White Elephant, Dirty Santa, and Other Budget Friendly Gift Giving Ideas

Everyone loves a great Christmas party and the best part about it is gathering together with your friends, family and even co-workers. So, when there is a gift exchange involved it is much less stressful and a lot more fun when you can do something like White Elephant, Dirty Santa, or whatever your party-hosts call the gift exchange.
The first place I hit up when looking for a great budget-friendly gift exchange item is my local Goodwill store. By doing this you are lowering your carbon footprint, supporting your local economy, saving money, and giving to charity all at the same time! Plus – Goodwill’s mission is to maximize the value of our donations and purchases to support and grow programs that result in significant social impact for your community members in need of work.
And if you’re in a place that doesn’t have a local Goodwill (I think that is few and far between)  they have an auction site that features a well-curated collection of designer handbags, jewelry, musical instrument, vintage housewares, etc. 
It is not uncommon for people to share slightly used, unique and fun gifts for this type of gift-exchange. Get creative – and if you can’t find the perfect gift at your local Goodwill store, find a variety of items you can use to DIY a fun gift!
Tips to start you on your way:
Go early and go often – If you know you have a gift exchange coming up and it isn’t a last minute shopping trip, going early and often will give you the pick of the best items on the shelves.
Shop the whole store – don’t go in with one thing and mind and skip the rest of the store. You never know what gems might be in another section.
Make your own wrapping paper – while you are out shopping, look for some great scraps or different types of paper that you could use to have a fun and creatively wrapped gift.
Here are some budget-friendly ideas for the gift giving season:
Costume Jewelry – this can be a lot of fun. Usually you can find a literal “mixed bag” of great random jewelry pieces. Pick out the best or gift the whole bag!
Books and Records – contrary to popular belief, lots of people still love paper and vinyl. You can find a treasure trove of these at Goodwill.
Gift baskets – you can not only find a really fun variety of baskets, bins, or other items that would be fun to put gifts in, you can find other nifty stuff to fill that basket up while you’re there.
Framed or Canvas art and picture frames– listen, Goodwill is one of my favorite places to find unique items to hang on my wall. But not only that, you can find picture frames that are still in the packaging and use them as they are or find a fun DIY to mix and match.
Matching hostess sets – if you think that you won’t find matching kitchen items at Goodwill, you’re sadly mistaken. You can find all kinds of great trays, serving platers, punch bowl sets and other items that would be a fun hostess gift. If you can’t find something that matches, use a little chalkboard paint to really make it unique.
Collectively, over 313,000 people in the United States and Canada connected with jobs or earned employment using Goodwill organizations’ career services programs this past year. And more than that - tens of millions access the Goodwill education, training, and online learning services that Goodwill offers to strengthen their job training skills. As a non-profit, they are dedicated to helping create jobs and providing on-the-job training for many who would find employment opportunities scarce without Goodwill’s help.
When I’m able to find a steal and save money, check off my holiday shopping list, and know I’m supporting a good cause, it’s a total win/win/win situation. Find a Goodwill store near you at http://www.goodwill.org/locator/ and help create new jobs in your local community while saving this holiday season. You can share your great holiday finds with the hashtag #ShopGoodwill!

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