By Michelle P. Sharrow, MBA – Family Finance and Budget

Christmas is the time of year when months of hard work and savings can be ruined within a few days.

From Black Friday deals to Cyber Monday bargains, it can be so overwhelming for those who have the desire to give while staying true to their financial goals.  Are you looking for ways to put peace back into your holidays once and for all? With less than 30 days remaining before Christmas, I thought I'd end the year by sharing three money saving gift ideas for those who are short on time and money this holiday season.

Gift Cards

Grocery stores and club warehouses offer gift cards three or four to a pack.  Additionally, at club warehouses you can purchase a pack of gift cards for a few dollars less than face value. An excellent gift idea, gift cards are great alternatives for teachers, daycare workers, preteens, teens or college students.  Over the past few weeks, I've seen packs of gift cards for ITunes, Applebees, Subway, and even Pizza Hut at discount prices.

Video Games, Board Games and Movies

For families with multiple kids, consider a single gift rather than individual gifts.  If the children enjoy playing video games, you can pick up a Wii, Xbox 360 or Playstation game for $14 to $40 which works out to just a few dollars per child.  I realize that not all families are into video games and for them there are board games.  Purchase one of many newly released 2012 games such as Method to Mayhem, Art Apart or Keep Hangin’ On for the entire family.  Not only will you reduce the amount of money that you spend on Christmas gifts this year, but you will also encourage the family to spend time together without the television.

If games are a no go, after all you know your family and friends better than I do, you can give a DVD or two as an alternative to individual gifts.   Newly released movies such as Brave, Arthur Christmas or The Amazing Spiderman are excellent movies that the entire family can watch.

Gift Baskets

If you don’t want to give gift cards or video or board games, why not consider a gift basket for the entire family?  You can make a movie themed basket with popcorn, peanuts, candy and a family friendly DVD.  If you don’t have time to make a basket, pick up an edible arrangement.  Search online coupon sites like RetailMeNot.com for coupon codes before you order.  For the meat lovers on your list, Omaha Steaks offers an assortment of meats and desserts.  You can order online and have the package delivered directly to the recipient family. 

You don’t have to spend January and February of 2013 trying to repair the damage from spending too much money on Christmas gifts.  These three ideas are just a few that you can use to give thoughtful gifts that won’t break the bank. Spend less time searching for the perfect gift and more time enjoying the company of your family and friends this holiday season.  Happy Holidays!

Michelle Sharrow

Michelle Sharrow

Michelle P. Sharrow, MBA is a seasoned freelance writer specializing in personal finance. Based in Waldorf, Maryland, she holds a Masters Degree with a concentration in Finance. Michelle provides a monthly column on ways to help families maintain their finances and stick to a budget titled, Budgeting and Savings for Families.

More Family Finance:

http://extension.usu.edu/utah/htm/family-finance

http://extension.oregonstate.edu/fch/healthy-families/family-finances

http://www.usa.gov/Citizen/Topics/Money/Personal-Finance.shtml
Michelle Sharrow

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