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Alternatives to Tangible Gifts this Holiday Season

Limit Traditional Purchases by Substituting these Meaningful Gift Ideas Instead

Alternatives to Tangible Gifts this Holiday Season

The holiday season evokes certain traditions, and for many of us that includes getting together with friends and family to give and receive gifts. Whether you tend to purchase thoughtful, carefully planned gifts or you’re a last-minute shopper, most of us enjoy this tradition. Still, when you truly consider tangible gifts, they rarely bring lasting happiness.

This year, rather than traditional store-bought gifts, cash or gift cards, why not consider alternative gifts for your family and friends? It’s a tradition that’s catching on, with many families choosing to eschew tangible gifts in favor of more meaningful alternatives.

Meaningful Alternative Gift Ideas

Alternative gifts can take many forms, but here you’ll find six suggestions to get you started.

1. Check a Box on Your Loved One’s To-Do List

Most people are busy around the clock these days, with only their most pressing to-do list items getting attention in any given day, week or month. Consider asking people what they need help with, then either complete the chore for them or join together to help them accomplish it. It could be something as simple as yard work or making homemade dinner on a particularly busy day, or it could be something more elaborate. If you involve children in the process, you also get the opportunity to instill in them the value of helping family and friends.

2. Organize a Group Gift

You may not have the financial bandwidth to make a family member’s biggest wishes come true but pooling your resources with others might make it more feasible. For example, if your loved one longs to take a trip overseas but can’t afford the plane ticket, each person participating in the group gift could buy airline gift cards in smaller increments. Taken together, this could amount to a significant contribution toward a plane ticket to a dream destination.

3. Give the Gift of Education

Many families in the US struggle with planning for college expenses. Contributions towards a child’s college savings make the perfect gift for holidays, birthdays, baby showers and many other important milestones and special occasions. Education is a gift that truly lasts a lifetime! If you know they have set up College Savings 529 plans for their children, you can contribute to their accounts by using a link with a gift code or asking for the instructions to write a check. For example, I have a 529 plan account for my daughter with Utah’s 529 plan and this newsletter provides the gift program step-by-step:
https://my529.org/newsletter-april-2019/gifting-outside-the-box/Make a Charitable

4. Donation of Time or Money

Is your loved one passionate about a particular cause or non-profit organization? If so, consider making a charitable donation in their name to help support work that you know is meaningful to them. If they frequently volunteer their time – or have been wanting to – why not join them for a few hours in support of a charity in need?

5. Gift a Membership

There are a multitude of options when it comes to a membership gift, including those for adults, children, and whole families. You could gift a gym or museum membership, a family membership to a zoo or science center, or anywhere else your loved ones frequent. Membership gifts are also a great way to provide someone with an experience they wouldn’t necessarily purchase for themselves.

6. Opt for a Service-Based Gift

Do you have an elderly family member who could benefit from yard service, or a busy young couple with no extra funds to hire a babysitter? Consider hiring someone for them! How about giving a certificate of home cleaning service that will make their home sparkle? You could also provide a service yourself. For instance, you could use your skills in the kitchen to offer cooking lessons to a younger family member or run errands for someone who doesn’t drive.

Paying for Alternative Gifts

Some of the ideas discussed above could strain your resources, in which case you should simply opt for something else. After all, gift-giving should never break your budget. However, you could also consider funding alternative gifts through alternative financial means. For instance, cut down on the clutter in your home and simultaneously earn some cash by selling items you no longer need on Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, eBay or a local Buy/Sell/Trade site. Use the proceeds to fund an alternative gift or two.

The holidays are a time for meaningful connection with the people we love, and experiences and memories provide more lasting ways to connect than do tangible gifts. So, when you write up your holiday gift list this year, consider how you might provide a more lasting impact through an alternative gift.

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