7 Alternatives to Buying Cheap Christmas Gifts this Holiday Season

The holiday season is rapidly approaching. Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or another holiday, it can be overwhelming to think about buying gifts for the people you care about – especially if you’re on a tight budget.

Fortunately, there are some alternative to buying cheap Christmas gifts. Here are seven alternatives for you to consider this holiday season.

#1: Organize a Secret Santa Gift Exchange

If you’re stressed about spending money on holiday gifts, the chances are good that other people in your family or social circle feel the same way. One way to mitigate the expense is to get everybody on board and organize a Secret Santa exchange instead.

Secret Santa involves the participants putting their names in a drawing. Each person draws a name and buys a gift for that person. The benefit here is that you’ll be buying only one gift instead of many. You can even set a spending limit if you want to do so. It’s an opportunity to buy a nice gift for one person without feeling that you’re cheating the other people in your life.

#2: Host a Holiday Potluck

Gifts are nice, but the most important thing about the holiday is connecting with the people you love. Instead of buying presents, why not host a holiday gathering at your home? You don’t even need to do all the cooking. Instead, consider hosting a themed potluck.

A themed potluck can be lots of fun. You can make it a general holiday potluck where you ask people to bring a favorite holiday dish, or you can get more specific. You may want to assign courses, so that you don’t end up with too many desserts and no salads.

#3: Arrange a Homemade Foods Swap

If a potluck isn’t your style, an alternative is to host a homemade food swap. Many people choose to host cookie swaps at the holidays. Everybody brings a batch of their favorite holiday cookies with enough copies of the recipe for everyone. At the end of the party, your guests will head home with a plate full of delicious cookies and an armful of recipes for next year.

Cookies aren’t the only food you can celebrate. You can include non-bakers by simply asking people to make something holiday-related and shareable. That way, people who make other items can participate in the fun.

#4: Give the Gift of Kindness

The most meaningful gifts are the ones that don’t cost anything. Instead of heading to the mall to shop for gifts, why not give the gift of time and do something kind for the people you love?

There are many things that could fall into this category, but here are just a few suggestions:

  • Go to your grandmother’s house and mow her lawn
  • Offer to babysit for free so that your parents (or your friends) can have a date night
  • Walk your neighbor’s dog once a week

The key with this idea is to consider the people in your life and do something that will be meaningful to them.

#5: Do an Ornament Exchange

For many of us, holiday decorations are the best part of Christmas. If you don’t have a lot of money to spend, why not host an ornament exchange? Each guest will bring a store-bought or homemade ornament to give to another guest.

You have two options here. The first is to make the exchange a Secret Santa-style event where each guest brings an ornament that they specifically chose for the recipient. The other is to have everyone bring ornaments and let each person choose the one they bring home at the end of the evening.

The College Student's Cheat Sheet for Hacking the Holiday Season

#6: Make a Group Donation

Charitable giving is a holiday tradition for many people. At this festive time of year, it’s always important to remember that other people may not be as fortunate as we are. One heartwarming alternative to a gift exchange is to get everyone in your family or social circle to agree on a group donation to a worthwhile cause.

You may choose to have everyone contribute the same amount, or you can elect a “give what you can afford” policy. Either way, you’ll end up with a larger donation than you could afford on your own, and you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing that you helped someone who needed it.

#7: Pitch in for a Group Experience

Our final suggestion is to have everyone in your group pitch in, so you can share an experience together. For example, you might:

  • Hire a professional cook to make a special dinner for you
  • Have a wine expert come in and do a wine tasting
  • Hire a photographer to take a family portrait

The experience you all share will be the gift – and ideally, something you will all remember far beyond the holiday season.

This holiday season consider one of these seven alternatives to buying cheap Christmas gifts – and then relax and enjoy the festivities!

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