Budget Friendly Idea# 1:

Some of us are watching our money more closely this Christmas, determined to enjoy the holidays on a tight budget as we ride through this recession.

One idea my family implemented this year (and last year) is the Family Secret Gift Swap.  This method of gift exchange is certainly not a new thing for some of us, as we have participated in Secret Santas at work, school or other large group settings. But using it at home does promise that everyone in the family will recieve a gift while allowing us to not break the bank trying to shop for each member. 

You can exempt the children in the family, meaning that that they will get the “normal” amount of gifts from grandparents, aunties, etc. But everyone else (1) picks a name from the pool (we also  included our neighbors who will be with us Christmas day and relatives who will be visiting from out of town), (2) agrees to buy one gift at a certain amount  (for example: $25) and (3) swaps on Christmas. Just like with Secret Santas at work, it is fun to find out who in your family had your name and what they got you.


  • Less stressful on your wallet.
  • Less stress on your time as you don’t have to do as much shopping.
  • Less mental stress as you only have to agonize over one gift.
  • Adds an extra level of game-like fun to the holidays.
  • One gift per person places more emphasis on what we’re doing together rather than on who didn’t get me something.
  • Everybody gets the same value in gift so there is no (or lesser) competition and present-envy.


  • Unfortunately, unemployment and other recession-related problems  have affected some of our loved ones’ abilty to participate in the gift exchange, no matter how low you set the price. Just say “okay,” be understanding of their situtation and don’t hassle them to participate. If you want, one way to include them: have other family members (if agreed) to pitch in a dollar or so each, so that you can still provide a gift for non-participants. Something small like a gift card, etc.
  • You might have a family member who does not want to participate just because they simply do not want to do so. Period. Don’t stress yourself out trying to include them. Do not stress yourself out about still giving them a gift unless you really want to do so.

Overall Goal: 

  • Remember Christmas is supposed to be fun, joyful, centered around family togetherness and celebrating what is most important to us.
  • It is NOT supposed to be about stress, financially or emotionally, so try to cut out all unneccessary drama.

Coming next week: To Gift Card or Not to Gift Card, Practical Christmas Gift Ideas and, other Budget Friendly Christmas Ideas.