This Holiday Season: Give Experience Gifts
Written by Annastasia Liu

Thursday, November 21st, 2019

When it comes to holiday gift shopping, things can get pretty out of control in my household. Overspending on gifts, misplacing gifts and gift cards, desperate last-minute trips to the mall — it seems to happen every year!

How to Control Overspending with Experience Gifts this Holiday Season

As an alternative to buying "stuff" as gifts for each of our friends, my husband and I have opted towards giving or participating in "experiences" instead. Not only has this strategy helped relieve unnecessary stress around the holidays, but it also helps us avoid overspending on gifts.

Holiday Fun for the Guys: Offer a Night Out

Last year, my husband invited some of his friends out for dinner and arcade games as his gift to them. He set aside the money he would've put towards their individual gifts (approximately $30 a person x 5 = $150) and covered the expenses for the night. He found a deal at the venue they went to and spent around $140 — a little bit under budget!

He knew he wanted to do something similar this year, so he's been setting aside small amounts of money from each paycheque to cover the outing instead of paying for everything with a credit card.


  1. Start saving in advance and shop around early. Different venues can get booked up around the holidays, so figure out what you'd like to do and book ahead of time.
  2. Take advantage of Groupons and local deals. If there's a particular venue you have your eye on, don't be afraid to ask for a special discounted group rate if you're planning to bring a lot of friends. Or ask about free perks, like an extra round of games or longer playing time.

Girls Getaway to Replace Gifts

With my group of girlfriends, we've also decided to skip swapping gifts and put the funds we would've used (approximately $40-60 a person x 5 = $200-300) towards a girls' weekend getaway early next year. It gives us something to look forward to after the holiday season and it's a great way to reconnect.


  1. If you start planning early enough, setting up an automatic savings plan to transfer funds regularly into a savings account can help you save the funds you'll need quickly and hassle-free. Some folks may find it beneficial to set up a joint account or designate one friend who is good with budgets and keeping track of finances to be in charge of the funds.
  2. Don't feel like you're stuck doing a trip just during the holiday season, either. Booking after the peak holiday period can save you quite a bit on travel expenses. For example, one of the places we've considered going to is New York City. I did some research online and discovered flights after the New Year's rush were about$40-60 cheaper than the flights I searched for in December. Also, a hotel in New York I looked at online that cost $210 in December dropped down to $114 in January. Those numbers were based on my searches, so they might be different for you.

Get Creative with Your Gift Giving

Sharing experiences with friends and family is a great way to stick to your holiday shopping budget, avoid the stress of overspending and create long-lasting memories. Create a budget, find something to suit your group, whether it's a short trip, watching a musical, or cooking lessons, and enjoy! 

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