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Christmas gifts.

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In today’s Savings & Swag, we’re looking just a few weeks ahead to gift-giving season.  We always have people for whom we need to choose a small token of appreciation, like teachers, nurses, hairstylists, bosses, employees, neighbors… but sometimes it’s hard to find a good gift.  Let’s see how we can choose thoughtful, useful gifts without breaking the bank.

Try to choose consumable gifts.  People in professions such as teaching often receive little knick-knack gifts: paperweights shaped like an apple, “#1 Teacher” Christmas ornaments, etc.  These are cute gifts, but after just a year or two on the job, the collection begins to grow beyond usefulness into clutter.  Here are some ideas for enjoyable, consumable gifts:

Cookies, candy, and baked goods

Movie ticket vouchers

Candles and lotions

Gourmet coffee or tea

Gift cards


Money always fits.  For people in service industries (like hairdresser, dry cleaner, manicurist, paper delivery person, masseuse, pet groomer, housekeeper, etc.), a monetary gift over and above the standard tip is appropriate.

Decide on a gift-giving budget, and stick to it.  Make a list of all the people outside of family for whom you plan to purchase a gift.  Then take this list and divide it into two smaller lists: one list of people to whom you will give home-baked or home-made gifts, and another list of the ones for whom you plan to purchase gifts.  Decide on a budget for your baking and crafts, based on what you already have at home.  Then decide on your spending limits for the gift-buying list.  Once you have determined your budget, stick to it.  And keep in mind, these are appreciation gifts – they don’t have to be big.  Most of these people receive multiple gifts from students, patients, and clients, and in this case it really is the thought that counts!

I hope these tips make your holiday gift-giving a little smoother.

Do you have a great tip?  Have a question about something I mentioned?  Leave a comment!