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Tip #18: No Christmas gifts this year

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This is Tip #18 of of the Save $1,000 in 30 Days Challenge. (See past tips.)

Today’s tip is to skip the expensive Christmas gifts this year — which cost the average American over $850 last year — and instead give something more meaningful this year.

no-christmas-gifts-logo.png

The economy is horrible. People are in debt and they’re losing jobs every day. Yet there’s one sacred cow that we can’t seem to shake — no matter how bad things get.

Christmas gifts: The things we love to complain about, but hate to be honest about. Can you even imagine calling your parents, or your girlfriend, or talking to your son about how you can’t afford to buy something this year?

Of course not. And that’s how we incur exorbitant debt, starting off each new year on the wrong foot. Instead of planning to get ahead, we’re already clawing back from debt.

Here’s an article Thomas Friedman at the New York Times just wrote:

I go into restaurants these days, look around at the tables often still crowded with young people, and I have this urge to go from table to table and say: “You don’t know me, but I have to tell you that you shouldn’t be here. You should be saving your money. You should be home eating tuna fish. This financial crisis is so far from over. We are just at the end of the beginning. Please, wrap up that steak in a doggy bag and go home.”

So I’ve come up with an idea that I hope you can share with your friends and family. It’s free, and it’s very simple, but the point is to share that you can do something for the people you love without spending money. In fact, I’m willing to bet they’ll respect you more if you look them in the eye and say, “Look, things are really tough this year. I can’t buy you a gift like I want to, but I’d love to help you out around the house or host a dinner so we can catch up.”

There are so many other things you can do together, and there is plenty of inspiration available.

I mean it when I say that money is only a very small part of being rich. And it’s an even smaller part of the holidays.

Total savings: $50 to $1,000

Last thing to do

  1. See other tips in the Save $1,000 in 30 Days Challenge
  2. Leave a comment on this post describing how much you’re saving with this tip and any unusual techniques you use to make this tip work.

If you liked this tip, check out my free Members’ Newsletter. Sign up to receive:

  • a free chapter of my New York Times bestselling book,
  • free tips on automating your money and overcoming your barriers, and
  • a ton of cool stuff I never, ever mention on this blog.
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91 Comments on "Tip #18: No Christmas gifts this year"

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Anca
Anca
7 years 8 months ago

Hey, what about Hanukkah?

My boyfriend’s parents called him today and mentioned that for the first time ever (he’s 25) they’re not doing Xmas presents this year.

Chris
Chris
7 years 8 months ago

How about let’s not buy *useless* gifts, or let’s buy them secondhand?

Ramit, I like your positive approach to taking action. I can’t say I approve of Friedman’s FUD tactics.

Adventurous Wench women tours
7 years 8 months ago

Christmas won’t be Christmas without the gifts.

I don’t just buy gifts for the sake of giving rather I make sure that the gift is of value to the receiver. Something that is is very useful but not necessarily expensive.

Recycle. Re-use. Repair. We just have to expand our creative minds to make Christmas spirit more meaningful.

Happy holidays!

Anonymous
Anonymous
8 months 10 days ago

Christmas originally had nothing to do with gifts, honestly.

It’s about celebrating the birth of Christ with family and friends.

Tom Steele
Tom Steele
8 months 7 days ago

Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without!

Shaun
Shaun
7 years 8 months ago

You could just print out your own cards that read:
Times are tough
Money’s hard
Here’s your ______ christmas card

(fill in the blank with your favorite two-syllable explative … such as “f_____g” or “stupid”).

Kathleen
7 years 8 months ago
I cut out Christmas gifts years ago. It wasn’t about money, though. It was primarily about not having enough time (although, time is money). A truly valuable gift takes hours to discover. I loathe receiving useless trinket junk as gifts, so I am not about to be one to give such a gift. They quickly add up through the many gift-giving holidays over the years, and either create unnecessary clutter or are junked. A gift that comes from the heart is tremendously better than a gift received through a social requirement. All of my favourite and cherished gifts have been… Read more »
Cymbidium
Cymbidium
7 years 8 months ago
I understand doing this with friends, and even family. I often replace gifts with photos of our children we print for the grandparents, or having a day alone to spend with my mom, etc. But, there is no way I am going to not give gifts to my children. We have discussed the idea of doing a larger joint gift for the family like a bounce “house” or the like, but they are genuinely excited to make and buy things for each other. We also play Santa, and if Santa didn’t bring gifts then we would be ruining the magic… Read more »
Andrea
Andrea
7 years 8 months ago

Fine for family/friends/adults but the kiddos need to tear some paper.

Moses Baron
Moses Baron
3 months 28 days ago

I agree its fine with family and friends but kiddos need to tear some paper. But I personally think everybody expects a gift on Christmas whether its an adult or a kiddo. Recently I have read an article on thoughtful gift giving and I find it very interesting. The article gives an overview of how does one give a thoughtful gift. Please find it here: http://www.thoughtfully.com/how-does-one-give-a-thoughtful-gift/ I hope your readers will also like it.

Eric Londaits
Eric Londaits
7 years 8 months ago
First of all, I’m from Argentina… so I know a thing or two (or three) about living through an economic crisis and spending on a tight budget. I somewhat agree with the idea of cutting on christmas gifts… if times are tough and you want to save you can search for alternatives (e.g. two years ago I made a large batch of home-made peanut brittle, which can’t be ordinarily bought in Argentina, and gave it as a gift individually wrapped). … and yet… I think the idea can be read the wrong way, it’s a thin line between “No gifts… Read more »
Jennifer
7 years 8 months ago

I think I’ll be cutting back this Christmas, and shopping for highly discounted items to give. My mom’s birthday is coming up and I got her a very nice Vera Bradley tote bag at 60% off, so it was $36 instead of $70.

You can get nicer things for the people in your life if you get them on sale.

Becoming The Marshmallow

guinness416
7 years 8 months ago
Good idea, we’re pretty much doing this this year. Really, I’m 31, I don’t need Xmas gifts from a whole range of people. Something small and thoughtful from my husband and a call on Xmas day from my folks and I’m happy. The problem we’ve found in the past is that you get broad agreement from family or a group of friends – “only small things” or “less than $10” and one or two always disregard it and go all out. Which is embarassing and annoying and throws the next year into doubt. PS can’t get your no gifts site… Read more »
April
April
7 years 8 months ago
I have three young neices and nephews, and I truly enjoy shopping for kiddos. That said, we keep it very reasonable. We also only give gifts to our immediate family, which is small since I’m an only-child and my husband has just one sister. This year, I’m thinking of giving the adults a gift basket of goods from our farmer’s market, which I shop at every week. We could do this fairly inexpensively, give consumables rather than “stuff,” and I’d be giving the money to the local vendors we’ve gotten to know so well instead of the giant, big box… Read more »
Beth
Beth
7 years 8 months ago

Good idea, but the website doesn’t offer much in the way of advice, suggestions or information. If people are interested, I recommend looking at http://www.buynothingchristmas.org/ . It was set up by Mennonites a few years ago. They have a great list of alternatives to buying gifts listed here: http://www.buynothingchristmas.org/alternatives/index.html.

Not giving gifts or choosing to make homemade gifts should be part of a conversation you have with your family, not some automated message from a website that’s really just promoting this website.

Maria | Never the Same River Twice

Definitely cutting back this Christmas. Because I don’t have kids and my family and I all have enough “stuff” we’ve been more and more focused on experience gifts. For example, my sisters have asked for all 3 of us to take a jewelry making class.

That kind of stuff is great because a) it means more than another sweater and b) it may cost a little more than your usual night out, but let’s face it, you were going to go out anyway. So you get some substitution savings from that.

My anticipated Christmas savings this year: $200 versus last year.

Ross
Ross
7 years 8 months ago

Of course, an irony many are missing is that by eliminating gifts, spending will be less and the economy will suffer more. I’m not advocating that people spend outside their means and try to rescue the economy on their own, but if people treat this downturn (contraction/recession/whatever) as they treated the Great Depression, we’ll be more likely to repeat history.

Don’t cut out Christmas completely – but eliminating the junk wouldn’t be inappropriate.

Tania
Tania
7 years 8 months ago

I like the idea of no Christmas gifts – more so if you are not even Christian but exchange gifts because the rest of the crowd does!! 🙂
I have been buying gifts only for the kids in the family for the last two years. Turns out the others don’t mind at all, and my little cousins and nephews are thrilled to be special enough to get something from me.
The website is a great idea!
Money saved by not buying gifts for everyone: ~$200 (that’s a lot for me)

Joe K
Joe K
7 years 8 months ago
This and the last 3-4 tips are all excellent. Right now I’m in line to save between $900 and $1000 this month! I’ve done this by spending on what I care about (going out on the weekends with friends) and saving on stuff I don’t care about (food during the week, heat at home, my car, and holding off on big purchases). Christmas gifts will be a great struggle for me and I might cave and wait till December and buy them. One tip for those who cannot resist would be to leave your credit cards at home and bring… Read more »
Todd
7 years 8 months ago
I think it’s a good idea not to go crazy with spending at Christmas. Just like any time of the year, you should have a budget. Having said that, Christmas time is the season of giving. It is times like this that it is nice to loosen your grip on your wallet and share some of your money with someone you love. This helps you become less attached to the money you have worked so hard to save. You can also make a big difference in someone’s life by brightening their Christmas which may have been otherwise been bleak. Don’t… Read more »
James Strocel
7 years 8 months ago

I agree with Eric that it is a Christmas without gifts can be pretty depressing. However, there is another alternative. Buy Christmas gifts throughout the year at sales, keeping in mind that if an item is less than 50% off, it’s not on sale. My wife and I save hundreds this way.

Susan
Susan
7 years 8 months ago
Here’s my strategy for Christmas 2008 – I opened a Chase Free Checking account last spring in order to score a $100 new account bonus. One of the requirements to get the bonus was to schedule a monthly direct deposit into the account. I decided to make this my “Christmas Club Account” (probably too old-fashioned a term for most of your readers – they can Google it.) My goal is to confine my Christmas spending to the current balance in that account, which is about equal to the amount I spent on my husband alone in 2007. (I have to… Read more »
Erik Britt-Webb
Erik Britt-Webb
7 years 8 months ago

Just tried to use your site. When I tried to send the message, I got this error:

Severity: Warning
Message: mail() [function.mail]: Could not execute mail delivery program ‘/usr/sbin/sendmail -t -i’
Filename: libraries/Email.php
Line Number: 1444


From Ramit: Fixed

Tom
Tom
7 years 8 months ago
I like this tip a lot. It’s true that a lot of people have a mentality that without gifts, it’s not Christmas. My father was laid off a year ago, and my mother works only part-time. I’ve spent weeks trying to convince my mom that my sister and I don’t need gifts (I’m 25 and she’s 20). She’s really having a hard time letting go of that need to buy. I also was laid off this past summer, and while I’m working again now, I’ve only had 2 paychecks, so my savings is not padded yet, and the credit cards… Read more »
Battra92
7 years 8 months ago

I bought all my gifts early and kept them cheap. Therefore for 10 people I expect to spend no more than $250.

I know people who spend that on ONE person.

Total saved here: $0

jon
7 years 8 months ago

i understand the sentiment…i guess some need to be snarky about it–i sent one, but choose not to be snarky about it (i.e. the odd santa).

there are gifts that are far more valuable than something new from the store.

good to see the change in our thinking.

j.

GGF
GGF
7 years 8 months ago
My Aunt did this about 15 years ago and all it did was breed resentment in the family. Another solution is to set limits on the price you will pay for a gift and under no circumstances go over it. Another trick is use the retail price for adding up to the limit. For example, if your limit is $20 and the item you are going to buy someone is $20 but it is on sale for $12, then it doesn’t matter. You’re at your limit for that person. Another idea is to pool your money. Three kids pooling their… Read more »
sdb
sdb
7 years 8 months ago

No gifts is a terrible idea. Way to ruin Christmas! You don’t have to buy something to give a gift, you can make something. You can do something. To just not give gifts at all? Shame on you. Its not about the expense, its about giving something away, even when you can’t afford to.

sdb
sdb
7 years 8 months ago

Actually I did, those are all things you should be doing anyways, and the fill in your own box doesn’t really cover what I was talking about, but thanks

Joan Southwick
Joan Southwick
7 years 8 months ago
This year we all agreed, no gifts,, BUT, we are going to spend time together, we have a party planned to tie a christmas quilt, and will play a game at our Christmas party to determine who takes it home.. Cost,, the time it took to go through old boxes of Fabric at Grandma’s house and put together the quilt top $0. Buying the batting….. $0 I found some in her basement. Buying the backing fabric, $ 10 – on sale with a coupon. My daughter is hosting a gingerbread house making party, for cousins and friends,, bring your own… Read more »
Joan Southwick
Joan Southwick
7 years 8 months ago
One other thought,, and idea…. I am the Queen of a Red hat lady group, and have several elderly ladies in the group (my mother in law and her friends) who are on a fixed income. I was stressing about a way to get a little something for each of them,, without making them feel like they needed to do something back,, and spending money they didn’t have,, or having them feel like they needed to “gift” each other. I started looking for chickens at thrift stores and second hand stores a few months back,, ( we are the little… Read more »
June
June
7 years 8 months ago

I don’t see how it saves money to wrap up a steak dinner you have already paid for and taking it home.

My family struggles as it is to think of gifts for each other – we already have so much. I try to take advantage of the days off school or work to have several gatherings here. The woman who posted right before me had some great ideas for spending time with family – having gatherings, volunteering, Thanks Joan Southwick!

Jolene
7 years 8 months ago

What a great idea! My husband is laid off right now, so definitely no Christmas presents this year…

Thanks

stefanie
stefanie
7 years 8 months ago
like many other commenters, my partner and i are limiting our holiday expenses as much as possible. we both spent too much on each other last year and are students with very little income and this year we decided on a $20 limit, which has been fun and challenging. so far i’ve found 5 perfect items for her for less than $13. we’re limiting our gifts to family this year as well. everything we’ve bought has been on sale or from a garage sale or thrift store or consignment store or the dollar store. i enjoy the challenge of it… Read more »
Kiran
Kiran
7 years 8 months ago
Any of these tips are suggestions, so people should quit complaining. I wouldn’t worry about killing the economy by not buying gifts since most Americans wouldn’t have the discipline to actually follow through on that. What I applaud this post for is pointing out that we can often give more meaningful gifts that don’t necessarily cost a lot of money. Paying for you and a friend to take a class and learn something new is a wonderful idea because you’ll spend time together and the class may even be an investment. Nonetheless I think we all have realized that our… Read more »
Peggy
Peggy
7 years 8 months ago
The only people I purchase gifts for are those in my family: mom, sister and my own kids. There are creative ways to give without spending a lot, so I’m not in favor of just doing without gifts. Yes, I saw the site. I picked up a GC at Restaurants.com for my son and his new wife. They are struggling financially and could really use a night out. Cost me all of $10 (I’m sending the cash they’d have to spend to redeem the certificate, too) but I know they will appreciate it. My oldest girl is getting a book… Read more »
Lisa
7 years 8 months ago
I love this idea. Over the last few years, my family members and I have stopped buying presents for each other. Instead, we write a story according to a prescribed theme set in advance. For example, one year we each wrote about our favorite house we lived in (my family lived all over the world and in a lot of different houses). My parents have written stories about their childhood. We learned some amazing things. The gifts are priceless. On Christmas we read them out loud. It doesn’t matter how you write, everyone has something to say! Lisa http://www.resumepie.com
stephanie
7 years 8 months ago
I clearly remember disliking Christmas by the time I was in middle school, and I think its safe to say it was never as important to me as people expected. To everyone who thinks their children just wouldn’t survive without Christmas gifts – are the kids really that excited about the presents, or do they want you to think they are excited because it is polite and appropriate for them to be excited by that thing you got them that they will use once and then it will sit around their room for years. (This was frequently the case by… Read more »
Kat
Kat
7 years 8 months ago

This year after much,much arguing on price($400 doesn’t save me a dime), we decided to do a name exchange with a limit. It is helping out a lot since there were about 15 people to shop for. Plus it saves me from getting gift cards that I wont use.

My boyfriend and I are planning a day to do something new together. It should be fun.

Rachel
Rachel
7 years 8 months ago

I bought gifts for my brothers, but am canning for my parents. I really held myself back on the family gifts – I think I would usually spend $75 on each of my brothers and over $100 on my parents. This year, I kept it under $35 a piece.

Total savings: about $125

Mary
Mary
7 years 8 months ago

Year after year we don’t remember what we got from someone last year, but we DO remember what a great time we all had doing one thing or another. We’re all about making gifts any more- it means something more, is more thoughtful and fun, and the REAL joy comes from spending time with each other.

PDXGirl
PDXGirl
7 years 8 months ago
I’m hosting a brunch for my girlfriends the Sunday before Christmas. I am making a few batches of cookies so each can take a few home along with homemade recipe cards for each cookie, that will probably cost me $2 per person plus the cost of food, but brunch is alot cheaper than even a dinner or cocktail party and since many of my friends live outside the immediate area I’m hoping more will be able to attend an event they can drive to and then back home during the day instead of trying to find a place to stay… Read more »
WWoolsey
WWoolsey
7 years 8 months ago

I am also cutting back on Christmas gifts this year, instead of shopping, wrapping, mailing, etc…I just made an umbrella donation to my favorite charity. I am planning on putting a note in everyone’s holiday card stating that instead of a gift, they will be helping others. I know it’s lame, but it saves alot of money and time and also helps others which can be a gift in itself.

Beth
Beth
7 years 8 months ago
My sister has been making coupons for her children as rewards and they have become the “hot” items of her household. They are for things like “getting to decide where to eat on karate night” and “being mom’s lead helper.” These coupons are extending into Christmas gifts, because they are popular and what the children actually value and want. I’m definitely not giving up gifts, but I am also realizing that thoughtful, luxurious, and extravagant gifts don’t necessarily cost money. My sister would probably treasure three hours of babysitting more than any material possession I could find. Another person on… Read more »
Green Eggs and Ham
Green Eggs and Ham
7 years 8 months ago
Honestly, I love the C.E.O. approach. I haven’t visited your site for a while and I honestly regret missing the start of this month’s challenge. Personally though I still think that the simple $1/day savings could still also be implied but then I do agree with you that in general it won’t be followed! However, look at our investments, if we’re completely risk-adverse and put it into GICs at rates like 3%, you’d make more money saving $1/day on drinking cheaper orange juice. Plus $1/day is only one item, do it on 5 items and that’s $5/day, $150/month. When you’re… Read more »
Cathy
7 years 8 months ago

I’ve never been a fan of the commercialization of Christmas. This part of the holidays I find stressful and not fun. I enjoy the Christmas dinner and family hugs. I don’t want or need anything – certainly not lotion, soap or perfume which I still have from 3 different people who gave it to me last year.

Juggernaut
Juggernaut
7 years 8 months ago
Since we’re atheists, saving money at Xmas is easy for us. We usually spend the forced time off work by taking a mini-family vacation. This year we’re going to Vegas. Hotel rates are dirt cheap in Vegas during the holidays (we’re talking $40/night for a 3.5 star hotel on the Strip), and the place is much less crowded. We’re doing lots of family-friendly (we have a 11 year old), inexpensive activities while we’re there like visiting the Pinball Museum and the Ethel M chocolate factory tour. All in all, we’ll be having a lovely, secular 4 day family vacation in… Read more »
rainsplats
rainsplats
7 years 8 months ago
I’m surprised. I didn’t expect you to push for lower consumer confidence. Isn’t it better for the economy for us to continue spending our money? I expected you to tell people to follow a strict budget for Christmas; to only spend what you can afford on Christmas. That makes sense. Encouraging all your readers to spend $0 on Christmas is just baffling. There’s certainly things we can do without. But don’t we depend on each other for our jobs? Won’t more people lose their jobs if we spend no money on Christmas? Maybe you don’t work at a department store.… Read more »
mike
mike
7 years 8 months ago

I’m going to save some by not giving Christmas gifts to my pets this year. They never appreciate the gifts anyway.

Our family actually saves throughout the year in a “birthday / holiday fund” account. Works like a charm, because if we find the perfect holiday gift on the cheap in April, there’s already some money in the account to get it then.

neelam
neelam
7 years 8 months ago

I am drastically cutting down on spending this year. I hope this saving turns into a permanent habit.
I love what you are doing. Making people aware that spending because of commercial reasons is wrong.

rainsplats
rainsplats
7 years 8 months ago

Perhaps I am overestimating your sphere of influence, Ramit. My bad 😉

susan
susan
7 years 8 months ago
If you must buy stuff… Why not buy it on the 26th? Prices bottom out and you still have a few days off work. Ask yourself what the 25th really means. Some people’s families (especially those who are recent transplants from other, non-Christian countries) don’t celebrate Christmas. My family, a trio of the most unsentimental Chinese people you’ll ever meet, used to exchange some money and cards, and generally go through the motions. Then we realized, that makes absolutely no sense! To Ramit and to all readers: Does your family really celebrate this originally Christian religious holiday? Why? How? Is… Read more »
Benjamin
Benjamin
7 years 8 months ago

The economy finally helped me convince my parents that instead of spending well over $1000 on gifts we don’t need, we’re just gonna run up to the mountain for a day for inner tubing and snowball fights. Tons of money saved and memories that will last A LOT longer.

Jessica
Jessica
7 years 8 months ago
I have already come to this realization about no money = no gifts. Six months ago, my boyfriend and I agreed that we are only going to buy ONE gift for each other and it can’t cost more than $50. In past years, I have spent as much as $800 on buying a past boyfriend a computer. Big mistake, but it was under good intensions. Never doing that again though… And I have already told my family that I can’t afford to buy any Christmas gifts for them this year. But at least they have been understanding because they know… Read more »
tommy
tommy
7 years 8 months ago

I would love for Thomas Friedman to come up to me in a nice restaurant and tell me what to do. He would be walking out with a bloody nose, and would never do it again. His opinion is just that, and he is free to tell it on the internet, but he has no right to approach people and tell them what to do.

I am all for cost cutting and saving, but when a man works hard day in and day out, he deserves to eat at a nice steakhouse once in a while.

Battra92
7 years 8 months ago

Tommy, I agree. Honestly, it’s one thing for us to want to be frugal but you need to be realistic about life.

That and Thomas Friedman is an ass who has an answer for everything.

Studenomics
7 years 8 months ago

Wow this is really sad to read, is it that bad in the U.S? I could not imagine giving my parents or little brother a gift for Christmas. I see this time of a year as a chance to show the people around me how grateful I am for everything they have done for me.

Magical Realist
7 years 8 months ago
It took years, but my immediate family finally broke themselves of the Christmas shopping habit. If there were any kids to buy gifts for, we definitely would, but for the adults? Hell, we all have everything we really need, and what we want? We’ve probably got that, too. If there’s anything we actually need, it’s less clutter, not more. Old habits died hard, though, and occasionally they still pop up among some of us. But most of us have ended up embracing the radical idea of not going batshit insane over holiday shopping. It’s come as a relief, even to… Read more »
Carolyn
Carolyn
7 years 8 months ago

Every time I get paid, I take all the cash in my wallet and put it in a Christmas fund. This year, at the beginning of Nov, I had $700. I will spend that money for, yes, holiday gifts. No credit cards, No borrowing. It’s more than enough for my friends and family.

Jennifer
Jennifer
7 years 8 months ago
We have a policy of only giving people food for Christmas. Everyone we know has too much junk, but some sort of home-cook’n is always appreciated. It started with the idea that people used to only hand out sweets during the winter solstice. Back then, the idea was simply to put your neighbors in a good mood so that they’d be nice to you for the rest of the year. This year we’ve made a hot sauce out of our own home grown scotch bonnet, habaneros and Thai bird’s eye chillies. It only cost us vinegar, salt, garlic and refrigeration.… Read more »
Nick
Nick
7 years 8 months ago

I don’t understand people that feel like they ‘have’ to buy people gifts, and are miserable doing it. I don’t have to do it, I do it because I like to, and I keep it reasonable. There’s nothing like seeing a person you care about open a gift from you and genuinely enjoy it, sometimes inexpensive, sometimes not so much, but never lavish.

Jennifer
Jennifer
7 years 8 months ago
Ramit, About the website, not to be a complete blog troll, but what mental state were you in when you came up with this? I mean, going to the library and playing board games for Christmas? Going to the park when it’s like -3 degrees outside? Unless you’re about seven years old, let’s not even talk about the magic trick idea. And then, you list a bunch of things that could be much more expensive than just buying a simple gift. A decent home-cooked meal including appetizers, deserts, alcohol could run quite high as well as going to some local… Read more »
Lane
7 years 8 months ago

Kiva.org.

Each member of your family contribute an amount to a group you create on Kiva.org. Then spend time together over the holidays and talk about what microloan you want to give together. The best part – you get the money back so you can do it again.

Boris
7 years 8 months ago

I love your ideas, and this one is great. I’ve long avoided even the birthday gifts. I tell my friends I don’t want them – I want their company on the mandatory-celebration day, not the material stuff.

Awesome idea Lane (Kiva.org) is a wonderful place. Also consider http://www.oxfam.org/ and http://www.unicef.org/ … though you don’t get your money back -you know you’ve likely saved about as many lives as the dollars you’ve contributed.

Leigh from 123 blog
7 years 8 months ago
I love this idea but here’s the thing: my family is totally cool with the idea but my husband told his mom last night and she was VERY anti-this “do you need a loan? Why can’t you afford Christmas presents? You both work.” Actually we’re paying for 2 rounds of IVF and THAT”s why we want to keep things really simple/ cheap in the other areas of our life. (She doesn’t know and he doesn’t want to tell her about the IVF) Also I’m in South Africa – here people are not into the simple way of life and frugality… Read more »
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PennySeeds.com
7 years 8 months ago
Sorry, but I don’t agree with the ‘no gifts’ rule. There’s no reason to be a scrooge just because you don’t have lots of money to throw around. Figure out how much you have, and make a budget. $20 per person, $10 per person, $5 per person. Make gifts for everyone instead of buying. With a little thought you’d be amazed what you can buy with those amounts of money. Even if you have to buy things second hand surely your friends, and family will know your situation, and be glad that you thought enough of them to buy them… Read more »
Cathy
7 years 8 months ago
I’m trying something different this year. My boyfriend and I are meeting his brother and wife in Mexico for New Years – they live in the UK and we live in the US. I’d like to get his wife a nice casual necklace she can wear while we’re there. I did a lot of browsing, but couldn’t find what I wanted for the price I wanted to pay (less than $20). I just went to the crafts store and found a very high quality semi precious stone that was EXACTLY what I was looking for. So I bought some rope,… Read more »
Andi
Andi
7 years 8 months ago
I tried limiting gifts before, or sticking to small things. Unfortunately some people changed their mind and didn’t let me know. I felt ashamed and downright awful when our holiday event took place and we were bombarded with gifts and had little to return. Even making gifts costs money and often PPl end up feeling their time-spent, specially created, filled with love, homemade gift isn’t enough they end up spending more money last minute by buying additional items to go with it. My husband lost his job in July. He’s been looking for work non-stop since. I am disabled. We… Read more »
sheila
sheila
7 years 8 months ago

HELP we had agreed no gifts but my brothers still buy for the girls in the family. What can I get them I was thinking no more than fifteen dollars each.

Jessica
Jessica
7 years 8 months ago

So wait, what is Thomas Friedman doing in a restaurant if everyone should be home eating tuna? Oh wait, just young people who are supposedly dumber than their parents who didn’t adjust their 401ks (if they had them) for risk. Jeez.

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Vivian
Vivian
7 years 8 months ago
Our family draws names with a $100 limit. That way each person only has to buy one present, and it can be something of higher value, or several smaller items, whatever works best. The kids are a free-for-all though, however because of this, last year the kids had more presents than they knew what to do with. So this year I’ve cut back to 1 present per child instead of the 2 or 3 we did last year. Christmas Budget reduced from $800-1000 down to $300. For close friends we had a nice holiday dinner and played games, instead of… Read more »
Lauren Burns
7 years 8 months ago
My family is doing a starter version of the “No Xmas Gifts”… we are giving small gifts to each other, but are focusing on donating to charity with the money that we would have otherwise spent. There are a lot of great organizations that help a lot of people that are not getting the support they normally would and need. Here are some tips that I’ve found to make donation gifts more charitable: 1. Tailor the donation to the recipient. I am looking for a literacy-based charity as this is a cause near and dear to my mother. 2. For… Read more »
Vessa Allan
Vessa Allan
7 years 8 months ago

Ya know I’ve worked in a restaurant as a server for over 30yrs. to support my three children alone. One left at home. I really resent his suggestion because we have to work for a living too. I guess you want us to be unemployed as well. And let me tell you we’re the first person that gets screwed because we rely on tips to get paid. Our owners who are very wealthy corporate assholes make us claim 100 percent so we see no paychecks. You should really watch what you say.

Sara Makinen
Sara Makinen
7 years 8 months ago

I totally agree with Vessa above me. My husband and I both work in the restaurant industry and it is so bad this year that we can’t buy presents even though we want to. Also, I think it is very selfish of people not to buy gifts when you can afford them. It is a way to show loved ones you care about them. Right now I am trying to figure out how I can get something for my husband without spending money.

John
John
7 years 7 months ago

Giving gifts is not of Christian origin, but was a Roman holiday that over time was associated with Christmas. The true meaning of Christmas is the birth of Christ – not Santa and giving “stuff.”

I say get back to what it is really about and follow Jesus’ example and be angry with the merchants who wanted to profit off of God in the temple.

Maegan
Maegan
7 years 5 months ago

One suggestion I read about recently was limiting the gifts. The writer had stated his family had established a custom of giving only 3 gifts to each person, group-gifts I am assuming. The writer stated they came up with this idea as baby Jesus received 3 gifts and they were trying to keep in the true spirit of Christmas.

I do like this idea, and realistically, if you go in with someone else, a sibling, parent, etc. for a gift for someone, together you can come up with a better gift than your budget/brainstorming skills might allow alone.

terryann
terryann
7 years 4 months ago

i ‘quit’ christmas a few years ago. i told everyone in the family not to buy me a gift and that i would only purchase one gift each for the kids under 18. most of the family was SO relieved not to have the hassle of gifts. now, every year, we go to the movies and have dinner and thouroughly enjoy forgoing the presents.

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[…] Tip #18: No Christmas gifts this year | I Will Teach You To Be Rich […]

Joy
Joy
1 year 2 months ago

For our kids, we limited the Santa gifts to 3 – Baby Jesus got three gifts – and my boys felt like it was fair that they only got 3 gifts from Santa. (They lots of wrapped gifts, but only 3 each under the tree from Santa.

Stephanie
Stephanie
10 months 10 days ago

I think the problem we have these days is too much stuff, while having too little money and time. It pains me to search desperately for a gift for” someone who has everything” just because it’s Christmas while the poor go without. Meanwhile, we receive useless junk we don’t need also, again, just because it’s Christmas. Christmas is not about the presents. I’d rather give a spontaneous present rather than having to time them all for Christmas Being said, I totally believe in giving presents to kids for kids.

Michelle Gomez
10 months 4 hours ago

Try to plan early with your gifts and you can probably do a DIY gift that does not have to be so expensive! You can bake items with personal touches or create anything that does not have to be over the top. I try to plan gift giving early (2-3 months) so that I’m not over spending during the holidays and can enjoy a stress free holiday.

joe grean
joe grean
9 months 5 days ago
BB
BB
8 months 26 days ago
I can’t imagine not giving my loved ones gifts if it’s within my means: to do so strikes me as selfish and not very thoughtful. I buy most of the gifts the smart way, however–after Christmas when things are on clearance, and I store them for next Christmas. I save as much as 75%, (sometimes more) and I’m able to get them quality gifts. For example, I got an IZOD jacket for my brother-in-law on a clearance sale last year, and though the sticker price is $75.00, I only paid about $15.00 for it. This year my mother-in-law is getting… Read more »
Sarah
8 months 19 days ago

I think there is a fine balance – I prefer to give smaller meaningful gifts, and focus on experiences that the person will love. Or even just time together. I don’t feel that being frugal or economical means that we need to give up all aspects of frivolity – having something to unwrap under the tree is great, but it should be meaningful and within your budget, of course!

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