There’s no question that gift-giving is an integral part of the holiday season. Shopping begins months in advance for some people, and, depending on how many individuals you have to shop for, the bills can quickly add up, as can wasteful packaging and wrapping paper.
However, there are alternative approaches. Before you load up your virtual or physical shopping cart, change your perspective and your approach by adopting these other creative options; just consider discussing the change with friends and family first to make sure everyone is on the same page.
Give an experience.
It’s hard to beat a gift that you can physically engage with or participate in. Sure, objects like a necklace or a pair of shoes are nice and can be practical under the right circumstances. However, an experience is something you can carry with you for the rest of your life.
If you are looking for an adventure to gift to your entire family, think of something that everyone will enjoy and benefit from, such as contributing to a vacation fund, setting up a family scavenger hunt, purchasing an annual US Park Pass, or enrolling everyone in a cooking class. Good ideas for gifts for a significant other could include a skydiving excursion, a private dinner or wine tasting, a quiet weekend getaway, or an in-person or virtual class on a subject they enjoy.
Sometimes helping others can be a gift to your own health. According to the Mayo Clinic, volunteering has a host of health benefits, including a decreased risk of depression and stress, the development of social skills and new relationships, and even increased life expectancy.
Websites such as VolunteerMatch and AmeriCorps can help you search for nearby volunteer opportunities suitable for you and your family. Instead of, or prior to, holding a gift exchange, spend the day giving back to an organization or program that needs your help.
Give for the future.
One of the best and longest-lasting presents you can give is one that sets up the recipient for a successful future. Ask your financial advisor about establishing a savings account or investing in a fund for a family member; this is a particularly great gift for children or young adults to help them learn good financial habits. If your loved one is looking to attend or is currently attending school, consider contributing to their education by donating an amount you’re comfortable with toward their tuition or offering to contribute to books or other supplies they may need.
Do you have a friend or relative who owns their own business? You can purchase a product or service from them. If they have a photography business, for example, you could have them take your next set of family photos to include on your holiday cards.
Give good health.
Changing to a healthier lifestyle can be challenging, especially with the cost of gym memberships and nutrition programs factored in. If you have a loved one who you know is looking to improve their health, consider gifting an annual gym membership, a subscription to a healthy meal kit service, such as HelloFresh or Sunbasket, or giving a gift card to a nutritionist service.
Additionally, you could consider donating any exercise equipment you no longer use, or try looking for discounted equipment on places like Facebook Marketplace to gift.
Give your time.
Your time is one of the most underrated but highly valuable gifts you can give to a loved one. It might sound like a cliché, but more time is something many people want above all else but seldom have.
Offer to babysit for a friend or family member with children so they can enjoy a night to themselves or with their significant other. Help a loved one with a home-improvement project on their to-do list to help them complete it more quickly. Or just leave more time in your schedule for getting together with friends and family. These gifts are simple, don’t cost much money, and make a big impact on the lives of those you love.