How to Save Money on Holiday Gifts


8 December,2014

This year’s holiday season is in full swing, and you might be wondering what you can do to reduce the amount that you spend on gifts. As your extended family grows, and as you end up with other obligations, it might be difficult to feel as though you can afford to spend a great deal on holiday gifts.

In fact, we often feel guilty if we don’t get the “right” holiday gifts. Unfortunately, this is one of the reasons that the holidays can be stressful rather than enjoyable. We’re supposed to be spending time with friends and family, and trying to renew ties, but often it just ends up cause for concern and unhappiness as we try to make things perfect.

You don’t have to fall into that trap, however. It’s possible to find creative ways to give great gifts without breaking the bank. And, when you talk to your friends and family about these ideas, you might be surprised that others are just as concerned about the expense as you are. If you are hoping to save money on holiday gifts this season, here are a few strategies to consider:

If you are hoping to save money on holiday gifts this season, here are a few strategies to consider:

Homemade Gifts

I know one family that makes it a point to give homemade gifts every year. These are usually gifts of self. They can be the result of some sort of craft, baking, or even gifts of time and effort. These types of gifts provide a way for family members to get creative, as well as consider thoughtful ways to engage with each other. Homemade gifts can also be quite inexpensive, resulting in savings. Not only that, but they require creativity, and can foster the ability to spend more time together. You might be surprised that some of these gifts keep giving all year.

Limit Dollar Amounts

Another tactic is to limit the dollar amount that can be spent on gifts. This is a great way to limit how much you spend on holiday gifts. As with homemade gifts, this type of limit on gift giving encourages creativity. In order to stay within the dollar limit, you might need to come up with especially thoughtful and meaningful gifts. Plus, when you limit dollar amounts, you avoid the awkwardness that can come if someone can afford more expensive gifts than others. It’s much easier to reduce discomfort when everyone has the same expectations.

Give Family Gifts

Rather than providing a gift for each person involved, it can make sense to give family gifts. This is especially true if you and your siblings are all married, and have children. You might save money, while still giving, by providing one big gift for everyone in the family, such as a board game or some other item, like a gift basket. This can be a fun way to show you care and provide something that an entire family can enjoy.

Draw Names Out of a Hat

One of my friends’ families, instead of worrying about getting gifts for everyone or trying to figure out what to get for an entire family, draws names out of a hat. Each person gets one present for one other person. There is usually a dollar limit on the present, to prevent things getting out of hand. In many cases, it means less spending overall for everyone involved because you don’t have to spend as much money. It also reduces stress during the holiday season, since it means that you don’t have to frantically try to get a gift for everyone on your list. A good strategy is to have a drawing for kids and a drawing for adults.

White Elephant Gifts for Extended Family

Another approach is the party approach. If you have a family party, you can hold a white elephant gift exchange. That way, no one in the extended family exchanges gifts. Instead, everyone brings a gift for the white elephant exchange. This can be a great way to save money, have a little fun, and avoid the concerns that come when you try to be equitable in getting everyone a gift. It also saves money and can be a silly way to spend the evening. It’s a fun party game. Have everyone bring a dish to share, and that way one person isn’t responsible for the expense related to food for the party.

No Gifts at All

Of course, you can go completely consumerism-free and avoid gift-giving altogether. If this is something that might work with your family, you can save a great deal by deciding that it is unnecessary to exchange gifts. My husband and I actually don’t really exchange gifts. We make it a point to wrap gifts so that my son isn’t the only person opening something on Christmas, but we pretty much choose our own presents, with only the stocking stuffers providing a bit of surprise.

You don’t have to do that with your own extended family, though. Instead, you can just decide, along with everyone, that there is no need for gifts. Instead, have a fun holiday party in which everyone brings a favorite dessert to share. You get to hang out, eat good holiday foods, and do it all without the pressure that comes with trying to buy presents for everyone.

Plan Ahead

No matter what you decide to do, make sure you plan ahead. Decide on a course of action with your family before Thanksgiving so that everyone has time to plan. You don’t want to wait too long because then someone might already decide to buy presents for everyone. Additionally, if you decide to have a holiday party instead of exchange gifts, you want to make sure that everyone can pencil in the date. Planning your gift strategy ahead of time, and communicating with friends and family can be the best way to reduce stress and save money during the holiday season.