My mom recently asked what we wanted for Christmas this year. I usually have a list of things to buy in my notebook, so I sent her that list. It was mostly small, fairly affordable items. I’m simply not in the mood to acquire a lot of stuff for the sake of stuff this year. Anything expensive, I’m already considering buying for myself or my husband and I will buy it as a joint gift – like the Wii we’ve been thinking about for over a year. So how do you figure out what you really want this Christmas vs. what you’ve trained to want by holiday season advertisements? Here are a few tips for creating a holiday wish list.

Keep a List
For list keepers like me, this is an obvious one, but it might not be for everyone else. I keep a running list of things I want or things I need to buy all year. For example, I need a new digital cooking thermometer. I listed the brand on my “to buy” list so I can be on the lookout for it. I also add things to my list if I’ve wished I had them a few times. Examples from my wish list this year would be French onion soup bowls and an enameled Dutch oven. Other years, it’s been items like gold hoop earrings or black corduroy pants. It all depends on your needs at the moment.

Do Your Research
For a long time, I opened up the catalogs of cooking equipment and wrote down things that looked fun. Some of those items have never been used. Now I take a different approach to my wish list. In addition to keeping notes throughout the year, I research options for my list. What is the best Dutch oven? What’s the best one in a reasonable price range? Obviously, Le Creuset is the best, but I’m not about to ask anyone to buy me a $300 piece of cookware. Instead I found two $50-60 options that meet my needs and have good reviews. I can feel comfortable putting them on my wish list. Maybe someday I’ll splurge on the expensive version myself.

Don’t Ask for the Sake of Asking
My husband is terrible at creating wish lists. He never wants anything. If he does, he buys it himself. That makes him very hard to shop for. This year, it took me three tries to finally pry a one-item “wish list” out of him that I could convey to my mom. It’s small, affordable, and something he just realized he needs, so he won’t have time to buy it himself.

Be Reasonable in Your Expectations
In the past I’ve put for some very expensive items like a new leather jacket or boots on my wish list. When I do ask for something expensive, it’s something I really do need. I hope to receive it, but I always understand if I don’t.

Remember Who’s Paying
I find that many people buy expensive gifts for their spouses. I don’t really understand this thinking. If you wouldn’t buy it yourself, why would you ask for it as a gift from your spouse? Unless you have separate accounts, you’re still paying for it. I don’t think you need to give or receive expensive gifts to show your love. Some years we skipped the gifts entirely. Other years, we stayed affordable. One year we splurged on each other, but even that was only around $200 each.

This holiday season, it’s especially important to think about your true wants and needs, as well as the cost they bear to other people. No one needs to spend $200 on a gift to show they care. Often a cheap but well-chosen gift means far more. Make your wish list carefully this season and ignore the ads. Gifts you truly want are the gifts that keep on giving.

Comments

2 Responses to “How to Create Your Holiday Wish List”

  1. 154th Festival of Frugality on December 2nd, 2008 7:11 am

    [...] makes the suggestion on How to Create Your Holiday Wish List posted at Sound Money Matters. She says that making a list of reasonable gifts can help those who [...]

  2. Polly Poorhouse on December 5th, 2008 3:01 pm

    When I was a kid, my family always made wishlists. The lists were half the fun. We’d put stuff like “new socks”, “a helicopter”, “world peace.” And there was more stuff on the list than we expected to get, so everything was a surprise, cuz you didn’t know which things you might get.

    Mr. Poorhouse doesn’t like lists. He likes to buy what he wants when he wants it. He thinks making lists make a person look greedy. (He wasn’t crazy about the bridal registry concept either.)

    Me, I’m a big fan of the Amazon wish list, because all my gift recipients are miles away…

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