Last Minute and Small Gifts that Can Make a Big Impact this Holiday Season

The holiday season is arguably one of the best times of the year. However, who wants to spend the first half of the new year paying off gift purchases from the previous year? Big ticket items are often at the top of most people’s lists, but bigger doesn’t always mean better. You can give meaningful gifts without breaking the bank.

Here are some smaller gifts that will still make a big impact this year, or some ideas for those of you who are known to be last minute shoppers!

1. Gift Certificates

Gift cards may seem boring or even cliché, but they make a great gift – as long as you buy them with the recipient in mind. Don’t just grab any gift card just to get a gift card. Choose one your recipient will love, but would probably never buy for themselves. The dollar amount doesn’t need to be huge either, it just needs to be from somewhere your recipient will love or a place you know they go to frequently.

2. An Item that Represents a Happy Memory

Maybe it’s a memento from your first date or an early encounter with your significant other, which could be a photo of the two of you in a nice frame, or even a coupon for a home cooked meal of a favorite shared dish. The idea here is to recreate an already happy memory the two of you shared together and to be as thoughtful as possible.

3. Ornaments

One of the best things about ornaments is that they get hung on the family tree, year after year. Ornaments are a gift that will keep giving, and reintroducing your present into memory with every passing holiday season. A gifted ornament can be store bought and sentimental or, even better – homemade. Do you have a niece or nephew who plays a certain sport? If so, an ornament for the sport they play is a great gift idea. Some shops will even personalize them for you with the recipient’s name, the current year, and a jersey number. Ornaments are generally inexpensive, and always thoughtful.

4. Books

There are few store bought presents that are as personal as a well-selected book. You most likely won’t be buying the same books for everyone on your list. To be really meaningful, each book must be tailored to the specific reader. Stop into your local book store or log into Amazon and go through your gift list. You could probably choose a great book for everyone on your list and spend an average of $10. If your recipient has a Kindle, you can even download an eBook instantly and send it to their Kindle electronically. eBooks are even less money than a paperback or hardcover book would be, and the possibilities are endless!

5. Games

If you have children on your gift list – sons, daughters, nieces, or nephews, then you can’t go wrong with a great game. Choose a classic board game that will help the child develop life skills while also using their imagination. Board games can be a fun and inexpensive gift, which also create happy memories of playing them among family and friends.

6. Movies

A good movie is something that can be enjoyed over and over. Like books, you’ll need to tailor your film selection to the individuals on your gift list. Movies too can be purchased at low prices, from family favorites to the new releases, and even giving electronically or via gift card (think Netflix) to your recipient.

The idea is to keep the holiday season a fun and festive time, and rather than blowing your budget and going into debt – give a small but meaningful gift that also creates a happy memory.

Article Source: Tracy for

5 Easy Ways to Save for the Holidays in Just 5 Weeks

Facts are facts. When it comes to holiday planning, lists are long and time is short. If you’re one of those mythical people who has already finished your holiday shopping, this article may not pertain to you. But, you can still share it with those in your life who always seem to wait as late as possible to start thinking about holiday gifts. Now, if you’re part of the 53% of people who wait until the last minute to tackle your holiday shopping, you’ll want to keep reading.

Ever Ascending Holiday Spending

Every year, Americans spend more on winter holidays than any other occasion in the calendar. Staying in line with this upward trend, shoppers are expected to spend more during the 2018 holiday season than ever before. According to the National Retail Federation: “Consumers say they will spend an average $1,007.24 during the holiday season this year, up 4.1 percent from the $967.13 last year.” And that figure doesn’t even include travel expenses!

Regardless of whether your seasonal spending will top the national average or you skate by just under the line, we want to help you save money. While there may not be enough time to implement a long-term plan as of now, here are five practical tips to help you stretch your holiday dollars a little further this year:

  • Know your limits. Set your limits. At this point in the game, time is of the essence—and so is your money. Rather than trying to overwhelm people with the quantity of your gifts, focus on the quality. It’s always better to give someone one gift they’ll love than to flood them with a variety of forgettable trinkets. Save your time (and hopefully your cash), with more meaningful gifts.
  • Go with gift cards. Don’t stress an opinionated recipient. Let them do the heavy lifting, you just give them the gift of shopping guidance. Plus, nothing says “treat yourself” like a gift card. Why not get creative and make those very same gift cards work for you? Many retailers offer gift cards at a discount during the holidays. If a store is selling gift cards at a 10% discount, buy a $100 gift card for $90 and use it to pay for your gift purchases. Hidden savings will help you through.
  • Abandon your cart. If you’re planning to do your shopping online this year, slowing down can save you money. Instead of finding the item you want, adding it to your shopping cart, and checking out immediately, try a new approach. The first two steps are the same. But then, instead of completing the purchase, leave the item in your cart and exit the site. When something sits in your cart for an extended period of time, many online retailers will send you a reminder email offering a discount if you’ll come back and complete the transaction.
  • The search for savings is on. Thanks to the Internet, you no longer have to cross your fingers and wonder if the store you’re shopping from will offer a coupon or promo code. Websites like RetailmenotGroupon, and Ebates do the work for you. If you’re a frequent Amazon shopper, the Honey app will automatically search the web for coupons or promotions on the items you’ve added to your cart. The holiday season is the perfect time to let modern technology work for you!
  • Patience pays. Failing to plan ahead is rarely a good strategy. But in the case of holiday travels, it just might work in your favor. If you’re hitting the road this holiday season, websites like HotelTonight  and  LastMinuteTravel have created their entire business around helping travelers score last-minute deals on hotel rooms. Don’t just book the first available hotel room you see in the search results though. Shop around. Outstanding savings are out there — you just have to find them.

While the tips we’ve offered can help you get through this holiday season with your spirit intact, there’s an even better way to prepare for next year.

At First Financial, our Holiday Savings Club makes it simple to set aside a little money each month. Start a new tradition of stress-free shopping. No need to put yourself into debt over holiday spending – simply save ahead and come out on top (and not in debt)!*

  • Open at any time
  • No minimum balance requirements
  • Dividends are posted annually on balances of $100 or more
  • Accounts automatically renew each year
  • Deposits can be made in person, via mail, payroll deductions, or direct deposit
  • Holiday Club funds are deposited into a First Financial Checking or Base Savings Account

Contact us today to learn more about our Holiday Club

*A $5 deposit in a base savings account is required for credit union membership prior to opening any other account. All personal memberships are part of the Rewards First program and a $5 per month non-participation fee is charged to the base savings account for memberships not meeting the minimum requirements of the program. Click here to view full Rewards First program details, and here to view the Tier Level Comparison Chart. Accounts for children age 13 and under are excluded from this program.

3 Last Minute Holiday Shopping Tips

colorful shopping bags set in woman's hand isolated on white

The holidays are right around the corner, as in the end of this week! Have you finished all your shopping? Here are three last minute tips to keep in mind as you venture out to fight the holiday shopping crowds this last week of shopping.

10-second rule

When deciding on whether you should purchase something, use the 10-second rule. Hold the item in your hands for a solid 10 seconds and think hard about whether you actually need it or whether it is the right choice for your loved one. Sometimes we are in such a rush to get things done we don’t actually stop and put thought into our purchases. So before you check that gift off your list, give it the 10 seconds to make sure it’s worth your money.

Cash only

It has been proven that we tend to spend more when we shop with our credit or debit cards. It is so easy to swipe that card at multiple stores without really tallying up how much you are spending. Often times it’s not until you check your account that you realize the damage you’ve done to your wallet. Use the cash only rule to avoid this spending problem. Decide exactly how much you want to spend before you leave the house. Take only that amount with you to the store and you will save yourself from those unplanned (and often expensive) holiday purchases.

Go it alone

Having friends and family members in your life that support and encourage you is something to be thankful for. But when it comes to shopping – sometimes having your loved ones with you can be a huge mistake. They may have the best intentions when helping you check things off your list, but they may in fact be persuading you to buy things you don’t really need to. So go it alone and stick to your shopping game plan.

Happy Holidays!

Article Source: Wendy Bignon for