The first thing to remember is "Your attitude"! Focus on the true meaning of Christmas, attitudes are contagious, if you are positive so will others. If you are a competitive type of person look at the season as a competition, just how much can you save? Then use your winnings (savings) for something important like something special you wouldn't normally buy, or pay off an old bill.
Do an inventory - Sit down with a notepad and write down what you need to accomplish and what have to work with, what skills do you have, what do you have around the house to work with? How much can you really afford to spend? Homemade gifts are NOT considered being cheap, it's a way of letting a person know they are worth one of your most valuable comities, "Your Time". A homemade gift is a gift from the heart.
Here are a couple of ideas to get you started:
Team work - If your or a friend is one of the many who isn't working right now and have more time than money, team up. Most of us have different skills than our friends/family. One can bake and the other do a craft, or the two of you can do different crafts and swap out items.
Establish traditions that don't cost a lot - Family night making decorations, is much cheaper than shopping for them. Have "Pot-luck" dinner party for friends, in place of a formal sit down dinner.
Agree on price limits.
Make a list of everyone, and how much you want to spend.
Buy or make one nice gift for a family, that every one will enjoy.
Bake something for co-workers, or have a pot luck with an ornament exchange.
Don't forget about size & weight for gifts that must be shipped
Have gifts dropped shipped. Most online, catalog, TV shopping (QVC & HomeShopping) companies offer this, also some larger department stores. This saves you the cost of shipping the item twice, as well as time.
Shop alone. If taking someone take only what cash you will need. No checks, AMT card, or credit cards.
Eat before you shop.
down on that chance of buying all those great looking snacks.
Buy in bulk - Many stores sell in bulk for much less. If you can us it all, that's money saved. If you don't need that many, then split it with a friend. Example: A set of 6 or 8 coffee mugs, and easly be split into two sets of four or even made into 'his & her's" gifts for several couples.
If the store doesn't offer free wrapping, ask for a box (if needed) and wrap it yourself.
Keep emergency gifts on hand. For those folks who decided to surprise you with a gift, you didn't expect, and for hostess gifts. These can be from a wide ranged of items, from bottle of domestic wine, to handmade Christmas decorations. A nice one is to keep some sugar cookie or gingerbread dough in the freezer and a decorated box. With only a few hours notice you can have fresh holiday cookies.
If the person lives in the house, (your wife) look at the tags in her clothing. Check jackets, sweaters, skirt, and paints. WRITE this information down.
Christmas Portraits are very traditional and nice gifts. However can be very stressful, here are a few tips to ensure you get a portrait fit for giving.