It may be the season to be jolly, but its hard to keep up the holiday cheer when you’re down to your last centavo. Giving gifts is a big part of Christmas, but does it always mean coming home with loads of shopping bags and a gaping hole in your wallet? Not so. There are many ways to stay within your budget and still make family and friends feel special at this time of the year.
KEEP THINGS IN ORDER • Make a list. Irmina Pantanosas, vice president and treasury services manager of Bank of America, makes an Excel file record of everyone on her list, her budget per person, and actual price of the purchased gift. “I am able to see if I am still within budget. If I go over the budget with some items, then I adjust the cost of other items.” She continues, “Every year, I just add another worksheet and refer to the previous one, so I don’t end up giving the same thing to the same person. “It can be just a handwritten list. The idea is to make a visual plan that helps you stay on track. • Create categories. Group together people in a family and think of a gift they can all enjoy. The children of Pantanosas’ old friends, for example, have become part of her list, so she gives a basket of baked goodies to the whole family. Or go or something that promotes family bonding like a board game, a DVD, or a scrapbooking kit. • Suggest the monito-monita gift-giving scheme with your relatives. This is the best way to go, especially for big clans. Agree on a reasonable cap for the price of the gift. Ask for their wishlist. Knowing exactly what your monito wants is a big time-saver, too. • Pool your resources. Get others to chip in for a group gift to lessen the expense and stretch your budget for one person. Consider this when giving gifts to your childrenís teachers or your boss! More interesting ideas are bound to come up when you brainstorm with other moms or officemates, and pitch in for a common gift.
OUT-OF-THE BOX • Have a book swap. Let your child choose one book from his collection to swap with a classmate. Introduce the activity by reading a story about friendship or giving. It would also be nice to include a fun activity such as bookmark-making using scrap materials like old folders, buttons, yarns, or old ribbons. You might also want to have your own book-swap party with other bookworm moms.
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