What Gifts to Buy and How to Afford Giving Gifts for Christmas 2021
Knowing what to buy and how to afford it can be tricky. People say “It’s the thought that counts” and in some cases it is, but also, sometimes people just want or like specific stuff. I already shared some cheap but thoughtful gift ideas.
This article will focus on a wider range of gifts and budgets based on what other readers and people in my life have suggested, asked for or loved.
Disclosure, this post may contain affiliate links to products and services I use.
I’m putting this in it’s own section because it comes up a lot. You do not need to spend a fortune nor do teachers want 25 boxes of chocolates, mugs, homemade slices (they’ve seen what your kids do during the school day and where those hands go…)
I have numerous friends who are teachers and did a poll on this publicly a little while back. Here is what they all agreed on:
A heartfelt note from the student. This shows thought, care and is genuine. You could do a note cushion cover.
A plant with the tag “Thanks for helping me grow!” It’s small, cute and easy to regift if they want to. Add the heartfelt note too.
Gift card to somewhere they frequent. Most schools my kids went to there was a specific coffee shop the bulk of teachers went to. Pay attention to these little details as this is something they can actually use!
Alcohol. Mixed views on this and it depends on the school/rules etc. One year I almost bought my daughters teacher a 6 pack of beer and she piped up “No, he likes red wine.” So I checked and sure enough, he had mentioned it ever so briefly under his breath one day and she picked up on it!.
Food-based gifts are usually a hit. Whether it is a special recipe you make, a hamper you put together or a service. Here are some favourites. Of course, think about who you are buying for and what they would prefer.
Australia’s cheapest meal delivery service has amazing prices, a great selection of recipes and can really help take the pressure off this festive season. Use this discount to get EveryPlate delivered to whoever you want and make their life a little easier this hectic time of year.
Every single person I have gifted one of these too has been ecstatic and with the discount, it is much more affordable.
A Hamper of Homemade Treats
Brownies, cake, biscuits, truffles, fudge, jams, whatever it is you are great at making, do a selection on a platter or in a basket as a gorgeous gift. Lay a tea towel underneath and include any little knives or extra pieces if you want.
If you are doing a larger hamper you could even get some fabric and make a tablecloth with matching napkins to include. Fabric can be purchased relatively cheaply and it makes a gorgeous addition for minimal cost.
As with EveryPlate, a HelloFresh box or two is a great gift and well-loved. They have a wider variety of recipes with more ingredients so cost a little more. I’ve been using HelloFresh for years and have loved the service, my kids love the recipes and enjoy being able to do them on their own.
Gifts such as HelloFresh are a way of helping others save time and money while still receiving a thoughtful gift.
A Hamper of Other Treats
If you aren’t into cooking, you can make your own hamper of sorts with a variety of treats. Look out for yummy items when they go on sale and buy them. 50% off items happen regularly and can help you make a gorgeous hamper for low cost.
Gourmet crackers, chocolates, jams, sauces and similar keep well so can be purchased on sale and stored. Be sure to check use-by dates on everything you buy.
A Sweets Bouquet
Purchase some sweets or chocolates then wrap each one in some tissue paper to make it a flower. Add a skewer and put them together to make a bouquet. They look nicer and have more thought put into them than a box of chocolates.
Alternatively, Edible Blooms has a beautiful selection of edible bouquets.
If you know their favourite restaurant or somewhere they want to try, get them a voucher for that place. Some places will throw in a free bottle of wine or entree when it is a gift so don’t be afraid to ask.
Or if you have frugal-minded friends, you might be able to use a Groupon to get them a lovely night out.
Tea or Chocolates
As a tea drinker and chocolate lover, this is something that would appeal strongly to me. T2 have a gorgeous selection of teas, teapots and other tea accessories. Koko Black have a delicious range of unique chocolates for everyone to enjoy.
Gifts from either one or making up your own hamper could be something one of your friends or family love.
Check if they drink before gifting alcohol. Some members of my family do but some don’t. Growing up, Dad was often gifted bottles of things and he always gifted them to someone we knew would actually enjoy them. He was polite about it whenever he was given one.
Some people don’t drink for religious reasons such as my family, others for health reasons and there are more people who have struggled with alcohol than we realise. So while alcohol can be a winner, always check if they drink and what they prefer to drink.
Most of my social circles love whisky. Some try a new one every few weeks and for that, sites such as The Whisky Club can be a great option. They get new whisky, it’s cheaper and there’s a variety so no pressure on you to buy exactly the right one.
Support local Australian and New Zealand winemakers while getting $100 off thanks to Naked Wines. You can buy a mixed case and always have a wine on hand to include in any gift.
Another great wine company, VINOMOFO often has huge sales such as 75% off wines. They have mystery cases with award-winning wines in selections of 6 or 12 and often the prices are unbeatable. Buy a case for a friend or yourself.
With a wide variety of craft beers to choose from, gorgeous gift packs and selections for all beer lovers, Beer Cartel is a one-stop shop for anyone needing the gift of beer.
Giving sustainable gifts works only if you know the person well and what they would need. Not everyone drinks coffee and those who do probably already have a reusable cup. However, if you are a good friend and have been paying attention, at some point, they have probably said what reusable items they want or are planning to buy. You can gift those.
Period underwear isn’t always the first thing people think of to gift. However, some want to try it but without the expense, others are embarrassed to buy it or for some people I know, they don’t have access to it.
When I was in the islands, a family member there mentioned some female issues. I suggested these but they were not available there. So when I visited next, I brought some with me and they were overjoyed to get this gift.
Reusable Straws, Cups etc.
Catch has a great selection of reusable/metal straws and similar items. Yoghurt pouches, bamboo make up pads etc. There are so many products now that are reusable, will save money and are better for the planet.
This can be super personal so make sure you are getting what someone else truly wants. Me, I love beauty and would happily accept specific brands, salon gift cards etc. My sisters would roll their eyes… So choose wisely!
Elle Bache is one of my favourite salons which can be found in most major cities making it an easy gift to give. Gift vouchers work or products are lovely too. Often, we won’t do things we really want in salons such as facials because we feel it’s too expensive.
But if someone else gifts it, it can be a lovely treat.
As a lover of perfume, this is something my daughters have often taken great pride in choosing for me and love it when I wear the one they chose. (They choose one each so I alternate). Going in store, smelling a selection, asking for help based on the scents they know I like etc. It’s a whole experience and one I have loved watching as they have grown up.
They also know they can get them cheaper online usually so will do a comparison then shop somewhere such as Fresh Frangrances for the best prices.
Our family is big on experiences so anything which gets us out of the house, moving, travelling or is new is a winner in our home.
Adrenaline and Groupon have great deals on all sorts of experiences from hot air balloon rides to hot laps or scuba diving.
I love books and have a wishlist going all the time of books I want. Most books I read again and have checked out enough to know I want to own them.
Ultimately, what you give depends on who you are gifting, what they enjoy and your budget.
How to Afford Christmas Gifts
You might not feel you have much of a budget and that’s ok. Christmas doesn’t need to be expensive. Here are some tips to make gifts more budget friendly.
Decide on Your Budget and Stick to it!
Just because you have a credit card or ZipPay or similar, doesn’t mean you need to use it. Unless you are incredibly disciplined and using the credit card to get points then paying it off before you pay interest, debt for Christmas is not a smart move.
The amount you spend on gifts is up to you. It’s ok to set a lower budget and hunt around for gifts worth more but that are on sale.
Kris Kringle/Secret Santa
If you are still buying gifts for everyone in the family, stop. Ask everyone to do a Kris Kringle/Secret Santa. Pull names out of a hat, you each buy one gift and have a set budget for it. For most people, this works out significantly cheaper and the budget can be a little higher for that one gift vs a low budget for multiple gifts.
Alternatively, stop buying for adults completely. I have 8 siblings, we do not buy for each other and we do a secret Santa between the cousins. Otherwise, we’d all be spending more on each other than within our own families.
Before you do any shopping online, make sure you have cash back programs set up. My favourite ones are Shopback, CashRewards and Honey.
Join Shopback and get $10 after your first purchase of $20 or more. This means you get the cash back on the purchase and a $10 bonus. Cash Rewards is similar. Sign up free here and just like Shopback, once you make your first purchase of $20 or more, you get $10.
Honey is an extension you add to your internet browser which pops up when you can save money. It will search for discount codes, cashback options and anything else to make your purchase cheaper for you. Over the years, this has been the best one I have used. Sign up free here.
Plan Before You Shop
Rather than spending hours aimlessly wandering the shops trying to decide what to buy or browsing online, plan the gifts you want to gift. When you know what you want to give, it’s easier to hunt for bargains for those items specifically.
What’s on My Christmas Wish List?
I am usually pretty frugal and want practical gifts such as experiences or something I need for the house. Personally, I would be happy with any of the gifts listed above.
Recently, I have been so focused on our financial goals I haven’t allowed myself any splurge money. So here is my specific wish list:
I have a list of little things such as tissue box cover, table linen, cutlery, crockery and some serving items I’d like. Most are fairly cheap, they just haven’t been a priority. Plus, my kids do the dishes. In a little over a year, almost half our dishes have been broken because they were not being careful.
They are more careful now but I would want a specific cabinet for these items and probably wash them myself.
In 2022, I want our family dinners to be special. We eat as a family every night and enjoy it. I’d love to have nice linen, flowers, candles etc. Have it set nicely.
I’m keeping an eye on Adairs as they have a few items I like and often have great sales.
Satin Pj’s and Robe
A long set for winter, a short set and a nightgown. I used to always have satin PJ’s and loved them.
Again, something I used to have which is so much better for my hair. It reduces breakage and is something all women should sleep on. Often they are on sale at Adairs, I’ll be getting either navy or white.
It might be ‘nesting because I am pregnant but I look around my house at the moment and want to change everything. The manchester we got when we moved was either free or the main one we use was super cheap. I hate them all and every time I look at them my heart sinks.
I want to walk into my room and love it. We live in a small 2 bedroom home and from the front door, if my bedroom door is open I can see straight up the stairs into my room. I want it to be something I love.
After I give birth in February and have some time to work on my core, my daughter and I are doing some circus skills classes together. She is extremely excited about it and I love that it is something we can do together.
There are other classes I’d love to try as well. For example, learn to surf classes, guitar lessons etc.
My goal was to read 52 books this year and I will achieve that. I use Audible sometimes so an Audible membership paid for, extra credit with Audible, books from my Amazon Wishlist or similar would all be great.
Our local gym/aquatic centre is ideal for me and has a creche for my kids. Living right on the beach I often go for walks here, we do yoga at home but I would love to use the rowing machine and gym again.
Skulpt and Other Treatments
Anti-ageing treatments, fat freezing and all of that. I’m 36 and usually mistaken for someone much younger which I love. In my view, prevention is best and while I don’t use anything other than anti-ageing skincare right now, I’d love to try these treatments.
They’re not cheap and need to be done after birth though.
We love diving so diving sessions would be great. As would my advanced diving course and diving gear. Skydiving has been on my list for ages and was going to happen this year with my teens but I got pregnant and postponed it.
I love travel and new experiences. We will be going to Vanuatu this year once borders to their open. On this trip, we will be doing Tanna, Futuna and Santo so anything relating to there would be cool e.g. diving.