Surviving Gift Giving

By | November 27, 2012

Hey Folks!

It’s Tuesday, and that means it’s time for another edition of HillJean’s Holiday Handbook. I know you have just been dying to see what this week is all about…huh? Huh?

Surviving Gift Giving

Today I want to talk about gifts and how we can survive such a complicated, expensive, and all-out stressful component of the holidays.

I love gifts. Truly, I have so much fun getting gifts for friends and family. It’s such a joy to be able to hand something special over to the people you love and watch them light up with excitement and gratitude.

Unfortunately, the joy of gift giving can sometimes become tainted by the negativity surrounding consumerism, the stress of finances, and the greed of big corporations. It is discouraging to be strapped for cash and have to select a pre-assembled “gift set” that you know will most likely be unappreciated, and even worse, unused.

Here are a few tips for taking some of the stress out and putting the fun back in to gift giving.

Surviving Gift Giving

1.) Draw names. This is something my gigantic family sticks to and it really does alleviate a lot of pressure and stress. If I had to buy for every single person in my family we would not be able to eat during the month of December. We simply could not afford it. So, each year we draw names and all the siblings buy for just one other sibling. We kind of all try to buy something for my parents, but sometimes we go in on a gift and that is also a great way to purchase something nice without breaking the bank.

2.) Thrift. Maybe you’ll think this is tacky, but I’m gonna just throw this out there and say that I am a thrift-store-a-holic. I love thrift stores. Something I did this year was start early and keep my eyes open for Christmas gifts each time I visited a thrift store. Guess what? I found some GREAT gifts for my nieces, nephew, and even my husband. Now, I’m not going to show you these gifts because I don’t want to spoil the surprise for my family, but I will share with you some ideas of what to look for at a thrift shop in terms of gifts.

  • Scout out books. Used books can be the best thing ever, especially if its one you know to be good, and is in nice quality. Used books are super cheap, and taking the time to find some great reads is always appreciated.
  • Look for unique mugs and glassware. I have a penchant for thrift store mugs. My cupboards are filled with them. You can find some really great, unique, quality mugs for under $1! Why not find a set of three different mugs and assemble them in a cute gift display? Trust me, vintage mugs are IN VOGUE. Just get on etsy and you will see that I am right!
  • Toys. People get rid of really nice toys all the time. You know how it goes. Kids get an abundance at a birthday party and sometimes brand new items are forgotten about and grown out of before being used. These suckers end up at thrift stores and you can snag them for practically nothing! The gift I got my niece is a never-been-used, still in packaging item that retails for around $50. I bought it for $4. So…yah.
  • Accessories. Purses, jewelry, and scarves are all great things to keep your eyes open for. You can clean them up and sometimes pass them off as brand new. Of course I always brag that I get things from the thrift store. It’s like having a super power.
  • Picture frames. Maybe all your grandparents want is a picture of your family in a frame. Don’t spend $12 at Target when you could get one just as nice for $1. I personally like to find more ornate, old-school frames and then just throw a coat of spray paint over them. A fun or funky color on a vintage frame is always a hit!
  • Antiques. Sometimes, you just never know what you’ll find. Provide your loved one with that statement piece that is the starter of every conversation in their home. Do it!

3.) Handmake your gifts. Seriously, DIY is all over the place right now. There are so many fabulous ideas out there-you just have to spend about ten minutes on Pinterest to discover a handful of great gifts that you can make. Heck. Go check out my tutorial over at Shaken Together today. I’m gabbing about my handmade gift that was a huge hit for my dad. Go! Scurry!

Surviving Gift Giving

4.) Coupons. No, don’t give a coupon for “five hugs” and not ever really do it. But you know something? If a friend gave me a coupon for free babysitting or a dinner or landscaping…I’d just be over the moon.

You can provide someone with help that maybe they desperately need but cannot afford. For my husband and I, free babysitting is always as sweet as cake. Think outside the box and please, please, PLEASE follow through!

5.) Make a book. There are so many great platforms out there for self-publishing and digital scrapbooking. Turn your Instagram photos into a photo album for family members. Document all of your favorite family recipes and memorialize them in a beautiful book for everyone. Write a kids story just for that special niece or nephew.

6.) Give back. Fortunately, there are some fabulous options for gifts that give twice over! Buy a gift that benefits not only the recipient, but another person in need. My gal Natalia over at MaNouvelleMode just showcased a few great shops that offer products that give back. It just takes a bit of research, but you can jam-pack that gift with love and value that goes beyond the recipient.

Surviving Gift Giving

What do you do to survive gift giving during the holidays? Do you enjoy giving gifts, or is it just a great stress in your life?

10 thoughts on “Surviving Gift Giving

  1. ilene

    I LOVE the idea of thrifting for gifts! And going home made. I gave home baked granola to everyone last year and they loved it – and it was totally within my budget. I am so glad to see you spreading the word on not having to break your budget to give gifts.

  2. Tehila

    What a great post! You’ve covered so much. Yes, thrift shopping and garage sale-ing are a source of gifts I keep a look out for all year round!

  3. Aunt Gloria

    What great ideas. My grandmother, (your great grandmother) Nana had about 70 grandkids. She started shopping in January. Back in thos days it was church bazaars and may have extended into garage sales or great store close outs. Anyway, she bought all year but did not decide who got what until late fall. Maybe someone had gone off to college, they got a popcorn popper. Maybe someone had recently moved to snow country so they got the wool knee sox or scarf. Not a Christmas fund, just a warm loving heart that thought about others – ALL YEAR. you are a lot like a wonderful lady.

  4. Kim

    Giving gifts has been somewhat stressful in the past, partly because there is some financial inequity in the families. It always comes down to attitude though. Are we thankful that we can give, or will we choose to be embarrassed by our gifts?

    1. hillary

      Yes! Thrift stores are my LIFE. I would way rather find something used and amazing than new and mediocre.

  5. Chris Carter

    Those were AWESOME ideas! Thrifting is a great way to shop… And the coupon idea is wonderful. ????

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  8. keri @ shaken together

    This is a great series and your ideas are practical and timely!! I really need to get it in gear and start scouting the perfect gifts ???? And I’m so glad to have you over at my place today!!


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