The end to Halloween starts a new season that lasts approximately 1 month and 25 days. That’s right—it’s the season of shopping. For decades corporations have encouraged us to spend frivolously every day of the year, but particularly as the year draws to a close. But it’s never a bad thing when we’re shopping for others as opposed to ourselves, right? Unfortunately, with the age of rising credit card debt, we have created more problems whether we shop for ourselves or others. How do we circumvent this industry that perpetually tells us how to behave with our wallets? While you may not be able to eliminate spending habits completely, we certainly can make some strategic changes.
Set up a secret Santa within your family or group of friends.
Instead of buying gifts for everyone, you can selectively gift a meaningful present to your loved ones. Secret Santa is a memorable event for myself and my family because it creates conversations and stories without having to purchase gifts for every cousin and uncle. The gifts you purchase are also more targeted toward the individual creating a sense of closeness rather than blindly selecting items for everyone.
Set a budget.
While it may be challenging to fit everything within the range of a number, I find that it forces me to be creative and to find value rather than the perfect gift. Having a budget means you’re heading into the shopping season clear-headed and strategic.
DIY instead of buy.
Last Christmas for Secret Santa among friends, I received a beautifully hand-painted trio of Christmas ornaments from a close friend. After inquiring the amount of time it took to create such a masterpiece to which she replied “15 minutes”. I was flabbergasted. Even for someone who might be new at DIY gifts, there’s unlimited inspiration and options on Instagram and Pinterest that could spark a new gift idea.
Shop online and start early.
If you have the perfect idea for someone, it’s always smart to start looking for them early online. The prices are competitive, and you save yourself the headache of running from store to store in person. You can also personalize your gifts online with custom design and printing. I found gems from browsing Etsy: handmade gifts that are unique and memorable.
As a first-generation immigrant, I’ve witnessed the ways my parents kept Christmas a family-oriented event without having to give lavishly. In fact, some of my fondest memories have been baking Portuguese tarts with my family or going tobogganing at a nearby park.
Use a cash-back credit card.
If you must cave to the consumerism culture, there is no better way to do it than to get rewarded with particular credit cards. Certain credit cards provide features of cashback for every dollar you spend and other air mile perks that may help offset your spending.