Last year, more than 154 million shoppers turned out for the Black Friday, post-Thanksgiving, shopping ritual. How much did they spend? Each shopper spent an average of almost $300. PER person. In ONE day.
Unless you got a screamin’ deal on a new laptop or TV, that’s a lot of money being spent on stocking stuffers and Christmas gifts. Fortunately, there’s a better way to give this year.
Give time instead.
For many, the prospect of more stuff sounds stressful, and inevitably, this year’s thoughtful gift may turn into next year’s clutter. Ask your family to consider giving time or experiences instead of items.
Make a mean homemade pizza? Give everyone a “gift certificate” for a pizza fest at your place. Or find a weekend that works for everyone to go camping or boating this summer and offer to plan and pack for it.
Opt for a gift exchange.
If your family typically buys one gift for each person, suggest trying the “name draw” method this year. Everyone’s name goes in a hat, and then each person draws one person’s name. Your family members will likely leap at the chance to save time (and money) with less shopping.
If you are met with resistance, then ask for a one-year hiatus from your normal gift-exchanging patters and just see how an exchange goes. If people don’t find it as festive as the family’s regular gift-giving practices, then you can always go back to tradition. Here are some ways to turn the exchange into a game.
Go with a game instead.
If your family’s got a sense of humor, then this one’s for you. Skip the gift giving altogether (or ask people to donate to their favorite charity or cause instead), and opt for quality time together.
Still want to wrap something? Your game time could include a white elephant exchange - where participants bring a prank gift, each person takes a turn opening a gift and gets an opportunity to keep or “steal” their present. Give $5 Starbucks cards to the prank gift that gets the most laughs.
Other game ideas? Holiday-themed Pictionary, a brown-bag wine contest, or Family Feud, Christmas style.
Make the gifts.
Got a crafty crowd? Ask people to consider making their gifts this year. Gifts could include vouchers to bake cookies, rake leaves, shovel snow, change oil, or a knitted scarf. Online photo company Snapfish allows you to make custom photo books, calendars, mugs, blankets, and more using your photos.