Monday, December 19, 2011

Contemplating A Change In Christmas Gift Giving

At our house, we have 6 people in the immediate family and two grandparents on hot standby. We have three birthdays within 30 days of Christmas. The combinatorics of Christmas alone give us a need for 8*7=56 gifts at a minimum, not including stocking stuffing and multiple gifts between spouses and from parents to kids. Add in the three birthdays and you get to 77 gifts required.

All of us have plenty. We try to make Christmas lists, but there's usually not more than one or two things that we're just dying to get. The end result is lots of stress and bother. The lists are quickly exhausted and freestyling becomes difficult when the thing we all need the most is more free time together.

Over on Facebook, I proposed a Feline Christmas. We stay home, eat delicious foods and lay quietly. I posted that as a lark, but quite a few people liked the idea. Last night at a friends' house, a family Christmas vacation was suggested. This morning, driving in to work I considered the possiblity of a secret Santa program where we each draw two names out of a hat and buy for those people. That would mean each person would have two things to open on Christmas, inter-spousal gifts and stockings not included.

If you've got a take on this, I'd love to hear it.

Update: The thing I'd like to do the most is to go to Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and have a family volunteering excursion where we all go spend time with people who need it. Unfortunately, shopping is taking the place of both of these things.


Military Dad said...

My wife and I decided about a year ago that we would try to give each other memories for holidays and birthdays instead of presents. The kids still get gifts because they're young enough that it's a tough concept to understand, but we don't really buy anything for each other. For example, this Christmas, we took the whole family to Medieval Times which is one of my favorite places on the planet. We had a great time.

Unfortunately, this isn't always easy. It's much harder for the giver to accept than the receiver. For example, it was excrutiatingly difficult to not get my wife something for her birthday and the same was true when the roles were reversed.

On the positive side, there's no sweating over what to get each other, and we get to make some awesome memories which last longer than whatever the gift would be anyway.

This also eliminates the problems where you have thoughts like, "I really want that xxx, but my birthday is in 2 months. I better wait, just in case." If there's something that we want, we talk it over, and if it's a good idea, we get it then.

We're still very new to this idea, but it has worked pretty well so far.

Jan said...

I've been trying to get my parents to move to the "experiences not things" system, and am slowly making headway. So far we have had guided kayaking trips around the San Juan Islands, and a snow-shoe trek. Much more fun that things to clutter and get dusty!

Dean said...

KT, may I suggest a white elephant gift exchange or at least a gift exchange that does not exceed $25-30 per gift.

Our family is now so big that the traditional gift is exchange is just too expensive and also a logistics nightmare.

Besides, we look forward to the food, drink and fellowship far more than any gifting.

I think B-Daddy will attest to this.