Gift Giving: How to Take Back Christmas
If you have young children it will make total sense to you when I say that in terms of gift-giving, it’s all about that kids. I find this true for my own family and also for the extended family. We all look forward to the looks on the kids’ faces and their squeals of delight as they rip off the wrapping paper with reckless abandon. We’ve even had years when my husband and I forego getting each other gifts aside from stocking stuffers so we can spend a little extra on the kids. But, Christmas doesn’t have to be just about the kids. It can be just as much fun for grown-ups, especially if you make it a grown-ups only celebration (which is what has become tradition in my extended family).
A couple of years back, my family started doing a gift-exchange for the adults. I haven’t purchased presents for each of my parents and two siblings since before I got married. When our Christmas gatherings grew as we each added a spouse and children to the family, we decided that only the grandparents would buy gifts for the kids (if they so desired and what grandparent doesn’t love to spoil their grandkids?) It made Christmas a little more budget-friendly to not have to buy gifts for all the aunts, uncles and cousins. But as adults, we like to give and receive gifts. So one year we decided to try a gift exchange. The best thing about this new tradition was that we saved the celebration for after the kids have all gone to bed. Gift giving during the day is all about the kids and watching the kids enjoy their new toys and in the evening, the adults were free to enjoy a little gift-giving of their own.
An evening gift-exchange with just adults is pure bliss. Think about it for a moment and it makes perfect sense. There are no kid toys to assemble, no wrapping paper explosion to clean up, no need to remind the kids that their brother or sister just got that toy and may not want to share it right away and you can save all the good snacks, munchies and drinks for the adults. My aunt and my mom usually find some corny, but fun Christmas games for us to play, whether it’s a Christmas crossword race or a Christmas Carol guessing game. Every year one of our favourites is a phrase/picture drawing game. Everyone starts out by writing a phrase on a piece of paper. It can be silly or serious, such as “Santa ate Rudolph’s carrot because Rudolph ate his cookies” or “Always wear a helmet when you ride your bike”. Then everyone passes the paper to the next person and that person has to draw a picture to go along with that phrase. Before passing it on, you fold over the original phrase and leave only the picture showing so that the next person to get it has to come up with a phrase to go along with the picture. Then fold the picture back so it’s hidden, pass it on and a new picture is drawn of the new phrase. This continues around the circle until you get your original phrase back. We play it every year and usually someone ends up in tears of laughter when we have a look at what our original phrase morphed into and the sometimes ridiculous drawings and phrases that went with it.
In a grown-ups only gift exchange you can also have fun with how the gifts are given. In advance of the holidays, we always set a dollar amount so the gifts are of equal value. Gifts have to be suitable for a male or female. It does get harder to find new and desirable gifts as we continue on with this tradition, but we usually manage to come up with something. Last year my contribution was a shoe box full of what I called a “Bulk Barn” binge. It had all the stuff you want to buy when you go into the Bulk Barn, but never allow yourself to indulge in. My favourite in the box: “The Reason I Run Trail Mix”. It was full of chocolatey and nutty goodness! Another year I made a Dutch shoebox full of Dutch goodies like King peppermints, droppies, chocolate letters and pepernoten. Once you start thinking outside the box, you can come up with many different ideas. There are also several fun ways to exchange gifts. You can pick numbers where the first person chooses a gift and the second person can either steal that gift or choose a new gift and so on. There are several versions of a dice game too where each number rolled corresponds with a specific instruction, such as: roll a 1 and everyone passes the gift to the left, roll a 2 to open your gift, and so on. Once again, the possibilities are endless.
Christmas doesn’t have to be just about the kids. If you don’t already do a grown-up style celebration at Christmas, I strongly suggest that you give it a try. If you want to keep it small and inexpensive, just get everyone to buy a Christmas treat that only comes out during the holidays and exchange that (think All Sorts and chocolate oranges!). Or have a craft beer/LCBO item exchange. Just have fun with it and who knows, it may just start a new Christmas tradition!