As someone who gets nervous paying more than $20 for any item of clothing, looking at gift prices around the holidays makes me feel like I’m going to have a brain aneurism. Still, it's gratifying to watch people’s faces when they receive a gift they really love and I try to give thoughtful presents around the holidays.

Over the years, I’ve gotten better at giving with more bang for my buck. Here are five ways thrifty Millennials can give without breaking the bank:

1. Groupon

I have to give my mom credit on this one, she turned me onto Groupon, where you can purchase anything from sky-diving lessons to blenders with a group coupon, hence the name. Almost everything on the site is discounted and it allows you to tailor what offers you see based on your interests and location.

What I love about Groupon is not only the savings, but the fact that it sends me discounts on experience gifts which I may not have considered otherwise. This year, I was pretty bent on buying my boyfriend a tech-y christmas gift until I saw a voucher for an adrenaline-pumping activity I knew he’d love even more. 

2. DIY

I know it’s one of the biggest cliches in the cheap-holiday guidebook, but in the day and age of Pinterest, there’s no excuse not to break out the hot glue gun and explore DIY gifts. 

For your geographically close friends, giving something sweet like these cookies is a fantastic option. If you’re afraid you’ll burn down the kitchen, try giving the gift of DIY itself with this hot chocolate kit

3. White Elephant

White Elephant gift exchanges have an unfortunate reputation for being campy, but with the right group of people it can be a hilarious and cheap way to give during the holidays. I’ve found White Elephant works best with smaller groups of close friends. Putting a budget limit is always necessary and $15-$20 is the perfect range- there are a lot of fun, durable gifts well within those price constraints. 

4. Etsy

For the last two years, almost every gift I’ve ever given came from Etsy. The website is a marketplace of independent vendors and their wares are often more unique and cheaper than anything you can find in a store. A lot of the goods on Etsy are also customizable at little or no cost, giving your gifts the impression of being thoughtful and carefully chosen. 

5. Handwritten Notes

I’m not known for being the most overtly emotional person. Weddings, ASPCA commercials and spilled ice cream don’t make me bat a lash. However, every year I take the time to hand write a brutally honest and loving note to the people who have made a positive impact in my life. Though I’m a writer by trade, if you’re a wordsmith in any sense, writing your loved ones something meaningful can be an emotional release for you and a wonderful gift for the recipient. 

Don’t forget to take your time, check your grammar and make sure your handwriting is legible. Like a lot of writers, my penmanship looks like that of a second grader, but handwriting notes makes it seem more intimate. 

The holidays can be stressful, but your needs come first. Don’t feel obligated to give if you truly can’t afford it, just partake in the merrymaking and memory-sharing with the people who made your year better. 

AuthorAmanda Andrade-Rhoades