theSkimm on Holiday Gifting Without Spending Money | Skimm Money | theSkimm

We're bringing you tips and tricks to Celebrate Smarter this holiday season. Check it out.

The Story

‘Tis the season for “Home Alone,” mulled wine...and going waaay over your budget. But you can give thoughtful holiday gifts without spending a million dollars.

You sit on a throne of lies.

No, really. If you learned how to knit in high school...or have any artistic talent...this one’s easy. Because the materials you’ll use to make something will probably cost a lot less than buying a new gift. A few other DIY ideas:

  • Create a custom board game based on the recipient’s fav things. As in, Lindsay Land (instead of Candy Land), where the Peppermint Forest is Tulum, and the Gumdrop Pass is their NFL team’s stadium.
  • Curate your best recipes for a homemade cookbook. Pair with a preview batch of cookies or pesto.
  • Paint mason jars to use as lights, decoration or storage. hot this season.

And if I’m not crafty?

When the thought counts for a lot, you’ll need a good one. Like offering an experience that can be cashed in any time. Think: things the giftee hates — closet organizing, car cleaning, etc. — or something you can teach, like how to play tennis or mix a good martini. Babysitting, pet sitting, and house sitting coupons are also fan faves.

I see what you’re going for. But I really want to give a thing.

Got you covered:

  • Redeem credit card rewards. Your points and miles might get you big discounts, free stuff, or cash back to buy something off your mom’s Christmas list.
  • Dig up an unused gift card. Use it to buy a gift. Or swap it for a different gift card on an exchange like Cardpool. If you don’t find anything good, you can also sell your card for cash.
  • Wrap up old gifts that weren’t right for you. If it doesn’t fit, isn’t your style or is a duplicate of something you already have (and still has tags)...regift it.

Isn’t regifting rude?

Not anymore. Even The Emily Post Institute says it’s okay long as the recipient will actually like it and you’re regifting in a different social circle. And if you get caught, don’t lie. Say something like ‘I couldn’t use it, but I thought of you as soon as I saw it’ instead.


If you’re dreaming of an affordable Christmas, don’t stress. Between experience gifts and creative spending strategies (hi, credit card points), there are tons of ways to gift without spending (that much) money. So you can be merry, bright...and on budget.