My grown kids have asked that we come up with a less expensive Christmas this year. Could we exchange names and thereby cut down on spending?
I totally agree. This past year’s events reminded us all that family is more important than anything else. Things can be replaced; time with family can’t.
The couples in our extended family will exchange names with each other, and the kids (siblings and cousins) will exchange names. We are to keep it all secret (we’ll see how long that lasts) until we open presents. We are placing a spending cap on the gifts as well.
The individual families may give to each other, but everyone has been asked not to give outside their own household. This way others will not feel obligated to reciprocate.
I am proud of them because I have always objected to the commercialism and greed that accompanies this season. Christmas is about family and not about trying to outdo each other or going into debt. I like what this teaches the children and grandchildren.
I am looking for suggestions, but here are some of my favorite inexpensive gift-giving ideas:
1. A sock exchange. I used to belong to a group of ladies who gathered every year to swap Christmas socks. We each bought a pair of Christmas socks to give away at a Christmas party. We gathered at one house with our socks gaily wrapped in a gift bag. We also brought a party dish to share. We’d place the bags by the front door and wait for everyone to get there, then we’d pick out one bag, put on our new socks, and walk about all night in our Christmas footsies. Our annual group picture was not of our faces, but of our stockinged feet.
2. This exchange idea could also be done with a pair of regular winter socks, funny t-shirts, Christmas ornaments, or home baked cookies. This can probably be upscaled to include inexpensive bottles of wine, movie tickets, or homemade theme baskets, but I like the idea of keeping it inexpensive. Anyone can spend money; it takes genius to give a great inexpensive gift.
3. White Elephant exchange. A white elephant gift is an item that someone gave you that you might be able to regift to someone who will appreciate it more. You can only pray you don’t end up taking it home again. You decide beforehand in what order people, one by one, will chose a gift, how many times the gift may be “stolen,” and how many times a person can have something “stolen” from them. You need a minimum of six people to play this well. Our writing group, for example, exchanges books we don’t want at our Christmas White Elephant, while the others go home ecstatic over their new “finds.”
Teaching children the selflessness and joy of giving isn’t easy. To make it a true gift that comes from them they have to be the ones invested in the process: earning or saving the money, planning and searching for an appropriate gift, and keeping it secret since the attention should not be focused on them but on the other person. What better way to teach them that the love and effort that goes into the present is more valuable than a gift purchased with one swipe of Mommy’s credit card?
Lofty ideals? I will let you know how it goes.