Until a few years ago, I would stress out as Christmas approached. I would make my list and spend the last few months of the year trying to find the perfect gift for everyone on my list.
We live about 3 hours away from our family so we would organize gifts by family or friend, load up the back of our car and off we would go. When we got to house #1, we’d empty most of the car so gifts wouldn’t freeze or be stolen. We’d then have a celebration with that family member or friend and stay the night. The next morning, we’d load the car back up, go to house #2, repeat, go to house #3, repeat. . . .
We would come home exhausted with the back of the car filled to the brim with gifts we received.
We realized we went with a car full of stuff our people didn’t need and came home with a car full of stuff we didn’t need. We decided there must be a better way.
A few years ago, we adopted a “Perfect Gift Policy” with our friends and family. If we see something, anytime of year, that strikes us as being perfect for someone in our lives, we give it to them. We don’t wait until Christmas, we don’t write a list, and most importantly, we don’t buy crap for the sake of buying crap.
It makes the gifts we do buy more special and it makes shopping for them way more fun.
We took a little getaway in a nearby town last week and spent a bit of time checking out the local bike shops and cooking store. We found two perfect little gifts for special people in our lives and now I can’t wait to give them.
If something is consumable, I’m more likely to buy it. This way, I’m not buying a thing that my loved one has to store, dust, etc. they just have to use it and then it is gone.
Almost universally, our friends and family have thanked us for eliminating obligatory holiday gifts. It has reduced stress and allowed us to more fully enjoy our time with them.
We also end up spending less money on gifts.
At the end of the year, we donate our unspent gift budget to our favorite charities. We make the donation when a local organization is running a charitable matching program doubling the impact of our gift.
My husband and I are terrible at giving each other gifts. I’m happiest when we have a home improvement we want to do and can put our gifts for each other towards that improvement (Yay Security Door! Yay Tree Replacement!).
When we don’t have an improvement to fund, we’ll think of something to get each other, suggest it in the card and then often not make the actual purchase. I probably owe my husband about 8 gifts now, he probably owes me about 12 (he’d disagree with those numbers though).
Yep – you guessed it, we never went . . . oh wait–he should have paid for last week’s getaway.
My favorite gifts from him are the poems he writes . . .
. . . .
Twenty years have gone by
Since I slipped on that ring
Gone from youth to middle age
I wouldn’t change a thing
. . . .
Ok, I’ll pause for the collective Awwwwwww. The poems last forever, I don’t have to dust them and they don’t take up much room.
How do you handle gift giving in your family?