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Tips to stay in Budget through the gift-giving season

1. Shop Early: Start as early as possible to pick up bargains when you see them. Whether on vacation, in the grocery store, or at a craft fair, you come across an affordable gift that would be a thoughtful present at holiday time.
2. Cut Back Expenses: If you give gifts to every brother, sister, cousin, niece and nephew, talk to your family to see if you can cut back. Modify the giving among the adults by trying grab bags, filled with inexpensive, silly, creative, or tailored to the recipient. For children, try a “Secret Santa” exchange. Set a dollar limit for giving.
3. Be Creative: Edit your gift-giving list and see if there is a way to dole out some simpler gifts like a $5 gift card to the local coffee shop inside a refillable coffee mug. Use your creative skills to make a few homemade gifts such as framing your photography; making a movie of children’s birthdays, sports or holidays; a scrapbook of same; a musical creation; or perhaps plants you have grown from seedlings.
4. Packaging Counts: Whatever you are giving, a great package makes the smallest gift look special, and you can achieve this and save money too. Involve the family; get out a stash of paper, bags, ribbon and other craft supplies to make gifts look like a million dollars. How about decorating paper bags, newspaper, or plain white paper with stamps, glitter, or other designs, and tie up with twine and a homemade gift tag?

With a little creativity, one can stretch the Christmas gift-giving budget and stay in balance. Amaze and inspire, and perhaps make the holiday more meaningful.

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