One way to save money on gifts is to give fewer of them.
First, decide if there’s anyone on there who can immediately and easily be cut from the list. Ask yourself questions like: Do you really need to buy a gift for your neighbour’s dog?
Next, decide if there are any people on your list whom you can double up on. This works best for adult couples. For example, instead of budgeting to spend $30 each on your brother and his wife and buying them each their own gift for a total of $60, consider budgeting to buy them a shared gift for $50. It’s trickier to select shared gifts for children, but it can still work out sometimes, especially for bigger ticket items for your own family, such as a gaming console. Last year, my husband and I gave a train table to our children as a combined Christmas gift from us. But we knew they would have individualized gifts from Santa and from extended family.
Thirdly, see if you can make arrangements with friends and family to not exchange gifts. In my family, we don’t exchange gifts with my sister and her husband, we just give gifts to each other’s children. In some families, the adults hold a Secret Santa and each adult then gives a gift to only one other adult in the extended family. Agree with your girlfriends that instead of exchanging gifts, you’ll get together for a special lunch date over the holidays. Or better yet, plan to do it in early January when your social calendars free up and the post-holiday blahs hit.