I pulled a thrifty tip from The Little Big Blog for my nieces this year.
I managed to give the bulk of my family handmade gifts this year. This saved me in a big way because back in November I started stressing out about how I was going to pay for gifts for my family, and then I realized that I spent all summer happily making jelly out of fruit I was getting at the farmer's market. I don't think it occurred to me then that my jelly making fun would save me in a few months, but when I realized that my family would happily receive jelly, my shopping was suddenly almost done.
This didn't cover the nieces though. They would be getting jelly by default, but you can't really give a 4 year old a glass jar of jelly and expect that she will get all excited about it. Since time was short and my plate was full, making something wasn't likely to happen.
I found a couple of books, and stayed in my budget, but quickly discovered that the girls already had those. Back they went.
I knew that I wanted to give the girls books, but I discovered really fast that children's books are expensive. If I stayed in my budget, I would only be able to afford to buy one.
I was on my way back to Costco to see if they had anything new, (awesome place to get children's books, they tend to be about half retail!) when I remembered a gently used bookstore. I was able to get 4 books for considerably less than I would have paid for 1 book at the regular book store. That left room in my budget for a toy for them to share.
So, thank you, Carrie Anne for telling me that it's okay for me to be thrifty with my gift giving. For reminding me that used books are just as good, and for helping me to remember that it's better to stay in budget than to be extravagant.