How to Manage Holiday Gift Exchanges this Year

Hands holding a Christmas present

Often times during the holiday season, people get involved in group gift exchanges that they either don’t want to be a part of or can’t afford. Gift exchanges and secret Santa exchanges can help you save money by only requiring you to purchase a gift for one person instead of the entire group.

On the contrary, if you are in quite a few gift exchanges this year, you might not be saving much money at all. Gift exchanges are great to participate in with your family and great group of friends, but sometimes people can guilted into participating with people they don’t even know, coworkers, etc. and pressured to meet certain expectations in order to fit in with a group.

Here are a few things you can do to manage holiday gift exchanges this year whether you actually want to participate or not.

What to do when you DON’T want to participate in a holiday gift exchange.

Say No

It may sound harsh at first, but you have to be honest with yourself and be comfortable saying ‘no’. If are trying to keep your Christmas shopping to a minimum this year, you might not want to participate in extra gift exchanges or receive anything extra as well.

Be honest with the other person about your other financial responsibilities for this time of year and they should understand.

Offer an Alternative

If you don’t want to participate in a particular gift exchange but you still want to make a difference in someone else’s life this holiday season, you can request an alternative option like volunteering for an afternoon with the group instead of making a donation together.

Instead of buying someone something that they really don’t need just to be nice and participate in a gift exchange you can offer up the idea of putting all your money together and purchasing one big gift for a child in need or donating to a cause for the holidays.

Allowing everyone to put all their money together will require less of a financial commitment from each person while still allowing everyone to collectively make a huge contribution.

What to do it you WANT to participate in the gift exchange but can’t afford it

Set Expectation Early On

If you want to participate in the actual gift exchange, you’ll need to set boundaries and expectations. If you don’t have a lot of money, see if the group would like to limit the amount of money every spends on each gift to $10-15. That way you won’t have to worry about managing to pay for things you can’t afford.

Propose a Handmade Gift Exchange

If you think it would be creative and different, ask if everyone would like to make homemade and useful gifts for each other as opposed to buying store bought gifts. This will naturally prompt you to spend less money and really think about the recipients needs and how you can help them.

Limit How Many Exchanges you Partake In

If you are already in a gift exchange, try to avoid getting involved in multiple ones. The holiday season should be about relaxing and spending time with your family, not about piling on gifts to your list.

If you are already involved in one gift exchange, don’t be afraid to just stick with that one and tell anyone else that asks you that you might be able to participate next year.

Have you ever participated in a gift exchange? What are your rules for keeping them under control?

Posted in: Money

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