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There was a time when the whole idea of gift giving probably made good sense. But one thing you might do is ask yourself whether it still makes any sense. In this day and age it might not make much sense at all. It might feel more like a requirement that a true heartfelt kind of thing. The best gift could be a shared experience such as the family dinner mentioned above. People tend to remember shared experiences more than actual gifts. If you don't believe this, try to remember the gifts that you received as a child. Now think about the actual holidays themselves. What stands out most in your mind – the gifts you received or those holiday meals and parties with your family members? If you’re typical what you'll remember most vividly are those holiday meals and not the dozens of gifts you received.
How about consumables?
The real fact is that most of your friends and family members probably don't really want anything you could afford to give them. The things they probably would like are stuff they typically can’t buy themselves like an Apple® or Windows® notebook computer or tablet, a 72” HDTV or a pool table. Once you understand this you can save a lot of money and yet please your friends and family members by making a donation to a child's college fund, that charitable donation mentioned above or a consumable like a four-pack of their favorite wine or a gift basket from Omaha Steaks or Harry and David's. One of the best things about giving a gift such as this is that one gift can cover an entire family. For example, if you have a brother that's married and has two children, a box from Omaha Steaks could be a great gift for the entire family and yet cost $70 or less. Compare this to the $30-$50 you might have to spend on each of them and you can see why this type of gift could make good sense as well as dollars and cents.
Track your spending
If you feel you really must give gifts to your friends and family members make sure that you track all of your spending against whatever budget you made. Sit down every few days and review what you have spent and how much you have left in your budget. If you find you've spent 80% of your budget and have six people left you want to buy gifts for, you may have to find ways to cut back on their gifts. We understand this is hard to do because after all it’s Christmas and you do want to make everybody happy. But as you have read there are ways to make people happy – especially friends – without lavishing them with expensive gifts. Handmade items can be especially good because you're not just giving a thing you're giving a part of yourself in terms of the time you spent making it. In addition, the right handmade gifts tend to have a longer "shelf life" than stuff you just buy. If you consider the gifts you've received over the years, the odds are that you still have that knitted sweater, homemade tool box or handcrafted ceramic bird from 20 years ago while that expensive shirt and tie set you got just five years ago is long gone to the trash pile or Goodwill.
Finally, here courtesy of National Debt Relief is a helpful video with tips about controlling your holiday spending ...