Skip the Gifts: How Your Family Can Celebrate Without Breaking the Bank

Change up the gift-giving season

By: Amanda Mushro


Group of young friends having fun at a New Year's celebration, holding sparklers at a midnight countdown.

Photo by: vladans


According to the National Retail Federation, Americans will spend $720 billion on gifts this holiday season. This raises the question — do we really need all these presents? If your holiday spending keeps going up and up and the list of everyone you are shopping for seems endless, maybe it’s time to stay out of the store and stop the online shopping. Instead, get creative about the way we celebrate and give gifts our friends and family. Need some inspiration? Here are five alternatives to the traditional gift.

Secret Santa: If your entire family exchanges gifts, suggest a Secret Santa instead. This way you only purchase a gift for one family member rather than a gift for everyone. Set a price limit, put everyone’s name is a hat, and choose just one person. This way you can select one special gift and not spend a small fortune buying gifts for everyone.

Opt for an Experience: Plan fun experience for your friends and family. Attend a show together, hit up the hottest restaurant in town, take a class together or plan a weekend away for some serious family time. Planning an experience rather than a random gift is a great option for kids and adults.

Donation Drop: If you are hosting a party that usually includes gifts, ask guests for donations for your favorite charity instead. Put a large box by the front door and when guests arrive, they drop their donation and join the celebration. In the spirit of gift giving, you can help people in need during the holidays.

Progressive Dinner: Instead of spending money on gifts, give a delicious meal instead. For a progressive dinner, split up the meal between different people, either by visiting different homes or by bringing different courses to the host’s home. So one person is in charge of cocktails, appetizers, main course, and dessert. This is a great way to get a lot of people involved and feeling festive. Plus, it means that one person doesn’t have to do all of the work for a night of delicious food and quality time together.

Share the Goods: Do you make an amazing dessert that your entire family loves? Are you super crafty? If so, then share your handiwork with friends and family. They will love the homemade thoughtfulness and you get to share your skills with the people you love.

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