Six Frugal Family Gift Exchange Ideas

gift exchange

I used to love Christmas shopping. I truly enjoyed searching for just the perfect gift for each person on my list – something that fit each one’s personality and interests, something that no one else would buy, and yet something still within my budget. But as the years wear on and the people on my list stay the same, I run out of ideas. The roll of bubble wrap for my mom (who loves to pop the bubbles) was creative and well received once, but it doesn’t work year after year. Add to this challenge the fact that most of my family members already own everything they want, and Christmas shopping becomes a chore rather than a pleasure.

The rest of my family was tired of Chr


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6 Responses to Six Frugal Family Gift Exchange Ideas

  1. Daphne says:

    We have yet to convince the members of my family to try to pull names. It would be helpful. But having a budget also helps. There aren’t a lot of people to buy for. Some recipients like useful things, some like fun things. Either way I stick to my spending plan and everything works out.

    Plus I save money for Christmas during the year so it’s not a drain on the finances all at one time.

  2. The Frugal Guy says:

    Daphne, I also save money throughout the year just for christmas presents and stick to my budget. We sometimes do a gift exchange, we put gifts on a table in a room and then pull names out of a hat and they get to choose which gift they would like and open it up. Its makes it interesting and there is usually some exchanging going on. Some people also bring gifts for specific people.

  3. Meri says:

    We pick names in my family, but what do you do with the people who don’t spend up to the limit. I have gotten $50 gifts when I have given $120. It feels very unfair especially when the cheapos have your name year after year. Our limit is supposedly $100. For the kids our limit is 50-75. I have a generous gift that fit the person for $120- that was my choice to go over the limit, but my child got something for $30. I’m sick of it and want to quit it.

  4. kerry says:

    My issue with drawing names and limits, in whatever combination is that it doesn’t really do anything to alleviate the stress about the financial side of the holidays (witness Meri, for example). For this reason, I much prefer the homemade gift challenge. My family has gone with the name drawing/limit thing this year, and it’s such a pain because the focus is still on the money, which is not (IMHO) what it’s supposed to be about… back to charitable donations in their names for me next year. At least that money makes a difference somewhere :)

    I love the white elephant exchange idea, although I’d be terrified to do it with my extended family. Pickle-me-Elmo would be on the plus side around here! We do it through work though, where it’s just silly and fun, and it’s very successful. You learn some interesting things about people by what they bring to exchanges like that!

    Nice article, Shannon! Happy Christmas.

  5. Kathy says:

    For several years our family has done a White Rhino gift exchange. Why Rhino? We liked the concept of White Elephant, but not crumby gifts. So we changed it to Rhino and required NICE gifts. The upper limit has changed many times but the lower limit has always been $0. Some of our best gifts have been homemade or family heirlooms. We eventually had to switch back to drawing names however, due to several family members moving out of state and therefore would receive no gifts because they could not be present. A drawback to this type of exchange.

  6. DeAnne says:

    My own family has drawn names for years and set a dollar limit and it works very well for us. We have 6 adult kids in our family, but only 2 of us are married and with children and that only is 5 kids total. And we are a pretty close family. The dollar limit changes from year to year depending on what people can afford and sometimes has been as low as $10/person but never more than $25/person. We also include mom and dad. Everyone in our family pretty much only ends up receiving 2 gifts/person for Christmas except for my sister’s kids and my son that get Santa stuff. And they only get 1 or 2 things from Santa and 1 or 2 things from us. So Christmas has always been a pretty simple affair for us. We really focus more on spending time together doing things like playing games together and enjoying being together. I have always really loved it.
    Unfortunately, on my husband’s side of the family it is the complete opposite. They only seem to care about getting as much stuff as possible. It is so stressful and chaotic. I tried bringing it up as a concern this year after being completely irritated and overwhelmed for 11 years, wondering if anyone else might feel the same way. I was shot down. They all think I’m an idiot! We see things so differently. I wish so bad they could simplify things a little and just focus on spending some quality time together. I hate hating Christmas. It’s not the way I want my son to experience Christmas. But I don’t want to cut off family either. It’s very sad to me.

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