Give Like Santa, Save Like Scrooge

Date posted: Dec. 5, 2016

Photo Credit: Ben White

Did you know that the average Canadian spent $766 on Christmas gifts in 2015? It’s true, and that number is on the rise. But just because most Canadians spend a small fortune on the holiday season, doesn’t mean you have to.

Part of good financial management is to learn to cut costs and spend less, and Christmas is not exempt from this strategy. Fortunately, there are plenty of tried and true methods for saving money on Christmas gifts, without coming across like a cheap Scrooge who doesn’t value the art of gift giving.

Here are my top tips for giving great Christmas gifts without breaking the bank.


Nothing says, “I put a lot of thought into this” like a personalized gift. Whether it’s a calendar, painting, a knick-knack or wall hanging, customizing a gift is an excellent way to demonstrate that you care for someone. It’s also inexpensive, which makes it a good option for the frugal gift giver.

There are a few ways you can customize your gifts. You can do it yourself, or you can find a local crafter that specializes in handmade or semi-handmade items. Etsy is my favourite place to find crafters who customize their wares, but you can also visit a local crafter’s market for inspiration.

I’ve given personalized gifts many times, and my favourites were:

•    Using an app to create watercolour images of my sister’s favourite countryside retreat, and then printing them out and framing them.

•    Contracting a graphic designer to digitally convert a photograph of my mother’s beloved dog into a painting.

  • Purchasing a custom handmade bird’s nest with stones engraved with then names of family members.

Go Handmade

If you have more time to put the effort in, consider hand making your Christmas gifts this year. Making an item yourself is a great way to save money while also showing the person how much you care about them. There are many ways to hand make gifts, so even if you aren’t particularly talented at crafts, you’re sure to find a project that is within your skill set.

Examples include:

•    Hand knitting socks or scarves

•    Premixing cookie recipes and putting them in a decorative jar

•    Sewing throw pillows

•    Making photo collages

Shop the Sales Smartly

While Black Friday and Cyber Monday can be a nightmare to navigate, there are some good deals to be had and shopping the sales can help you reduce your Christmas budget substantially.

Most stores now release information on Black Friday sales well in advance, so do your research in advance and make a plan for which stores to visit on the big day. Don’t go to the mall mindlessly looking for a gift – that is an excellent way to overspend!

Time is Better Than Money

The important concept to grasp when it comes to giving great gifts without spending a lot of money is that the more time you put into creating your gift, the less expensive it will be. If you spend time creating a thoughtful gift, it won’t matter if you don’t spend a lot of money on it.

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