How to Save Money on Gifts for Family and Friends

It’s tough to buy gifts on a budget.  You want to get nice things for your friends and family, but you don’t want to empty out your savings to do it.  Here are some tips for having the best of both worlds.

How to Save Money on Gifts for Family and Friends

1. Buy Year-Round

If you see something on clearance or a great sale, think about who you know that would enjoy it.  Many people miss out on great deals on gifts because they see the perfect gift and fail to realize it, because it’s not the right time of year to buy the gift.  When someone receives the perfect gift…they don’t care when the gift was bought or how much it cost…they just know that they love it! This is especially true if it’s something non-perishable. If you see a keepsake your mother would love, but her birthday’s not for a few months, invest now! You never know what could happen down the road that could mess up your ability to buy it later.

2. Shop Clearance

Again, if someone gets a gift they love, they won’t care if you got a great deal.  Shopping clearance for gifts is something you can do when you’re confident that the other person will enjoy the gift.  If you’re not sure, don’t buy a clearance item, because it can backfire.  If that person tries to return the gift and discovers you bought it for $1.00, they may be offended.

3. Buy One Get One Free

This works especially well for recipients who have the same tastes as you.  If you love what you’re buying, usually your friends and family with similar tastes will, too.  This is a great way to save while still getting stuff you want (or buying two gifts for the price of one).

4. Make Your Own

Some of my most treasured gifts are things that my friends and family made for me.  The secret to a great homemade gift is two-fold: make something you can make well and choose to make something thoughtful.  If you’re making food, choose to make something you know the other person loves to eat.  If you’re painting them a picture, try to paint something meaningful to the other person.

5. Go Thoughtful, Not Expensive

The most expensive gift in the world will still not be appreciated if it’s not thoughtful and suitable for the person you’re giving it to.  On the other hand, even a simple gift can be treasured if it’s really thoughtful.  Try not to default to buying the most expensive gift you can think of.  Instead, think back to interactions you’ve had with the gift recipient throughout the year.  Did they mention something they wanted?  What are their hobbies?  Often, you can find something people will love that is not very expensive.

6. Offer Your Services

If you are really good at something, you can offer a free service.  If you are great at cleaning, offer to clean a busy mom’s house. If you’re great at home improvements, offer to tackle a project for someone.  If you are a good cook, offer to cook a dinner.  This is an especially good gift idea if the other person lacks skill in the area you gift.

7. Gift Exchanges

What if, instead of spending $20 on 30 people at Christmas, you could spend $50 on one?  That’s $550 in savings, and everyone would get one gift that is more expensive than all the smaller gifts that people would have normally gotten them.  Gift exchanges can be a great way to save money, and gift-giving will focus on quality, instead of quantity.

Josh Bouska likes to shop, travel & save money at

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