Here are some other creative gift-exchange ideas that let you stretch the fun and the dollars:
- The Dollar-Store Gift Exchange: If it's truly the thought that counts, then set a spending limit of a single sawbuck and see how creative everyone can get at the dollar store.
- The Regift Exchange: Agree to wrap up something you already own and don't need (that's still in the box or in mint condition), and give it to someone who will appreciate it. Remember: It's only regifting if you believe it's regifting.
- The Handmade Gift Exchange: The giver has to make each present, be it a birdhouse, a fruitcake, a poem, or a pair of slippers.
- The Old-Photo Gift Exchange: What more cherished—and inexpensive—gift could there be than an old family photo? Get up there in the attic and see what you can find! To boot, you could probably find a suitable frame at the Dollar Store, an outlet, or a thrift store.
- The Charity Gift Exchange: Don't you already have everything you need? Many are not as fortunate, so agree to make a contribution to a charity rather than trading gifts.
- The Tackiest Gift Exchange: Keep it cheap and fun by seeing who can give the tackiest gift for under $5.
- The Gift-of-Time Exchange: Exchange gift cards for your time. Recipients redeem them, and have you do anything from washing their car to giving them a massage or volunteering your time for a charity of their choice.
- The Baked-Goods Gift Exchange: Those cookies don't qualify unless you baked them yourself.
- The Talent-Show Gift Exchange: Give the pleasure of free entertainment by performing your special talent before a gathering of family or friends. Have a Christmas concert! Did you know that I can recite "The Night Before Christmas" while standing on my head?
See how enjoyable a "cheap" Christmas can be? Don't be shy about proposing a "gift-lite" holiday season to your family and friends this year. You might find that for you, what Dr. Seuss wrote in How the Grinch Stole Christmas rings true:
And he puzzled three hours, till his puzzler was sore.
Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before!
'Maybe Christmas,' he thought, 'doesn't come from a store.
Maybe Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more!'
Jeff Yeager is the author of Don't Throw That Away!, The Ultimate Cheapskate's Road Map to True Riches and The Cheapskate Next Door. His website is www.UltimateCheapskate.com; you can friend him on Facebook or follow him on Twitter.