Christmas is my favourite time of year, hands down. I worked at a big box retail store for four years and I still love Christmas. I love the first snow, hot drinks, seeing all your friends and family,absolutely stuffing my face with food, and probably most of all – giving gifts.

Nothing makes me happier than finding the perfect present for someone and watching them unwrap it. Last year, I got my Iceland-obsessed friend a custom pair of handmade mittens, embroidered with the Icelandic flag. She kept them on for the rest of the night.

I’m also, of course, on a budget. I’m saving for a wedding here, and I also don’t have that nice retail job anymore because I’m finishing school, but that means I don’t have that sweet sweet Boxing Day overtime pay coming. So how do I buy presents for all my loved ones and not break the bank?

First, MAKE A BUDGET. It’s important to look at all your finances and set a reasonable limit. My budget this year was $350 for seven people.

Next, I make an Excel spreadsheet. I list who I’m buying for, what I’m buying them, and the cost of each present. If I’m buying it online (highly likely), I put the link in the description as well to keep track. When I buy something, I list how much it actually was, and how much in my budget I have left to spend.

Staying organized is half of it. The other half is how to get thrifty. One of my friends tipped me off on an online shopping secret. Put the items you want to order in your shopping cart, and then abandon the website for a few days. In some cases when you’ve made an account, the website will email you a few days later with a coupon code.

I split the cost of some presents with my brother – presents for my mom, dad, and step-parents. The presents are from both of us, I just do the shopping.

My last (and favourite) tip is to get crafty. I love to knit, and people love when you make them something personally. They also don’t know how cheap it is to knit. The average ball of yarn goes from $3 – $5, and depending on the length, you can get 2 or 3 projects out of it. Michaels has sales all the time, and paired with their coupons, it’s super easy to make all your presents.

Check out this video I made on learning to knit, and hopefully it helps you save a little extra for your big day!