Amazing Kids! Magazine

Ways to Save Money on Gifts over the Holidays

By Ryan Traynor, Editor-in-Chief


We’re well into the holiday season already and everyone is making their lists of what presents they want. Soon you’ll have to face the reality, however, that it would be nice to give presents, as well as receive. Sometimes the best gift you can get over Christmas is a smile from someone that may feel forgotten or unloved.  Those smiles come from giving presents that really mean something to the other person. A gift can evoke a memory of something good that has happened in the past, let someone know you are really listening by giving them something that means something special to them, or make someone hopeful by giving them something they’ve wanted to get for a while. We are faced with a problem, however. As kids, we don’t make that much money through chores, work, or gifts. Therefore, finding ways to save money on gifts over the holidays is a challenge worth exploring. Here are some ways to scrimp while still making your gifts special:

Create a Detailed Budget

Before you buy anything, you need to know how much you have available to spend. Write down everyone you want to give gifts to on a list. Assign a specific amount you want to spend for each person on your list. Total up the amount and see if you have that much money saved. If not, figure out ways to earn it, or revise your list with more realistic spending limits. Be sure to review this whole list of tips before deciding to spend money. Sometimes homemade gifts that cost little will be your best option to make someone happy.

Spread out your Purchases over a longer Period of Time

If you leave your purchases until the last minute, you’ll probably overpay on certain items. By buying items over a few months, you can look for sales, discounts, and alternative items.

Turn Old Gadgets into Holiday Money

Look at your electronic devices such as old mobile phones, tablets, computers and video game consoles. You can sell them (even damaged) on sites online and you can also sell or trade in used DVDs or video games at stores like Game Stop, Best Buy, Target and Walmart.

Used can be as Good as New

Look at garage sales or even check with friends to see if you can buy some of their items used. You can also find items online that have been fixed like new, for a much cheaper price. This is called being refurbished. Buying older models also can save you big bucks.

List and Cash Shopping

Shop with your list and an envelope with your cash. As you buy items, mark them down. In this way you cannot spend more money than you have without adjusting your list.

Shop at your local Dollar, Thrift or Discount Store

Enter your local Dollar or discount store with an open mind. Many things can be put together with a creative flair to create something wonderful. For instance, Place some decorative stickers or buttons on a photo frame for something personal and fun. Take a vase and put a great ribbon on it. Use markers that work on glass to draw a special picture for someone that will be there a long time after the flowers die. Take plain ornaments and add sparkle, colorful thread, googly eyes, or even toothpicks and cotton balls to make something creative.

Make Items from Things Around the House

You’d be surprised how many great things can be made by leftover items found in closets and drawers. For instance, you can cut out pretty pictures from old cards to make ornaments. Or take an old plain candle, have your parents cut off the old burnt top, add some buttons or puff paint to the outside, and the candle will be like new.

Take Memories to Make Your Gift

If someone is special enough to get a present for, then you probably have some good times together that you’ve shared. Find some old pictures and cut them to fit inside a clear glass square box – you’ve created a very memorable holder for pens, paper clips or other items. Take more pictures and create a calendar. There are templates on the internet that you can print out and decorate above the months with your pictures.

Give the Gift of Yourself

Think about the things your person needs occasionally or likes about you and create a coupon book. This coupon book can be for items like: 1 Free Hug, Taking your Trash Cans up From the Street, Giving You a Back Rub, Calling Once a Week, Going to Bed on Time, or even Letting them Win an Argument with No Objection. You can also offer other things and make certificates for them and put them in a box. They can be babysitting, dog-walking, or gardening.

Give a Small Gift Each Month

If you buy someone a magazine subscription, each month they will remember you. These can be very inexpensive. You can also decide to bring one flower a month to a neighbor. It will always make them smile.

Bake a Gift

Use tins or containers you can find in your home or at the Dollar Store and fill them with baked goods. Your recipient will know you put a little bit of yourself into every bite. If you’re really good at cooking (Check out our Cook Time Column) then maybe you could even bring a whole meal to an elderly neighbor or single person nearby.

Give Something to Others in their Name

If you have someone that doesn’t need anything, how about telling them that you will volunteer at a local shelter or soup kitchen for 4 hours in their name. You could also buy a tree for the city or do other acts of charity that will mean something to them and also give something to others – you double your impact!

Give Time Together Rather than Things

People appreciate you taking the time to be with them. Offer a game night or a trip to a local museum. How about a picnic in the park, a movie, or a jog at the school once a week?

Shop the Clearance Bins

Clearance bins sometimes hold some real finds if you look through them before they get picked over. Ask the store when they put items in the bins and be first in line the next week.

Create a Gift Basket

Look around the house for leftover items in a theme and create a gift basket that has meaning. You can put a candy box, popcorn, and a soda in a basket or bowl with a movie ticket or DVD and you have a “Movie Night.” You can package pasta, tomato sauce, bread, cheese, and cookies for an “Italian Dinner.” Think about what your person really likes to do and create a basket just for them. If they are an artist, create a basket of art supplies. If they are a swimmer, you can put together a basket of goggles, sunscreen, towel, and a book. This is a simple way to make a group of simple items become something special.

Use your own Talents

Most people can sing a little. How about taking some friends down to a senior center and singing some carols? They will be very appreciative. Take your family around the neighborhood and share your voice with your neighbors. If you are an artist, draw some pictures or paint some paintings and give them to friends.

Write a Thank You

Sometimes at holiday times, people can feel unappreciated. Write a thank you card for someone that may never get the thanks they deserve. This can be your crossing guard at school, your mailman, your friendly grocery store clerk, or the newspaper delivery man. Last year I made a video thank you to soldiers who were away from their families during the holidays. I found a charity site that posted these for soldiers and I felt really good being able to do this for them.

Remember any gift from the heart will be worth more than any really expensive gift. Take the time to think about the person and what they enjoy and value, and your meaningful gift will stand out from the rest. It will make you feel good giving it too.