A Gift of Tips for Gift-Giving This (and Every) Holiday Season

I’m one to talk. Every year I overspend on gifts. But you know how it goes; sometimes it’s hard to heed your own advice. Even still, I have saved money and some aggravation as a result of using the methods I list below. Which means, yes, I would have spent even more without them. I’m hoping you’ll benefit from these gift-giving tips, too.

Start making lists early

So it’s a little late already. That’s okay. What you want to do is make a list of all of those who will be benefiting from your generosity (and this post) this season. (You may want to use a spreadsheet to do this, especially for the step in the next paragraph.) Then, if they’ve already specified what they want, note it. If not, list their interests. For example, maybe your niece loves koalas, or drawing. And your dad loves football, history, or movies. Be both specific and general. If you’re too specific, you may overlook something that might be a great gift just because it wasn’t what you had in mind.

Determine your gift budget, and put that amount at the top of your sheet. Then fill in the amounts you’re willing to spend on each person. In the next column, enter the formula to subtract that amount from your total budget. You don’t want to be left buying something at the last minute, not only because the gift will likely be less personal, but also because you’ll be more likely to overspend out of desperation.

Use Pinterest

Pinterest is a great place to save any gift ideas, not just now, but throughout the year. Just make sure that you mark the board “private” so that any of your recipients who follow you won’t be tipped off!

Install the Pinterest browser plug-in. When you find something on any website that you think would make a good gift, click on the Pinterest logo next to your browser search field, and pin the item to the gift board you just created.

I find this really useful so that you can see your ideas next to each other. You can create a single board or one for each person.

Use Honey to track price changes and get the best buy

I’ve mentioned the Honey browser extension before. Most people know that it’s great for making sure you use the best available coupon codes when you make a purchase online. But what you may not know is that it also has a feature that allows you to track the price of a given item with many retailers. If the price drops, you’ll get an alert. I’ve found Honey to be particularly useful on Amazon, where it will instantly tell me if I can save money by buying the same item through a different Amazon seller, in addition to tracking recent price changes to let me know if this is a good time to buy. Again, all you need to do is install the browser extension and sign up. This is not only one of my favorite gift-giving tips, it’s also one of my favorite shopping tips.

Buy at the right time, and there’s never a perfect time

You can’t be guaranteed that the moment you buy you’ll be getting the best-ever price. But if you’re buying an item that is specific and/or popular, waiting too long to buy could mean that it won’t be available one you finally decide to purchase. Check the return policies, which may be different around the holidays (some retailers abbreviate their return window). You may be able to buy the item, and then return and buy it again at a lower price if you find it for less elsewhere. Or, if the price changes at the same retailer within a brief amount of time, see if they’ll grant you a price adjustment.

Give the gift of yourself

Of course, you may not need or want to buy anything. Sometimes the best gift is a gift only you can give: yourself. Can you babysit for your nieces and nephews? Clean your parents’ house? Drive a non-driving family member to and from errands? Help a friend pack for a move? Create a gift certificate on your computer or by hand, and put it in a nice envelope or roll it into a scroll with a ribbon. Often time is the best gift of all.

What about you? Do you have any of your own gift-giving tips to share? What are your biggest gift-giving challenges? Share below so we can help each other!

Robyn Kern is the Tangentier. A long-time writer based in Los Angeles with a degree in screenwriting and an interest in mindfulness, many tangents led her here: a place where people can come to find and share inspiration, dwell in each others' passions, and learn how to surround themselves with what they love on the daily.

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