December’s gift exchanges and ugly-sweater soirees can make the pressure to spend feel inescapable. Your frustration is likely to mount if you’re cash-strapped, saving for a big goal or trying to pay off student loans.

Consider ways to dramatically reduce gift-related costs, like drawing names instead of buying for everyone, or agreeing to forgo gifts in favor of a group activity.

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The following tips can also help you give presents — and even host your own holiday bash — without spending more than you can afford.

Shop smarter

  • Buy in bulk: For gift exchanges with colleagues or even some family members, cut costs and stress by choosing one affordable item to buy or make in bulk. Product-research website The Wirecutter lists 10 low-cost gift ideas, including gourmet olive oil and movie tickets. Or you can give out baked goods in glass jars, purchased in bulk and customized with printed labels.
  • Go with experiential gifts: Providing an experience or service can be more personal — and cheaper — than a traditional gift. For instance, give an annual membership to a local museum. Pick a small or quirky institution in town that fits your friend or family member’s interests.

Host more creatively

  • Share the costs: Potlucks are an easy go-to so you’re not cooking a huge meal for a gaggle of guests. Spice up your potluck by choosing a theme: Ask everyone to cook their favorite holiday dish from home or something inspired by a holiday movie.
  • Focus on the fun: Skip the expensive food and drink prep and invite your guests over for a group viewing of a holiday- or winter-themed movie. Or make it an at-home karaoke party using YouTube videos or cable channels that show lyrics on screen. A popcorn bar is a cheap snack option: Set out a big bowl and have your guests add toppings such as melted butter and cinnamon, Parmesan cheese and dried herbs.
  • Choose a signature drink: For a cocktail party, you don’t need to provide a smorgasbord. Offer a signature cocktail by the pitcher or a big batch of punch with holiday-themed ingredients like mulled cider or wine.
  • Hit the dollar store: Your local discount store is the ideal spot to buy napkins, decorations, cups and plates. Take a spin through Pinterest for inspiration: You can decorate doorways with draped plastic tablecloths, use wrapping paper as a table runner or make a tiered party tray from spray-painted plastic plates and candlesticks.