Planning and Budgeting Christmas Gifts with Rhonda Hetzel



After a lifetime of excess and over spending, I have been living a simple and frugal life for the past 13 years. I see Christmas as a time of family get-togethers and relaxation and never have a credit hangover in January. In the past, I gave gifts to boost my own ego. Now my gift list includes family and one or two close friends, the process of gift giving is manageable and it's more aligned to my simple values. In January I plan out my list of gifts for the coming year, birthday and Christmas gifts as well as any special events like family weddings or the arrival of a new baby. First I decide what I'll give, whether I buy or make the gift myself and then I work out a budget for the year. Even if I make a gift, it usually involves buying materials and that is factored into the budget too. Then, if I already have the money in the bank, I transfer the entire amount into a gift account, or if I have to save for it, I factor that into my yearly budget and maybe start looking at other things that I can cut back on so I have enough money for the gift list. One thing is for certain, I never use my credit card to buy gifts.

In the gift budget I include the cost of cards and wrapping, or materials I can use to make them. Often these will be handmade cards and recycled wrapping or gift bags. Often I use brown paper with a Christmas stamp and recycled ribbon. Once I got into the habit of doing this it became easier and when I start card writing and wrapping now, it makes me feel that the gift really is a personal expression of my love and appreciation. Usually the cards I make are small gift cards, and I am getting to the end of a pack of regular Christmas cards leftover from bygone days. I use those when I want to send only a card or I have something longer I want to write. I only have four left in the pack so I think I may be buying a pack of recycled or fair trade cards soon, but I expect them to last a few years. And that is the beauty of this kind of mindful gift giving, it's slow and considered. I've stopped the fast and stressful shopping trips in late December. I plan it out, give myself time to source what I need and I use a mix of homemade, fair trade, recycled and commercial gifts, card, wrapping and materials. It's like the old times and a very enjoyable and beautiful end to the year.

In the next blog: How to select gifts that suit simple values and starting a gift cupboard.

We are grateful to Rhonda for sharing this series of guest posts on the theme of finding simplicity this festive season. Read her first post here Simplicity at Christmas Time.

Rhonda Hetzel blogs about her simple life at Down to Earth blog. She has also published the book “Down to Earth: a guide to simple living” and has a second book “The Simple Home” due for release in March 2016. Rhonda shows how to find the pleasure and meaning in a simpler life. She writes: "The work you do in your own home, by creating a warm and secure place for yourself and your family to live in, will enrich you and make you a different person".

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