Holiday fun doesn't have to include the stress of exchanging...

Holiday fun doesn't have to include the stress of exchanging gifts. Credit: Getty Images / iStock

This time of year, it’s tough to find parking spaces at the mall. People are shopping, shopping, shopping. While they may be smiling, some are faking it.

A new survey of nearly 2,000 adults by Sun Trust and Harris Poll found that 69 percent would skip exchanging gifts this holiday season if friends and family agreed to it. What’s chilling the festive mood? Forty three percent of those polled said they feel stressed spending money that they can ill afford.

When asked what they would do with the extra time and money they could save by not exchanging gifts, 60 percent said spend more time with their loved ones and 25 percent said they would spend the money instead on activities with family and friends. There are plenty of ways to start a new tradition.

  • Get creative with gift exchanging: Scratch individualized gifts and instead agree to have a fun group gift exchange. Set a low price limit for purchases. Put a unique, fun twist on it “by making a game out of it. White elephant/Yankee swap is a great game filled with laughs, memories and allows guests to pick what items they ultimately bring home,” says Natasha Rachel Smith, a personal finance expert for
  • Another idea, says Gena Rotstein, a family enterprise adviser with, is to have a family scavenger hunt.
  • Share an experience: Or you and family and friends can choose a charity to donate your time to during the holidays. Maybe you spend time at a soup kitchen or a church, serving dinner to the less fortunate. Says Smith, “The important thing is you are experiencing something new and creating memories together.”

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