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The $150 Christmas Challenge

Festive Greetings: I am taking a day off, and even though we all know I Loath Guest Posts, I have allowed our buddy Glenn from Life Insurance Canada to show how Grinchy he can be, read on, and be dazzled by his cheapness, penny-pinching, frugality, with the $150 Christmas Challenge.

If you’re like us, you’re probably tired of the commercialism of Christmas. Yes, it’s fine and fun for the kids, and we all love getting together with our families. But Christmas shopping and gift-giving between spouses has gotten beyond tedious.

Both my spouse and I have everything we need and more than enough of what we want. Christmas shopping turns challenging into just walking around trying to find something that we neither need and barely want and, at best, find interesting. And all that does is turn into a drain on the pocketbook for more ‘stuff.

So this year, we’ve taken the $150 Christmas challenge. And I’m challenging you to do the same with your spouse and put the rest of your money back into your wallet.

Here are the rules of engagement:

  • Maximum $150 including taxes.
  • All gifts must fit into a Christmas stocking
  • No wandering the malls looking for filler, you need to know what you want ahead of time.

Can you do it? The unique part of this challenge is that reducing the budget drastically forces us to find really creative and interesting gifts. You can’t buy a $150 Fossil watch just because it’s cool – that’s out of the budget.

Let me get you started with some great gift ideas that’ll fit the bill:

  • Dust off the skis, or snowshoes this year with a promise to take your spouse for an afternoon outside in the winter air. Ski socks and maybe some gloves from MEC. It’s not socks – it’s the promise of an outdoor adventure. If you don’t have the snowshoes, some searching will find pairs in the area of $80. Or hit up Kijiji.
  • Mixed tape, Gangnam style. A $50 ipod nano. Throw in a $20 Itunes gift certificate, or better yet pre-program it with some tunes yourself. And if their car doesn’t take mp3’s as an input, a $10 device is readily available that’ll let you play the iPod over your car stereo.
  • Foot rub cream from your local pharmacy. If that’s not the best gift ever, then you haven’t been married long enough.
  • Personalized calendar. A guaranteed hit. Take a dozen pics from your adventures in the past year into your local staples and have them turn it into a calendar. Pics from valentines day become the pic for February, summer holiday pics are for July/August, and so on. A calendar for the year, and a keepsake thereafter. Or if you want over the top, a calendar of baby pics of the kids.
  • $30 gift certificate for their favourite lunch spot. Comes with an assumed ‘lunch date’ promise.

It turns out this challenge may result in both less money spent/wasted AND better gifts. Can you do it? What are your ideas for limited budget gifts for your spouse, ones that scream “I’m thinking about you” instead of “This is what I found at the mall when I went last Saturday”?

Glenn Cooke is president of Life Insurance Inc. Not quite a Grinch, he still hates browsing the malls at Christmas.

Feel Free to Comment

  1. Boyfriend and I are splitting a $100 gift card to the mall we received a few months ago. We have all we need, but it is still nice to open something on Christmas Morning.

  2. Good idea! But an iPod Nano ($140+tx) will break your budget unless you live in Alberta. iPod Shuffle must be what you meant.

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