We’ve been talking over the past few weeks about ways to make the upcoming holiday season more affordable. Most of us need to watch our holiday budgets, and starting to think about gifts early can make a big difference in your credit card statements come January! Many times, the extra time and energy you invest in gifts that you don’t pay full price for end up making the presents more meaningful, besides.
One thing that’s frustrating about giving, as well as receiving, gifts is wondering whether the recipient will really be able (or willing) to put the item to good use. Admit it: You’ve received gifts in the past that you never even cut the tags off of… and you’re probably guilty of returning something to the store when you realized that as much as you love the gift-giver, there’s just no way you’re ever going to use whatever it is that they gave you. So, how do you avoid wasting money on a gift that your mother, father, aunt, cousin or best friend is never going to use? Consider giving the gift of an experience shared together! Here are some ideas:
- Discuss this with your family ahead of time. You might be able to agree to all go and do something together in lieu of buying gifts. Even if entrance fees or tickets are pricey, you’ll still save money if you’re not buying gifts for every aunt, uncle and cousin. Some ideas might include going on a day trip to a local museum or aquarium; going to the circus; or taking an overnight trip together. If the activity that you wish to do is not appropriate for the winter, consider making reservations or setting a date in the spring or summer instead.
- Buy a family pass to a local attraction and gift it to an entire family instead of buying for each person individually. In my area, a pass to the local children’s museum also gives you reciprocal free entry to various other museums in the country. This might be a great plan if you are buying for a family who frequently travels.
- Spend some one-on-one time with young family members. Instead of buying the latest gizmo or gadget, take your young nieces and nephews out for lunch or to a movie. This gives you some special time with your family member and lets him or her make a memory of the two of you!
- Arrange for a monthly meetup to work on a hobby together. This is particularly good if you have an elderly person on your gift list. Visiting Grandma the first Saturday of the month to work on a scrapbook or cook dinner together gives her something to look forward to each month.
- Give lessons to someone who wants to learn your craft. Do you crochet afghans or baby hats? Take awesome photographs? Grow flowers that are the envy of the neighborhood? Offer a few lessons to your best friend or to a teen in your family. He or she will learn a new skill, and you’ll be able to enjoy the camaraderie.
Remember that giving gifts during the winter holidays doesn’t have to be about spending a lot of money! Sometimes the investment of time and energy is worth even more, and memories of experiences shared are priceless.