Holidays and birthdays can be stressful, especially if you’re struggling financially. Are you worried that buying gifts will hurt your budget? Going into debt is a terrible idea, especially if it’s just to buy gifts. People who love you don’t want you to spend money that you don’t have. There are alternatives to buying expensive gifts.
Time: Giving your presence instead of presents is often all that some people want. My family and I stopped exchanging gifts a few years ago. What we really want is to spend time together. Location doesn’t make it easy though. We all have less stress since we don’t have to shop and wrap presents. I quit exchanging gifts with friends many years ago, and we just spend time together instead.
Experience: Instead of buying a bunch of “stuff,” how about buying an experience? It may or may not save money, but it will provide better memories, especially if it’s something you’re doing together. The best gifts my dad has ever given me were experiences. My mom and I love to travel, and the best gifts we ever received (in my opinion) from my dad were a 15-day cruise that went through the Panama Canal and a large contribution to our 2-week Australian trip. My dad doesn’t love to travel like us, so he didn’t go on these, but he has gone to a few places with us. There are so many possible experiences to give. Examples include tickets to the theater, a movie, concert, sporting event, festival, the zoo, aquarium, or a theme-park; spa day; vacations; mini-vacations; and stay-cations like a hotel and dinner for two (plus babysitting).
Homemade: Are you good at making something? Homemade gifts are often well-received because they are more special and often more thoughtful than store-bought gifts. I crochet, and the best gifts I’ve ever given (so I’m told) are the ones I crocheted. I’ve also given special photos that I had framed. I received one too, and it’s still prominently displayed on a wall. I’ve also done some other projects involving photos and history (as it related to the recipients). Do you love baking, crocheting, knitting, painting, sculpting, taking photos, or scrapbooking? There are so many possibilities, and I don’t know all of them.
Service: Sometimes, people just need help. What are your specialties? Could you clean someone’s house, cut someone’s yard, make some home or auto repairs, or babysit?
Chance: Do you know any gamblers? You can buy some scratch-offs for them, and they’ll have fun, and they might win money. I’ve done this, and they had huge smiles on their faces!
Do you have a large family? One family I know draws names so everybody is only giving and receiving one gift. After all, the important thing for them is spending time together. You can also set a dollar limit for everyone. If there are multiple families within your family, you can give “family gifts” instead of individual gifts.
So, think about your expertise and what others want, and you just might be able to make someone’s day and save some money too!