Monday, November 18, 2013

Christmas Gift Exchanges

Last year, my three grown up kids asked if they could swap names and do a Christmas gift exchange.  It was so successful that they decided to it again this year.
We number fifteen now in our “immediate” family and that becomes a lot of individual Christmas presents to buy.  We all have blended families so my kids and I have other “immediate” family circles on our Christmas list.
Believe me; the grandkids have done the math, and they may wish we hadn’t.  They are kids, after all, and they love getting stuff. They may not like what their parents decided, but I applaud their solution.
As grandparents, HoneyBunch and I are not included in the name swap, but I have claimed myself the grandmother who always buys the grands a set of pajamas at Christmas.  I might throw in a snuggly or a book, but I stay away from anything more expensive or complicated. I’ll leave that for Santa (their parents or the other grandparents) to buy.  My present may not get oohs and aahs, but I want them to know I care for their needs and not their wants.  
 Everyone wrote their names on slips of paper, and to help their “Secret Santa” find them a gift, they listed three hobbies and three things they wanted that might cost $20 or less.  The couples swapped names with each other and the seven swapped names also. I saw some sad faces, but we were adamant about setting a limit on the greed that comes with the season. 
Everyone was supposed to keep who they chose a secret, but by the end of the day, the only one who hadn’t figured out who he had was the seventeen-month-old baby.  
I prefer Christmas presents that represent the season – games or craft kits that involve the family and bring them closer. I also like gift exchanges with a theme or a common objective. I especially like inexpensive gift swaps where all you have to buy is a pair of cheerful, Christmas socks or a beautiful, new Christmas ornament, or where everyone shares dozens of freshly baked, homemade Christmas cookies.
Our writing critique group does a White Elephant Exchange with gently used books, and I have ended up with real treasures. The thought stays with me all year, and before I donate my old books to the nearby library, I keep one or two that might end up being my Christmas present at the next book exchange.
When I blogged on this last year (You might want to refer to the comments on an older blog dated October 29, 2012.), we had several other great suggestions.  
One family exchanges dollar gifts. (Yes, gifts that cost ONE dollar.) Isn’t that intriguing? Another family donates to a college scholarship or a charity in each other’s names.  It started as a present to their father who didn’t want more “stuff” around his house, and it became a tradition after he was gone.
Christmas is not about greed and avarice; it is about family and selflessness. It’s about spending happy and fun times with each other because at the end of the day, after every box has been unwrapped and opened, and the sparkle of the day is gone, the most precious gift we exchange with each other is love of family.    


  1. Rachel. I really like this blog. I wish my family could put aside their differences and disdain for me and my rules and be more like yours.

  2. My family has been through a lot. We haven't always and won't always get along but we try. God bless you, Lea.