How to get your family to dial down gift-giving, and other useful tips

By Sarah Skidmore

The holidays can be stressful as family, friends and spending collide — and more so during tough times.
Here are tips on eight key challenges in minding your money manners at the holidays.

What do I get someone who has been unemployed for two years? Most gifts seem inappropriate when he is having trouble paying basic bills.
Get them something they can use. A gift certificate to a grocery store or megastore like Target or Walmart that sells both necessities and niceties is thoughtful, said Diane Gottsman at Protocol School of Texas.
“It doesn’t say, ‘Sorry you are out of work,'” Gottsman says. “It sends a holiday greeting, not a sympathy greeting.”

How do I tell my friend(s) I can’t afford to exchange gifts?
You don’t have to disclose all the details of your financial situation but be honest.
“There is nothing wrong with saying to your friends, ‘We are all time-strapped and economically strapped these days, let’s just do lunch or let’s not give gifts,'” says Gottsman.
Jacqueline Whitmore, an etiquette expert, points out that many people are in this predicament and may be relieved to hear this suggestion. The holiday is about celebrating your friendship, not spending.

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