So how do you reduce the sheer VOLUME of gifts? Giving fewer gifts to the children is a great start (Dawn had a good idea: Jesus only got three presents on his birthday, so kids shouldn’t get more than that either).
Whatever your reasons or rationalizations, the sooner you start with fewer presents the better. If kids have been having 20 Christmas presents a piece their whole lives and you suddenly cut them back to 3 at age 12 or 13, you had better have some REALLY GOOD REASONS. So remember: Get your gift quantity issues settled sooner rather than later.
How to cut down on other family gift excesses and commercialism? Here are some ideas, a few thanks to Unplug the Christmas Machine: A Complete Guide to Putting Love and Joy Back into the Season , but most thanks to me!
** Agree to no adult gifts.
** Give (or request) a family gift instead of individual gifts (for example: a game, puzzle or craft that everyone can do together)
** Decide to do only funny gifts. For example I know a family who spends all year checking garage sales and thrifting for those little shell covered animals to give each other as a joke. Each has to cost less than $2. They all have a good laugh (priceless, right?) and display them proudly on a shelf in their home. It is quite funny!
** Do a lottery: Each family member picks a name and finds a gift for that person only. My best friend growing up was from a very large family and that is what they did. This is a very good solution for big families.
** Give coupons as gifts. I know that the most precious gift that anyone could give me would be a few hours of babysitting. Think about your talents. Do you knit? How about a coupon for a sweater. Do you cook? A dinner for two, or four or six. You get the idea.
** Christmas ornaments? How about having adults exchange only ornaments, either handmade or store bought. That way, each year when the ornaments come out, you will think of the family member who gave it to you.
** Books only. Each person makes a gift of the book that they enjoyed the most during the past year.
** A recipe exchange? Everyone gives their favorite recipe of the year.
** Christmas Stockings only? Honestly my favorite part of Christmas giving is the stocking. I love the challenge of finding presents that are small enough to fit in a stocking, but that the person would genuinely like to receive! A bunch of small, little things can be really fun.
** Give all living gifts: Plants only (indoor or outdoor depending on what your climate is like in December). Every time someone sees the plant that you gave, they will think of you.
** Do all charity gifts. Make gifts to a charity in a family member’s name. Usually you get a certificate or something tangible to present to that person.
** A family “Wildlife Christmas” – Ideas: gifts of donations to wildlife charities, bird feeders, bird houses or bird baths (especially heated ones if you live in a cold climate), live butterfly kits (if you live in a climate mild enough to release them in winter, otherwise wait until spring to order the larvae), ladybug or bee houses, bat houses, or butterfly houses.
** “Pick a Charity Christmas” where everyone agrees on a particular charity or cause that they would like to support. Everyone tries to be creative in giving gifts related to that cause: shopping from a specific charity’s website, buying crafts from a particular country to benefit local craftspeople if that is related to the cause, donating in someone’s name, agreeing to donate a certain amount of time for that cause (in the form of a coupon?), etc. etc. etc.
** How about for an elderly neighbor: A coupon good for a fall leaf raking, a lawn mowing or a driveway shovel, or a batch of cookies made by the kids?
Any other ideas??
(Read all the Christmas/Holidays Unplugged posts here.)