We have to go to what?
For a lot of events, you know about them a solid amount of time in advance, and for some it may be about making an educated guess - if you have a friend that just got engaged this month, they may be getting married this year. Maybe not, but if you can afford to it would be worth working in the “strong maybes” into your budget.
Sit down with your diary for the year and write down any gift-giving opportunities you may take advantage of, or are attending: birthdays, engagement parties, anniversaries, Valentines Day, Lunar New Year, baby showers, hen dos, weddings...anything you’ve either RSVP’d yes to already or know you’re going to want to spend money on. Generally, it’s more manageable for many to have a separate holiday-season budget because it can be a beast to manage in and of itself, plus a bit of extra padding for unexpected gift-giving throughout the year.
If you know you have 30 people, events, or occasions you’re going to be buying gifts for, your budget may look at bit different than if you’re only buying gifts for 3.
If you know you want to only spend $800 on all your gift giving for the year, work backwards from that and base your per-event spending on the relative uniqueness and relationship of each gift.
If you don’t have an overall budget in mind, go through each event and write down individually how much you’d be willing to spend, total it all up for the year, and if you aren’t comfortable with that total, work backwards from there.
And I have to spend how much?
While there are a number of ways to calculate an appropriate amount to spend on a gift or occasion, and a number of social expectations around it, it’s okay if you don’t spend the “recommended” amount on a person or event.
That aside, generally, the more unique (like weddings, which are hopefully once in a lifetime, and birthdays, which are hopefully more frequent) and the closer the relationship with the gift recipient, the more money we all would like - and would be appropriate - to spend. While some may disagree, a general rule of thumb is to go off how much food and drink per head costs - which in Australia is between $100-$140.
That “appropriate amount” may not always be possible, for various reasons. Perhaps especially for closer family or friends, being upfront about your budget is often the most appreciated solution. If spending the amount you’ve spent on friends previously for birthdays isn’t feasible this year - tell them, and have an alternative handy.
Replace a monetary gift with something just as special. That might be anything ranging from their favourite homemade cookies, to a night in with your favourite movie, popcorn and wine, a home-cooked meal, or an afternoon at the beach together.
And I have no idea what to get!
For a bit of a kick start, a few of our favourite gift ideas for different occasions and personalities:
- Planter box: for that person who is always feeding you amazing brunches, great late night snacks or just enjoys being in the kitchen, give them a kitchen planter with a few staple herbs. Practical and thoughtful, all at once - and shouldn’t break the bank.
- Embroider the linens: More often than not, one of the things a new couple would appreciate is fresh linens. Take it a step further and get them machine embroidered with their names or initials - often this will only cost a few dollars per item, and adds a nice personal touch.
- Soap: Yes, you can make soap yourself - if it’s your first time, be careful! Lye can burn. Directions on how to make cold pressed soap here.
- Date night boxes: Whatever stage of a relationship a person is in, sometimes it helps having a prompt to spend time with their partner - this generally is more appropriate for joint gifts, like weddings, engagements or anniveraries. You could include things like:
- A super comfy throw blanket
- Romcom/action movie/comedy (whatever their preferences may be)
- Gourmet snacks: popcorn, chocolate, lollies…
- Wine or gourmet non-alcoholic bubbles
- Travel pillow/kit: For the person who loves to travel, it’s hard to overstate how important being able to sleep while traveling is. You could get a simple travel pillow or go a bit more unique with something like the Ostrich Pillow.
Coffee or tea with a fun mug: Most of us generally have to get our caffiene kicks in the morning. Whether tea, coffee or hot chocolate, get them something that will help make their mornings a bit more enjoyable.
But I just want to let you know you matter...
Ultimately, gift-giving is a way of showing the other person they matter to you. Whether you spend $100 or $1, as long as that intention is received, does it really matter how much you spend as long as you aren’t putting yourself in financial harm? Not really.
So “budgeting” your gifts should never be seen as a chore or an obligation - because if you don’t want to spend time and energy in showing a person that you care at various different levels of monetary investment, should you really be giving them a gift, or going to their occasion, anyway?
Focus on the relationship you have with the person you’re giving a gift to, and we’re sure you can find a gift that suits how much money you’ve given yourself to spend on them, even if that amount is zero.