Alternative ways of buying and exchanging presents at Christmas time

Many years ago, my siblings and I changed the way we bought presents for the adults in our family. We each still buy a gift for each child in the family, however we all agreed that the following ideas were a better way of minimising the financial stress at Christmas time, not to mention the stress of finding 10 different Christmas presents for 10 different people who have 10 different interests.

Each year around October/November a member of my family host a backyard BBQ and we decide together who will be hosting the family Christmas and how we want to exchange gifts. This is what we have tried so far.

  1. Buy a present for a designated couple. That meant we put each couple’s name on a piece of paper and drew it out of a hat. ie, My husband and I bought a present for my sister and brother in law. Either keep it anonymous or declare the gifting couple’s name. We all decided on a budget of $100 per couple. I found gifts were a little easier to buy with the bigger budget and gifts were more practical rather than personal.
  2.  The good old Kris Kringle. We pull out a name from a hat and spend $50 on that person. We kept the name anonymous and placed the wrapped present under the Christmas tree discretely as we arrived on Christmas morning. The one and only problem here is that people forgot who they were buying for. A solution to this is for one person to keep a list of who has who. This person (me) also requested each member of the family to email a ‘wish list’ of things that they wouldn’t mind receiving (clothes and shoes included sizes) to assist their Kris Kringle. I listed them all in one email for everyone to see (I didn’t have the time to be constantly updating individual wish lists and emailing people separately) and updated and re-shared the list regularly as people sent me more ideas. A better way to do this would be to create an ‘Event’ on Facebook for sharing wish lists.
  3. An anonymous random (fun) gift exchange. Set your budge and buy a gift that can be used by anyone. Everyone places their wrapped Christmas present under the Christmas tree. Find some way of deciding who gets to go first. That person choses any gift from under the tree. Going in a circle, the next person choses a gift from under the tree but gets a one time opportunity to swap it with any person already holding a gift. This is a lot of fun because there will be assumptions about which one is possibly containing the best gift. The idea is to be creative in the way you wrap your gift (eg. movie vouchers stuck to a block of Toblerone, a $50 note folded inside a ring box, etc). This by far was the most fun way of exchanging gifts.
  4. Combine money with other family members.  We do this a lot for the kids and adults for their birthdays. We have combined money as a family to buy trampolines, jumping castles, swing sets, ipods, bikes etc.  I have a large family so combining money gives us a massive budget when buying gifts. It is such a relief when someone comes to me and says “I have an idea for Johnny’s gift, do you want to throw in”.
  5. Meet up for Christmas on New Years Day. You can take advantage of the massive savings that start on Boxing Day all over Australia and get some awesome presents for your dollar. This is a little risky though. I would suggest you have a list with a back-up idea in case the things on your list are sold out.
  6. Buy a Christmas present and donate it to a charity tree at a department store or charity organisation instead. This will need to be done weeks before Christmas as they need time to distribute them to the kids. This is such an awesome feeling. I do this through my workplace. We place a large box in the meal room for staff to place their gifts and they are delivered to a charity all at once. You will need to ring around some charities for their collection locations and dates.
You will notice that we always set a budget. This is something that we have always done, mostly because one person in  our family will always try and outdo the others which is lovely but can make other gift givers feel a little mediocre. I have found since doing this type of gift giving, I am not spending as much money on gifts (I would have 10 adults to buy for) and people are not receiving things that they don’t need because the gifter either left it to the last minute or was just struggling for ideas.

A larger budget allows for lots of options- either one large present or a couple of smaller decent ones.


I'd love to hear your thoughts...... :)

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