Major Holiday Busters Part 1

Now that the holiday season is approaching, it’s time to break out some posts about how to keep your spending this holiday on track.

Every holiday is special in its own way, but the trend seems to be: GUILT.

Even armed with the best intentions to stay on budget this year, everyone has gone through these phases: feeling guilty for spending too much, too little or not on enough people.

Others, might see the holidays as carte blanche to let loose, break out that credit card from its frozen block in the freezer, and let ‘er rip.

So before you go shopping for the holidays (those of you who are eager beavers to get started early), keep these guilt traps in mind.

The Dreaded Homemade Gift Guilt

You decide to go smart and frugal this year. Let’s bust out some white chocolate macadamia nut cookies you say.

holidaycookiesI can wrap it in a pretty bow in those cute jars I’ve been saving, handwrite a sweet note and send it along with my love.

Then you finish baking.

You look at the cookies all neatly wrapped, and suddenly feel like it’s not enough.

You decide to bake brownies. The normal kind, not the happy kind.

Then you decide a handmade picture frame would complete the gift.

And so, on and so on.

FB’s Advice:

STOP! Make a decision to make great cookies, with a handwritten note and be done with it.

They’re going to love it. Stop stressing.

You put a lot of time an effort into the gift, and there ain’t no one I know in the world who would turn down their nose at such a delicious, comforting, straight-from-the-heart gift.

If you feel like you must add something, add the recipe for the white chocolate chip macadamia nut cookies.

And don’t forget to send me a jar. 😉

Outdoing yourself

You bought a gorgeous cashmere sweater for your sister for $50 on sale. But it looks like $300.

And you couldn’t resist.

She MUST have that Hello Kitty doll as well (or is that just me?). Now we’re up to $80 for the gift.

Now, your handmade photo montage in a picture frame to your parents and a $20 gift certificate for a dinner out, seems cheap in comparison.

So you add a little something extra and get mom a massage kit.

But what about dad? You can’t just get something for mom and not dad.

And so on, and so on. It doesn’t stop!

FB’s Advice:

It IS enough. Stop.

No one sees price tags on gifts, and they only see the thought and heart that goes into it. When in doubt, give food to everyone.

holidaystressAnd set a budget so that you don’t go over for each person.

Maybe your sister had it extra rough this year, and needs a little extra pick-me-up.

Your parents aren’t going to Google and find out the price of everything.

They’re going to love the thought you put into the frame and just be happy to have you back home with them.

(OMG, do they even know how to get online!?!

My parents don’t even know how to turn on a computer.

You’re totally safe.)

The Uh-Oh Surprise!

So, you didn’t expect this.

Tom, Mary and Jim chipped in to get you a kinda expensive little lamp for your desk, to help with your nearsightedness and to give your desk a little chic touch.


You didn’t have gifts for them. Now you have to get them something.

But there was 3 of them!

Do you buy 3 items? Of equal value to the one item you got? Or a third of the cost each?

This is getting confusing. You just decide to buy 3 items, of a higher value than what you got just so you can be sure it’ll be well received.

Let’s just make sure they’re all of equal value, or else you’ll have to outdo yourself and keep adding little extras here and there.

FB’s Advice:

Okay. You have to of course, reciprocate. But why do you need to reciprocate with a gift, per se?

Why not take them all out to dinner? 3-birds–but-only-1-bill.

But next time, if it’s just one person who catches you off guard like your neighbour or your friend, consider a thank you dinner date, or a gift certificate to where they always seem to be shopping.

Or consider baking them something yummy.

(Or buying said baked goods and pretending it’s yours. No one will know. I didn’t say that.)

The One-Up Jonesing

Okay so.. last year, you gave your friends a pretty little Christmas decoration for their tree, because you know they’re into that stuff.

shopping (2)The next year, they reciprocated with a little battery automated vacuum bot because you were always complaining about the dog shedding all over the place.

Then, you decide to buy them a set of gorgeous porcelain plates to add to their collection.

And they reciprocated with an amazing back massage machine that surely cost more than a set of plates. You feel like your gift this year, of a set of pretty plates just didn’t compare.

So now, you’re thinking that you need to give them a case of wine this year, since they’re real wineheads…

But they end up reciprocating with a pair of expensive Broadway tickets to the sold out show in town.

Now you’re amped up. You want to do better than a pair of Broadway tickets so you aren’t caught off guard with a “dinky” gift again this year.

Maybe a pair of tickets to the Caribbean….?

FB’s Advice:

Time out. Stop. Stop the presses.

This one-upping Jonesing of each other will never stop. You will never go back to just giving each other Christmas decorations for $10 any more, if you start upping the stakes every year.

This is a dangerous poker gift game, and you just need to stop, and give them some homemade cookies to end the rivalry, and the damage to your wallet.

Yes. Cookies and baked treats are my answer to any and every gift.


A) you can eat them and they won’t leave a lingering sense of guilt or a mess

B) it’s more heartfelt when you make them something and they get to enjoy it immediately

C) there aren’t any hidden costs (an iPod needs a new hard case too, you know)

D) it’s eco-friendly — you aren’t buying them new things, you’re just making something from what you had at home

E) they will smell good in the home during the holiday

F) they won’t have to bake anything for themselves

G) everyone loves baked treats even if they say they don’t

Did you recognize yourself in any of these situations?

I did.

If not, stay tuned for Part 2. We are sure to find your poison.

Next: Major Holiday Busters Part 2

About the Author

Just a girl trying to find a balance between being a Shopaholic and a Saver. I cleared $60,000 in 18 months earning $65,000 gross/year. Now I am self-employed, and you can read more about my story here, or visit my other blog: The Everyday Minimalist.