Have yourself an affordable little holiday
BY TERRA COONEY For Sun-Times Media
A woman holding a present
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Even though the spirit of giving is in the air, don’t break the bank. Patricia A. O’Brien, Certified Etiquette Consultant and owner of Manners, Please, shared advice on keeping a balanced budget this season without skimping on style.
Any random cab driver would appreciate something extra, but you have your pockets to protect. Save the seasonal tipping for those who make your life easier all year round. O’Brien said this should also depend on your budget and frequency of service. Leave your dog walker something extra around the holidays, but don’t go over-tipping every service professional you come across.
Instead of buying a small gift for all in a circle of friends, or for an entire office of co-workers, keep your cash flow in check by trading one gift per person. O’Brien shared: “This can be a lot of fun and it makes a party out of gift-giving.”
Wrap It Right
Boxes saved from throughout the year make great packaging for holiday gifts. Larger packages can even be used to deliver a gift card while keeping your recipient guessing. Even a paper bag can be used as simple wrapping dressed up in a pretty bow. Collecting these from the stores you visit year round can make for some unique packages that are also fun to wrap.
Cut the Cards
Once a card sender doesn’t mean always a card sender. “People you see all the time don’t really need a card,” stated O’Brien. Sure, it’s great to reach out to someone who would appreciate hearing from you, but if you’re going to send a card, make it meaningful. It could be offensive to get a card with nothing more than a name scribbled inside from someone you hear from just once a year.
Look to your local art center to find a class in your area to make something unique this season. “If you can’t afford to give cash to your hairdresser or drycleaner, something homemade can be greatly appreciated,” O’Brien said. If you know someone who loves to cook, give the gift of ingredients needed to make their favorite dish. Got a friend with a green thumb? O’Brien suggested visiting your local garden center to create something special.
“Be sure the recipient is not in the same circle of friends from whom you received the gift,” O’Brien said. Also, deem the receiver the very most appropriate person to have the gift. Though it can save you money, never just re-gift just to get rid of something you can otherwise donate. Remember to remove all tags, receipts, original wrapping and anything that will leave behind a trace that the gift wasn’t chosen specifically for the recipient.