Thinking Outside the Gift Box: Five money-saving ways to enjoy the holidays with your family!


The holidays are a time to celebrate, but what if we thought outside of the gift box and spent some love on creative ideas that didn’t break the bank? Spending more time together and less money on expensive presents help families reflect on the spirit of sharing and gratitude that makes this time of year so great. Here are some gifts to think about — not just for the kids; not necessarily for the parents; but shared by the family.


  1. Plan a family vacation: You don’t have to be out of town on the holidays to share vacation-time fun with your family. You don’t even need to spend a dime. Leave printouts, itineraries or souvenirs under the tree, shaping up a later vacation that works best for your family’s budget. This can help spread out holiday stress *and* expenses. Hammering out details and daydreaming about the possibilities can build anticipation for that future trip to Disneyland or, if money’s tight, an imaginative staycation sheds light on local, and even free, attractions nearby.


  1. Turn up the sentiment, turn up the joy: Something made with care, shared with love and received with grace reflects the spirit of giving that uplifts families all year ‘round. Handmade gifts, coupon books, cards, arts, crafts, schoolmade, churchmade, even … when someone manages to plan that far ahead … long-term projects are fair game. The time spent creating such gifts — and creativity working on them together — mean giving them (or receiving them) will be all the more memorable. Worst case, there’s a new hideous holiday keepsake to hide (and a family joke that lasts a lifetime).


  1. Share an event: Tickets for an upcoming show can be bought beforehand to share and enjoy during the holidays, or offered as a gift to enjoy after the season is through. Probably more than one community you’re a part of puts on a free event you can enjoy or even help with. Make the most of it as a family by taking part.


  1. Back to school: This might get groans but hear us out: Send the family to class. Even if the financial situation of your family forbids something like sports lessons over a few weeks, or music lessons, you can check out local libraries, hobby groups, community centers or your community college. Individual lessons build skills in potentially lifelong passions, and lessons together as a family provide a lifetime of memories.


  1. Family service projects: Everything from high school fundraisers to volunteer efforts in the church and community, there is no shortage of chances to get the family together to make the world a better place. Community service is about enriching the place where you live and work to strengthen relationships with friends and neighbors. At Childhelp we’ve seen how bonding for a common cause, like helping children in need, can remind everyone how lucky they are and how important it is to pay that good fortune forward.


It doesn’t have to be expensive. It doesn’t have to be big. In fact, it’s often best if it isn’t a thing at all. A gift for the whole family keeps the focus on the spirit of giving and the spirit of sharing. Some assembly required, batteries not included but comfort and joy guaranteed.