(Cheap) Holiday Gifting

Gifting can be tricky: Who is on your list? Can you afford to gift with all your friends? What about your coworkers? Here is a quick guide to holiday gifting from someone who is young and broke.

A good place to start with gifting is to make a list. Who is on it? Do some of them get more expensive gifts than others?

Try splitting your list into groups. I broke my list into A, B, and C and assigned each group a budget range. This helped me budget the entire cost of my holiday shopping before I started looking.

Making Sure the Perfect Gift is the Cheapest Gift

Once you find the perfect gift, make sure to Google it before you buy it. There are so many retailers out there, you never know if you are going to find your gift on sale on a different website. I unexpectedly saved 75% on a gift this year because Neiman Marcus’s Last Call had a one-day sale I stumbled across in a last minute Google!

Gifting with Friends

Let’s say you have made your list and there is just no way you can give each of your friends a substantial gift this holiday season. Consider banding together for a Secret Santa (or Secret Snowflake) gift exchange. You can set a cost ceiling ($20 max is a good idea) to keep anyone from outspending anyone else but still devote your attention to one perfect gift. Additionally, you and your friends will probably get more thoughtful gifts. It’s a lot easier (and cheaper) to find the perfect gift for one person than five.

Also consider gifting an experience. If you are a good cook, gift a home cooked meal. Or a movie night. It’s thoughtful and you get to spend more time with your friend.

What About the Co-workers?

Office gifting can be super awkward. One way to share the love is to host an office White Elephant gift exchange. My office hosts one every year and we reward a “trophy” to the best White Elephant gift each year. The goal of the gift exchange is to re-gift an item, usually one with a story behind it. You are not supposed to buy things! These are just our rules but the basic idea is the same and everyone goes home with a gift.

But what about your boss? Should you get them a gift? First off, good boss etiquette says they should be gifting you something—especially if you don’t qualify for a bonus of any sort. You have worked hard all year and you deserve that recognition. I personally am getting my bosses gifts because they are pretty solid people. But last year I had only been working at my office for a couple weeks–I had no idea what to do! My advice today would be to ask around and find out what the precedent is. Maybe the office pools together funds and buys everyone the same gift. Or maybe everyone is chipping in $5 to buy the department head (or front office manager) a gift card to his or her favorite restaurant. Be aware of the office culture around gifting and if you do decide to go against the norm, try to be discreet about it.

Photo by Anastasia Heuer

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