By Sarah Skidmore, AP Business Reporter
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — The holiday season can mean lots of work and spending, but new ways to share the cost of giving gifts may bring a smile to everyone's face.
Splitting a gift for any occasion from a wedding to Christmas can save time and money, and it can mean bigger and better presents for recipients.
Here are six tips on navigating etiquette, fairness, gift choice and other issues the joint giving brings up.
START EARLY: Do a quick assessment of who might be interested and willing to pitch in and leave plenty of time to iron out details, set the terms and alert people before they start their own shopping.
Robyn Spizman, a gift-giving expert and author of several books, including "The Giftionary," recommends choosing a leader to streamline the process.
BE CLEAR: It's helpful to suggest the gift and estimate the cost per person up front so people have enough information to decide whether they want to participate. On the other hand, if you know someone might not be able to contribute as much as others, you may want to leave the contribution amount open-ended. If someone isn't able to contribute the same amount of money, perhaps they can offer time — wrapping the gift, picking it up or doing another chore.
"It is very politically correct in the gift world," Spizman said. "You make everyone look like a hero in the holiday gift world."
SELECT WITH CARE: The perk of group giving is pooling your resources to give something you wouldn't otherwise be to, but that doesn't mean this works only for big-ticket items like a laptop or a trip.
Group gifts can be heavy on effort and light on cost. Consider a homemade book with words of wisdom from each family member or recipes with notes and remembrances from each contributor. A group effort creates opportunities to personalize a gift too, like loading an iPad or Kindle with photos and video of the grandchildren and favorite music or books.
Justine Angelli, the CEO and founder of shareagift.com, said her website has helped people collect funds for everything from birthday gifts to plastic surgery.
"It really helps people avoid unwanted gifts," Angelli said.