Holidays on a Budget

by Camy Reynolds and Ann Marie Kennon

Tips for Saving Myrrh at Christmas

Christmas is one of the undisputed and most expensive times of the year, and this Yule season may be one of the most challenging in recent memory. With growing energy and grocery bills, many of us are dealing with the biggest cuts in living standards since…well, the last time we had a recession. And it’s not even really cold in Texas yet. 

So, if your budget requires a cutback on Christmas spending, we have some ideas to share. 

Want, Need, Wear & Read

Instead of lining up before sunrise to beat other shoppers to all the hot ticket items for your kids, consider making it a little simpler and, perhaps, even less precarious by sticking to four categories:  

WANT: A “want” gift gives us the chance to really listen to our kids and understand their passions. Rather than buying the hot toys of the season, find out what truly makes your children happy. This enables you to shop for something they will really enjoy and use, and also avoid the meltdowns that can come from gift disappointment.

NEED: The “need” gift allows us to give kids something they need that might relate to their learning or thinking preferences, without it being unexpected or a big deal.

For example, a new set of noise-canceling headphones, the latest cool fidget, a backpack that is easier to organize, or an ergonomic chair that provides stability and comfort during study or play.

WEAR: A “wear” gift allows us to take into account each child’s unique sense of style as well as any sensory issues, too. It may take a little more effort to find a soft, tag-free Batman sweatshirt, but it is worth it to see a genuinely happy reaction. 

READ: A “read” gift gives us a chance to choose titles and books that speak to their interests. We can think outside the box and not worry about making sure they are getting traditional reading materials. Children may be more excited than you think to receive graphic novels, books of LEGO-building ideas, and even cookbooks.

Present Roulette

Instead of buying gifts for each family member, pick names out of a hat to cut down on the number of gifts you need to buy. You can keep who-has-whom a secret for some fun suspense. This method allows you to buy a nicer gift for one person rather than buying a bunch of small gifts for everyone on your list.

Shop (Hyper) Local

If your family or friends want something great, it may be that someone else wanted that same thing in the past but is ready to part with it. Check out your local Buy, Sell & Trade Facebook groups to find great deals on items your recipients have been asking for. With a bit of scrolling, you may find items in excellent condition for a fraction of the cost of new or retail. Shopping this way may help you stretch your budget that much further while still enabling you to be proud of the gifts you are giving. 

Also on Facebook, there may be a Buy Nothing Facebook group in your area and if so, you will want to utilize it. Buy Nothing groups are full of items that are free. There’s no telling what someone might be giving away that would be perfect for someone on your Christmas list. Scan the code to visit the Northwest Georgetown page. 

Staying Safe

If you do decide to buy, sell, or trade on Facebook or other free sites and want a safe place to complete the transaction, the Georgetown Safety Center parking lot (3500 DB Wood Road) is a designated safe place. Residents are invited to meet anytime under the watchful eye of the department’s surveillance cameras and spare themselves the anxiety of giving out their home address or meeting alone to exchange money. 

Getting the Best Deal

Also try sites like,, or to ensure you are receiving the best deal on your items from Amazon. Websites like the ones mentioned above will alert you when a price has dropped for an item on your wish list and also tracks the price history to let you know if the item has previously been offered for less than the current price.

Making Memories

Keeping in mind that even the greatest gift item may end up on a Facebook trade page someday, consider giving a family gift or “experience” rather than individual presents. For instance, there are several skydiving centers within a short drive from Georgetown that are likely to create a memory to outlast any sweater or video game. As well, Sea World in San Antonio has a wonderful Christmas program that might make a great alternative holiday plan for the whole family.