Dec 18 2012
The holidays are supposed to be a time of cheer, but all too often they become a time of stress. Trying to buy presents for everyone on your list can drain your bank account and leave you feeling like Scrooge. Many people forget what the season is all about, but have no fear, we are here to help! Here are some ideas to make gift-giving less expensive during the holidays:
About three years ago, my cousins decided on a new Christmas tradition, the Yankee Swap. We wanted to eliminate the stress of the holidays and felt as we get older we wanted to spend more time with each other rather than spend money on gifts. If you ever participated in grab bags when you were young, it’s the same general idea except you can customize it in fun and engaging ways. For rules and options, click here.
The general idea is that everyone brings a wrapped gift to swap. It’s a good idea to set a price limit to keep it fair. One person writes out paper numbers that people pick to determine the gift-picking order. The first person chooses a gift and opens it for all to see. The second person can either steal their gift or pick a new present from the pile. If they steal someone’s gift, the gift-less person gets to pick another gift from the pile or steal someone’s gift.
Rules vary on how many times you must steal a gift to make it your own, and most people say you’re not allowed to take a gift back that was just stolen from you. For example, if you steal a gift, that person can’t take it right back, they must take another from the pile, or steal someone’s gift. You have to get creative to figure out how to get the gift you really want back, and if you steal the same gift three times, it’s yours to keep.
There are many different variations of the rules. Some allow you to inspect, shake and touch the gifts before you select them, while others forbid that practice. Other traditions allow you to unwrap a gift before deciding to keep it or swap it. Whichever rules you decide upon, make sure to set them upfront to keep it fair. It’s a fun way to make gift giving last a long time, save money, and create a sense of excitement and competition.
Pick a Name
Do you feel like you’re stressed out from trying to figure out gifts for everyone? Another option for making holiday gift-giving less expensive and less stressful is to pick a name. Here’s how it works: each adult in the family writes down their name and places it in a hat. (This is great to do at Thanksgiving while everyone is together.) Each adult then chooses a name and buys for just that one person (in most families, everyone buys gifts for each of the children). Most families set an amount to spend on the adults, like $50. This makes shopping more manageable and less draining on your bank account while keeping in mind what makes the holidays special, spending time with each other.
Send Virtual Gifts
In the age of social media and the internet, another way to save money is to send electronic holiday cards and pictures to your family and friends. There are many sites that offer free virtual cards that you can send via email or social media sites. You can get creative and dress up your family and pets for a photo shoot that will warm hearts just as good, if not more, than paper cards.
Below is a picture of my favorite Yankee Swap presents: A ceramic cow, I named Cash Cow, and an unnamed stuffed elephant. I enjoy using them as models in a variety of funny poses to lift my mood.