Wednesday, November 13, 2013

A Sensible Approach To Gift Giving

Even without the extreme force-feeding of Christmas that's currently going on in America, our family is usually thinking about gift-giving right about now. My daughter just had a birthday, another family member has one coming up, plus we celebrate Hanukkah in addition to the Yuletide. That's a lot of gifts in a very short period of time. Fortunately, our gift-giving traditions are as old as my marriage.

In our early days, my husband and I continually missed the mark when we were shopping for each other. Though our intentions were loving, we inevitably wound up gently asking the other for the receipts each time one gave the other a gift. For me the clincher was hubby's giving me duck canisters (yes, canisters shaped like a duck family wearing little sailor suits) for one of our anniversaries. Practical, yes, romantic, no. Shortly thereafter we put into place a procedure for gift-giving that GUARANTEES that: a) the buyer isn't wasting money getting the giver something he/she doesn't want b) the recipient gets what he/she wants. Here's how it goes:

The person who will receive the gift gives the giver a list of three things that she wants. In my case, I include the store or website where a gift can be found, pricing, the size, color, etc. If possible, I also include a picture. This makes it VERY easy for the giver to either shop on his own or take the kids to the store to get it. If the giver wants to purchase more than one gift on the list, no problem, but we're sure to get something we want. Genius, right?

And since we celebrate both Christmas and Hanukkah, we've made Hanukkah “the literary holiday” with each of my kids getting a book on the first night only. The rest of the holiday gifts wait for Christmas morning. My husband, who is Jewish, also gets one present the first night of Hanukkah.

As for Christmas, the kids get three gifts: one from us and two from Santa plus filled stockings. Since we have a very small family, there is no fgift overload. And we make sure we participate in our church's Mantle Of Giving where we purchase one toy and a book for an underprivileged child.

No bank accounts are broken, the kids know the holidays do not revolve around getting, and everyone is happy. Of course, one of the more fun traditions for us is the wrapping. My husband, by his own account, is not a great gift-wrapper, so unless we have a large supply of gift bags or he cajoles the 8-year old, who wraps better than either her father or brother, into helping, he's on his own. And he's come up with some imaginative wrapping. From brown grocery bags to newspaper, to wrapping a gift in his bathrobe, his gift wrapping is always amusing. My favorite was the time he wrapped one of my gifts in our dog's holey, smelly, dull, brown blankie. I have no idea what he gave me that year, but the wrapping was hilarious.

Using the List approach has diminished the amount of gift-giving stress immensely. And, again, it makes sure that everyone is happy because if they're not, it's because the recipient mistakenly mislead the giver. Try it and let me know how it worked for you!

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