With the onset of the holiday season, the age-old tradition of Christmas gift-giving is once again upon us. Originally started as a gesture to remind us of the gifts given to Jesus on his day of birth, the annual practice has exploded into a very stressful, not to mention expensive experience for all who observe the yearly gesture. Let’s be honest, we all want to buy our loved ones the best gifts possible. The reality of the situation however, doesn’t always match with our desires. So, if you’re like me and many others, your wallet is the driving force behind your gift giving. But living on a budget doesn’t have to stifle your ability to give wonderful and meaningful gifts to your loved ones.
After some research, I’ve found a series of creative, cost friendly alternatives to traditional gift-giving.
When your family lives in one state, and you live in another, the possibility of being stuck at home with nothing to do becomes an unwanted reality. Hosting an orphaned party is the perfect way to remedy this while checking off a large number of people on your holiday list. Play games, watch movies, or just sit around and talk. Make it a potluck and it becomes an even more cost-efficient gift!
A giving tree is a wonderful way to surpass the traditional gift giving custom with a philanthropic twist. Instead of exchanging gifts, research a series of local and national charities, put them on pieces of paper or envelopes and hang them on a Christmas tree. Each one of your coworkers can choose one blindly and donate an amount of their choice to the organization listed!
Memory Lane in a Frame
Got an old group shot from a cruise from a while back? Maybe one of a relative that passed recently? Put it in a frame and give it as a gift. Sharing a photo from a forgotten time in the past is a great way to bond with family members and provide them with a wonderful gift at the same time.
Pay It Backwards
A cute and simple way to give, albeit to a total stranger, is the pay it backwards method. Pay the toll of the person behind you at the toll booth, or the change from your cash purchase towards the person standing in line behind you. It’s a great way to make a stranger’s day. Even better, you might start a chain reaction of giving, or at least make one person’s day unexpectedly better.
Act of Random Kindness
Like “Pay it Backwards”, but with a little more effort. Simply doing something to help a neighbor, be it collecting their mail while they spend their Christmas out of town or shoveling the driveway of a disabled or elderly person can be a great way to give beyond that traditional holiday gift. Plus, you may make a friend in the process.
Adopt a Soldier
Patriotism meets the holiday season with this idea. Instead of giving to each other, coworkers or friends could chip in on a care package for a deployed soldier or hospitalized veteran. Each person can buy one object to be put in a joint box and mailed to the soldier just in time for Christmas.
Have guests pitch in money toward a shared experience to make that holiday gathering that much more memorable. Whether it’s a private chef to cook a meal for the group, an at-home canvas painting experience or a local band playing at your event.
These are just some of the amazing cost effective, out of the box ideas I’ve discovered during my research. Like what you see? Give it a try! Have a better idea? Let me know in the comments! I’m always open to creative ways to give.