Already dreading the Christmas pressie buying? Here’s an article from a colleague in the states where of course its the Thanksgiving hols.

When your wallet may be feeling empty, and the thought of spending more money on presents for family members becomes tricky. The following list includes some budget-friendly holiday ideas that will help you stretch your money even further while still having gatherings with loved ones.

1. Quality, not quantity

Rather than overload your loved ones with presents, try giving gifts that are more meaningful or practical. A special and appreciated gift is always better than an item that sits under the tree unwrapped. If you want to get such a gift without breaking the bank, you can opt to personalize your gifts and make them more relatable and useful.

For example, you can get your family picture on canvas in place of a frame. It would also be great if you write a letter or tell the story behind that picture on a card and send it alongside the picture as a gift to your family. These are all great ways to save money without sacrificing quality.  Some of the most memorable gifts are the ones where friends or family members have made it personal.

2. Have a potluck holiday party

Instead of spending money on extravagant meals for your family and friends, host a potluck Thanksgiving or Christmas party instead. It is an excellent way to spread the cost among the attendees while serving tastier dishes than having one person prepare them all. You can invite family members who live far away or plan some time before the holiday for all your guests to meet. It is also the perfect occasion to show your appreciation for them by making them feel like part of the family, rather than just recipients of food they may not appreciate.  Its also a great way to be inspired by new recipes.

Of course, potlucks are great for casual get-togethers, so you don’t have to wait for holidays to host one. The best part of potlucks is that you can have splendid company, food, and fun without spending too much money. All you need are good friends, delicious food, and a good time to make the most out of your budget.

3. Meal-planning

Planning meals at home is one of the best ways to save money on the holidays. Keep in mind that having a meal plan may help keep you from eating takeout all the time, especially if you are cooking for others as well. Meal planning is very simple once you know what you would like to cook for your family members. If you want to try something new, this is also a great time to do so. After all, the holidays are the best time of year to experiment with different recipes.

(There is a great Clean Eating Guide in The Sober Club full of healthy nutrient dense recipes)

4. Give handwritten cards instead of store-bought ones

Nothing shows more love than a handwritten card, which the person receiving it will cherish for years to come. Handwritten cards are also free, which is reason enough for you to give them out even if you are running a tight budget. You can also choose to include photos or graphics on your other cards, making them more relatable and fun to read.

You can even ask other family members to help you write the cards so that everyone will have one to spread the love. It is an excellent way of spreading holiday cheer among your loved ones.   Don’t forget too, you can wrap gifts in ‘home made’ wrapping, use newspaper or hessian style fabric and tie with a bright ribbon or some rafia. (much kinder to the planet!)

5. Use a coupon for a replacement

If you have a significant other who forgets their anniversary, you could consider replacing an item from their wish list with a year-end coupon you have saved from your newspaper or magazine. Coupons are great for saving you money, especially for items that will make others happy. You can use them to replace old or worn-out gifts or even give them to someone who has helped you the most throughout the year.

Give coupons for almost anything, whether it’s a cake baking class, a manicure session, or tickets to an event that is sure to be memorable. You can also of course give a ‘voucher’ for your time, giving new parents the gift of a voucher for a nights babysitting will be most appreciated!

The tips mentioned above will help you save money on the holidays without sacrificing quality. You can also be more creative by checking out thrift stores, the internet, and garage sales for family member presents. Giving more meaningful gifts can make your loved ones feel special, and spending time with them is the best way to make them appreciate everything you offer. When it comes to celebrating the holidays with family members, sometimes getting less is more.