Thinking Outside the [Gift] Box

It's only the first week of November and online retailers are already beginning to rollout their Black Friday deals. Last Christmas, my immediate family decided we weren't going to exchange gifts. I'd just graduated from graduate school and moved back home, my middle sister had just had a baby a few months before and my youngest sister was working at a nonprofit making very little money. 

Photo by Kari Shea on Unsplash

Photo by Kari Shea on Unsplash

We were all stressing about how to find that magical sweet spot of gift giving: the low cost gift that still somehow conveyed all the love we felt for each other. I didn't want to go into debt on gifts, but I also didn't want to buy something cheap I didn't think anyone would be thrilled to receive.

Finally, I timidly floated the idea that we could all just focus on enjoying spending time together instead of gifts. With much relief, everyone else agreed (Well, we made exceptions for buying stuff for the baby because who do you resist buying things for a baby?!).

While I did experience some minor embarrassment any time someone asked me what I got for Christmas or a friend tried to commiserate about battling the crowds at the mall and I couldn't chime in, overall, not fretting about my finances made for a happier holiday season. And no one in my family felt any less loved.

I know a budget holiday season was a lot easier with my family because we're all grown ups, but if you're in a similar situation or are just interested in doing things a little different this year, I've got some suggestions that might help. 

Handmade Gifts from the Heart

Photo by Giulia Bertelli on Unsplash

Does the "Y" in "DIY" make you nervous? If you need more than a how-to blog post or a Youtube video to make your family the handmade gifts of your dreams, Level Up has several classes coming up over the next few weeks that can give you a helping hand with handmade gifts:

  • Create Your Own Jewelry
  • Modern Embroidery Hand Ornaments
  • Floral Watercolor Christmas Gift Tags
  • Weaving Basics
  • And more!

Check out our complete list of Lexington and Louisville classes.

Give the Gift of Experience

Photo by Jake Hinds on Unsplash

Photo by Jake Hinds on Unsplash

Not that into electronics? Why not spend your holiday gift giving budget on a family experience instead?

  • A family trip – This could be anything from a cruise, a weekend at a cabin or even something small like a day out at Huber's together.
  • Family memberships or season tickets will give your family a reason to get together several times through the year for every new exhibit or opening night.
  • Get nostalgic. There's so many throwback tours happening right now, why not round up the kids and take them to see their favorite performer from childhood? 

Spend Local Challenge 


Instead of rushing out to Best Buy, lining up at Target or filling up your virtual Amazon cart, why not agree as a family to support local businesses and artisan this season?  Not only do many of your favorite Level Up teachers have Etsy shops or sell their crafts locally, there are also a number of amazing boutiques and fairs you can support. It's a great opportunity to not only support your community, but also uncover some local, hidden gems.