Two of my friends mentioned alternative gifting ideas in the comments the other day, something that has been on my mind for months.
As a kid, we spent every Christmas Eve at my maternal grandparent's house. After Thanksgiving dinner, someone would start writing down each person's name on a strip of paper, and the names went into an adult drawing collective and the kids' bowl. Everybody drew a name to buy a Christmas gift for. Since my mom is the youngest of eight (and I am the lone only child), this made perfect sense with 30+ first cousins. Everyone got a present from one other person, and Grandma and Granddad bought all the kids something similar. Our parents brought our stockings which were filled in a late evening visit from Santa as we kids were upstairs practicing our program of Christmas carols. When we heard sleigh bells and a hearty, "Ho, ho, ho", that was our cue to descend and sing our songs, all the while straining to see what was in our stockings across the room.
I have sat through White Elephant exchanges, Chinese exchanges, and variations of each involving 'good' gifts, gag gifts, gift cards, ornaments, etc. Whited's family does some garage sale item exchange that sounds hilarious, I need more detail on that. I once scored one of these at a Chinese exchange in Germany:
Back in August, seeing our budget for the coming year, we knew that something different needed to happen. At the time we were traveling quite a bit, and I suggested a truck stop gift Christmas - there are some real gems there. I have suggested that everyone bring a gift card to exchange. I suggested that all the adults bring a bottle of something. There is no real enthusiasm for any budget friendly ideas. Everyone agrees that we should do something, but nothing has been done.
My opportunity might have passed, because I am sure the evil step-sister will nix any idea that means she gets anything less than she has before. But, I am not going to bust my budget to please her. Anybody have success stories for a reasonable Christmas gift exchange?