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Thoughtful No-Spend Christmas Gift Ideas

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Christmas is without a doubt my favorite time of year. I love almost everything about it. Getting together with family and friends, the delicious food, the decorations, all of the Christmas scents. 

I enjoy everything about the holidays … except the huge amount of debt that often accompanies the Christmas season. The never-ending Christmas gift list for loved ones, friends, acquaintances, teachers, bus drivers, and co-workers can create a huge dent in the household budget. I don’t want to sound like a Scrooge but, the truth is, fulfilling the gift list can get really expensive.  

If you love to celebrate the holiday season but don’t want to be paying off your credit card well into the New Year, consider spreading cheer with no-spend Christmas gifts this year.

have a no spend christmas with gifts from the heart

Pros and Cons of Not Giving Gifts for Christmas 

Christmas without traditional gift-giving might sound shocking. What is Christmas without store-bought presents? But you can still enjoy all of the spirit and feeling of Christmas without standing in line at the mall or frantically trying to knock off all of your Christmas gifts online. This year, instead of spending a fortune buying generic gift cards or scented candles, consider putting a no-spend Christmas gift under the tree. 

A no-spend Christmas is just a different way of enjoying the holidays. You can still give gifts, you just don’t have to spend all of your money in order to do so. 

The Pros of a No-Spend Christmas

If you’re sick of the over-commercialization of Christmas and you just want to enjoy your holidays without having to buy everyone you know a gift, there are a ton of benefits to a no-spend Christmas, including:

Less holiday debt. When you don’t have to buy everyone you know a material gift, you can save a lot of money and avoid going into credit card debt. In 2019, Americans had an average of $1,325 in holiday debt, according to a survey conducted by MagnifyMoney. This year, celebrate the holiday season without overspending or blowing your Christmas shopping budget.

Less stress. I find holiday shopping stressful. Despite my best efforts and planning, I always end up with a long list of last-minute presents I have to buy. Rather than enjoying Christmas music, baking, and the company of my family and friends, I am running back and forth to the mall or sitting in front of my laptop on Amazon. It’s stressful and not the way I want to spend my holiday. 

No more impersonal gifts. A byproduct of last-minute holiday shopping is the purchasing of impersonal gifts. When I’m in a rush, I just start buying whatever I can in order to cross off another name on my list. This results in spending money on things that the gift receiver might not even use or care for. 

The Cons of a No-Spend Christmas 

I believe that the pros of a no-spend Christmas far outweigh the cons, but there are still a few things you should consider. 

Not everyone will understand. You will likely encounter some family members or friends who don’t care for your no-spend Christmas gifts. They might feel like you are just being cheap and they may feel slighted if you don’t get them a “real” Christmas present. 

It can be uncomfortable. If you go to a holiday party at work or with friends and everyone else is passing out store-bought gifts, it might feel uncomfortable to give a DIY, no-spend gift. However, many people will love and appreciate the personal touch when receiving a handmade present. 

Creative Ideas for No-Spend Christmas Gifts 

If you feel like taking a no-spend approach to gifts this year, there are a ton of experiential and DIY gift ideas you can try out. I love receiving experiential gifts and DIY items because I feel they are often more personal, creative, and thoughtful than many store-bought things.

Create a date-coupon book 

Sometimes the best gift you can give your mate is your time. Your undivided, full attention. If you have a special someone in your life, consider creating a book filled with 12 date coupons. That’s a guarantee for one special date each month. One coupon is good for a sunset walk, another for a trip to your favorite restaurant. A date coupon book can be filled with amazing experiences for couples to enjoy together. 

Cook a Loved One Their Favorite Meal

There is nothing more important than spending time with the people you love and cherish. What better way to acknowledge someone and show them you care than by cooking someone their favorite meal? Sit down with your beverage of choice and enjoy good food and conversation. These are the moments that will truly be remembered. 

Build a Time Capsule

This is a fun gift idea for the entire family. Engage your kids by having them pick some of their most cherished items to put in the time capsule. Include photographs and written notes to your future selves. Then, lock up the box and open it at Christmas the following year. 

Create a “Tell Me Anything” Notebook 

One of the best gifts my kids ever gave my parents was a “Tell Me Anything” notebook. Simply get a notebook and have your kids fill it with all of the questions they want to know about their grandparents. Have them draw pictures, include photographs, write poems or stories. Then, once your parents have had a chance to answer all of the questions, they can return the Tell Me Anything notebook as a future gift for your kids. 

Homemade Baking 

A surefire way to a person’s heart is through their stomach. Right? This year bake some scrumptious Christmas treats and cookies and give them as gifts. Food gifts are truly some of my favorite presents to receive and give. They make great gifts to bring to a holiday party because they can be shared with everyone. You can decorate a mason jar and fill it with treats or find a beautiful box and wrap them up. 

Homemade Christmas Ornaments  

If you want to get your kids involved with no-spend Christmas gifts, have them help you create personalized Christmas ornaments. We use this simple salt dough recipe to make creative Christmas ornaments. You can use cookie cutters to create Christmas shapes and then add paint or sparkles to finish your creative creations. 

What No-Spend Christmas Gifts Will You Try This Year?

This year stick to your Christmas budget and enjoy a more frugal holiday. A lovely mason jar filled with your favorite Christmas treats or a beautiful handmade gift is way more personal than an online gift card.

— By Jessica Martel

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