Don’t worry, this is not a blog about “finding the time to make thoughtful gifts for family and friends.” I suspect you don’t have the time or the energy to even begin thinking about that.

So, what can you do to keep costs down when it comes to present buying?

  1. Firstly, tackle the problem head on, ignoring it and hoping that it will get easier won’t help you and certainly will add to your anxiety levels.
  2. Write a list of all those you would like to buy presents for. Now, you have to be ruthless, who on that list do you buy for out of habit or because you are expected to buy for them? Put their names to one side on a different list. You should be left with those who it’s important to you that you buy for.
  3. Examine your 2nd Is this the year to stop buying for those that have been a habit? Can you explain that this year you are cutting back because EVERYONE is struggling and therefore you won’t be buying for them OR expect them to buy for you. You need to be really honest here and check in with yourself as to why you buy and for whom.
  4. Once you know who you need to/want to buy presents for, set a budget and stick to it. Again, this doesn’t have to be set in stone for ever but if things are particularly tight this year be realistic.
  5. Do you know what friends and family really want or do you buy because you see something that you like and think that they would like it too? This can prove expensive and sometimes a voucher or some money is actually much more appreciated than a “thoughtful gift” that you have imagined they’d like.
  6. It might be fun buying lots of little bits for a gift, but this can soon mount up. Maybe for this year, one nice gift within your budget would be more realistic and keep your spending under control.
  7. Things like “Secret Santa” or the equivalent where you draw names out of hat amongst a group of friends so you are just buying for one of the group can keep costs down.
  8. Agreeing with adults to only buy for the kids this year is a good way to manage a tight budget.

Below are some more ideas for cost effective gifts, they won’t work for everyone, but they might give you some ideas. For more information on present buying, see my worksheet on my website shop

  • Bundles of books – go to a charity shop and pick out 5 or 6 books, bundle them up with a gorgeous ribbon and a lovely message for the recipient.
  • Photo frame & picture – again you can get these from charity shops and then pick a significant picture that will mean something to the receiver.
  • Cinema tickets
  • Jars of favourite sweeties – get a cheap glass jar, fill with favourite sweeties and label with a message “antidote to stress” or “Kisses in a jar”
  • Book token or kindle gift voucher.
  • Photo books – look out for sales on websites like Snapfish or Photobox, you can make small photo books for minimal cost.

Just remember, everyone is in the same boat, if you can talk to people now, share thoughts on budgeting or not buying this year, you can significantly lessen your anxiety and you might be surprised how relieved the others will be!