Ever since the economy took a turn for worse over three years ago, every holiday season since has been a struggle to make as many people happy on the smallest budget as possible. This year, with unemployment staying stagnant, benefits extinguished, and optimism for near-term recovery diminished to near-zero, many families will unfortunately be facing the most minimalist of holiday gift-giving they've experienced yet. But with that said, great gift ideas can still come to fruition on a shoestring budget. You just have to know how to go about doing it (especially when it comes to pleasing the little ones).
NEW PHONES FOR THE KIDS
Depending on the age of your kids, cell phones may or may not be suitable. But regardless, they may not be economically viable for you. However, prepaid cell phones provide a great option for parents who are both skeptical about allowing their kids to have mobile devices and unwilling to pay for unlimited data. Kids won't know the difference between a smartphone that comes with a contract and one bought at Target. But at the end of every month, you'll definitely notice the difference in the bill.
GIFT CARDS FOR THE GRANDPARENTS
Gift cards sound like an economically smart solution. But $25 here and $50 there quickly adds up. To cut the costs of gift cards for your parents and for anyone else, take part in paid online surveys which reward you with gift cards to sites such as iTunes and Amazon. What's the difference between working directly for the gift cards you hope to give and paying for them with cash?
CD albums, iTunes, and the devices that play music are all pretty pricy. So have you heard about Pandora? Pandora is a free-to-use program subscribers can access through any computer, that plays music radio-style in accordance to pre-selected artists. Thumbs up the songs you like and thumbs down the songs you hate to fine-tune the selections to better reflect your tastes. This free app can come across as an awesome “gift” to youngsters not yet aware of the web's array of free services.
If you've been holding off on letting your kids get Facebook profiles, a great Christmas gift idea for cheap could be to grant them permission to create profiles. Most social media sites have a fair amount of latitude as far as parental controls go on profiles, which can help ease apprehensions as well as allow you to monitor the social media activity of your children. You won't find a cheaper gift idea than this one.
This holiday season is going to be a tough one for countless families. But a little ingenuity and extra work can make even the most modest of gift budgets out-perform your expectations. You may very well be setting a precedent that will make future holidays not only enjoyable, but also affordable.