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Stretch your holiday dollars with a group gift

The latest trend in holiday gifts for my friends and family is giving as a group. It's a smart strategy if your budget is slim and you would rather put your dollars toward something significant.

Sites such as Shareagift.com and groupgifts.ebay.com are two that make it easier to organize group gifting. On these sites you simply choose a gift, personalize a page with photos and messages, and share it with friends and family.

My sister-in-law set up an account for my brother this year. His big-ticket wish is an iPad.

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For group gifts you can set a contribution price point, or simply ask people to contribute what they can. You then collect the funds into a PayPal or your online bank account.

The downside to being the organizer, though, is having to rally the gang and collect the cash, usually after multiple reminders. The beauty of the online site is that it will e-mail gentle reminders to those who agreed to contribute so you're not chasing down the cash from your in-laws.

Setting up a group gift online not only makes it easier for the one who is putting the gift together and could use some financial help, it also makes it easier for those contributing.

If you only have a $20 limit or $50 to contribute, you avoid spending your money on a useless tchotchke or sale sweater, and put it toward something you know the recipient will use and love, instead.



Angela Self is one of the founders of the Smart Cookies money group. Read her weekly column on managing debt and saving money at the Globe's personal finance site.

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