Holiday gift giving can be emotionally and financially stressful — especially in big families like mine.
With seven of us in the immediate family, just exchanging one gift each adds up to a whopping 42 gifts. (Check my math: if each of us has to get the other 6 just one gift, that’s 7 times 6 equals 42, right? Yikes!)
- That’s a lot of spending. Spending that some family members might not be able to afford.
- That’s a lot of work. It takes real effort to think of just the right gift for someone. Finding 6 perfect gifts is overwhelming.
- That’s a lot of (potentially random) stuff. Are their really 6 different perfect gifts out there for you this year? Probably not.
Holiday spirit? More like dispiriting. Sounds like a gift grind.
So here’s what we’ve been doing for the last several years instead:
- A secret drawing. Well in advance of the holiday, I conduct a secret drawing to match one family gift giver with one unknowing recipient.
- A budget cap. I set a budget cap on how much can be spent on each gift. We’ve gone with $20 in our family. Do what’s comfortable in yours. We’ve found that when the creative juices start flowing, $20 goes a long way. Little eclectic gift combos using every last budgeted cent are the norm.
- A hand-made card. The card has to include a little mini-essay on why this is the perfect gift for the recipient. There have been some priceless ones.
- A formal ceremony. The gifts are delivered one at a time in front of the family “audience.” We do ours at the dinner table on Christmas Eve. Standing with the recipient, the giver provides color commentary along the way, explaining the nuances and hidden jokes behind the gift. The sibling banter around the exchanges has provided some of our most priceless (and proudest) moments as parents. I’m smiling now just thinking about the highlight reel.
Maybe it’s time to try a gift drawing in your family this holiday season. It’s frugal. It’s festive. And best of all, it’s thoughtful. Sounds like the holiday spirit to me.
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