2. Skip the tree. Unless you live near an affordable, cut-your-own tree farm, many urban Christmas tree lots start at $40, and that’s without the tree stand, skirt, and decorations. Instead find some tree debris at the local tree lot (often they will sell you trimmings for cheap, or you can scoot over before closing and offer to help them clean up that stuff on the ground) and take it home for a seasonal scent. Spread it around your flat-screen TV, on that brown paper table runner, and tie it to your gifts. It smells good. It feels like the holidays.
If you MUST have a tree, get a little guy. Or a wreath. Just please don’t go fake. Please. It’s like riding one of those electric bulls in a bar. Why would you do that?
Look at this cute tiny tree kit! No watering required.
3. For holiday gifts, go the handmade or recycled vintage route—if not by you, then by someone else who’s actually trying to make an honest living with their hands. Search Pinterest, Etsy, and eBay. Your local holiday bazaar or flea market is teeming with affordable finds.
You can even make your own candles! They’re easy. Just be careful. Hot wax only belongs in certain places.
4. Adopt an endangered animal. No, a giant manatee does not have to live in your bathtub. But you can choose the wild animal that means the most to your loved one, and the gift comes with an adoption certificate and cute little kit. Wolf adoptions start at just $15 (my personal favorite cause, and one not well represented on the final season of Eastbound & Down); there are also other worthy adoptions such as sea turtles, penguins, arctic foxes, and prairie dogs (!).
5. Skip the old-fashioned holiday cards. Now before you go calling me a Grinch (I’m Cindy Lou, remember?), I just want to bring up a few points: We’re short on time AND money. Stamps cost money, and going to the USPS during December could make Clint Eastwood cry. Try getting cute, chic e-cards and holiday party invites from Paperless Post or someecards.com (the gift of laughter, all hail the chief). You can control your message AND your medium for a fraction of the cost and heartache. Plus, you don’t have to imagine all your hard work going into someone’s trash bin at the end of the month.
6. Even the best intentions can be undermined by regifting. A thoughtful item that truly means something to your loved one is key. A pass to your BFF’s favorite yoga class can be had for less than a bottle of good wine, and she’ll remember it long after the corpse pose.
From Social Q’s author Philip Galanes:
Make Your Gift an Experience
Two tickets to Lady Gaga or the New York Rangers. A passel of movie passes or pre-paid restaurant certificates. A series of tennis lessons or yoga classes or cooking seminars. These are the gifts my readers love. (And I do, too, in case you were wondering.)
They don’t take up any space. They enrich our lives. And they’re 30 times more fun than yet-another cable-knit sweater. Plus, if you play your cards right, those second tickets may have your name written all over them—not that you should expect them to.)