5 Alternatives to Traditional Christmas Gift Giving Exchanges (last-minute gift ideas)

Amanda Clark-Rudolph

On the prowl for last-minute Christmas gifts? Give one of these five alternatives to traditional gift giving a gander!


Photo by Jonathan Borba on Pexels

Need some last-minute, okay, VERY last-minute Christmas gift ideas? Seeking something more meaningful than another pair of socks or children's toys?

No need to sweat under the mistletoe. We've got you covered with these five alternatives to traditional Christmas gift giving exchanges that work for last-minute gift ideas as well.

Good luck!

1. Chip in for a goat

What if a few bucks from each of your family members could impact others in need? That's the motive for families chipping in to buy goats through charitable programs.

No kidding around here - goats are valuable commodities in many countries; they provide milk and cheese that people can drink, eat or trade for other food.

Many organizations such as Oxfam, host goat giving programs that start around $50.

One recipient and mom of three shared that her goat provides milk for her kids, and she's now able to breed more goats, then sell them for household items.

So why not change things up this holiday season with this life-changing deed? A goat is a great alternative to a Christmas gift exchange.

2. Go used as an alternative to traditional gift giving

Searching for last-minute Christmas gift ideas that also cut down waste? Consider hosting a "go used" Christmas gift exchange. The concept is simple: Gifts can't be brand new.

There's no need to dumpster dive; start with scouring thrift stores or even your garage.

You could even regift one of those double gifted headphones that you received last year. (Aunt Agnes will love 'em!)

Take it a step further by giving unwrapped gifts.


According to the National Environment Education Foundation (NEEF), around 38,000 miles of ribbon and $11 billion dollars worth of Christmas packing material gets thrown out each year.

So, what are you waiting for? Plan your no wrap, regifting extravaganza today!

3. Get crafty for your Christmas gift exchange

We've all heard the phrase, "It's the thought that counts." Turns out, a lot of thought goes into handmade gifts.

So why not head to the craft store and gather supplies to make something? Options include painting wooden ornaments, designing wreaths, and decking out candle holders.

Your homemade present will stick out amid a sea of plastic. Plus, crafts make solid last-minute Christmas gift ideas because you can always glue up a storm.

4. Gift your time for a Christmas gift spin

There's nothing more valuable than your time, so why not use that to your advantage? One last-minute Christmas gift idea is making Christmas-themed coupons that offer services. Examples include cleaning your recipient's house for an hour, cooking a meal, or playing chauffeur for a day.

This alternative to traditional Christmas gift giving will make you more popular than Santa.

5. Travel (and skip the traditional Christmas gifts)

Want to escape the chaos of the holidays? Consider forgoing the gifts and spending your money on a future trip.

Traveling is looking up for 2021, so why not forgo the gift and plan a 2021 family trip to destress in the sun?

Surprisingly, the getaway might even run cheaper than a traditional Christmas - since the average American is expected to spend just shy of $1,000 this holiday season.

Wrapping up

Christmas 2020 could be your year to try something new.

Consider alternatives to traditional gift-giving exchanges and give these last-minute gift ideas a shot.

Who knows? You might find yourself with a whole new tradition that sticks around for generations.

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Hi, I'm Amanda - a freelancing mama who writes about family, travel, holidays, and more! In addition to freelancing it up, I'm a Content Coordinator for neighborhood magazines. My favorite pastimes: Writing, slurping lattes, and playing freeze tag with my two sons.

Ocala, FL

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