The holidays can be a social landmine. There are so many emotions and expectations tied up in gift-giving. Rather than risk offending someone, we often go overboard and end up with a gift list nearly as long as Santa’s.
Whether your budget is stretched thin or you have had it up to here with Christmas commercialism, here are five ways to reduce the number of gifts you’re giving without looking like a skinflint.
1. Start with the low-hanging fruit. I’m talking about the people you give to out of habit or obligation. The nephew you haven’t seen in three years who never says thank you for the holiday check? Cross him off the list. The neighbor who moved in 2008 and is your Facebook friend now? They don’t need a gift either.
Likely, many of the people who fall into the casual acquaintance category aren’t expecting a gift and won’t even notice if you stop mailing them the annual fruitcake. Well, your nephew might notice there is no check, but that’s his fault.
In the event you do get caught off guard with a present from someone you crossed off your list, it is always a good idea to have a couple of relatively inexpensive, but nicely presented, gifts at the ready. For example, soap that is beautifully wrapped with a sparkly bow, a bottle of wine in a gift bag, or goodies such as jam or candies can make great presents. If you don’t need them for Christmas, you can repurpose them for other occasions later in the year.
2. Tackle the family and office Christmas party. Now let’s move on to the family and office parties. The gift-giving expectations run the gamut during these events. Some parties may not include any gift exchange, while others operate under the expectation everyone will be gifting to everyone else.
If yours falls into the latter category, it’s time to rein in the madness. The key is to
find a couple of like-minded people on your side. If you have a co-worker living
on a tight budget, they could be your ally. The cousins with three or four kids each
could also be looking for a way to pare down their lists.
Once you have a couple of people who are ready for a change, approach the person in charge to propose an alternative. It could be your boss, the HR director, or the grandma who hosts the holiday party each year.
Be sure to stress you have loved past parties but budgets are really tight this year (or your kids have too much stuff) and would it be possible to do something different. Secret Santa arrangements are one option, but my favorite is a gift exchange such as a white
elephant game. Not only does every participant only need to bring one inexpensive gift,
it also gives the family/office something to do rather than talk about the weather for two hours.
3. Consider the creative use of cards. On your holiday list, you may have some people you appreciate but don’t interact with on a regular basis. These people may include the postman, your co-workers the next department over, or the custodial…
Read the full story on our website at https://www.helpwithmoney.org/consumertoolsandresources/paredownchristmas.