I’ve always been pretty organised when it comes to Christmas (it has had its own spreadsheet for many years!), but somehow the realisation that anniversaries, birthdays, Easter and Valentine’s Day come every year, too, dawned on me more slowly.
Also, while I’ve always loved giving gifts and cards (and making things for people, too), I found that I was increasingly anxious about cost. In fact, I was worrying about money in more ways than one: I was concerned that I couldn’t afford to buy presents and simultaneously worrying that I wasn’t spending enough on them, that I was being ‘cheap’.
I don’t think I’m alone in finding there’s an emotional barrier to budgeting for gifts, but recognising that I felt this way really helped me think more clearly about the issue. In the end, I made a list of every single birthday and event for the year and counted them up.
Having made my list and looked at my incomings/outgoings for the year, I was able to set a reasonable budget for each gift with a clear conscience. I knew that I wasn’t being needlessly ‘tight’, but I also reminded myself that my budget doesn’t reflect my feelings for the people I’m buying for or my desire to give them gifts.
Making the list also helped in terms of organisation. I’ve now got a designated drawer for cards and wrapping paper and a cupboard for gifts. When I see a card I really like I buy it and stick it in the drawer. I also bought a couple of packs of blank multi-use cards.
If I get given a gift with lovely wrapping paper or bag, I’m careful when I unwrap it so that I can smooth it out and use again. Same goes for nice ribbons and trims.
I enjoy making cards for people but only when I’m in the mood. I used to wait and make something just before the event but now I make a batch when I’m feeling crafty and keep them in the card drawer.
Keeping a list of events means that I can jot down ideas for gifts when I have them (and am more likely to buy things when I see the perfect present for someone, as I’m more aware that their birthday/event is coming up). It also give me plenty of time to source extra-special gifts for landmark birthdays or wedding anniversaries.
I like to make up for my restricted budget with time and creativity but The List has forced me to be more realistic about the number of gifts I can make (while, you know, not losing my mind). I’m hoping this will lead to a small number of *completed* projects, rather than many half-finished ones (with their delightful side-order of crippling guilt!).
I’ve also started bookmarking ideas for creative gifts/gifts on a budget so that I’ve got plenty of ideas when I’m tackling the next event on The List.
[Image credit: FreeDigitalPhotos]