Q: My husband and I are immigrants and over the years, our extended family has grown a lot. While we really enjoy getting together to celebrate Christmas each year, we don't look forward to the amount of time and money we spend to buy gifts for all 30 relatives. As a result, we usually put this off until Dec. 24. Not only does this make the season less joyous for us, we can't really afford it. What can we do?
A: Buying 30 gifts at the last minute would be hard for anyone to do, let alone on Dec. 24, when the stores are at their busiest with other shoppers doing what you're doing. Everyone feels stressed and pressured, which often leads to poor financial choices.
The good news is that you still have nearly two weeks before you exchange gifts, so think about what you can do to save your sanity on Dec. 24.
Finding even an hour today to look at your budget and plan your gift list will save you the nightmare of Christmas past when the bills arrive in January.
Here are some things to consider:
- Look at your budget and decide what you can afford to spend. While it's too late to draw names, 30 gifts for $20 each is still $600. If that's too much, it's time to make your funds stretch as far as possible. Keep reading.
- Check flyers, look online and ask other family members what someone would like. Last minute shopping is easier if you've got a list and good ideas.
- Consider if you can add to a gift from someone else. If a person bought an iPod, could you contribute an iTunes gift card?
- If you need to buy for a whole family, consider gift certificates for family activities: A pass to the movies, recreation centre, museum or special show. Make up your own gift voucher and ask them to let you know which pass they'd like. By the time they get back to you, you will already have paid off some of the other gifts.
- With delivery at a store, there may still be time to buy online. Then it's just a matter of picking up what you've bought.
The season isn't about how much you spend on the people you love; it's about spending time with the people you care about and making happy memories to look back on in the future.
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