Finding the Perfect Gift Under Budget

The key to NOT overspending on Christmas gifts is to shop with a solid plan. These 6 tips keep me coming in under budget year after year, and are proven to give you extra breathing room AND money left over. Also includes a FREE Christmas List Ideas Printable {with budget} so you can stay on track throughout the season!

This post may contain affiliate links. Read my full disclosure policy here.

I had NO idea the key to not overspending on Christmas gifts was to shop with a solid plan. Who ever heard of PLANNING Christmas shopping? I'm so used to last-minute shopping, but these 6 tips are keeping me *under* budget this year! It's unbelievable! My husband is so happy about how the budget looks now! The FREE printable Christmas Gift Budget Sheet is keeping us on track this holiday season! #holidayspending #christmasbudget #giftideas #christmasgifts #frugalgiftguide

Christmas isn’t supposed to be all about glitter and gifts, but let’s be honest — everyone will probably be buying a little something special this year for that special someone on their list. While that’s a pretty hard task in itself, {no seriously, what do you buy the grandma that has everything?} the hardest part of all is not over-spending.

The advertisements, magazine-worthy gift guides, and enticingly low prices promise to find you the perfect gift, but when it comes right down to it, their bottom line is way more important than your financial interest and ability to pick the winning present. Harsh, I know, but unfortunately, it’s true!

Retailers want you to fill bulging shopping bags with the latest must-have items in exchange hundreds of dollars on your credit card — money you probably didn’t intend to spend in the first place — at least not THAT much.

It’s time to stop shopping without a plan and get all your finances in order before you head out to the first store on your list. These 6 tips have kept me coming in under budget year after year, and will give you extra breathing room and money left over!

1. Use a Christmas gift budget sheet

First, start by making a list of everyone you need to buy for. You can do a separate “would like” to buy for list later for money left over, but the necessary gifts are first priority. Then write down the ideal budget price point for every person on your list and brainstorm 2-3 ideas each. You can use The Ultimate List of Creative, Unique, and Frugal Gift Ideas if you get stuck.

It’s best to do this part in pencil just in case you need to erase something and start over. Whenever you buy a gift, write down what it was, and exactly how much it cost. That way, you’ll always have everything written down in once place and can keep an ongoing tally of prices so you don’t go over budget.

At first, I created my Christmas Gift Budget Sheet on a simple lined sheet of paper, but now I use this snazzy spreadsheet. If you’d like to download a copy for yourself, just pop your email address in the box below and I’ll get it sent out straight away!

2. Don’t reveal prices

For a deal-finder myself, I know how hard it is not to tell someone the price I paid, especially when I scored that item at such a crazy low cost. But doing this could actually cost you more in the long run!

Here’s what I mean:

If you have a budget $25.00 for mom and found the perfect sweater on the clearance rack for $15.00, you kind of, sort of, feel like you need to spend $10.00 more to make it even, right? Well, normally. But in this case, you really shouldn’t.

Instead, keep that awesome price tag all to yourself, and use the extra cash towards something else or to buy items on your “would like to buy for” list. Seriously, no one needs to know!

3. Go handmade

Christmas is the perfect time to get crafty and start creating. I often find that for the price of just one item at the store, you can buy craft supplies to make at least three to four more gifts. I have stretched my budget further than I ever thought it would go, just by setting aside some time to make my own!

Here’s a few ideas based on the type of crafter you are:

  • If you’re a sewer, think tote bags, rice bags, or seasonal pillows.
  • If you’re a knitter, make a few extra scarves and hats.
  • If you’re a paper crafter, a simple embellished note card set or journal make great gifts.
  • If you’re a baker, put together a cookie mix or a few foodie gift baskets.

For even more handmade gift giving ideas, make sure you also follow my DIY Gifts board on Pinterest. I share new tutorials and pins there every week!

Follow Kalyn // Creative Savings’s board DIY Gifts on Pinterest.

4. Don’t buy the hottest new item

The newest tech toys and gadgets are almost always way overpriced. Practice patience and wait until they come down in cost. Most often this happens within the next few months after the novelty has worn off and the gift giving season is officially over.

Joseph has wanted an iPad for at least the last 2 years, but he didn’t need an iPad. We waited and are now finally able to buy it for him without sacrificing our hard-earned paycheck. In fact, I think he’s even more excited about receiving it now, since the he waited so long for it!

Remember, anticipation breeds appreciation. Use this as a teachable time and show your kiddos that they {and you} don’t need the latest and greatest to be content. You’ll save a few dollars too!

5. Go in with family members to buy a larger gift

One of the reasons we were able to afford that iPad I mentioned earlier was because everyone in my immediate family was willing to chip in for it. Everyone’s contribution, including my own, was just enough to make that purchase. Joseph’s birthday being in early January made it even more possible to get him the gift he really wanted.

A word of warning though — whenever you go the contribution route, make sure you keep track of everybody’s “donation”. Write down each person’s name and the specific amount they gave on the receipt or online purchase printout. Keeping a tally will make sure you don’t overspend and make up the difference yourself.

In fact, it’s a really good idea to start a separate file folder or envelope labeled “Christmas Receipts” to keep all Christmas purchases in one place anyway. This not only helps in figuring how much you spent this year {and can expect to spend the next}, it also provides easy access to the proper documents when a family member needs to make a return.

6. Start saving for next year

I am a firm believer that it’s never too early to save for Christmas. In fact, one of the core reasons why I’m able to come in right around or under budget every year is because I set aside enough money every week to cover it. Yep, I budget!

It’s really not as hard as you might think, and yes, I believe absolutely everyone should budget — I don’t care how much you make. Otherwise, you’re just stealing money from one category to pay for the other, and you never get far enough ahead to save for anything extra.

To show you just how easy it is to do this, I created a step-by-step guide you can follow in my post called, The Smart Way to Save for Christmas. I recommend you read that, download the printables, and follow my proven system to make sure you’re never caught off guard by Christmas expenses ever again.

When Christmas comes around, you don’t want to stress about gifts or feel out of control shopping for them. And now, you won’t have to. These tips are your ticket to a Christmas filled with joy and peace, instead of worrying about all the money you *think* you have to spend.

How do you budget for Christmas gifts?

{Go to Day 2: Connecting Gifts with Personality}

The key to NOT overspending on Christmas gifts is to shop with a solid plan. These 6 tips keep me coming in under budget year after year, and are proven to give you extra breathing room AND money left over. Also includes a FREE printable Christmas Gift Budget Sheet so you can stay on track throughout the season!

Disclosure: Some of the links in the post above are affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. Read my full disclosure policy here.

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  1. Dear Kaylin,

    I have to say that your blog is awsome,i love it!
    As I m a student I really need some advice to save money and you’re helping me so much!

    chiara from Italy

  2. Great suggestions. We use spreadsheets for both our regular budget and our Christmas budget. {Side note: I absolutely LOVE spreadsheets! I know, that’s kind of weird.} It’s easier to say no to buying certain gifts when we have a paper in front of us screaming that it’s beyond our budget!

    Granted, I absolutely love buying gifts for people, so even when I do find a great sale – I tend to use the whole budget on that person anyway πŸ™‚ It’s kind of a game for me, to find the most gifts for the least amount of money.

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