Holiday Santa Claus posing on dark stage.

Gift Exchanges for a Santa on a Budget

The holidays may be fast approaching, but that doesn’t mean your paychecks are coming in just as quickly or more frequently.

‘Tis the season of good tidings, but all that gift-giving can sap the good cheer from our wallets. For all of you Santas on a budget, here are four gift exchange ideas that’ll keep your change jingling merrily in your pockets.

White Elephant

White Elephant is a game in which a group of people bring one wrapped gift per person and contribute to a collective pool. Because you’re only required to purchase one present, it’s much easier to stick to your budget. Plus, most groups decide on a budget beforehand, so the gifts are equal in value.

Once everyone is ready, the participants draw numbers to determine who gets to pick from the present pile first. After someone selects and opens a present, the following players choose whether or not they’d like to take from the pool or steal a gift someone previously picked. However, a single present can only be stolen once every turn, and after three steals, the round comes to an end. The first player has a chance at revenge and gets to swap a present once everyone has had a turn.

Secret Santa

Deciding to participate in a Secret Santa instead of buying multiple gifts for multiple people is a great way to stick to your budget.

First, the group determines what the budget should be for their gifts. Then, the group writes their names down on slips of paper before they’re drawn anonymously from a hat. Whoever’s name you pick will be your gift recipient, and you will be their “Secret Santa.” Once the day comes around to exchange presents, you’ll give the gift to your person. Or, if you want to remain anonymous, one person can gather the gifts and distribute them to their recipients.

Grab Bag

A grab bag is another game in which you only purchase one gift. However, unlike White Elephants or Secret Santas, you will not be assigned a recipient.

Instead, everyone will purchase a gift and drop it in a bag. Then, one by one, participants will reach into the bag and pick their present blindly. Swapping is acceptable!

Give to Charity

Sometimes commercialism eclipses the generous spirit of the holidays. If you’re feeling disillusioned by the consumerist nature of this time of year, consider donating money to your favorite charity in lieu of traditional gift-giving. Better yet, donate in your family’s or friends’ name to reinforce what the holidays are all about: coming together to celebrate goodwill.

No matter how jolly the holidays are, it’s difficult to be as generous as St. Nick when you’re tight on money. And if you’ve pinched a lot of pennies to grow your savings account, you won’t want to part with that balance. Instead of resorting to Scrooge-like behavior, there are great, budget-friendly gift exchange alternatives that leave a spot for giving during the holidays.

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