You know that moment in the grocery store or on the radio when you hear your first holiday song of the season…barely after Halloween? It’s here.
The holiday season is upon us. I won’t go into the marketing and psychology behind retailer sales this time of year, but I will ask you to consider this…are we buying just to buy? Does that $20 cinnamon-scented candle you picked up while weaving through a long check-out line really scream, “This is so Jenn,” or are you checking a box to simply find her something? (Sorry, Jenn, no cinnamon candle for you this year!)
Don’t get me wrong, who doesn’t love to give and receive gifts? Even my dogs love to unwrap (ok, tear up) wrapping paper and uncover their special treat inside. I truly enjoy searching for the perfect present for my loved ones, don’t you?
According to the National Retail Federation (NRF), Americans will spend nearly $30 billion this holiday season. Based on their annual consumer spending survey, the average we spend per person is somewhere between $920 and $1,050, up 4% from 2018.*
Sorry to hit you with the numbers, but it’s worth considering, isn’t it? Here’s what I ask of you, while you really may find that perfect gift for someone on your shopping list, what if instead of only buying material items this year, you took a different approach?
Here are a few meaningful, alternative gift giving ideas:
- Donate to a local charitable organization.
You can donate time, money, or services in the names of your family and friends, or alongside them. While many of us have everything we need this holiday season, there are countless others (2-legged and 4-legged) that are in need of food, shelter, and other necessities. Find an organization that is near and dear to your heart.
Bonus points: Incorporating the kids into this kind of gifting could be an excellent learning experience and an opportunity to teach them the importance of helping others.
- Create an experience.
You’ve heard the saying, “Memories made together last a lifetime.” Why not give the gift of an experience? This could be anything: taking a special trip, being a tourist of your own city, getting crafty and designing tacky holiday sweaters, going to a concert or sporting event, becoming a member of a club, gym, YMCA, zoo, or museum. Get creative and make the most of your moments together!
- Invest in the people you care for most.
Give toward improving someone’s future. Whether it’s for a college education (in fact, a 529 plan could also be a way to reduce taxable income), a car, a wedding, or other future funds, you can make an impact today for their tomorrows.
*Questions on this topic? Lucky for you, we’ve got some knowledgeable advisors who can help walk you through the best strategy to gift in this way. Reach out to us with questions.
Whether you approach it from a place of cutting back spending and consumerism or are simply looking for meaningful alternatives to traditional gift giving, I hope you find these ideas useful.
If you have other ideas, please share! We can all think outside the box to be the best gift-givers yet.
Wishing you a happy holiday season and a Happy New Year!