Alternatives to Gift and Card Giving
There ARE Alternatives to Greeting Cards, Cakes, and Gifts
There ARE alternatives to expensive traditional holiday celebrations that are pleasant, personal, and highly memorable. This article discusses several of them.
Replace Greeting Cards
Generically phrased cards, whether generic or name-brand, now cost a fortune: $3-7 or more! Would you rather have a greeting card with a pithy phrase that will be recycled within the year?
Alternatives to the greeting card:
- Birthday cards--replace with a handwritten letter or note stating the giver's feelings.
- Christmas/Hannukah/New Year's cards--replace with a long form letter summarizing your activities throughout the year: many recipients will get greater insight into your life and appreciate it more than what you could hand-write on a commercially made card.
- Give no cards--donate the money you saved to charity instead.
- Wedding cards--replace with a check in an envelope with a hand-written letter of goodwill to the happy couple on good but plain stationery.
- Make your own greeting cards using rubber stamping techniques--keep it simple and save a fortune. It's even relaxing and fun to make your own cards!
Replace Cakes and Pies
Skip the cakes and pies for birthdays and other holidays. Instead, make cupcakes or cookies or muffins--perhaps even English muffins, donuts, bagels, or Danishes. This keeps portions small and allows guests to eat a variety of things if they wish.
Wedding cakes: There is no flat-out acceptable substitution for a traditional wedding cake. However, having a small traditional wedding cake with accompanying sheet cake(s) or cupcakes of the same batter in enough quantity to serve all guests is much more economical and practical than having one giant cake that is unwieldy to transport and assemble, and is also difficult to cut and serve.
Give Seeds or Bulbs Instead of Fresh-cut Flowers
Replacements for Flowers and Presents
Flowers and presents are probably the biggest waster of money.
- Flowers die within a pathetically short timeframe and often have packing/vase/delivery charges associated with them.
- Presents are usually not what the person would have purchased for themselves anyway (not that they are unappreciated in all cases). Additionally, presents need to be wrapped, have ribbons/bows applied, and typically a small gift giving tag attached: the wrappings alone can cost as much as--if not more than--the gift! Much wrapping paper is also wasted, and one needs to have wrapping paper on hand for many different occasions.
- If you simply must give flowers, give a potted plant (ideally a low-maintenance one) that can be enjoyed for months or years to come. A miniature rose instead of a dozen red roses, for example, or a succulent garden or terrarium instead of a traditional bouquet.
- If you must give a present, donate to a charity the amount that you were going to spend on the gift and its packaging and enclose a small, simple greeting card indicating that you have made a donation to XYZ charity on the recipient's behalf.
- Make your own gift out of "found" objects/photos that are meaningful to the person, but don't be offended if you don't see it prominently displayed in their home--it may not be to their style of decorating, but you can be assured that it is kept safe and treasured.
- Make your own cards and gift tags by rubber stamping--save a bundle, have fun, and feel relaxed at the same time.
Visit the Local Arboretum/Formal GardensClick thumbnail to view full-size
The Ultimate Solution: Activities or Outings
Rather than all of the traditional fuss, an excellent solution is to have an activity together and donate money that would have been spent on presents to charity. You'll need the cooperation of your whole guest list to pull this off, however, and some will still insist on the traditional gift and card.
- Throw a casual potluck party or barbecue.
- Visit a local museum, arboretum/public garden, or zoo together as a group or one-on-one with the person.
- Go to a community concert or sporting event (not professional--too expensive).
- Have a nice dinner at home then play board games or do a jigsaw puzzle together as a group.
- Either specify a charity to which you wish money to be donated, or ask that guests donate to their own favorite charities.
- If you have more than 10 guests, name tags are always a good idea to keep people at ease.
Take lots of pictures, spend lots of time talking, and have fun!
The gift you would have given the person would probably be something they already own, donated/re-gifted, used up, or worn out long before the memory of the outing/activity and corresponding photographs had been forgotten anyway.
Invite the Whole Family--Including Man's Best Friend!Click thumbnail to view full-size
A Trip to the Zoo is Fun for Everyone--Take Lots of Photos!Click thumbnail to view full-size
Substitutions for Traditional Gifts
Handmade rubber-stamped or drawn/painted cards
Activities: party, outing (zoo, arboretum, local theatre or sporting event, ...)
Potted plant that is easy-care.
A personal letter
Make a donation to charity in their name.
Gift card with note that a donation has been made to a charity on their behalf.
No card/letter at all
A check for the amount you would have spent on present and wrappings, with the request that the money be donated to the recipient's favorite charity.
Home-made card with personal phrasing/letter inside.
For end-of-year holidays, send a form letter with lots of details to everyone about your activities that year. Insert pictures!
Take pictures and make a photo collage or other "found objects" piece meaningful for the recipient.
Seed packets or bulbs that the person can plant or give away as they see fit. (Give them permission to give them away--they won't feel guilty about doing it then.)
What do you think?
Would you give up the "traditional" for a more memorable event-based/social gathering?
Conclusion: Activities are Quality Time Together
Having a family activity together is a great way of celebrating any occasion.
As you can see, presents and cards are not necessary to having a good time, and a charity would be delighted to receive the money you would have spent on a possibly frivolous or fleeting moment of happiness.
For Further Reading...
- How to create your own rubber stamped stationery
An illustrated guide to creating unique, one-of-a-kind stationery with rubber stamps. Give away as a gift to that special someone. Teachers will love to receive a handmade gift such as this.
- Digital (Digi) Stamped Handmade Cards
Digital art stamps for scrapbooking, card making and paper crafting.
- How to Make Your Own Rubber Stamps: Homemade Ideas for Custom, Hand Carved Stamps
Custom, hand carved rubber stamp designs are easy to make at home with cheap, readily available materials. You can create homemade stamps with erasers, corks, wooden blocks, craft foam, and much more.
- How to Create Your Own Envelopes
One of my most favorite things to do is make my own envelopes for handmade greeting cards, letters, and notes. These are easy and fun to create and they are sure to impress that special recipient. I have used all kinds of paper to make these...
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