5 tips for holiday gift-giving

White box with red ribbon

Any minute now, you’re going to have to start making your list and checking it twice. And while you’re at it, you might want to check it a third time, before giving in to the holiday pressure to overspend and overextend.

To aid you, here are some advance shopping tips to help you keep more money in your pocket. Read this advice, then be sure to check out our great gifts for a richer life.

Tip 1. Trim your list.

Do you really have to buy a present for someone you haven't spoken with in a year? Try to resist your old habit of simply buying for everyone on your list. Take stock of who is in your current rotation and who is on your list simply because they have been every year for decades. If they pop up again mid-March, you can always treat them to lunch, but don’t feel compelled to buy a bauble simply because you always have.

Tip 2. Live by the budget.

Before you set out to the mall or head out to the Internet, you should have a spending limit in place for each recipient. See how much you can realistically buy with the amount that you can afford — no more, no less. Try to create a spreadsheet with several options for everyone on your list. In this way, if you overspend on one, you can cut corners on another.

Tip 3. Learn to regift.

I’m not suggesting you take anything cheap or personalized and try to fob it off on the next person on your list. If you receive a quality present that just doesn't suit your needs, consider giving it to someone else. Be sure to pay attention to telltale details such as personalization and try to regift outside of the immediate circle of the original giver.

Tip 4. Stock up. Buy later.

If you see the perfect present on sale now, trust your gut and buy it now instead of waiting for the last minute. If someone unexpectedly hands you a box, don’t feel compelled to immediately respond in kind. Think about the kind of present you want to buy them, and then feel free to wait a few days (or weeks) until you can afford to reciprocate.

Tip 5. Let the thought count.

I love giving people gifts. What I don’t love, though, is spending so much that I feel queasy after the fact. When buying for your extended circle, take into account your budget in proportion to your relationship. If you email frequently with someone but rarely meet in person, you can feel comfortable sending them an e-gift certificate from iTunes, something small and thoughtful that reflects that nature of your virtual relationship.