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Frugal Christmas Gift Ideas

Updated on October 2, 2013

The Impetus for a Change in Thinking

This author has struggled with Christmas gift-giving for years. There have been years when I have spent thousands on the “perfect” gifts, and there have been years when I did not have enough money to buy for anyone but my son, and guilt was my companion for weeks afterwards.

There have been years when I have put off gift-buying until Christmas Eve, and there have been years when I have bought as early as October and then bought continuously right up until Christmas. Last minute Christmas gifts for mom! Last minute Christmas gifts for the wife. They were all necessary, right?

To say that Christmas has been an unsettling time for me would be a gross understatement. However, today it is no longer that way, and it is simply because of a change in thinking on my part.

Like many, I’m sure, gift-giving, for me, was a sign of love and friendship, but somewhere along the way the emphasis became heavier on the gift and less on the sign of love and friendship. Does that make sense to you? In other words, I lost sight of the real meaning behind those gifts, namely a demonstration of love for those in my life who are most important.

This year, the emphasis is back where it should be, on love. This year, the dollar expenditure will be way down, but the love expenditure will be way up. Bev and I have brainstormed some alternative Christmas gift ideas, and we thought we would share them with you.

Great basket gifts
Great basket gifts | Source

Food Baskets

No, not food baskets for everyone! Surely you know someone in your neighborhood or other area of your life who is in need of some special love this holiday season. These are tough times for people; the economy is not recovering as quickly as our leaders would have us believe, and many people are just trying to pay their mortgage and have a dinner on the table for Christmas.

Why not give a gift that will give you as much joy as it does the recipient? Go the grocery store, pick up the makings for a great dinner, and deliver it to someone who really needs some joy in life. If you have some concerns that this may be embarrassing for the recipient, just leave it on their doorstep anonymously. There really is no need for them to know it came from you; a true gift is given without concern over receiving credit for the giving.

ENVELOPES

No, don’t give envelopes for a Christmas present! This is a neat idea for a rather large family, and it is an idea we are following in our family this year. The idea is for everyone in the family to put their names on their own envelope, and next to their name they write down one item they would really like to have this year.

Then during the holiday season, members of the family put money into each envelope instead of buying gifts. That way, when Christmas comes, the money is there for each person to buy that one special gift they really want. Imagine, no more ugly shirts or ties that are hideous and not really appreciated!

Secret Santa Exchange

This was one of my favorite activities when I taught school. Everyone would grab a name out of a hat, and then during the season they would leave anonymous gifts for the person whose name they had drawn.

You can easily adopt this method in your family. Draw names….don’t mention whose name you draw….and then during the month of December, buy little gifts and leave them for the person to find. You can culminate it all with one big present on Christmas Day, and at that time everyone finds out who their Secret Santa was.

A giving tree.
A giving tree. | Source

Start a Giving Tree

This is another idea adopted from my teaching days. Back in the day, we would contact a local charitable organization, like “Unwed Mothers” or “Teen Homeless Center.” We would ask the director of the center if they would get the first names of the people who used the center, and have each person write down what they wanted for Christmas. Then we would take that information, make gift tags with the first name of the person and the gifts they wanted, and hang them on a tree in the school lobby.

After that, parents and students could take tags off of the tree, go out and buy the present, and then bring the presents back to our school. On Christmas Eve the presents would then be given to the people at the Center. One year the families of our school, a school with 350 students, gave more than 2000 presents to the residents of a low-income apartment building. You should have seen the smiles!

Anyone can do this, and you could organize it in your neighborhood. Pick a tree in the neighborhood, contact your neighbors with your idea, and then find a charitable cause that your neighborhood can donate to. What fun, and what a great way to become an active part of the community.

More ideas

Are you going frugal this Christmas?

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Play Santa for Those Who Truly Need Some Love

Again, a suggestion from my past years. I have been known to rent a Santa costume and go to the hospital to hand out presents to the kids who have to spend Christmas in the hospital. A variation of this idea is to go to a nursing home and distribute presents.

I have gone to merchants with my idea and gotten presents donated. One year I gave over 200 Beanie Babies to kids at the hospital, and I can tell you that the joy I experienced that Christmas was unbelievable. How about it? Instead of giving each member of your family ten gifts, how about giving them five and using the unused money for some kids or the elderly so they can get into the spirit of Christmas as well?

You could even send presents to our house if you had a hankerin'
You could even send presents to our house if you had a hankerin' | Source

Adopt a Family

Do you know of a family that is really feeling the economic crunch this year? How about your family adopting their family, and giving them gifts that will mean so much. Make them handcrafted gifts; give them gift certificates that promise you will do some chores for them; heck, even give them DVD’s or books from your own collection. Remember, the idea is to give of yourself in an act that holds no promise of a return gift. Your reward is the smile you will receive when you give unselfishly of yourself.

Handmade Coupon Books

If you are having a hard time thinking of the perfect gift, why don’t you make a coupon book for a loved one? Each coupon can be some special act of love, from a backrub to a chore done for them. Then, throughout the year, your loved one can return the coupons and receive a gift of love when they most need one.

Gift Exchange

We do this in our family and it’s a fun alternative. Everyone brings one generic gift on Christmas. It has to be a gift that anyone can use, and there is a pre-determined dollar limit to the gift. We put those gifts in a pile and we open them all at once. We all have pulled a number out of a hat and that is our gift-picking order, so after the gifts have all been opened, #1 will have first pick, then #2, and so on, until all the gifts have been chosen.

Remember the Reason for the Season

Christmas is about love! Christmas is about family! Somehow over the years, Christmas has become synonymous with gift-giving, and more gift-giving, and greater gift-giving, and it is hectic and at times stressful and mindless. Hopefully these alternative Christmas gift ideas will help to bring the focus back on what Christmas should be all about.

Remember, love does not have a dollar sign on it, but it most certainly has great value!

Merry Christmas to all!

2012 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)

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    • Janine Huldie profile image

      Janine Huldie 4 years ago from New York, New York

      Bill, yet again you always share some really great ideas. This year, we are doing secret Santa in my husband's family with all the kids, because there are just too many kids at this point and everyone is struggling financially. We also don't do the mall Santa picture, because that usually costs a ridiculous amount of money for on silly picture, my brother very graciously has dressed up as Santa for my girls and taken pictures with them. So those are just some of the ways, we have saved a bit during this crazy holiday seasons. Totally enjoyed reading more suggestions here and have of course voted up and shared all over as always!!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Janine, I love hearing the different ideas that people have for the holidays. Your brother is a big softy and I love it. I used to love dressing up as Santa and seeing how happy the kids were.

      Thank you my friend; I hope this finds you well and happy today.

    • rcrumple profile image

      Rich 4 years ago from Kentucky

      Bill, Some really good ideas! I stopped going to my family's Christmas parties immediately after moving out of my parent's home. They used to try to out do each other and the gifts almost became a "competition" to see who got the most expensive. Turned me completely off. So many forget the true meaning of the holiday, and completely look at it as a time to "show off." Again, great ideas, my friend!

    • Laceylinks profile image

      Mary Green 4 years ago from Alabama

      Hi Billiboc,

      These ideas are great, especially in tough times when being creative is the tune most folks are dancing to. That or going without. One year my sister and her husband (when they were young and broke) handed out homemade bread, cookies, rolls and candies in baskets for family members. That was when my brother-in-law was in chef training school. The coolest thing about these baskets was that they included a beautifully handcrafted bread wreath, baked and coated with shellac with a ribbon to hang them with. Mine graced my kitchen wall for several years. Probably didn't cost them ten bucks for each one but lots of labor and love went into those baskets and they were such unique gifts, we all loved them. The low-cost gifts are often the best.

    • midget38 profile image

      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      Fine ideas, Bill. I like the one on adopting a family and envelopes.It's better to let the person decide the things they really want or need than to waste money on gifts that will not really have an impact. Thanks for sharing, BIll! Shared.

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      kelleyward 4 years ago

      We let our kids choose three items for Christmaz bc the wise men brought Jesus 3 gifts. Then we adopt a family and buy them the things they need and a gift or two they want. We have done this for the past three yrs and it makes Christmas a much loved time for our family! Take care, Kelley

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Rich, good morning, and I have seen a few holidays like the one you described....it's like people want recognition for having spent so much money on gifts. Well, they aren't going to get it from me. :)

      Thanks my friend; you are early this morning and it was nice to chat with you while I drink my tea. :)

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Michelle, I doubt this family will ever see another extravagant Christmas. We are into simple now, and creative ideas, and we love it.

      Thank you as always and thanks for the share.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Lacey, that's exactly the kind of thing I love to read about. I might borrow that if you don't mind. Anyway, it sounds like you truly understand the spirit of this hub. Thank you so much for the visit and great comment.

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 4 years ago from New York

      The true reason for the season! Fortunately we have many outlets here to share with...our parish church has a tree with the age and sex of a child that we can take before hand and provide a gift for Christmas. We also participate the the local Toys for Tots. I'm on the look out all year to find toys on sale for this one.

      As grandchildren grow older the need for 'big' Christmases diminishes and we are able to share with those less fortunate, which is the reason for the season, to give to those in need out of love.

      Voted up, useful, awesome, and interesting.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Oh Kelley, I love it. I think your family is now my favorite family in the U.S. :) How cool is that? I"m sharing this with Bev so she can smile too. Thank you!

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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Mary, I'm not surprised at all by your generosity and spirit. I agree, as the kids grow up, and the number of small ones diminishes, it is then time to turn our attention to those who have no Christmas unless we arrange one for them.

      Bless you friend! Have a great day!

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      Liz Davis 4 years ago from Hudson, FL

      I wish there were a "sweet" button on here! You offer some thoughtful ideas. I always like to make baked goodies for people as gifts. There's something about putting extra time into a gift that makes it that much more special. You rock, Billy!

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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Liz, your rock! I love to hear that people like you do things like that; it makes me feel good knowing there are some out there who understand the spirit of the holidays.

      Thank you my friend and have a great day in Dunedin!

    • fpherj48 profile image

      Paula 4 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      You know bill....there's always a scrooge in the group. I looked carefully and I didn't see my gift idea in your list. It's very sensible.....I put a whole lot of thought to it. It DOES involve envelopes.

      Since all 4 of my sons, are much better off than their mom, (the schmuck, WHO, in fact, put forth blood, sweat and tears, so they COULD be better off)......I am sending each a festive-looking envelope....In the envelopes: My eldest gets my mortgage bill, Son #2 gets the cable bill.....#3 gas & electric......and #4 water & trash collection bills......Ho Ho HO......Love, Your Mother.

    • tobusiness profile image

      Jo Alexis-Hagues 4 years ago from Bedfordshire, U.K

      Billy a wonderful hub, with lots of beautiful ideas. Maybe it's time to revisit the true meaning of Christmas. Thank so much for sharing.

    • starstream profile image

      Dreamer at heart 4 years ago from Northern California

      You have added to our ideas for Christmas gift giving. It is always a warm idea to me to add a homemade baked bread or cookies. The thought and a warm exchange of Merriment is important often in such a cold winter season.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Paula, don't ever let it be said that you don't understand the true meaning of Christmas! LOL You are priceless. I sure hope those boys of yours appreciate you as much as I do....of course, I'm not receiving those envelopes from you, so maybe my perspective is a little biased. :)

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Jo, it's always good to see you visit and I appreciate it. Oh yes, the true meaning of Christmas. It seems to be a bit muddled because of advertising. :) Thank you my friend!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Startstream, you know, I remember when I was a kid, my mom would bake for days and then we would walk around the neighborhood giving cakes and cookies to neighbors. Where have those days gone to?

      I love the thought of you baking for friends...great job!

      Thank you!

    • starstream profile image

      Dreamer at heart 4 years ago from Northern California

      Billybuc,

      I enjoy sharing a warm cup of cocoa and fresh baked cookies. Yes, those days are gone. Now, I usually just do this for family. Time limits us but you can always select a wonderful baked bread from a bakery you love too. Add a Christmas ribbon and an original handmade gift tag for a sweet gift.

    • Lord De Cross profile image

      Joseph De Cross 4 years ago

      Great Ideas Billy; not too bad if we adopt a friend as well. We can share knowledge, books and even exchange tools.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Joseph, you are back!!!!! I hope you are well; I don't hang out on Facebook that much so I have not heard how you did during the storm. Thank you and I look forward to hearing about your journey the past two weeks.

    • Victoria Lynn profile image

      Victoria Lynn 4 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      Great ideas, especially as families get larger. I like the coupon book idea!

    • vocalcoach profile image

      Audrey Hunt 4 years ago from Nashville Tn.

      I like these ideas for gift-giving. Christmas has little meaning for me since my son passed away. I miss my grandchildren and the closeness we once had. I miss the Christmases with them each year. It was Todd's favorite time of the year and he went all out.

      So, I have a very difficult time this time of year. I'm sorry to bring this up but I want you to know what a beautiful hub this is Bill. The real spirit of giving can be found here in your hub.

      Thank you and thank Bev.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Audrey, there is no reason to apologize; this must be a horrible time of year for you and I'm truly sorry. I hated the holidays until I met Bev five years ago; the renewed my love of them, but I remember quite well the years prior to that, being alone, depressed over loved ones who had passed on......sigh!

      Thank you dear lady; sending a big hug your way.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks Vicki! At least I didn't make you read a hub on bras or jock straps! LOL

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Starstream, times do change, don't they, and traditions slip by the wayside for whatever reason. I hope your holiday season is wonderful, and thank you again for visiting.

    • Jools99 profile image

      Jools99 4 years ago from North-East UK

      Bill, interesting hub - since I have less money rattling around in my pockets it has really made me concentrate my efforts on really picking a gift with impact for my loved ones and you don't need to spend a lot to make a good impact - I want people to open their gift and know that I put a lot of thought into them, that's the main thing (though my daughter may take some convincing) :o)

    • Donna Kay Bryan profile image

      Donna Kay Bryan 4 years ago

      Bill, these are great suggestions. We usually get together with my husband's large family of cousins sometime during the holidays. We used to draw names and spend twenty-five to thirty dollars on the person we drew. After awhile it was decided that instead we would donate that same amount of money. Then a separate tree is placed in the family room with computer-prepared "ornaments", each with the name of an organization that has reaped the benefits. Since we are all spread out in different cities and states, it is so awesome to come together and see the variety of names and places on that tree that are being helped. They range from "adopted" families, to The Salvation Army, cancer research, international ministries, and countless others. While gathered there we share our gift to each other -- quality time together to celebrate Christ's birth.

      Voted up -- useful and beautiful.

    • savingkathy profile image

      Kathy Sima 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Fabulous hub Bill, with so many great ideas for celebrating the true spirit of Christmas. I will definitely be sharing this one!

    • acaetnna profile image

      acaetnna 4 years ago from Guildford

      A really detailed up containing lots of brilliant ideas - thank you so much.

    • grandmapearl profile image

      Connie Smith 4 years ago from Southern Tier New York State

      Applause, Applause, Applause! Billy you have done it again--you never disappoint me. I love the envelope idea, and the neighborhood charity idea. These are excellent ways to represent the actual 'reason for the season'. During the year when cat and dog food is on special, I buy a carton and set it aside. The same is true when there are dog and cat toys on sale. When a bed pillow is no longer useful I make a special cover that can be removed and washed. These make great pet beds. Catnip grows naturally here, so I harvest it and make toys for the Shelter animals. By Christmas there is an ample supply of goodies that we proudly leave for the many homeless little pet souls. That's where my Christmas Joy truly lives. Voted Up, Useful and Awesome! Also shared. Pearl

    • alocsin profile image

      alocsin 4 years ago from Orange County, CA

      Excellent ideas, especially the envelopes and the food baskets. I may be a little paranoid but if I got an anonymous food basket, I might be concerned whether the contents were either spoiled or poisoned. I'd eat the contents anyway, since I love food. Voting this Up and Useful.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Julie, that's the problem with kids; they have no sense of adventure. LOL I love your idea of finding a gift that means something...bravo!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Hi Kathy! It''s always nice to see your smiling face. So glad you enjoyed this one; I'd love it if we all backed off of the spending and concentrated on giving. :)

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      acaetnna, thank you so much for the visit. I'm glad you enjoyed it. You are from Guildford? I'm guessing that is in England??? Anyway, thank you!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Pearl, bravo to you my friend. What a generous and loving heart you have. I don't think catnip grows here, but I love your idea...all of your ideas. I feel good knowing that you and many others like you are embracing the true meaning of Christmas. Thank you!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Aurelio....LOL....I might feel the same way, but if it were homemade bread or fudge, I know I would eat is regardless of the possible dangers. :) Thank you Sir!

    • donnah75 profile image

      Donna Hilbrandt 4 years ago from Upstate New York

      Yes! Emptying the bank account for a pile of "made in China" is a recipe for the holiday blues. I love your ideas for creating a more mindful gift giving season. Voted up.

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 4 years ago from United States

      Great suggestions! We simplified our Christmas a few years ago by drawing names for the extended family, then each person lists 3 things they would like for no more than $25. I still buy something for each of my 3 grandchildren but other than that is family time, -laughter and good food. I absolutely agree Christmas is about love. This is a wonderful hub.

    • Happyboomernurse profile image

      Gail Sobotkin 4 years ago from South Carolina

      Love this sentence which to me, is the true essence of Christmas giving: "This year, the dollar expenditure will be way down, but the love expenditure will be way up."

      Great hub with lots of useful ideas. My favorite was the giving tree.

      Voted up across the board except for funny.

      Hub Hugs to You & Bev,

      Gail

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Donna, that brought a smile to my face. I think this year China can take care of their economy without my help.

      Thank you as always my friend.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Pamela, I love that idea; it's actually the second time someone has mentioned that approach. Great vibes from that my friend; sounds to me like you are on the right track this holiday season.

      Thank you Pamela!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Gail my friend, the Giving Tree is well-received every time I see someone do it. It certainly was at the school I taught at.

      Thank you my friend and I will pass along your kind words to Bev.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Donna, what an incredible Christmas tradition! Bravo my friend; that may be the best I have heard so far.

      Thank you for sharing that great idea with the rest of us. My best wishes to you and yours.

      bill

    • mpropp profile image

      Melissa Propp 4 years ago from Minnesota

      Very well-written hub, full of great and meaningful gifts. I've had years where we went overboard, and the kids get to the point where they can't even enjoy the gifts--they just have to tear through to the next one. We've also had years where we adopted other families and received less ourselves. I have to say, those are definitely more meaningful. I also really like the idea of doing activities together as a family, instead of just buying more and more stuff. Ice skating, movies, going bowling...whatever the activity, you make great memories and it doesn't get tossed aside 20 minutes after it is unwrapped! Thank you for sharing these thoughtful gift ideas.

    • lrc7815 profile image

      Linda Crist 4 years ago from Central Virginia

      Bill, you have some great ideas. About ten years ago, my family decided not to exchange gifts anymore. Instead, we rotate through the family and allow one person to select a charity of their choice (or a family) and we put our money together for that cause. It has made Christmas so much more meaningful and, we get to avoid the madness of shopping. We spend time together over a meal or two but there is no stress in our holidays anymore and, someone else gets a great Christmas. I'm going to steal some of your ideas though because I really like them. Maybe our family will start a new tradition. That would be cool! Great hub my friend.

    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 4 years ago from sunny Florida

      These are great Billy So many that I have done and had my children at school and child at home do. They are meaningful and appreciated and fun.

      The holidays can be so stressful and especially so for families who have a large number of children and scarity of cash.

      One that I have not done is the envelope...love it. Will be giving this suggestion to our family. Happy rest of the evening my Friend ps

    • cclitgirl profile image

      Cynthia Calhoun 4 years ago from Western NC

      Awesome hub - and you have given me an idea for a future hub - that I hope to write soon!

      I also wanted to say thank you and Merry Christmas - you are like a present to me. Your thoughtful words and comments ALWAYS brighten my day, even if I can't always make it over here to comment on your hubs. I try, but I have a lot of things I'm doing in the hopes that I can really make it as an online writer/photographer.

      But you are truly a present that helps me enjoy the present. You are one of a kind, Big Bro. :)

    • prasetio30 profile image

      prasetio30 4 years ago from malang-indonesia

      Very inspiring hub about Alternative Christmas Gift Ideas. I hope this hub useful for us. Voted up!

      Prasetio

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Prasetio, I am glad that you found this useful, and I hope your holidays are blessed and happy!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Cyndi, I'm worried if you are saying Merry Christmas already. LOL Listen my friend, you give me as much as I give you. That's what friendship is all about, right? And if I gave you an idea for a hub then I am ecstatic! Looking forward to it.

      Have a great evening my friend; you are greatly appreciated by little old me.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Hey PS, good to see you, as always! I adopted the envelope idea from Bev's family. Sure makes Christmas shopping easy.

      Glad you liked these suggestions, and I hope you are having a peaceful evening in Florida.

      bill

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      mpropp, you are very welcome! I have seen both sides of the argument, and there is no doubt I like these alternative ideas more than the pile of presents. Life has gotten much simpler for me and at the same time much happier.

      Thank you!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Linda, I love traditions like these. For years I wasn't married and it was very hard to adjust with just my son and I...but we made our own tradition of going to the mountain and eating holiday meals in their lodge with snow all around....great memories are so special.

      Thank you my dear; I hope you are having a great evening.

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      lovedoctor926 4 years ago

      I always look forward to the secret Santa exchange every year at work. For me, it's not so much the gift, but the thought that count. These are all very creative ideas especially the handmade coupon boxes. I love the idea of a gift basket. I am not sure if there is a Norman Brothers Produce Market up where you're at, but they sell one of the best fruit, cheese and wine baskets. You can also order online. The quality and freshness of their produce is amazing! Great hub!

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      Deb Hirt 4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      These are all superb ideas. The best Christmas that I ever had was when all the roomies were gone and a friend came over decades ago. We ate raisin bread and drank whiskey (or something), and played cards all day and all night.

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      AudraLeigh 4 years ago

      Christmas is coming and for some reason I do not mind this year. Well, for now...lol! I like this hub and your ideas to make Christmas less commercial and more sentimental. I really like, "GIFT EXCHANGE"! I like how everyone can pick a number and pick a gift. Christmas must be fun at your house!

    • Deborah Brooks profile image

      Deborah Brooks Langford 4 years ago from Brownsville,TX

      Billy this is the most awesome hub.. thank you and Happy thanksgiving to you and Merry Christmas too.. You always come up with the best ideas.. and yes remember the reason for the season.. God bless you my friend..

      I shop all year round..

      voted up

      Debbie

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Hey Doc, I've never heard of that company, but there are similar companies around. Good idea!

      I'm glad you liked the coupon book idea, and thank you for the visit. Always appreciated!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Deb...raisin bread and whiskey???? Now there is a combination I never tried. LOL Glad you survived that night, although it does sound like fun.

      thanks Deb!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Audra, I can say with certainty that is never boring at our house. :) I kind of married into a big family, and I thought it would drive me nuts, but just the opposite...I love the excitement and vibrancy around here.

      Thank you my dear; sleep well!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Debbie, Happy Thanksgiving and Merry Christmas to you as well. I hope you have a blessed and happy holiday season, and thank you my dear, for the visit!

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Fuller 4 years ago from Southern Illinois

      I love your ideas. There are so many who are needy, but there are so many who are unhappy this time of the year. I know many who are depressed at Christmas time. When you're down on your luck and thinking back at times when things were good, it brings sadness, esp. if you are an outcast from the family. This is the time of year when i look more closely at the faces who are holding signs to please give. We are not to judge. Many people say, " Oh they are drunks, pass them by. " I canot do that. I remember my brother Fred. God bless him. May he RIP. Well i guess you see that you have touched me...Thank you..

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      Carrie L. Cronkite 4 years ago from Maine

      I love all of your ideas for gift giving. These types of gifts truly come from the heart and mean so much more than expensive gifts we really can't afford. I'll be using some of your ideas. Thank you!

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 4 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      These are all great suggestions, Bill. We use the Secret Santa idea in our school (with a dollar limit for gifts) and we've already started talking about this year's event in our staff meetings. Some of your other ideas would be excellent for students too.

    • Mhatter99 profile image

      Martin Kloess 4 years ago from San Francisco

      Thank you for this. The best gift I ever got was my wife under Christmas tree.

    • ishwaryaa22 profile image

      Ishwaryaa Dhandapani 4 years ago from Chennai, India

      A wonderful hub packed with helpful suggestions! I have heard about Secret Santa through Archie Comics. Christmas is just around the corner and this economical hub of yours definitely comes in handy for many who are consciously frugal.

      So nice of you to play Santa to the kids at the hospital. I can imagine their joyful faces. Giving is far better than receiving. After reading this thoughtful hub, I decided to do something useful apart from just giving donations to the local charity organizations. Thank you for writing this eye-opening hub!

      Thanks for SHARING. Useful, Awesome & Interesting. Voted up & shared both on HubPages & Facebook

    • MelChi profile image

      Melanie Chisnall 4 years ago from Cape Town, South Africa

      Bill, I applaud your creative gift ideas here for Christmas! I am done with the whole Christmas present giving...especially this year. It's commercialized and it isn't special. This year, it's all about being thankful for what we have. It's about eating food together and enjoying each other's company. I love your idea about the Christmas food basket, and the gift exchange. Awesome hub, Bill - thanks!

    • Eiddwen profile image

      Eiddwen 4 years ago from Wales

      So very interesting and useful as always Billy. I vote across the board/up and share. Have a great day.

      Eddy.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      No,Ruby, we are not to judge! I needed a helping hand six years ago or I wouldn't be here. God bless you my friend; I greatly appreciate you.

      bill

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Creatively, it always makes a writer happy when someone says they will use his ideas. Thank you for the visit and I'm glad you found this useful.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Alicia, many of the ideas came from my teaching days and yes, they would work well with students. Thank you for the visit.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Martin, I would call that a wonderful Christmas present.....most definitely. Thank you Sir!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Ishwaryaa, it is always nice to see you visit. Thank you my young and talented friend. I am glad if this inspired you; bless you and have a wonderful evening....and thank you for sharing.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Mel, thank you so much! I would imagine the retailers are not too fond of these ideas, but oh well! :) I know that Christmas should not be about gifts but rather about love.

      Thank you my friend!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Eddy my dear, it always brings a smile to my face when you visit. Thank you for everything you bring to our friendship.

      billy

    • carol7777 profile image

      carol stanley 4 years ago from Arizona

      As always a creative master...I love your ideas and I am still around here..At the boat..finally have a little wifi.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Carol, thank you, and enjoy your time in the lovely sunshine. Drizzly and 42 degrees here. Sigh! :)

    • faythef profile image

      Faythe F. 4 years ago from USA

      Lots of great ideas..still reading through them..thanks for sharing

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank yhou Faythef; I'm glad you enjoyed this one.

    • Ruchira profile image

      Ruchira 4 years ago from United States

      Beautiful set of ideas. We usually get gift wishes from shelters and try to do our best. Also gifting bed in bag in this wintertime is useful..

      Voted up as useful.

    • Ardie profile image

      Sondra 4 years ago from Neverland

      Hi Bill, I love the alternative gift ideas. I have always gone out of my way to choose gifts that arent the same old, tired things. My favorite is the giving tree. We do the giving tree at work but I never thought to do a home version of it. Im gonna fit that into this year. Great Hub my friend.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Hi Ardie! I just visited your hub! Anyway, I love the Giving Tree; I get much more enjoyment out of that than I do receiving a present during Christmas.

      Thank you my friend!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Ruchira; I like your bed in bag idea, and of course the giving to the shelters. Bless you my friend.

    • suzzycue profile image

      Susan Britton 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Great giving tips Billybuc. I can tell you were a great teacher and you still are as Christmas giving tips like these can only come from Santa Bills big heart.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Suzzy, I love it... Santa Bill! Thank you so much and I'm glad you enjoyed these ideas.

    • shiningirisheyes profile image

      Shining Irish Eyes 4 years ago from Upstate, New York

      Fantastic suggestions Billy! I must admit, part of me participates in our American Legion Giving Tree and Adopt A Family programs because it makes me feel so good. I so enjoy baking. It adds some positive to what is normally a somber time of year. I find it impossible to be sad when making cazilions of cookies, fudge and treats.

      As we grew older, we changed the envelope gift giving a bit. Instead of a gift someone wanted, the rule was to give a gag gift. My brother and I pulled each others names. He gave me the largest pair of women's underwear I ever laid eyes on! Another year he put a white stone in a medical jar and told me it was the stone he passed while in the hospital. I returned the favor. One year, not too long ago I had to have my tonsils removed. I took two pieces of raw chicken, put them in some solution and wrapped the container. I told them they were my tonsils.

      Only you can fully appreciate the twisted enjoyment we receive during the Holiday season. We really do live by "it is far better to give than to receive."

      Love and hugs.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Love it Beckie! We each bring one "elephant gift" to the festivities and open them randomly....great fun and it might be the highlight of the day. As for cookies and fudge...who could ever be depressed baking fudge? I have always found that when i give to others less fortunate, my problems tend to diminish. Funny how that works!

      love and respect, today and always,

      bill

    • Au fait profile image

      C E Clark 4 years ago from North Texas

      With Christmas nearly here, this is an excellent hub with great ideas for people who would like to do something different or who would like to do something for a friend or neighbor who is navigating a rough spot financially.

      Voting you up and useful! Will share.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Au fait, thank you for the comment and the share. I hope you are well and I wish you happy holidays.

    • Sherry Hewins profile image

      Sherry Hewins 4 years ago from Sierra Foothills, CA

      We do a white elephant gift exchange in my family on those years that we have a big get together. It's a fun activity, and it saves us all money and stress. Great ideas, great hub.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Sherry, I love white elephant gift exchanges. They are tons of fun as you say.

      Thank you my friend, and I hope your holiday season is a happy one.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 4 years ago

      We do buy for the kids, but my hubby and I usually do something together rather than buy presents. We also volunteer to help others during this season. I love your idea on adopting a family. I have been thinking of this and may just do it. Great ideas and already thinking about how to put them into action.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Dianna, God bless you ; you have a such a huge heart. I am proud to be your friend!

    • livewithrichard profile image

      Richard Bivins 4 years ago from Charleston, SC

      I don't have any kids but I do have a lot of nieces and nephews and I got myself into a habit of spoiling them with gifts they would tell me they wanted. I didn't know that I was putting pressure on my sisters and their husbands until a few years back when they each called me and asked me to take it down a notch. I just wanted to be a good uncle and didn't realize I was being a bad brother. I devised a plan with my sisters that I think solved my dilemma, I created a scavenger hunt that my nieces and nephews had to participate in to find their gifts. Worked out fantastic but now I have a few that are in college so getting cash works too.

    • Hyphenbird profile image

      Brenda Barnes 4 years ago from America-Broken But Still Beautiful

      Why am I not surprised to find this wonderful Hub? You have many great suggestions here, ones to help and not hurt the buyer's pocketbook. It is hard in our materialistic society to be simple and creative in gift giving, in any way really. People look at me like I am the crazy one when I tell them never have gone shopping on Black Friday and do not plan to shop for Christmas. Thank you Billy for some opportunities I had not considered.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Livewithrichard, great story about your nephews and nieces. I would have spoiled them too....wait...I did spoil mine. LOL Your heart was in the right place for sure.

      Thank you for the visit.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Hyph, you are not alone. I have never gone shopping on Black Friday and I never will. Insanity I do not need in my life.

      Thank you my friend; have a great weekend.

    • Glimmer Twin Fan profile image

      Glimmer Twin Fan 4 years ago

      I love the giving tree idea. It is so hard around this time of year. I have never heard of the money envelope idea and love it! Especially for older children. A couple of years ago my husband and I and our respective brother and sisters decided we would no longer exchange gifts. It was too expensive and it seemed that we were all trading gift cards and had lost the meaning of the season. Really useful hub!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Glimmer, thank you for mentioning gift cards. I have always thought that gift cards are incredibly aloof.....what do they say to the person receiving the gift? No thought, no effort, just here is something I picked up at the grocery store. I either give a gift with meaning or I don't give a gift.

      Thank you and I hope you have a great Sunday!

    • Donna Kay Bryan profile image

      Donna Kay Bryan 4 years ago

      Bill,

      On the contrary, I believe that gift cards can be incredibly thoughtful. My dad started buying a grocery store gift card for his younger sister about ten years ago. She is on disability and does not have a whole lot. She really appreciates having the gift card.

      For Daddy's 80th birthday he got a ton of gift cards for his favorite restaurants. Mom died six years ago and she did all of the cooking. Daddy's vision is very poor so he does not like to cook unless it is something in the microwave. He loves to eat out. Although he is unable to drive, family members take him to his favorite restaurants. Most everyone who attended his birthday party got him gift cards to all of those places ranging in everything from White Castle and Captain D's to Bob Evans and Cracker Barrel. He was thrilled! He also enjoys going to an antique mall, so my sister and I chipped in and gave him a gift card for that.

      Where I'm concerned, I love to read, but I have so many books that most people are afraid of duplicating what I have. Therefore, I have received several Barnes and Noble gift cards. It gives me a chance to browse the bookstore (one of my favorite things to do), and to choose a book that I don't have already. That, to me, is a double gift.

      Just my thoughts on it. -Donna

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      All good thoughts, Donna! Thank you and have a wonderful Sunday!

    • vox vocis profile image

      Jasmine 4 years ago

      Christmas is definitely about love and family, and friends. It's about giving love to others and helping those in need. It certainly isn't about presents. On the other hand, the alternative gifts list you've presented here is perfect because it can be used as a way to show love. Great ideas!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Vox, thank you once again. The older I get the more I realize the true meaning of Christmas, and it certainly isn't about gifts. :) I appreciate you stopping by twice today; have you written anything new? Time to go find out.

    • vox vocis profile image

      Jasmine 4 years ago

      Oh, I did for SeekSuccess. Don't worry, as soon as I write something new here, you'll see it in your email notifications. Please, don't feel obliged to read and comment back every time I leave a comment on your hub. Let it be spontaneous :) I leave certain hubs that I want to comment on in my inbox and when I have the time, I start commenting (that's why I usually comment more times in one day and not immediately after the hub is published).

      I can't wait for Christmas to come, to hug my family and friends again. Homesickness is at its peak during this period and I'm happy to be able to heal it, at least for a while, coming home for Christmas :)

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Vox, actually I'm testing my memory. Sometimes I don't get email notifications; then I have to search my memory to think whether I have seen a hub from someone in awhile. I like to support people who support me as often as possible, and you are always so good to me.

      I love the Christmas season, and all my family is close by and I'm looking forward to special times. :)

    • vox vocis profile image

      Jasmine 4 years ago

      I'm still waiting for that moment of enlightenment, remember? (lol) I read a lot and write my novel, slowly, no panic. Promise to publish here something new very soon, as that's what I promised to myself in the last hub (at least one hub per week). I don't like disappointing people, including myself :) Thanks, my dear friend! You're always good to me too :)

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      My pleasure, and I'll anxiously await your next work. Have a great week ahead!

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 4 years ago from Central Florida

      Great ideas, Bill! A fun twist on your gift exchange is what my family calls White Elephant Christmas. As each person's turn comes to choose a gift, they can either choose one still unopened, or they can walk up to a family member and take the gift right out of their hands. The one whose gift has been 'stolen' chooses again, at which point they, too can 'steal', just not from the one who just grabbed their gift. It makes for a lot of laughs, especially if the family is large.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Sha, we did that at one of the schools I taught at, and it was loads of laughs. Great suggestion my friend. Thank you as always.

      love,

      bill

    • jule729 profile image

      Julie Hementera-Agato 4 years ago

      It's something new. I like the idea of Handmade Coupon Book.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Jule, I'm glad you liked that idea; we have done it before and it is well-received and appreciated. Thank you!

    • Blond Logic profile image

      Mary Wickison 4 years ago from Brazil

      Hi Bill,

      I would like to elaborate on one of your ideas if I may. With the food basket idea. If someone always comments on a certain meal you prepare, give them the recipe (nicely handwritten on a recipe card) and a few of the 'special' ingredients. Possibly a kitchen gadget that is also used in it like a special garlic press or colourful skewers. It needn't be expensive, just thoughtful. Plus you are setting a precedent for others to follow. I think that is better than some generic present.

      As always great hub and even better food for thought.

    • ktrapp profile image

      Kristin Trapp 4 years ago from Illinois

      You've got some excellent suggestions for Christmas gift giving and I like that you've put the emphasis back on the meaning of Christmas and not the gift itself. In addition, there are some great organizations that help children and families throughout the world. One that we have participated in several times is Operation Christmas Child where we fill wrapped shoeboxes with items that a child living in poverty might need and want (i.e. toothbrushes, soap, yo-yo, crayons ...). Another organization that I have not participated in but heard of is Heifer International. Here you can "give" a goat or a cow or chickens or a well in the name of the person you are giving the gift to. The idea is that these gifts keep on giving by helping those in need with necessities and perhaps a way of making money (selling goat's milk, selling eggs....). Thanks for sharing your ideas. Voted up, useful and awesome.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Blond, I love that idea! Really, a great thought....and an idea I just might be using this year. Thank you my friend from Brazil.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Ktrapp, thank you for adding to the discussion with some great suggestions. I am all for giving meaningful gifts that keep on giving, and show truthfully that we do care greatly.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Angela, thank you for the visit.

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