Inside: Don’t waste your money. Use these tips to give better gifts this holiday season.

When you think about holiday shopping, how do you feel?

Is it something that makes you feel enthusiastic and excited? Or does it bring stress and frustration?

Whether you feel energized at getting your loved ones gifts during the holidays or it leaves you feeling drained, there are ways you can give better gifts this holiday season.

Imagine simplifying the holidays and focusing on what is most important to you and your family while letting go of the excess.

What if the holidays didn’t have to end with unwanted gifts, clutter, and post-holiday debt? The good news is, they don’t!

Use these five tips on how to give better gifts to help you save money and be more intentional with your gift-giving this year.

give better gifts

Holiday Traditions

If you’re like most people, giving gifts is one of the traditions that you practice (to some degree) over the holiday season.

However, if you feel like buying presents has gotten out of control, you can work to change it by discussing expectations with family members. The earlier you can do this, the better.

Simplifying gift-giving can help you embrace a slower pace this holiday season so you’re not spending your time rushing from store to store trying to get all of the best deals.

Does that mean getting rid of gifts completely? For some families, it may, but for others focusing on cutting back and giving better gifts can be a great solution that prevents clutter and waste.

Carrying on simple and frugal holiday traditions is great. The idea is to do the things that are meaningful to you and your family and let go of the traditions that aren’t working for you.

As Rachel Jonat said, “We don’t have to continue holiday traditions that leave us broke, overwhelmed, and tired.” I couldn’t agree more.

give better gifts

5 Tips to Give Better Gifts This Year

Use these five tips to give better gifts this holiday season. They can help you to avoid wasting money and to be more intentional with gifting.

1. Be selective

Do you typically find yourself getting into debt during the Christmas season? If so, there are various strategies you can use to avoid holiday debt this year.

After setting a clear budget for gifts you can determine how to make that amount work for you.

One way to stay within budget is to choose to give fewer gifts. This can mean gifting to fewer people and/or giving fewer items to the people you are giving to.

When you’re more selective you are able to focus more on the unique needs and desires of the recipients.

Additionally, gifts given out of obligation aren’t going to be the best gifts.

If you don’t want to cut anyone on the list, then think outside the box of things you could make or give that won’t take a lot of money. Homemade consumable gifts are a great option!

handing a present to a friend

2. Consider the recipient

While this one may seem obvious, it’s important when buying gifts to consider the recipient.

The gift shouldn’t be about what you want them to have or how it makes you look. Of course, if what you want them to have is also something they want and would find beneficial, great. Just keep in mind the gift is about them, not you.

Consider what their preferences and boundaries are around gift giving. If they’ve honestly requested that you not give them a gift, don’t.

If you’re gifting to children and the parents have requested that you not give their kids certain items, respect their wishes. Otherwise, you’re putting those parents in an unfortunate and potentially uncomfortable situation.

Unfortunately, gifts can end up becoming contentious and even divisive if we don’t take into account the recipient’s boundaries and wishes.

As Peter Walsh said, “If a gift has come to you wrapped in obligations and tied tightly with a ribbon of guilt, then it’s not really a gift at all. It’s a manipulation. A gift should be something freely given that enhances your life and reminds you lovingly of the giver.”

give better gifts

3. Make it personal

Now let’s get to the fun part of how to give better gifts! When gifts are very personal to the recipient and show that you put thought and effort into it, it’s going to mean a lot more to them.

A gift can show how well you know someone and how much attention you’ve been paying to things they’ve said.

If you were a young mom how much would it mean to you to have a friend gift you babysitting so that you could run errands or go to a coffee shop alone?

Making a gift personal is really about demonstrating that you’ve been listening and paying attention to what the recipient needs. And sometimes it doesn’t cost a dime but rather is a gift of your time.

Consider what kinds of gifts would be useful to the recipient. Check out this post with 25 useful gift ideas to help you get started.

The more in tune you are with what’s going on in the recipient’s life, the more they will feel seen and understood. By spending more time observing and thinking through how you can bless them, the more clear it is that the gift came from your heart.

For someone in your life who already seems to have everything they want or need, check out this post with 30 clutter-free gift ideas. These are great for people of all ages!

If you plan to do stocking stuffers, here are some clutter-free stocking stuffer ideas too.

The point here is to really focus on the types of things the recipient would enjoy and find beneficial. Gifts don’t need to be grand to be meaningful.

grandparents giving presents to grandkids

4. Focus on memories and experiences

Another way to give better gifts this holiday season is to prioritize memories over material things.

What would be a meaningful or enjoyable experience for the recipient? Anything from classes for something they’re interested in to a membership at a local museum can be a great experience gift.

Some families opt out of traditional gift-giving completely and instead choose to put money toward a vacation together.

In a recent Reddit thread, a commenter talked about being fed up with traditional gifting at the holidays. She said, “We have a large family that gifts kids during the holidays – the kids have everything they can need or want toys and clothing wise – and it’s all so overwhelming. The kids don’t even play with most of it – it’s just piled up everywhere.”

Her solutions involved creating a college fund for nieces, taking a sister who was down on her luck shopping for essential household items, and getting some family members to agree to a Disney trip instead of exchanging gifts.

While doing a big trip may not be an option for everyone, there are less expensive options for creating experiences.

In our family, we don’t give gifts to each other’s kids. We opt to do a shared experience instead. Over the years that has looked like a snow play day, a trip to the ice rink, and a game day at one of our houses.

Simply spending time together is the greatest gift and it doesn’t have to cost anything.

If you’re unsure how to go about gifting an experience consider creating a certificate, give a card explaining it (or take it a step further and have them solve a word scramble), or give a small gift that is a hint to what the experience is.

There are a lot of creative ideas you can use where they still have something to open on Christmas day.

give better gifts

5. Don’t get sucked in by advertising or hype

It’s easy to get pulled into the advertising that says some new gadget or product is the latest and greatest. They’ll try every angle to convince you that you need to buy it for yourself or someone on your list.

Don’t fall for the hype. The trendy item of today is long forgotten tomorrow.

Consider the big picture and what really matters. The holidays are about spending time with those you love. Memories will last. Stuff does not.

Leading up to the holidays you’re likely to receive more emails and ads than ever before. There will also be all kinds of sales and the ‘lowest prices of the season’. This is a great opportunity to unsubscribe and reduce temptation so that you can be more intentional with shopping.

By taking the long view and carefully considering how you can give better gifts this year you can save money, reduce waste, and give more thoughtful gifts in the process.

How do you plan to give better gifts this year? Let us know in the comments section.

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  1. One Xmas in college my entire gift budget went toward a couple good quality pens, a roll of gold ribbon, and a pack of fancy deckle edge paper. Everyone got a neatly wrapped scroll (paper edges decorated with a bit of gold paint and with a name tag made from the same deckle edge paper) on which I’d written out some combination of all the things I most loved/admired about them, my fondest memories of spending time with them, how knowing them enriched my life, etc. It’s been thirty years and I know of three of the recipients who still have theirs; one keeps it with her xmas decor and tucks it into her own stocking every year as a present to herself to re-read each year.

    1. What a wonderful gift! I love this idea. I know I would have kept mine if I had received such a precious gift of someone’s thoughts of me.

  2. My extended family has agreed on a charity or two we all donate to. I like this way of giving back. We’ve also done small usable homemade gifts like microwavable rice sock warmers, blankets or washcloths. Truly though, getting everyone together for good food, card games and stories is a gift itself.

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