Holiday Gifting Guide

The holidays are one of the most joyous times of the year, but often can be the most stressful. Questions like, 'Who to shop for?', 'Where to shop?' and 'How much to spend?' can push us over the edge. In addition, the increased pressure of media, influencing us to purchase the newest in toys, clothing, cars and electronics coupled with the decrease in disposable income have us more anxious over holiday shopping than is necessary. Well dolls, not this year! I want to share with you some creative ways to gift on a budget and also some ways that you can make some money to buy those things that you absolutely can’t do without. Prayerfully, at the end of this short guide, you will be empowered NOT to spend your money, but to save and spend your time enjoying those you love.

Shop Your Closet

If you’re like me, you have tons of items in your closet that you either never worn or haven’t seen in the light of day since last Christmas. Any closet organizer will tell you that any item in your closet that hasn't been worn in a year needs to be thrown into a giveaway pile. I'm gonna say start a gift-a-way pile. If you have clothes in your closet that still have the tags on them, take them to the retail store where you bought them and see if you can return them for store credit. Ask for the refund in the form of store credit on gift cards in $10 increments…bim bam boom…you’ve got gifts! If the clothes in your closet don’t have the tags or are lightly worn, take them to consignment stores like Plato’s Closet or Buffalo Exchange. They’ll review the items and give you a few dollars as well.

Accessories are SUPER easy to re-gift. If encased in its originally packaging, all you have to do is wrap with beautiful paper or gift bags from the Dollar Store (seriously…they’re $1). If not, visit your local craft store or even office supply and buy a small enough box to fit your accessory. This is great for items such as scarves and jewelry.

The Gift of Beauty

Okay, so who doesn't have that super cute nail polish, gloss or eye shadow that you forgot about …ME! I have so many unopened and unused pieces of make-up its frightening. Buy a few pieces of ribbon from your local craft store and make it work. Bundle two or three together with a flower and/or a note card and you have a beautiful presentation to give to your close friends. I mean  who wouldn't like to receive a bottle of Essie, Revlon or Chanel Vernis for Christmas?

Magazine Subscription

My best friend, Akela from, offered to gift me a magazine subscription last Christmas and I thought it was genius. Not only is it inexpensive, but in our case, my bestie knows that I am a fashion magazine fiend and would appreciate the time and effort it took to find a magazine that I would like. If you have a friend that loves to travel, why not get them a $15 subscription to Conde Nast or National Geographic. A friend who absolutely loves redecorating? Elle Décor. A friend with a green thumb? Home & Garden. Fashionista such as myself? You can a get a 12 month subscription of W, Vogue or InStyle for like 12 bucks. Many magazines also offer gifting subscriptions as well, meaning that with the purchase of any subscription, they’ll give you an extra subscription for a friend. Double savings!

Inexpensive Houseware

Now, I wouldn't normally recommend thrifting for Christmas presents. However, items such as candle holders, vases, potpourri burners, picture frames, books, magazine racks and baskets can be easily wiped down and gifted. If you bake, some homemade cookies or a cake on a beautiful vintage glass cake holder is a classic gift straight from the heart. The gift of a thrifted vase with some freshly picked flowers would be well received by a woman in your family. If you are super creative, you can go as far as to paint your thrifted piece. I've personally seen rows and rows of picture frames at my local Goodwill that are DYING to be bedazzled ;-)

Cook a Meal

God has granted me the gift of friends that cook with love. One of my closest girlfriends, April, shows her love through her cooking and knows that I would rather have her cook me a cake or a batch of brownies than buy me anything. If that is your gift, if people are always begging you to make them that ‘oh so special’ meal, then DO IT and bless them. This is another area where you can incorporate thrift into the presentation. Like I mentioned before,  making a cake out of love and presenting it on a beautiful detailed, vintage cake stand. That's what giving is all about.

Clean Something

I got this idea from my cousin who is a power cleaner. Her favorite thing to do is to get the hubs and kids out of the house, put on some music and pull out the Dyson (obviously NOT my grace). If you have a love of cleaning or even a cleaning business, why not create cleaning coupons? Purchase a 20 pack of cards from the local Dollar Store, create “1 vacuuming session” coupons or maybe a “1 dusting session” coupon. I’m telling you right now, if someone gave me a 'iron my shirts' coupon, I would be their friend for life!!! Some of you enjoy that stuff, offer your services! Barter! It’s a whole lot easier than buying them a cashmere sweater from a local store that will just end up in the back of their closet. TRUST!

Give Your Time

I actually got this last tip from my parents, but I am sure it is applicable to anyone who is living away from their family; the gift of time. After a certain age, family just want you home. They miss your presence. If they’re anything like my parents, just the phone call saying I’m coming home for the weekend is good enough. The anticipation is the joy LOL But seriously, a card and your presence is good for most family members. I, mean, every girl would love a see the brown Louis carrier bag under the tree, but … ;-)

So, I hope I've given you some food for thought on ways to decrease your spending and increase your love giving! The holidays, for me, are a time to celebrate those I love as well as acknowledge the birth of my savior. I'm over the headache and guilt of gift-giving or not gift-giving and would rather focus on family this year. I'll buy a few things for under the tree, but for the most part, my family will just have to enjoy ME this Christmas!

If you want more info on how to stay on budget during the holiday season and beyond, be sure to sign up for my shopping budget newsletter where I'll be sharing with you some tips on how to NEVER pay retail.

Love ya and remember give within your budget this year and not a penny over...we NEVER pay retail!!!



Dionne Dean