It’s that time of year again where many people feel the financial stress of buying presents for their families, friends and even co-workers. Unfortunately, many consumers find it all too easy to charge all of these gifts on credit cards and unless they are ZERO interest cards, these shoppers will be going into the new year with Holiday debt. Now is that any way to start the New Year? NO!

Don’t get caught up in Holiday shopping frenzies in the first place and you’ll be off to a good start. It may sound corney or cliche, but there are many gifts that you can pull off that don’t have to break the bank. Here are some suggestions:

For Mom and Dad: Getting your parents something nice for the Holidays is indeed important. After all, you wouldn’t be here without them. But don’t break out the Visa card. It is no secret that just about any parent would be thrilled to get an updated photo of you in a nice frame. It could be a picture of just yourself or if you have a family, I can guarantee that your parents would love a new picture of all of you. One year my Spouse and I actually took photos of ourselves in a mall picture booth. I then took the pictures and scanned them into my computer and made a really nice collage of the images and framed them. It was a big hit and is still talked about today. Total cost around $20 including the frame.

For Siblings: Brother’s and Sister’s are very nice to have and you are lucky if you do. If they are like most people, their lives are probably filled with work and children and they would probably like nothing more than a little break and some fun. If they have kids and you want to do something just for them, I would recommend a “date package”. That could include a couple of movie tickets and a gift card to a restaurant for some dinner afterwards. I know movies and dinner aren’t cheap, but it can be a really nice gift that can be done for around $50. If you want to do something for their whole family a yearly membership to their local zoo isn’t very expensive and can give them fun throughout the entire year.

For Co-workers: How about your M-F family? It’s always a nice gesture to include some of your colleagues in your Holiday festivities and this also doesn’t need to be so expensive that you need to put these gifts on your credit cards. The tricky part here is usually quantity as you might discover that you want to hand out a dozen or more gifts. What to do? Hit the kitchen! This year we made up a bunch of mason jar cookie gifts. The jars contained all of the ingredients to make some delicious cookies along with some easy instructions. All they had to do is mix in an egg and some water and bake them. Easy, colorful gifts that always goes over well. We were able to make up about 10 of them for around $20.00. The effort spent on them will be even more appreciated than the actual cookies.

For your Spouse: Diamonds for your Wife? A riding mower for Hubby? Both of those sound like nice gifts but don’t forget something very important; When you charge things onto your credit card you are not only adding to your debt, but also your Spouse’s.Even if you don’t share credit accounts, more debt for either of you will add financial stress to your household. Your Husband might love that new mower until the Home Depot bill comes and then maybe not so much. Why not try a coupon booklet and I’m not talking about coupons for their favorite kind of bread. I am talking about “life coupons”. Make them up a booklet of coupons good for “I’ll do today’s laundry”, “I’ll wash your car”, “I’ll clean the bathroom”, etc. I received a booklet like this once and it was really awesome. It had about 20 coupons in it good for lots of everyday chores and responsibilities that I could redeem any time throughout the year. Total cost is just your time involved to do these items and I promise that your Wife will forget all about new jewelry if you give her 10 “I’ll make the bed” coupons.

The Holidays are joyous, cheerful and even sometimes stressful. BUT don’t add to that stress by racking up your credit card debt. Be creative and please share with us any gift ideas that you have given or have received.


  1. Paul @ The Frugal Toad Reply

    I like the idea of making a collage of photo-booth pictures. I really like the look of black & white photography!

  2. Tushar @ Everything Finance Reply

    I have practiced a no-gift policy with my coworkers. We have a nice potluck lunch every Christmas instead. It’s a nice way to catch up. I think photos for parents is a great idea!

    • @Tushar – Meaningful time with friends is another great way to celebrate the holidays. Thankfully, my colleagues and I have a gift/no-gift policy. I don’t think anyone expects anything, but this year I had some inspiration to give a few things. 😉

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