• Advice

Christmas savings with Secret Santa and creative gift schemes

Save money at Christmas with Secret Santa and other creative gift-giving ideas

The news media loves to highlight the thousands of unwanted gifts that suddenly appear on Trademe on Boxing Day. While it’s certainly better to ‘regift’ and pass these on than to send them to landfill, it nonetheless exposes real problems of pressure and expectations around gift-giving at Christmas time.

It can be very difficult to change family traditions, especially Christmas traditions that may have been passed down to you by your parents, who learned them from their parents, and might even stretch back several generations. We often carry a sense of obligation to continue traditions that are wrapped up with this happy time of family coming together and celebrating, and guilt if we start to consider changing or abandoning them.

Gift-giving traditions is one major part of Christmas time, but in recent years many families have found the relief of financial pressure by getting creative with the way they exchange gifts. The classic kiwi Christmas usually involved every person getting an individual gift for every other person, including the extended family! There are many alternatives to this tradition that are still inclusive (everyone gets a good gift) and fun (which surely is the most important part of all).

Secret Santa

Secret Santa is a method of giving gifts whereby everyone’s names go into a ‘hat’ and each person draws one name – this person is the only person you need to buy a gift for. Workplaces popularised Secret Santa, but it is beginning to be used more and more in family settings. Spending limits can be placed on each gift to make sure there isn’t the embarrassment of wildly different present values, and also to take off the financial pressure for everyone.

There is an optional add-on for this arrangement called ‘Santa’s Little Helpers’ when the gift givers are allowed to ask those close to the recipient for ideas about the sort of gift they’d like, provided that strict secrecy is maintained by all!

Gift Theme

A good way to stick to a Christmas budget is to decide a theme or a rule to help keep costs down, such as: it must be homemade, it must be a local business gift voucher, it must be for the kitchen, it must be something participants already own, etc.

Christmas Vouchers for Chores or Tasks

An even more cost-effective version of Secret Santa is to use the same method of drawing names and matching givers with receivers, but with the twist that regular gifts aren’t exchanged, rather, fun act-of-service vouchers are given instead. For example, a voucher for a free car wash and wax, wood chopping and stacking, fence painting, or weeding the garden. The possibilities are endless with the only limit being one’s imagination. The task can be organised before the need is known, or it can be done where the giver consults afterwards with the recipient about specific needs.

2-Dollar Goofy Gift

This is a fun Secret Santa alternative where the objective is to find the goofiest gift for $2. After the names are drawn in the usual Secret Santa way and people know who they are buying for, they can also customise the silly present specifically for that person. This is a great money-saver that takes away that creates a lot of fun and removes the usual ‘will he/she like it’ anxiety from the day.

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