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Let’s Talk Affordable Gift Giving For The Holidays

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

Her Campus at U Ottawa acknowledges that we are located on the stolen and unsurrendered land of the Algonquin people. 

Ever feel like you’re spending way too much money on your loved ones for Christmas? Odds are that you’ve clicked on this article because you celebrate Christmas and have experienced that feeling time and time again where you spend over a hundred dollars on each of your family and friends and now are left with barely anything left for yourself and your expenses. It’s great to show your loved ones you care, but what if I told you there are ways to make it so everyone still gets a heartfelt Christmas gift and you (and even your loved ones) can save money!

Here are three ideas for this upcoming Christmas gift exchange (with a few festive puns just because)!

1. Secret Santa

This isn’t just something you do in high school with your friends… who knew! You can make this year’s Christmas gift exchange all that more fun and festive by having a family-run Secret Santa! For those who don’t know how this works, here are step-by-step instructions:

  • Step #1: Decide on a budget as a group ($25, $50, $100, etc.)
  • Step #2: Write your name on a small piece of paper if you’re participating
  • Step #3: Below your name, place about three items that fall at or under the budget you’ve all decided on
  • Step #4: Fold up your piece of paper that now has your name and three items and put it into something that you can pick from (a hat, a bag, a purse, etc.)
  • Step #5: Once everyone’s piece of paper is folded and in the hat (or bag, purse…),take turns picking out a random piece of paper that isn’t their own, and buy that person a gift. The person picked will remain a secret until Christmas day when you, their secret Santa, will be revealed (upon their guessing after opening)!

These 5 simple steps will make your Secret Santa exchange so affordable and tree-mendously easy! All you have to do is buy your person as many of the three items they listed on their paper that you can afford with the budget that’s given (maybe all three if you’re feeling extra Santa-mental). You could also always buy something that’s not on their wish list that you think they’ll enjoy or that you made yourself. Or, not even having a wish list option during the name-picking process works just as well, too!

2. White Elephant

Have you ever had a friendly competition on Christmas day involving gifts? If not, here’s your chance! This family friendly game is one where everyone buys one gift that, like Secret Santa, falls under a budget that the whole group has decided on. These gifts go in a pile on Christmas Day and are each given a number—the gift can be literally anything at all and can be even more fun if you pick gifts that everyone would like! Here’s how to play after you’ve each bought one gift:

  • Step #1: One person writes how many people are partaking on a piece of paper (“1”, “2”, “3”, and so on)
  • Step #2: Those pieces of paper that each have a number on them go into something (like a hat, a bag, or a purse)
  • Step #3: During the gift exchange, one person at a time picks a number out of the hat and are allowed to then grab the gift that corresponds with that number, open that gift, and everyone follows doing the same thing with the number they picked.

You can either wait until everyone has picked their numbered gift to unwrap the gift you got or you can go one at a time. Whichever way is decided, the element of competition comes from exchanging in this game where, if you like someone else’s gift more than the one you opened, you have the option to call for an exchange with the person who opened their present before you or anyone else for that matter… but, as the traditional game goes, you only get one exchange and each gift cannot be exchanged more than once (make the rules however you wish to best suit you and your loved ones and the spirit of Christmas).

Maybe these two ideas above have given you some inspiration for this year’s holiday, but wait—there’s myrrh!

3. Regift Exchange

Lastly, we have regifting. Okay, this one sounds bad, but think about it!

Maybe someone you know bought you a gift you no longer enjoy for whatever reason. What cheaper way to buy a gift for your loved ones this Christmas season than to not buy anything at all, but to simply regift an older gift that’s no longer serving you? Of course refrain from gifting something that’s broken or that the person to whom you’re giving it would not enjoy any more than you. Instead, figure out what you’re wanting to get rid of that is still in great condition and decide if it’ll be a good addition to their life and if they don’t already have something similar. Once you’ve done those necessary assessments, you can go ahead and regift a gift to a loved one.

This exchange is as affordable as it gets and can still be heartfelt depending on the quality of the gift! For example, if someone I knew were to gift me a high-quality winter jacket that no longer fits them… I would gladly take it knowing how expensive winter coats can be, especially if that coat ends up fitting me and I like the look of it on me! But if the coat had holes in it, was way too small on me, and maybe clashed with my skin tone? Snow way! That’s not a very heartfelt gift because it would seem like I wasn’t even considered during the picking-of-the-gift process.

Final words

Hopefully this is helpful to anyone looking for more affordable ways to give gifts this year to their family or maybe this will be helpful when starting for those who are still recouping from any financial loss they may have experienced during the long two years of isolation. Either way, have a Merry (affordable) Christmas!

Emily Crandall

U Ottawa '24

Emily is a third-year student majoring in Communications and Sociology. Along with writing, she enjoys travelling and reading either self-help books or romance novels! Find her on all socials @itsemilylaura