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Alternatives to Traditional Gift-Giving During the Holidays

Exchanging gifts on Christmas or during the holiday season is one of the oldest and most cherished holiday traditions. When done in the right manner, giving and receiving gifts can fill one with feelings of love, appreciation, and festiveness. In a Psychology Today article, Adrian Furnham, PHD, discusses the psychology behind the tradition of Christmas gift-giving. According to him, a gift symbolizes many things including what you think or feel about others. Moreover, how much one will like the gift given to them often depends on the gift-giver’s intentions and the amount of effort put into getting or making the gift. In other words, what makes a gift special isn’t necessarily dependent on the monetary value of the gift, but rather, the thoughts and feelings that went into either purchasing or creating the gift.

If you are looking for an alternative to buying a traditional gift for a friend, co-worker, or a family member this holiday season, here are some ideas to help get you started:

- Invite friends or loved ones over to your house for dinner, lunch, or afternoon tea. If you are thinking of doing something special for your co-workers, take them out for lunch or for a delicious, warm holiday treat.

- Offer to help a loved one, friend, or neighbour with something during the holiday season. If they are going away for the holidays, you can offer to keep an eye on their pets or shovel their sidewalks if it snows.

- Instead of purchasing gifts, opt for baking and gifting a batch of cookies or cupcakes to your co-workers, relatives, or friends. Another option is to make special Christmas crafts, such as ornaments, stockings, or other items to gift during the holidays.

- Instead of exchanging gifts with co-workers or loved ones, look into volunteering or donating to a charity together as a group.


Furnham, Adrian (2014, December 17). “The Psychology of Christmas Gift Giving”. Retrieved from

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