Monday, November 28, 2011

Gift Giving--Joy or Stress?

My family usually draws names on Thanksgiving to exchange gifts at Christmas. Our family has grown quite large with nieces and nephews getting married and bringing special friends along to our holiday gathering. This year, one of my sisters suggested not doing a gift exchange or doing something else instead. She said it's too hard to figure out what gift to get especially when she only sees the grown kids a few times a year.

I think the "joy" her holiday is being over-shadowed by her stress in finding the right gift. Maybe she's right. It might be time for us to simplify our gift giving but still keep the fun. Here are some ideas I'll be suggesting to our family.

The Dice Game
Participants shake dice to get doubles. This entitles them to pick a gift from a pile of gifts or to steal one from other people playing the game. Usually these are rather inexpensive or recycled items. Everybody goes home with something and no one has to buy a gift for a particular person.

One idea is a 3-item combo. Each person gives and receives a combination of gifts. One is practical, one is a food item and one is a recycled gift. (Everyone's interpretation of "recycled" will probably be quite different so it will be fun to see what's in the gift!

Another idea is the gift of time. Plan an activity with the recipient. Tickets to a ball game, help with chores, going to a special restaurant or concert.

Charitable gifts. Instead of giving each other gifts, each person or family pools their money and gives it to a mutually chosen charity. Or each guest could bring a baby gift for an anonymous needy mother. You'll find more ideas if you check with area churches, schools or charities.

Recipe Exchange. Gather the ingredients for your favorite recipe in a basket. Include the recipe. Add a gift card if some items need to be refrigerated or have a short shelf-life. (You might consider your favorite meal or cocktail.)

I really like this "no-gift" idea. Everyone brings an item from a past Christmas. Photos, a letter to Santa, a favorite ornament, a special toy or maybe just a great story to share. This would be a wonderful way to connect the old and the young.

This site has lots more ideas on gift exchanges. How does your family deal with gift-exchanging?

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