Five alternatives to buying gifts for the holidays

It can be hard to think of gift ideas during the holiday season when there are so many people to buy for.

However, there are more meaningful options to traditional holiday gift-giving. The best gifts often can’t be purchased at the store. Whether it’s a fun shared experience, giving back to the community or the gift of your time, there are alternatives to traditional gift-giving for everyone these holidays.

Here are five gift alternatives to get you started and help express your love and gratitude this holiday season.

1.     The gift of giving your time

With people being busy these days, giving your time might be the best gift of all. Offering someone a helping hand doesn’t require money, but it also shows that you are there to help when they need you.

For friends and family that live within driving distance, you could ask them what they could use help with. It could be helping clean up around the house, finishing a small renovation project or giving someone some much-needed company. It could also be teaching someone a new skill or helping a friend when sick.

You could make your gift of time official by creating a homemade gift certificate that they can redeem whenever they need your time.

2.     The gift of donating on someone’s behalf

With the struggling economy and people still feeling the global pandemic’s effects, you could donate to a great cause in someone else’s name instead of buying gifts.

Choose a charity that matches their beliefs and interests to make it more sentimental and personal.

It may not sound as fun as opening presents, but donating is much more thoughtful and one of the most selfless things you can do. Plus, your money will go into the hands of someone who needs it this holiday season.

3.     The gift of creativity

Get creative with gift-giving amongst your family and friends this holiday season by organizing a Secret Santa gift exchange.

Secret Santa is a fun alternative to traditional gift-giving by getting everyone to draw a name from a hat or an online generator and having each participant give someone a gift anonymously.

This is a great way to get to know people a little more and for all participants to creatively think of a gift that the other person will cherish. You can make it a little more challenging and fun by preselecting a price everybody must pay.

Another great thing about Secret Santa is that you can do it in-person or remotely, and it’s excellent in a friend, family or workplace setting.

4.     The gift of shared experiences

Gifts don’t always need to be physical objects that you have to purchase in a store or online. They can also be shared experiences that will create lasting memories.

A shared experience doesn’t have to be an all-expenses-paid group trip down south. It can be as simple as exploring a provincial park, taking part in a cooking class, seeing a hockey game together or just being a tourist in your city for a day.

The gift of shared experiences is an excellent way to give someone you care about an enjoyable experience that will fit anyone’s budget.

5.     The gift of giving back to the community

Instead of buying a gift for someone this year, you can organize your friends and family to volunteer to give back to those in need. Doing so is priceless; it’s a great way to bond and make a real difference.

There are many ways to give back to your community; any way you give back will positively impact your community. You could organize a time to volunteer at a soup kitchen as a group, donate all your unused clothes or unwanted food, or go around the neighbourhood carolling.


While giving and receiving gifts is always lovely, being surrounded by people who love and care for you is even better.

Consider how you can create an even more significant impact this year and grow closer to those you care about by giving them something of sentimental value instead of traditional gift-giving.

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