Best Christmas Presents
We made this decision a few months ago, and are all very relieved. This is our extended family Christmas gathering we are talking about. Grandparents, nieces, nephews etc.
Not that we bought everyone a present, we actually would get together at Thanksgiving, and put all the names of the adults (and any of the kids with a job that wanted to participate) into a jar and drew names. There were rules: 60 dollar limit, and use environmental wrappings. We thought this was great, but after the last few years, it got harder on everyone's wallet, and mostly, we just didn't know what to get each other. Our houses were already bursting with "things" and the garage sales in the spring kept getting bigger and bigger as we are all trying to de-clutter. It just seemed like a waste of money, to me anyways.
There was Always Fretting over Best Christmas Present to Get with No Money!
We would fret over who got grandma's name, as she didn't want "things" anymore, then we would fret over Uncle Dave, because he always was hard to please, and would end up taking it back. So, then we would all mostly exchange gift certificates. But we would also purchase gifts, for any nieces and nephews who were under 12. This really seemed silly to me, because they usually had done very well by their own parents, and really didn't need another piece of bling from us..
I think everyone was thinking the same thing last year, when we showed up at my sister's for Christmas dinner that afternoon, and saw how full the room became with all these big boxes and really gifts, that none of us needed. But no one wanted to say anything, for fear of being called "The Scrooge" My sister had commented, on how it was hard enough to deal with a big family Christmas dinner (17 people) which she actually liked doing, but then on top of her own kids for Christmas morning, she is trying to think of what to get grandma for Christmas and Uncle Dave, since her husband got his name, and she ended up having to shop for both names.
Everyone would just stress over it. Then to try and find something useful with the dollar limit that wasn't just another ornament to sit on a shelf and get dusty, became difficult.
Good Christmas Presents Do Not Need to be Things
Finally when I saw my brother just hand 60 bucks to his gift recipient, I thought, this has to stop! We are just handing money back and forth now, and that is not what Christmas is all about. I thought we just love all getting together, can't that be enough? What we really needed was a "No present Christmas this year, just your presence is a gift"
So, at Thanksgiving this year, (in Ontario it is in October) when my sister was going to collect names, I said NO.. Lets rethink this.. and everyone stared at me with that "deer in the headlight look". Lets have a no present Christmas this year. I got "WHAT??" I said, do we all really need more "stuff"?. Everyone shook their heads. "Do these kids (nieces and nephews) all do well by their own parents on Christmas morning?"
Best Christmas Present - Enjoy Each Others Company
Everyone nodded. Then why don't we just enjoy everyone's company on Christmas afternoon. Just relish in the fact that someone has cooked an amazing dinner, and that many of us have had to travel quite a way, but that we are all together, even if it is just for an afternoon.
We all agreed, but then we looked at it a different way. Why don't we all still put some money in a pot, and then use it to buy food for the local food bank. What a brilliant idea.
Put What You Can Afford into Pot for Food Bank
So, that is our new game plan. A No Present Christmas, but a donation box, a
So, we all took a vote, and of course there were some grumblings from the younger crowd, but in the end they agreed, that they just loved the day. They would have their gifts with their parents, and then always looked forward to seeing all the aunts and uncles and grandparents later in the day, and that was fun.
If you have been thinking of trying something different in your family. Then why not bring it up soon, before everyone goes out there and faces the crowds armed with their credit cards and absolutely no idea what they are getting!. Everyone needs to agree, you can't just show up Christmas day, and say "sorry guys, this is a no present Christmas!".
As a group or a family, think of something you would like to do instead. If you still love shopping especially for kids, then why not shop and donate your gifts. There are many kids wish foundations for Christmas out there, and you could donate your presents there.
Invite a Friend or Relative Who Would Otherwise be Alone - Best Christmas Present!
Otherwise, there are many other things you could try as a family.
Donate to the food banks, or the local animal shelter, they love Christmas toys too!, plus they can always use cat food, dog food, blankets, and more.
Be part of the Christmas hamper delivery system, or volunteer your time to organize all that food that is donated.
There is so much you can do with your time and your money. You can do this by having a No present Christmas this year. Depending on the size of your family gatherings, as a group you could have quite a bit of money to put towards any of these ideas. Which will be felt long after the Christmas season is over, which is more than I can say for all those gifts I didn't need that I got last Christmas.
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