Here’s how I am giving gifts without spending a fortune…

I always buy gifts for my close family and friends, I never go mad but sometimes I still feel like I’m buying some presents just for the sake of it! So this year I am gifting people experiences or household items that they actually want and will use. I am also giving framed wedding pictures because I can only get away with that this year so I’m milking it! They won’t cost much to put together but they’ll be a special and thoughtful gift. If you’ve got married this year, definitely consider these kind of gifts as a way to keep costs down whilst keeping presents personal.

I’ll be spending around £20-£30 a person and I am lucky as I only have seven people to buy for. That is still quite a bit of money on gifts – around £150-£200 – but it’s something I save and budget for throughout the year. Shane and I don’t buy each other gifts at Christmas, instead we spend the money we would use on gifts to go out and do something together. We’ve been together for thirteen years so we have exhausted a lot of gift ideas, there’s nothing we want or need so spending time together is much more special.

The only physical gift I have bought so far this year is one to share on my annual girls Christmas night which is taking place this evening. It’s the first year my friends and I are doing Secret Santa. There are five of us and we used to all buy for each other but it ended up really expensive. Last year, one of the girls suggested we do a secret gift swap so we could still exchange gifts without having to buy for everyone. We set a £20 limit and if anything I’ve found it’s made me be a little bit more creative with what I’ve bought. We’ll enjoy swapping gifts whilst having a takeaway and a few glasses of wine in our PJ’s. This is a mega cheap way to enjoy the festive season with friends without feeling the need to buy expensive gifts or book fancy meals out.

The only children I buy gifts for are my two goddaughters. One is eight and the other is two and they were my flower girls at my wedding. I want to gift them something they will remember this year rather than something that will get lost amongst the other toys and games that they will receive. So I’ve bought them a VIP play pass to The Cheshire Ice Cream Farm which allows them to have one-hundred plays on the different attractions. The rides usually cost anything from £1 to £4.50, the VIP card costs £100 for one hundred plays, however it’s half price at the moment so it cost just £50!

For £25 each they’ll be getting around four or five days out and what’s even better is there are no restrictions on the card! It can be used by multiple children, used on different visits and it doesn’t have an expired date. It means their mum can take them on a day out without the worry of it costing £30 or more for a few rides. It also gives 10% off food, drink and ice cream as well as a few other VIP treats! The fact they’ll make lots of special memories is a much better gift than any toy I could buy them. I’m sure at some point in the summer I’ll be able to go with them and their mum so I will be able to see them enjoying the gift. It’s worth checking your local attractions to see if they offer similar schemes or vouchers as I am sure a parent would much prefer a gift like this rather than more toys to find space for.

Last year I gifted my mum and her partner a hotel stay with a meal but this year she has taken a leaf out of my book and asked for a pressure cooker. I’m all for gifting household items that will get used rather than the usual slippers or smellies. At the moment, the one she would like is a little out of my budget but my mum has said she is happy to wait until after Christmas in case it is available for a better price. I’m still not sure what I’m gifting my sister, I’ve got a few ideas up my sleeve and whatever it is, she will be to able to enjoy it and make special memories. There’s so many options of places to buy gift experiences from like Groupon and BuyaGift plus there’s often extra deals and discounts available so I won’t be stuck for ideas. If you buy from these kind of sites I would always recommend checking that the deals are worth it, a quick check of the regular prices on the retailers website usually confirms if it is a good discount. I always make sure I checkout using PayPal just in case there are any issues and would encourage you to do the same.

If you’re not in a position to be able to spend much on gift vouchers or days out, you can still gift your time. After all, it’s what we do that we remember rather than what we are given. You could do a DIY afternoon tea at home by buying or baking some cakes and making some tasty finger sandwiches. You could gift someone a day of your time to go exploring a local place of interest, take a picnic and go for a wander around a forest or country park. An at home pamper session would also go down a treat, crack out the nail varnish and a bargain face mask and have a relaxing afternoon with your favourite people. The options are endless! I know I would love it if a friend or relative put time and effort in to creating a thoughtful afternoon for me and I’m sure yours would too.

In the past I’ve definitely felt like I needed to spend lots of gifts but I’ve slowly realised that’s not what it is about, the value lies in what the gifts are rather than what they cost. No one should feel the need to spend crazy amounts on gifts at Christmas – or even any money at all! Especially if it puts you in financial hardship. I am lucky as I don’t have many people to buy for and I don’t have children who ask for all the latest toys and gadgets. Saving for Christmas throughout the year would definitely help soften the blow, as we’re already in December that advice is a bit pointless but it’s something to start thinking about in January.

If you are finding yourself in a tough spot right now and you’re considering using credit options or buy now pay later schemes, please have a read of this: The True Cost of Christmas. The article is from Step Change, a debt management charity who are currently running a campaign about spending at this time of year and how to avoid debt. I will be sharing more on this in the coming weeks and you can find out more by clicking the links above.

Let me know how you prepare for giving gifts at Christmas. Perhaps you don’t do gifts at all, if so what do you do instead? I would also love to hear what DIY gifts you could create. Share your thoughts in the comments below or over on my Instagram page.

Happy Christmas,

Thrifty Clair x


2 thoughts on “Christmas Gifts the Thrifty Clair way…

  1. Some great suggestions there!!
    I always check reduced and damaged packaging items – easy to pack down and share amongst home made gift boxes and bags. The charity shops have been great – got my niece £90 of brand new with tags still on Monsoon and Joules clothes for £7!


    1. That is a fantastic tip Julie. Considering the packaging gets binned straight away anyway it makes sense to discard it and make up your own hamper. I’ve seen a few people say they’ve found brand new items in charity shops that have made excellent gifts. If it saves then why not!


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