A Christmas Gift Guide For Normal People


I think we need a Christmas gift guide for normal people:

People who don’t do well with darling Pinterest projects, who have limited funds, limited time and are skeptical regarding all the people they feel obligated to buy gifts for. People like me who wander the mall aimlessly stressing over the perfect gift to give someone and just end up buying chocolate- for themselves.

These are my people. You are my people!

Here are my top tips for handling Christmas gift buying stress:

  • Only make friends with people who don’t get offended if you don’t buy them Christmas gifts. In fact, if you can swing it, only be friends with the ones that really mean it when they tell you not to get them anything. Those are the best. I know it’s a wacky piece of advice, but there is a grain of truth hidden there. Please believe me when I tell you that your true friends do not care if you get them anything.Alternative inexpensive idea: Ask some of your friends to meet up for coffee at your favorite coffee shop to celebrate Christmas. Or plan to do a white elephant gift exchange.


  • Start a vacation fund. One of the hardest people to buy for are the ones that don’t need anything or really want anything- your parents. For years I would spend time wandering the mall stressing out over what to give my dad. Several years ago, we adopted a new gift-giving plan that my step-mom’s family had been implementing for some time. We started a vacation fund.

For Christmas and birthdays, we all put money into a vacation fund. This is how we do gifts now on my side of the family for Christmas, birthdays and anniversaries. My dad, step-mom, and my brother and his wife are all on board and it has worked beautifully. Once we have enough money, we’ll plan a trip together with that money. Everyone gives what they can afford and it adds up quickly with so many people contributing.

Alternative inexpensive plan: Donate money to a cause in their name. Any amount!

  • If you have a thousand nieces and nephews, you need a new plan! We don’t have a thousand, but the number was adding up quickly. When we gather with my husband’s side of the family once a year, instead of every family buying gifts for every niece and nephew we have the kids draw names and they buy a gift for their person. We make it even easier by asking the moms and dads for gift ideas.

Alternative inexpensive plan: only buy for the nieces and nephews you like (I kid, I kid. . . ha-ha).

  • See if there is a less expensive option for that big ticket item your child really wants. Two years ago, my daughter REALLY wanted a doll house. Guess what costs a lot of money and takes a lot of time to set up? A doll house.  The more we looked around, the more we realized we could afford a tiny doll house or we could get a big one and not afford to put anything in it and Nathan would be spending hours assembling it. And then my wise friend told me she had found a less expensive doll house. It requires zero effort and the cost was amazing.

We took her advice and bought this $39 house and Audrey loved it. Our wallets loved it.


  • Pool your resources for teacher gifts. If you have multiple kids in multiple activities, it can add up quickly to buy gifts for every teacher/leader. See if you can go together with a group on a gift for these people. This is a win for everyone. You can contribute what you can afford, and the teacher ends up with something nice instead of 20 small random presents. The key here is to not require people to give a certain amount. Ask people to contribute what they can and designate the person who loves gift-buying to pick out something with the money. (Be careful with which group gifts you agree to be a part of. See next tip)

Alternative inexpensive plan: Check out Pinterest, if you must. Beware of complicated crafts that make you crazy though.

  • Beware of getting conned into doing group gifts where you are required to contribute more than you can afford.  You know what I’m talking about, right? The well-meaning person who coordinates a group gift without asking and then tells you that your portion is $275 and you had budgeted approximately $23.10 for that individual.

What should you do if your sister texts you and tells you that she bought a gift for the entire family to chip in on for your mom and you can’t afford it?

You tell your sweet, thoughtful sister this:

“Dear sister, that was so kind of you to think of us and to get something for dearest Mother. I appreciate the offer, but we have already made other plans for a gift for her.”

You don’t need to have any guilt or further conversation about it. Chances are, your sister has more time and money than you do and she shouldn’t be putting you in this awkward situation.

Alternative inexpensive plan: Contribute what you can toward the gift.


That’s my stress-free Christmas gift guide for normal people. Tell me your biggest gift buying stressor right now!


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2 thoughts on “A Christmas Gift Guide For Normal People

  1. I love your vacation find idea!!!

    My sister in law for does that group gift thing every year, usually at what feels to me like the last minute. If we’ve already bought something or aren’t up for the sticker price, we’re honest. It typically goes over like a lead balloon. You win some, you lose some. In the end though, boundaries keep me from resentment.

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