7 Cheaper Alternatives to Traditional Holiday Gift Giving

Holiday gift giving can often lead to mixed emotions. It's fun, but also, it's expensive! Use these alternatives to save money and have fun this year.Holiday gift giving can often lead to mixed emotions. On one end, you may be excited to purchase special items for your loved ones and friends. On the other, it can be a real stress inducer as you try to narrow down what to get people and stick to your budget.

That sigh of relief that comes with finishing up all your holiday shopping each year never gets old.

As holiday parties and related events start to take place, you can use that to your advantage by exploring some cheaper alternatives to holiday gift giving. If you want to try something different this year when it comes to exchanging gifts and save a little money, here are some options to consider.

1. Secret Santa

This is a common way to exchange gifts among friends at holiday parties, but you can also do a Secret Santa with your family members as well. Instead everyone buying everyone a gift for Christmas, you can just exchange gifts with one person while everyone else exchanges as well.

That way, everyone gets something. This is a great way to exchange gifts if you have a lot of adults in your family and it may be too expensive to purchase everyone something individually.

In my family, we actually do this every year and we set a reasonable budget (around $50 – $65) so we can get a nice gift for the one person were assigned to.

Instead of getting 6 $10 gifts purchasing one nice $60 gift for someone allows us to get creative and find something meaningful.

2. Recipe Exchange

Not much can compare with yummy holiday food. It also makes for a great cheap gift. Instead of exchanging Christmas presents, you can host a potluck and ask everyone to bring their best dish along with the recipe.

At my church, we do an annual cookie exchange event and it’s always a good time. Each person makes their favorite cookie recipe and we all exchange at the party. By the end of the night each person is sent home with an array of delicious holiday cookies.

3. Used Books

I love receiving book recommendations because they’re so personal to me and often end up being great reads. Reading is also one of the best hobbies to have to improve your life and be successful seeing as how the average self-made millionaire reads two or more books per month.

Organize a gift exchange with your friends where you each bring a great book you’re willing to part with and exchange it with a book someone else brings. You can also each share what you liked about the book so you can build a reading list even though you’ll only get to take one book home.

4. Donate Instead

If you tend to have a huge gift-giving budget each year, see if you can reduce it and donate some items instead. You can choose an organization or cause that you support and donate gifts or supplies.

Once you do your research, you’ll find that most charities are not asking for much at all whether it’s everyday household items and toiletries, non-perishable goods, etc.

You can also consider adopting a child in need for the holidays by providing them with a gift from their wish list. Churches and local organizations partner to help locate kids and families in need in order to provide aid for the holiday season.

Limiting your own shopping budget in order to give back will likely be less costly and will allow you to make a difference in someone else’s life.

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5. Travel

This may not be true in every case, but you may be able to travel during the holidays for less than it would cost you to buy gifts and other seasonal items.

The average family spends $1,000 during this time of year more or less. There are plenty of ways to travel domestically for less than that amount especially if you utilize hacks like reward points and hotel deals. This means if you ditch the holiday gifts, you may be able to save some money and treat your family to a trip instead.

6. Host a ‘Needs’ Gift Exchange

Sure, a Google Home or an iPhone 8 sounds nice, but it’s not really something you need. Some people have a bad habit of ignoring their needs all year-round. This is why the holiday season is the perfect time for a ‘needs’ gift exchange.

Ask everyone to name one or two things they truly need for themselves or their home then set up a formal gift exchange. This will be a much cheaper alternative to holiday gift giving because you won’t have to worry about finding the most upscale unique gift.

It’s the thought that counts is a great premise, but most of us can agree that we like to receive gifts we actually need and will make good use of.

7. Give Your Time

One thing you can give for the holidays that won’t cost a lot is your time. See who you can help with your time and talents. This could mean visiting your grandparents to help organize their attic, or shoveling snow for your neighbor who can’t get out often.

Being able to donate your time says a lot. For one, it says that person is important to you and that you care. Where we dedicate our time says a lot about what we value and who is important to us.

Money and gifts can’t replace time and memories. That’s why if you’re on a budget this holiday season, you should always consider how you can give to others by helping and spending time with them instead.

What are some of your favorite cheaper alternatives to traditional holiday gift giving?