The holiday season is gearing up. Are you ready? With Christmas gifts, holiday cards, travel plans, corporate parties, and more, it can be an overwhelming, not to mention expensive, time of year.
Luckily, you have control over one of the most notoriously expensive parts of Christmas – gift giving. Here are 14 creative and cheap alternatives to traditional Christmas gifts.
Giving a donation in someone’s name in lieu of gifts can be even more meaningful, and can really help those who are truly in need during this time of year. Making a donation in the name of your family or friend is something nearly everyone would like or at least appreciate.
If you aren’t sure what organization your friend or family member supports, just ask. They will appreciate the thought, and it’s always better to ask to ensure money in their name is going to a cause they really care about.
2) Secret Santa
If you can’t bear the idea of a gift-free Christmas, why not consider a Secret Santa gift exchange? Before Christmas day, everyone randomly draws another family member’s name and purchase a gift for that specific person. During the gift exchange, everyone gets one gift.
You can even put a price limit on how much everyone can spend. This not only make a Secret Santa an incredibly budget-friendly option, but it also forces participants to get creative with their gifts.
3) Potluck Dinner
Hosting a big potluck dinner can be celebration enough. At a potluck, everyone can bring their own dish to share, which can be considered a gift in itself. In addition, a potluck takes some of the stress and financial responsibility off the host.
To make it even more fun, you can consider a theme meal, where everyone brings a dish and dresses up according to the theme.
4) Make Memories
Instead of gifts, think of something you and your family or friends can all do together. It doesn’t have to cost much, but chances are, experiences you’ve had together are going to be more memorable than a gift.
This could really be anything – a trip to the movies, a weekend getaway, a fancy meal out. You may even find that this becomes tradition.
5) Create a “Need” List
It’s never easy to guess what people want for Christmas. Instead, ask everyone what they really need.
If you’re going to be spending money on them, they would probably appreciate something they really needed versus a gift that they might not even use.
6) Give Your Time
The gift of time is not only one of the most meaningful gifts, but it can be one of the most helpful. Everyone could use additional help in some area of their life – whether it’s a house cleaning, organizing, cleaning up the lawn, or a special project.
Helping them for an afternoon might not even feel like much work to you, but the recipient will surely appreciate your help.
7) Start a Savings Account
For anyone with children in your family, consider starting a savings account. Instead of spending money on gifts, put a few dollars into a savings account to give them when they graduate high school.
Though it might not save you lot of money right now, it does re-purpose that money into something more meaningful than the latest gift. If you are unsure whether this would be appropriate, talk with the child’s parents.
8) Go Homemade
Whether or not you consider yourself crafty, you can make a variety or relatively simple homemade items to give as gifts. Everyone appreciates a creative homemade gift, and the possibilities are endless.
You can make anything from woodworking projects, scarves, body scrubs, food items, and more. Making items homemade can be much more cost effective versus buying a gift for everyone. They might just take a little more time since you have to actually make the gift, so be sure to start plenty of time in advance.
9) Give Household Staple Items
Giving household staple items might not be the most meaningful gift, but they rank high in usefulness and simplicity. If you’re unsure of what to give, household items like nice hand soaps, bath items, cleaning supplies, or even laundry detergent can make great gifts.
I like this gift because I’m practical. It’s something that will never go unused, and allows me to save more money in my budget by not having to buy such household items for a few months. To make it seem a little more special, you can wrap it up into a gift basket to give to the recipient.
10) Don’t Exchange Gifts at All
Though it may seem taboo to some, it is possible to forgo gifts entirely and without guilt.
The important step is to ensure everyone is on board with a no-gift Christmas. If you are proposing a no-gift Christmas, you’ll also want to stress that this truly means no gifts. Inevitably, one family member will give small gifts, causing everyone else to feel slightly guilty. When you all talk about it beforehand, it allows everyone to be on the same page.
11) Celebrate Christmas in the Off-Season
Though it is possible to find sale items during the holiday season, the sales are far less significant than other times of the year. Add that to the already hectic holiday season, and you’re spending much more money than you would be during another time of year.
One way to elevate some of these costs is to hold the holiday celebration during another time of year. Many people find a “Christmas in July” is more affordable than celebrating in December.
12) Limit the Number of Gifts
It can be easy for gift-giving to get out of hand. You may feel inclined to buy endless gifts for everyone. One way to combat this is to limit the number of gifts you buy for each person.
The key is communicate your ideas with everyone you are celebrating with. This ensures that no one feels slighted or upset after Christmas.
13) Host a White Elephant Exchange
For a fun and informal Christmas gift exchange, you can declare it white elephant. That means everyone buys or finds one funny gag gift. It truly can be anything. Then you go about exchanging the gifts by drawing out of a hat.
This may not be for everyone, but it is a fun and very affordable way to celebrate a family Christmas.
14) Split Meaningful Family Gifts
What gifts could your family all benefit from or enjoy? Why not go in and purchase a group gift?
This could be something such as family portraits, a new household item if you all live together, a trip you take together, or even purchasing the research to create a family tree.
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How do you plan to celebrate the holidays this year? What ideas do you have to lessen the cost of gifts?