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Forbes spoke with Lizzie Post, the great-granddaughter of etiquette columnist Emily Post, about the sticky situation of holiday gifting when you are a broke millennial. Post offered up a bevy of advice, starting with the fact that you can't get away with doing nothing this year just because you lost your job/are underemployed/are still paying off student loans/are swimming in credit card debt. "The rules are not different for this group. The rules are always the same. You should get gifts within your budget. If you can't afford anything your words are always a gift," she said.
1. If you can't buy a present, go for a card. At least you put in a little thought and effort.
2. Gift according to family relations. That means your parents get first priority, then your siblings and your significant other.
3. Try to negotiate for fewer extended family gifts. Maybe this means a Secret Santa, or only gifting to cousins and not aunts and uncles. "Just recognize that people may not always want to hear a sob story," Post cautions.
4. It's okay to take money from your parents. That is, if they want to help you. This, "depends on who you are and what you're comfortable with."
5. Unexpected gifts do not have to be reciprocated. If a friend or collegue surprises you with a gift, you are not bound to return the favor because, "no one said there's a contract in opening a gift."
6. Check out your workplace policy. Ask around to see what protocol is. Generally, it's not a good idea to gift your boss. Speak with a supervisor if you're worried that you might not be able to afford the office exchange.
7. Don't max out your credit cards. Go bake some cookies instead.