Ballin’ on a Budget

Spread joy this holiday season while preserving a sense of financial stability

More stories from Julia Van Allen

Seeking Solace
May 13, 2019

The time has come to panic about finding the perfect holiday gift to give your friends, family, desk neighbor in chemistry class and the significant other you’ve been on 1.75 dates with.

This time of year is ripe with holidays from every religious and ethnic background, with Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, Christmas and Festivus quickly approaching. However, a major stressor that many people have during this holiday season is financial in nature. Personally, I have a feeling that after buying gifts for my loved ones, I’ll need to tourniquet my wallet.

With all of this in mind, my goal this week is to give some tips and tricks to make this holiday season the best yet — and on budget.

Let’s talk about price points. Yes, I know, starting right off with the hard stuff. I promise that this decision is an important one. In my experience, the higher the price point, the closer the relationship you have with that person. For example, I would spend more on a gift for my parents or for my sisters than for a friend I met last week. No shade, just being honest and pragmatic.

I would love to give people in my life the best gifts ever, the ones that they would scream at the sight of and use daily, but unfortunately that might not be the most realistic response to a gift on a budget. To find a happy medium, I typically ask people for a variety of gift options to choose from. That way, I could pair a cheaper gift option, like fuzzy socks, with something that’s more expensive.

Search for sales and deals when in the market for a gift. I find that perusing stores online and using services like Honey, a web browser attachment which searches for coupon codes, is helpful when digging around for the perfect gift. Keep in mind the changes in pricing that are highly dependent on the time of the month and how close it is to a holiday. Websites like LifeHacker provide infographics which tell you the right time to buy certain items.

Remember that holiday gifts don’t always need to be material in nature. Offering opportunities and activities to do with a loved one can be a great (and inexpensive) option too. Why buy something that your family or friends wouldn’t use, or would use once in your company so you feel like it was money well-spent, when you can do things together? Make memories by going sledding or ice skating, or wander around downtown Eau Claire to see the beautiful holiday lights.

As purchasing gifts for those in my life is currently siphoning money from my wallet at a pace I’m not okay with, I’m planning out some do-it-yourself options that won’t break the bank. DIY projects also provide the opportunity to give someone an item that is totally unique and straight from the heart.

I’m a big believer in showing people how much I care about them and how much they mean to me. When it comes down to it, how much I spend on a gift is highly dependent on circumstance. Money spent on a gift shouldn’t define how much a person means to me, my words and actions do. I see gifts as an act of appreciation for that person and for the joy they bring to my life, not as the be-all and end-all of a relationship.

Happy holidays, my friends!

Van Allen can be reached at [email protected].