‘Tis The Season: 5 Ways To Save On Gift Giving

5 Gift Giving Tips to Avoid Awkward Gifting & Save Money I love giving gifts.

I really do! If I had unlimited funds, I would get all my friends and family gifts for the holidays, their birthdays, and randomly in between when I see things that make me think of them. But, unfortunately, I don’t have that kind of money (sorry, folks).  There are ways to stretch your dollar when it comes to gift giving, but some of those ways can be tricky.  So, here are 5 ways to save on gift giving this holiday season, along with some tips regarding each one.  It’s like a tip inception, really…

1. Regifting Rules

I figured I’d dive in head first here and talk about regifting right away. Regifting is a tricky beast, and one that often raises hackles.  However, when done right, regifting can actually be a great thing.  So how do you regift right?  Well…

  • Make sure whatever you’re regifting is brand new, never used, and still in its original packaging or has its original tags on it.
  • Don’t give an item you’ve used as a gift.  Really, if you want to give someone something you’ve used, just ask if they want it and give it to them, don’t gift it.
  • Double check the item’s packaging before you wrap it up.  Are there any cards inside, or anything that could identify it as a regift (an engraving, personalization, or a photo, for example).
  • Make sure that the gift you’re (re)giving actually suits the person you’re giving it to.  Don’t just pull something random out of your closet, throw it in a giftbag, and consider it done.  Even if it’s a regift, you should still put thought into whether or not it’s an appropriate gift.
  • Mentally check to make sure that the gift you’re planning on giving didn’t come from your intended recipient, ’cause that would be really awkward.
  • Don’t let the person know you’re giving them something you got and didn’t like.  That’s just uncalled for.

2. Thrifted Things

Thrifting gifts can be tricky. In fact, I’d wager that it’s trickier than regifting even.  Why?  Because for some people, thrifted items are equal to used, gross, garbage that no one wants so only poor people buy.  That’s not necessarily the case, but giving someone a thrifted item probably isn’t the way to change their mind about all things thrifted.  So, here are some tips for giving gifts from a thrift store.

  • If you know someone is totally anti-thrifting, don’t give them something you’ve found at a thrift store, estate or yard sale, or anything of the sort.  Even if you don’t tell them it’s thrifted, they may find out, and it could be bad news bears for you!
  • Most importantly, if you’re giving a thrifted gift, make sure the recipient is a fan of thrifting.
  • A gift card to a favorite thrift spot may be better than finding something specific… that way your thrifty friend can follow his or her thrifting “rules” (we all have them).
  • Another thrifter suggested using thrifted tins and trays to giving home made cookies.  If you do something like this, make sure what you use is clean.  It should really go without saying but… saying it makes me feel better.
  • Thrifted gifts can be fun for white elephant exchanges or gag gifts!  Silly or weird mugs are perfect for this kind of exchange, and always seem to be present in thrift stores.
  • As always, choose a gift that you know your recipient will like.

3. Discount & Dollar Stores

Shopping at discount stores (like TJ Maxx or Ross) and dollar stores (like Family Dollar or Five Below) can be tempting to save money. But there are a few things you should keep in mind before just going on a shopping spree at the local discount and dollar stores.

  • Gift wrapping items from dollar stores are a great way to save money without buying junk.  Wrapping paper (especially for kids, who don’t care about the wrapping and just tear through it), gift bags, tape, and ribbon are always available there, and if you shop at a place where everything’s a dollar, you can really make your money go far in terms of gift wrap.  Different paper for each kid?  Totally possible when each roll is just $1!
  • If you’re going to get a gift from a discount store, make sure they do gift receipts.  If not, it might be better to avoid getting the gift in case your recipient needs to return it for some reason.
  • Dollar stores are great for stocking stuffers for kids.  You can get a bunch of fun stuff and not spend much money, which is great for those kids that are at the “quantity not quality” age.
  • Make sure you double check items at discount stores for signs of use or a “reason” for being sent to a store like that–things like damage, stains, and wear spots can sometimes be found on items like that, so be sure to check items you’ll be gifting throroughly before purchasing.
  • Dollar store items can be helpful when it comes time for gift exchanges.  Often you’ll find items featuring the local sports teams, or fun mugs, which are great unisex gifts.  Just make sure you’re getting something nice, and not just cheaping out because you don’t want to spend a lot on an exchange.

4. Sale Rack Savings

Sale racks are some of my favorite places when I shop. But if you’re looking for a gift, be careful of shopping on sale racks.  Here are some tips for giving gifts off sale racks.

  • Double check that your sale item can be returned.  Many stores have a “final sale” policy on items from sale racks.
  • I love shopping for kids and baby clothes on the sale racks.  I can almost always find cute stuff, and stretch my dollar by getting more for less… but it does mean I have to be a little more wary of seasons and sizes.  This goes for a lot of stuff though!  So keep sizes and seasons in mind if you’re sale rack shopping.
  • As with doscount stores, make sure that what you’re finding to gift from the sale rack isn’t there because it’s been damaged, worn and returned, or stained.  Look over all sale item purchases before buying and save yourself the frustration of finding damage when you’re wrapping (or worse, when the recipient has unwrapped).
  • If your recipient loves your gift, don’t proclaim that you found it on sale and saved a ton.  If you’re a bargain-lover like I am, I know the desire to share the amazing savings is high, but just don’t do it.  It makes you sound cheap.  Instead, just be excited that they love your gift and will get use out of it.
  • Don’t always use finding something on sale as an opportunity to spend less.  It’s perfectly ok to use a sale item as an opportunity to buy that person more than just 1 gift, while staying within your budget.  For example, if my budget is $25 for someone, and I find the perfect sweater for them on sale for $10, I’ll usually look around for something small to go with it–a necklace, a hat, or a snack they love.  It may take a little more time, but chances are, I still come out under budget.

5. Do It Yourself

DIY gifts can be great, especially if you’re the crafty type. But, as with anything, making sure your DIY gift suits the recipient is important.  Here are some things to think about when it comes time to going the DIY route.

  • Since DIY gifts can’t be returned, make sure your recipient will appreciate what you’re giving them.  You don’t want to spend time and money making something that will just end up collecting dust… or worse, in the trash!
  • Keep budget in mind before you start your gift.  DIY projects have a way of growing in terms of what you spend, and sometimes, end up being more expensive than something similar that’s store bought.
  • In addition to keeping monetary budget in mind, make sure you have time to complete your project. You don’t want to show up empty-handed because you couldn’t finish your gift in time!
  • Baked goods are a great DIY gift.  Always make sure what you’re going to make is something that your recipient likes, first.  Past that, consider gifting your baked goods on something your recipient can keep and use themselves, and suits their style.

So there you have it.

Some gift giving tips that may help you save money (and/or face). What do you think?  Do you stick to the more conventional gift purchasing, and err towards gift cards or cash if you don’t know what else to get?  Do you find great stuff at dollar stores or thrift shops?  Or are you a DIYer who wows every year with the perfect gift?  Tell me in the comments!

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2 comments for “‘Tis The Season: 5 Ways To Save On Gift Giving

  1. December 12, 2012 at 1:18 PM

    I’m a bad gift giver and prefer to stick to gift cards and money. This year I plan to diy gifts to keep cost low.

    Great tips!

    • December 12, 2012 at 1:46 PM

      Nothing wrong with giftcards/money if you know the recipient appreciates those kinds of things (I love both, personally, but my dad thinks giftcards are too impersonal).

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