6 Tips for Unwanted Christmas Gifts

Do you have a pile of unwanted Christmas gifts that resembles the Island of Misfit Toys? Get organized and get some value out them! We have compiled some tips to help you get something in return for those gifts that just aren’t the right for you. These suggestions can help turn your unwanted gifts into the treasures that the giver had intended them to be! Stay tuned for all 6 tips!

12 THINGS AT CHRISTMAS THAT CAN ADD DEBT TO ME – 12. Buying Holiday Merchandise Just Before The Holiday

You saw some new, hot Christmas decorations in the store and you just have to have them to complete your holiday décor. So you look at the price…oh my…well I really, really want it…the price is a little high but Aunt Norma is coming and I think she will really love it. Who knows how many more Christmases we will have together so I better get them now…It really isn’t THAT bad so…you buy it. Does this sound familiar?

BAM! You lay down the full price of $300, run home, and put up those decorations. A week later on Christmas day, all your guests, especially Aunt Norma swoon over your new decorations. You feel a sense of pride and happiness that you made everyone’s Christmas better by buying those decorations.

A week later while you are returning that ugly sweater that Aunt Norma gave you, you see all the Christmas decorations are 90% off! Wow, that is a great deal! It couldn’t possibly include the decorations I bought a few days ago for $300…could it? Your stomach gets tight and your head is down with your eyes peeking tentatively around the corner to the display and sure enough that 90% off sign is prominently displayed on the decorations you just bought. UGH! Really?

Here is a tip, these discounts happen every year. Just after Christmas prices get slashed and you can buy wrapping paper, bows, gift tags, and of course decorations at a fraction what it cost just days earlier. So in your spending plan set aside a fund to make these purchases just after Christmas so you can be ready for next Christmas and keep a lot more money for your gifts!

12 THINGS AT CHRISTMAS THAT CAN ADD DEBT TO ME – 11. Choosing To Defer Payment For Gifts

When you are standing in the store with a full shopping cart, a maxed credit card, and no cash just days before Christmas what are you going to do? The stores make it so easy to “Buy Now, Pay Later”. These deferred payments are like lay away but in reverse. The store offers you credit so you can take all your gifts home now and make small monthly payments throughout the year. No matter how your wrap up paying for something later it still creates debt. The stores will do whatever they can do to get you to buy, buy, buy!

Many stores make it so easy by offering to charge your credit card for a fraction of what you owe for your purchases every month without interest charged by the store (but remember if you don’t pay off that credit card in FULL every month you WILL PAY interest and/or penalties). That way the store gets their money and your credit card company can chase you for the payment if you don’t pay.

Let’s put some numbers to it to see what a deferred payment plan might look like. If you spent $300 on gifts, you might agree to pay $30 for the next ten months to pay that off. That sounds reasonable and doable, but when you consider that you will make your final payment sometime in October and need to start Christmas shopping again soon. If you didn’t start saving money for your Christmas spending in January because you needed to make your $30 monthly payments on presents from last year, you are right back where you started. Standing in the store days before Christmas looking for a way to buy your gifts. It can become a vicious cycle.

Break out of the cycle by creating and following a spending plan so you make unemotional decisions during your holiday shopping. Click here to get some resources to start your spending plan today!

12 THINGS AT CHRISTMAS THAT CAN ADD DEBT TO ME – 10. Buying For Every Person On Your List

Time is more valuable than money. Everyone’s time is limited. We all know eventually our time will run out. Instead of buying gifts, consider planning a fun activity like making precious homemade gifts or meet someone important to you to talk with or volunteer for a cause you feel passionate about. How do you feel when you spend time having fun with someone you care about? You receive a gift of joy as well right? Tis the season!

Take time this holiday season a walk in the park or a trail. Have a heart to heart talk and listen intently. During your time together block out any and all other distractions. No phone or watch notifications. Focus only on that one person for that time and I am sure they will remember and cherish that memory for a long time to come.

Invite a special someone over to your kitchen to show them how to make a treasured favorite, family recipe. When you are done give them a handwritten recipe of that dish and maybe a new pan for them to take home to cook it in. I bet they will think of you every time they make or eat that dish!

For people who aren’t mobile or able to travel, ask what they’re favorite game or book is. Then bring that book or game when you visit and spend time playing or reading together. You could learn why that is their favorite and it could become yours!

Experiences that make happy memories are the most cherished gifts!


Do you have a jar that you throw coins in at home? Or do you have gift cards that people gave you last year that you wondered what you are going to do with? What about the credit card rewards that you have been racking up? There are many places that money can be hiding. Maybe some of these ideas will keep you in the green!

Roll up those coins and see how much you got. While cleaning your house and car keep an eye out for coins to add to the jar. You may be surprised how quickly it adds up! Then you can use it this year or start your gift fund early for next year!

If you’re not careful or use them right away, gift cards can sit left unused. They get kicked under beds or tucked in wallets and somehow disappear. Think of it as a treasure hunt and start digging! It can be very helpful to buy gifts with those long-lost gift cards and give your gift savings a break.

Credit card rewards are very exciting when you haven’t been paying attention to them for months, then suddenly you check the reward balance and it can be hundreds! In many cases, the credit cards are paying more in rewards on what you spend than the bank will give you in interest! Also, many of these cards have discounted products you can purchase to make the money you get from rewards go even farther. Take advantage of it! (Always, always, always pay your monthly credit card balances in full! Never carry a balance over so you have to pay interest or fees. It is counterproductive!)

Always keep your eyes and mind open, you would be surprised how much money you can find!


It would be rare in this day and age to have to pay full price for a gift you’d like to give. Always, always, always research prices on an internet search engine before you purchase the gift. Just type in the item name and BAM you should be flooded with tons of information about the item with reviews. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve overlooked researching the price, only to find the identical item at a substantially lower price. Don’t let this happen to you!

Watch your mail for store specific coupons or loyalty rewards or discounts. I clip the coupons and add them to a wallet to take with me when I am shopping. Sometimes I shop a specific store because of the coupon.

If I am on a store’s email list, I search my email with the name of the store name to see what the current offerings are. Many times, in addition to the mailed coupons, they will accept additional savings that you received in an email. Double up those saving!

In addition, you can also use an internet search engine for discounts available on the internet for a particular store. There are many, many websites that have coupon codes for discounts even if they don’t have your email address. Use them!

If you don’t have any discount coupons by the time you get up to the cash register, ask the cashier if they have any discounts available. Many times, they will whip out a coupon they have under their desk to help a customer out.

Remember that many times you CAN sometimes use more than one coupon and stack discounts. Check the fine print. Save whenever you can so you can make your money go further.


Christmas is a busy time of year for everyone. It is also true for traveling. In fact, the holidays are peak travel season. If you have been scrimping and saving for a long time to take a dream vacation with your family, you may want to consider doing some research. The travel conditions at Christmas time can be challenging so be sure you are well prepared.

During the holidays you can generally expect to pay the most expensive rates for airfare, hotels, and attractions. If the price is not an object, then go for it. For the rest of you, you may want to find a non-peak time of year where your dollars can go MUCH farther and allow you to have many more experiences on your trip. Use a search engine to compare flexible dates to find the best deals.

Crowds are also at peak during Christmas time. Your patience will be tested. Be sure to be as well rested as possible, carry snacks to keep grumbly tummies at bay, and be armed with some games that can keep you entertained without any extra baggage. A little planning in advance can turn something that could be frustrating into fun!

Plan to be early to all timed events. Remember this is one of the busiest times of the year. Avoid the stress of being late and the possibility of missing out on an amazing experience because you didn’t make it on time.

If you must travel at Christmas just use these suggestions for a less stressful trip. If not, consider if at all possible, to travel during non-peak season to get more relaxation and fun for your money!

12 THINGS AT CHRISTMAS THAT CAN ADD DEBT TO ME – 6. “But They REALLY Deserve It” Overspending

I can justify just about anything. Just ask me. I can probably come up with a reasonable excuse for you on the spot. I bet you can too. This is because once we let our emotions start talking, they can be very persuasive. You know that little voice inside your head that starts whispering to you when you want something. It might say something like…”Wow, that is a perfect gift for mom. I know it is expensive and more than I had planned to spend “BUT SHE REALLY DESERVES IT”. When you start with that kind of language you need to pause.

This pause is needed so you can stop your emotional mind from talking and have your rational mind step in to start considering the consequences of overspending. If you make this purchase, what will it do to my spending plan? Can I shift items around or go without something so I can make this purchase for her? This next question can bring up all kinds of possibilities though. How can I get her that present without going over my spending plan?

Maybe you have siblings who can pitch in to pay a share. Are there any specials or sales coming up that you can take advantage of? Can you sell something you have to raise the money? Is there a way to earn extra income during the Christmas season? The possibilities are endless. As you go through the “How Can I?” process your answer might be a combination of all of them.

Usually, where there is a will, there is a way to get what you want. But don’t jeopardize your success from an emotional response. That’s not the way to get you where you want to be.


Layaway can have perks like getting some shopping done early, locking in a (hopefully) good price, and of course, spend within your planned amounts for Christmas. There can be coal though lurking in amongst those gifts though.

There can be opening fees associated with layaway accounts so carefully read the fine print. Which means you can pay more for something you aren’t getting right away. Plus it takes more out of what you can spend on gifts!

It is possible that once you lock in the price at layaway if it happens to go lower you aren’t able to get that Black Friday or Cyber Monday deal.

If you change your mind there can be a cancellation or a restocking fee for what you have in your layaway account.

There even can be item restrictions on layaway accounts that may include marked down items, furniture, and jewelry.

Of course, I have to mention the urge to spend more because you can spread the payments out. Always, always, always stick to your plan. Remember your plan can change but not while standing at the cash register. It needs to be well thought out and then adjusted. Stay the course!

Paying with cash will always give you the best edge so you can be in control of your spending at all times without any fees or penalties.

12 THINGS AT CHRISTMAS THAT CAN ADD DEBT TO ME – 4. Adding More People To Your Gift List

I am sure everyone has this moment before…someone who has never given you a gift before suddenly gives you a gift. AWKWARD MOMENT. You immediately panic and wonder what to say. Do you lie and say, “Oh no, I left your gift for at home.” Which means that you are now obligated to go and buy a gift, even you weren’t intending on buying in the first place which was NOT part of your spending plan. Beyond that, consider that this one instance where you feel you have to a gift may turn into an annual obligation for years to come! Not good. Don’t add more people to your gift list that you do not sincerely WANT to give a gift too!

In these types of situations, honesty is always the best policy and you can avoid years of gift obligation by just saying, “I am surprised by your thoughtful, generous gift. I didn’t know we were exchanging gifts. I feel terrible I have nothing for you, but I just love the gift. Thank you very much.” Period. Nothing more needs to be said. You have recognized that they are thoughtful and generous AND that you don’t have a gift for them. No further obligation this Christmas or any other.

Gift giving can easily get out of control very fast. Only give gifts that you have planned on in your spending plan and within limits, you set per person. Then you can have a peaceful Christmas by staying on the right financial track!