as in ones that you can easily pay off in one or two payments. The larger the purchase, the longer it will take to pay down/off. This equals debt and debt is not good. There are some forms of debt that cannot be avoided, such as mortgages and vehicle loans, but Christmas gifts should not be weighing down your finances.

Buy online to compare prices.

Whatever your financial status or your income level, one of the best ways to buy gifts is online. Or at least to use the internet to compare prices. While I was doing some Christmas shopping, I noticed that three different stores carried the same item. I was able to compare prices and delivery methods to get the best deal. So even if you find the perfect gift at Walmart, make sure you check with Amazon, etc. before purchasing. You may find a sale or coupon giving you an even lower price. Remember, Walmart is not always cheaper…and sometimes it is 🙂

Christmas shopping should be fun, not a chore. Try some of these tips to save some money this year. Give yourself the luxury of less stress and debt so you can sit back and enjoy this beautiful time of year. So this Christmas season, even if you don’t get a white Christmas (*cough*Georgia*cough*), maybe your Christmas can be a little greener.