For as fun as holiday gift giving can be, it's also expensive. While your heart may be set on showering all your friends and family with lots of cool presents this year, your budget might not be feeling so generous. Lucky for you, a low bank account doesn't have to leave you empty-handed. With a little time and creativity, you'll find there are tons of affordable gift ideas out there; ones that require more effort than funds. And during a season that's really about celebrating family and loved ones, it pays to put some real thought into your presents. So read ahead for nine ways to be more economical this holiday.
1. Suggest a gift exchange
Instead of buying individual gifts for every one of your friends and family members this year, try something Secret-Santa-style and assign each person a single person to buy for.
2. Curb your list of giftees
Put together your shortlist of gift "musts"—i.e. relatives under 12, best friends, and/or close colleagues—and stick with it. Suggest that your family, friends and coworkers do the same and you can scale back even more on all your gifting responsibilities.
3. Shop the sales
Scour the clearance sections at your favorite stores and stock up on heavily discounted items that you know your friends would love. You'll still look like you went all-out, but you only you will know you didn't break your budget.
4. Bake something
Whether it's iced sugar cookies or your famous four-cheese lasagna, the most resourceful way to a loved one's heart is definitely through their stomach. No matter how broke you may be, you can always bake a batch of brownies and just put a pretty bow on top.
5. Go handmade
If all else fails, you can always count on the DIY community for some stellar gift-giving inspo. Spend some time researching hip but inexpensive handmade presents to buy on sites like Etsy, or even better, hit up Pinterest and make your own.
6. Try second-hand
Sift through thrift stores, garage sales and online markets like Ebay and Craigslist for one-of-a finds that won't mess with your funds. Retro finds like vintage magazines and custom jewelry can be super charming and affordable.
Remember: One bad present from a co-worker could still be another man's treasure. So re-wrap that box of mint chocolates you're sitting on and get to gifting!
8. Donate your time
Find out what personal projects your friends or siblings are working on around their home and simply offer up your assistance. Better yet, come up with a collaborative present—like a scrapbook or photo album—that you can commit to completing together.
9. Give memories
A good memory is one of the greatest gifts you can ever give someone. Instead of buying presents this year, try sending cards to each of your loved ones with your favorite memory of them handwritten inside. Not only is it guaranteed to warm their hearts, it's something they'll treasure for years to come.