Living with credit, Rewards, Shopping, Travel

Simplify holiday shopping with 1 gift for 7 people

Erica Sandberg

Checkout lines are snaking around inside stores, and free shipping is evaporating. As holiday shopping panic sets in, you may end up overspending to the point of racking up unintended debt — and still not get the right things.

There is an easier way: one gift for just about every person on your list. Here are six ideas for how you can make it a memorable holiday for seven (more or less) on your list and maybe a little less stressful for you, too:

1. Tickets to an event.
Is “Hamilton” coming to town? Get tickets for the whole family. OK, those precious “Hamilton” tickets cost a fortune (if you can get them at all), but log onto Groupon or other daily deal sites for what may be an accessible theatrical bargain in your area. Or check your card issuer’s website for pre-sale, discounted or VIP seating for Broadway shows and other events. You may even be able to score an additional discount, as many card issuers are offering holiday perks and rewards.

2. Donate to a charity.
This is the perfect season to be a benefactor. While kids may not be as thrilled with their gift going to others, many adults might be touched by such a kind gesture. Check Charity Navigator to identify a universally appealing cause, then send cards to everyone on your list with the amount you donated on their behalf. The recipients of your gift might be a needy foster family, a senior dog rescue program, medical teams providing care in war-torn areas — there are so many ways you can spread joy. (Oh, and you can donate through your card issuer’s website, and if you itemize your tax return, you can get a deduction for your generosity.)

3. Throw a party.
“This year, instead of giving tangibles, I’d love to have you all over for a night you will always remember!” That can be the start of your invitation. Choose a date that works for the majority of your friends and family members, develop a special menu, and decorate your home. Consider giving the party a theme, such as suggesting everyone should dress in white, or make it a game night. If you have extra money to play with, hire a DJ or a bartender. Remember this is for them, so make it memorable. Even better, it allows you to buy time for planning and prepping, since the party can be many weeks down the line.

4. Organize a group vacation.
If everyone can decide on a place to travel in the upcoming months, a trip can make for an amazing shared present. A family vacation is exactly how one family we spoke with reins in holiday spending. You don’t have to pay for everyone (that would be ridiculous), but your gift can be doing all the legwork. Finding the right location, scoring deals, securing lodging and comparing airfares is a pain for a lot of people. And with your credit card miles or points, you may be able to get a break on the airfare or a discounted stay at a tropical resort or hotel in a city central to family spread across the country.

5. Customized something for everyone.
We’re getting down to the wire, but many businesses that offer custom apparel and items such as mugs and calendars can do a rush order. For example, a few years ago I ordered 23 personalized “Sandberg Power” tank tops, costing a grand total of $322. Not a bad price! I’ve done this several times over the years, and the effect is pretty awesome. CafePress, CustomInk and Shutterfly are just a few companies to check. Many will even help you design the piece, thus taking even more weight off your shoulders.

6. Pay for a group class.
One of the most wonderful gifts I have ever received was a self-defense class that my sister, Hillary, arranged. As a family we were together for the days surrounding Christmas, so she hired an instructor to come over and teach us how to fend off an attacker. Not only did we gain from the experience, but we laughed and bonded. So what would your loved ones like? It could be anything, from a baking class to a glass-blowing instructor guiding everyone in making their own paperweight or ornament for next year’s tree.

Any other one-gift-for-most-of-those-on-your-list ideas to share? Email me at or tweet me at @EricaJSandberg.

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