Gifts2.jpgMany people stress out over money during the holiday season. From parents of young kids who want every shiny new object they see advertised on TV to people enduring difficult financial times, it seems almost everyone faces financial stress during the holidays. But the holidays aren’t about breaking the bank on expensive gifts. Instead of stressing out over how to afford the perfect gift for everyone on your list, take a more meaningful approach to gift-giving this year.

Give Gift Cards Combined with an Experience

If there’s a person on your list with exquisite and expensive taste, you probably won’t be able to swing a $500 designer hand bag. You can, however, purchase a gift card  for a (much) lower amount to one of their favorite designer stores. While it won’t buy them the latest fashion trends on the runway, a gift card to their favorite store or shop will save them a few bucks on their next purchase. Combine a gift card with an affordable gift that provides an experience, such as a fun board game or movie tickets, for a unique and heartfelt touch.

Procure Gifts from Etsy or Ebay

Websites like Etsy and Ebay, and now Amazon Handmade, make it possible to find and purchase unique and meaningful gifts handmade by artisans around the world. If someone on your list appreciates one-of-a-kind items, collector’s pieces, or things that you can’t buy in a store, these sites will be your holiday shopping treasure trove. Plus, they’re great for last-minute shoppers.

Distinctive T-shirts, Mugs, and Other Gifts Chosen by You

Rather than price, focus on selecting gifts that only you would give your recipient or gifts that show just how well you know them. You might carefully choose a T-shirt design or a mug that hints at an inside joke shared between you and your friend or loved one. For example, maybe your loved one is a homebody and you could give them an adult onesie for fun but also a beautiful coloring book and some nice pencils to go with it. They can get a laugh out of the onesie and relax with the coloring book.

Food is the Ticket to Many People’s Hearts

Making something for your gift recipients that pleases the taste buds is an affordable and often welcomed gift. If you have a specialty that your friends and family rave over, make each person on your list a batch of your delectable soup or to-die-for cookies. You can also turn the ordinary into the extraordinary with gifts like hot cocoa mix with delicately decorated spoons that add a splash of flavor or dressing up your foodie gift creations with exquisite packaging. Be mindful of dietary restrictions and other considerations; the last thing you want to do is give a person in recovery a rum cake or bottle of wine.

Give Thoughtful Gifts Geared to Recipients’ Interests

Again, knowing your gift recipients well is the key to meaningful gift-giving  on the cheap. If your recipient loves knitting, they’ll surely appreciate a decorative basket filled with knitting needles and yarn. If your recipient is a commuter, a gift certificate for a car wash and oil change is both useful and budget-friendly. An architect or designer might appreciate a framed copy of their most prized work. For the culinary aficionado, a basket of hard-to-find specialty ingredients is a cherished gift.

Make a Donation to a Cause That Matters

Sometimes, the best gifts don’t go directly to the intended recipients at all, but to a charity or organization that’s close to the recipient’s heart. An animal lover may be humbled by your donation in their name to the ASPCA or an organization focused on wildlife conservation. Teachers would be grateful for donations to grant-making organizations that promote education or to camps and causes related to their subject matter. For example, science, math, and technology teachers would be particularly appreciative of donations in their honor to organizations promoting STEM education.

Many of us place too much pressure on ourselves to find the perfect gift for each person on our holiday giving lists. Instead of being overcome with the stress and anxiety of last-minute shopping for the ultimate gift, think outside the box this holiday season and give a meaningful gift that’s also easy on the budget.


Marie Villeza is passionate about connecting seniors with the resources they need to live happy, healthy lives.