How to Spend Less on Gifts That Give More

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family sitting by christmas fireplace sharing hot chocolate with tree in background
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THE RIGHT GIFTS

Many people are finding that, regardless of how much money you have, the memories and feelings created during the holidays are far more valuable than any store-bought gift — especially when that gift is unwanted. Instead of shopping until you drop, consider giving experiences this seasonthat will last long after any toy or gizmo has been discarded and forgotten.

friends laughing and smiling in kitchen with holiday turkey
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COOK A MEAL

Cooking a meal for one or many is a special way to infuse your love into an experience. This simple, inexpensive act shows affection and gratitude to everyone who gets to enjoy it, and can be a memorable experience for everyone.

two teens laughing while ice skating
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GO ICE SKATING

Taking some time out to do something active and fun provides a natural boost of endorphins, the feel-good brain chemicals. Done as a couple, a family, or a group of friends, ice skating is a bonding experience that will have positive impacts beyond the few hours it lasts.

winter concert, view from audience
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SEE A LIVE SHOW

Going to see a play or concert is an exciting outing. Opt for community theatres or small venues with no or low cover charges. It's not about going to see the most famous act — it's about enjoying the outing together.

couple smiling and laughing sitting with hot chocolate
Photo credit: SolStock/istockphoto

START A TRADITION

Traditions bring comfort during times that otherwise include stress and expectations. Something as simple as sipping cocoa and talking about goals for the new year, or recalling favorite parts of the past year, can become cherished memories.

close-up of hand writing donation check
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DONATE TO A CHARITY

Giving actually has the most positive impact on the person doing the giving, rather than receiving. Instead of exchanging material gifts, donate to a charity of your choice. Give in the name of someone special or do it anonymously.

couple in christmas colors volunteering at present drive
Photo credit: Steve Debenport/istockphoto

VOLUNTEER TOGETHER

Volunteering is an active way to spend time together while helping others who are less fortunate. This embraces the holiday spirit more than acquiring new toys, and teaches a life lesson that is more valuable than material possessions.

family in christmas sweaters around fire roasting marshmallows and talking with no phones
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GIVE THE GIFT OF A DIGITAL DETOX

Parents, children, lovers, and friends could all give the meaningful gift of not looking at their phones and actually being present with each other. Gift yourself and your loved ones a day, a half-day, or even a few hours of no electronics.

close-up of child making ornament with christmas decor in the background
Photo credit: yulkapopkova/istockphoto

CREATE TOGETHER

Making things stimulates the brain and brings joy. Making something together, like a collage, a family album, ora seasonal centerpiece, is a fun way to engage while creating something that will bring everyone pride once it is completed.

mother and baby daughter posing on couch in front of christmas tree while photographer takes photos
Photo credit: yulkapopkova/istockphoto

GET PHOTOS TAKEN

Capture the memories of the season with a few snapshots. Having a photographer come to your home or even posing at a studio in the mall will be a memorable experience. Even when photos are unflattering, they often lead to many laughs down the road.

family happily preparing christmas cookies in festive kitchen setting
Photo credit: svetikd/istockphoto

BAKE TOGETHER

Winter is the best season for baking and filling the house with delicious smells and extra warmth. Decide on one or more favorite treats and bake them from scratch together to enjoy homemade treats while making memories.

couple learning to ski
Photo credit: ultramarinfoto/istockphoto

TRY SOMETHING NEW TOGETHER

Trying something new is an easy way to deepen any relationship and have fun in the process. This could be anything from tasting a new cuisine, attending an alternative wellness experience like a sound bath, or trying a new movie genre.

woman and toddler building snowman outside
Photo credit: SbytovaMN/istockphoto

ENJOY A NATURE DAY

Being in nature is naturally calming to the nervous system. Even in cold weather, building a snowman or enjoying a walk through a quiet blanket of snow is relaxing. Making nature the star of the experience is often free, too.

feet in christmas socks on footrest with holiday mug in front of fireplace
Photo credit: encrier/istockphoto

GIVE SOMEONE A DAY OFF

For parents this might mean calling in a babysitter or taking a day off of work, but the goal is to have a day to do whatever you want together. Often having the space to just do nothing is the best experience of all.

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