We all go through seasons when we feel the pinch, and for young families these seasons can be regular and long lasting. If you find yourself bracing yourself for upcoming birthdays and festive seasons it’s important to remember you’re not alone, and that there’s no shame in sticking to your budget. At OHbaby! Magazine, we hope the tips below not only offer you a few ideas to get through the hard times, but also challenge you to check your mindset around gift-giving, releasing you from the strong association between gift giving and dollar signs.
Give homemade gifts Call them ‘custom-made’ or ‘handcrafted’ gifts if it makes you feel better! This doesn’t have to be baking wrapped in cellophane. You could assemble your own gift basket or box of their favourite teas, coffee and confectionary. Or break out those buried art supplies and paint a picture – even collaborate on one with your child if it eases the artistic pressure. Poems and stories also have their worth in their sentimental value, and if you’re a bit of a wordsmith these can really be treasured. In this day and age many of us are out of the habit of printing photos, so even a framed photo of a special memory is often really appreciated. Sometimes a card and a simple bunch of handpicked flowers says it all.
Spread out the expense Don’t let birthdays and special occasions sneak up on you. Mark them out on your calendar at the start of the year and get saving-savvy by setting up one or more savings accounts for the purpose.
Give your time Acts of service are often way more valuable to your loved ones than products. Give them a card with a written offer of help, wherever you think it would be most appreciated, eg, babysitting, filing, shopping, cleaning, hanging pictures, gardening…
Give an experience This can be quite economical if you make it a group present. Consider tickets to a show, concert, or, if they’re a parent, to the zoo or another family attraction. This is a particularly good option when the recipient is one of those people who seems to have everything. Alternatively you could pitch in with others to help them have a family holiday. OHbaby! Magazine's travel site has plenty of location ideas.
Suggest a spending limit or Secret Santa type arrangement for big families at Christmas. You might be surprised how relieved everyone else is that someone has finally suggested this. Secret Santa arrangements allow you to put more time and thought into the presents you do buy, and even though you end up receiving less in terms of quantity, the quality is better.
Buy gifts with your Fly Buys points instead of money
Always consider the postage cost, especially when buying for friends and family overseas. Ideally you want the present to be as light and flat as possible. One option is to send them something directly through a website with free worldwide delivery, like The Book Depository
Give feel-good gifts There’s nothing like purchasing a present for a needy stranger through a not-for-profit organisation to make gift giving simple and pleasurable again. There’s a huge range of options, from trays of seedlings, to goats, right through to toilets, and the gifts start at just $5. Check out OHbaby!’s feel-good gift guide for ideas.
Have a secret stash of gifts tucked away, and keep it stocked When you’re shopping keep an eye out for sales on generic presents that you know would be widely appreciated (eg Lego, board games and beach towels for kids, and wine and chocolates for adults). You can make the most of multi-buy offers this way, and enjoy the benefits of buying in bulk.
Spend more on the present – and less on the presentation Hear me out here – you still want the present to be beautiful, but you don’t need to spend a lot of money to make it so. Recycle any unblemished used wrapping paper you have at home, and have a large roll of brown paper on hand that you can beautify with drawings, stickers (get your kids involved here) and colourful twine. You’ll find Maria von Trapp is not alone in her appreciation of brown paper packages tied up with string! Top it all off with a homemade card.
If you’re still feeling the pressure to produce costly presents, turn the scenario around. Surely you’d be more than happy with a gift that someone had invested time and thought in, instead of money? You may not to be able to afford much, but at least give yourself the same grace you afford others. It really is the thought that counts.