November 24, 2012

Gifting ideas

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:

This summer/fall, I started pleading with my family to come up with some new gift exchange system.  Currently, everyone buys for everyone - among my parents, step-sister, niece and my family.  If anyone is visiting, as Uncle Mo is likely to do, everyone buys for them and vice versa.  I have long felt bad, and have guiltily adjusted my spending for others to reflect what they are spending to buy something for each person in my family of six.  I know it is the thought that counts, but, come on, my step sister is counting dollar signs.  Of course, she is the master of giving gift cards that never have a balance on them...

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?

3 comments:

CenTexTim said...

One thing we've done in the past is create gift baskets 'from our family to yours.'

You can customize them, and include something for everyone - a 6 pack of craft beer, a nice bottle of wine, beauty products, tea or fancy food items, novelty jewelry or earrings, small toys or stuffed animals, books, CDs/DVDs (the bargain bins at WalMart are great sources) - even homemade goodies (cookies, brownies, pumpkin bread, hot chocolate or cocoa mix, dry soup mixes, etc.).

Dump it all in a wicker basket, slap a bow and some ribbon on it, throw in a few flowers from the yard or garden (or the neighbor's yard or garden, or even HEB) and you can probably get by for about $50 per family.

CenTexTim said...

Forgot to mention - a great source for some of that stuff is Whittington's Jerky in Johnson City. I got my wife some lavender creamy stuff there that she loves (lotion, non-edible).

You may have to make a road trip there because they don't sell everything on-line, but it's worth it. Plus it gets you out of the house...

Harper said...

Betting that lotion was Hummingbird Farms...