Gifts – Giving and Receiving

Here it is the beginning of October and Christmas decorations are appearing in stores.  I was going to share this later this year, yet with the décor bringing Christmas to mind, we can start to think about what we will give this year.

When my husband and I were first together, we’d go crazy at Christmas.  We had so many gifts under the tree for each other.  They were mostly things that other wanted, and hence not really clutter.  Then something happened.  A Christmas came and when we talked about what we each wanted it turned out that the list was tiny.  Suddenly we were satiated and many things started to seem like clutter.  At this point, we decided to change things.  Now, we only exchange stocking gifts – though often the items don’t actually fit inside the sock!  We also decided to think about larger, household type gifts.  We set a budget and each year decide on a larger joint item.  One year it was a new couch and chair for the living room; another year it was a DSL camera.

I encourage all of you to find ways to make the most of this holiday season.  If you suddenly find yourself feeling like you’re getting a bunch of stuff that you don’t actually need or want – consider ways to change it up.

It’s common in larger families to draw one name and exchange that way, so you don’t need to spend tons of money buying something for everyone.  I’ve also known families who just buy gifts for the children.  Some families are open to buying gifts from a wish list, while others are against that idea.  You need to find what works for you and your family.

I love the idea of buying “experiences” for people.  One birthday, my husband bought me horseback riding sessions, how fabulous since I don’t get to ride as much as I would like.  This can be especially wonderful for grandparents who might go overboard at Christmas.  Instead of buying toys galore, you get a family season pass for a museum or the zoo.  You get them lessons for something that interests them – martial arts, music, sports, or whatever that offers them experiences.  It’s something they cannot outgrow since they create memories and can be cherished always.

Like with so much, don’t be afraid to reevaluate how things are working.  After a couple of years after my husband and I had been only doing the stockings – it started feeling stale.  We still really liked the idea of limiting our gift giving to the stockings, so we made up a “treasure hunt” of items.  We created a list of categories to try to find – so there needed to be a bed or bath item, a spiritual item, 2 pieces of media (we do love our books and music!), and several other categories.  Suddenly opening our socks didn’t feel stale anymore.  For now, it continues to work, though when it doesn’t we’ll talk and figure out what we might need to change.

We often do this after Christmas, while it’s fresh and make plans for the changes in the following year.  Of course, by doing it that way, you need to remember when it comes around the next year!  You can change the way you approach your gift giving and receiving at any time.  This is a great time to consider what you want to do this year – with store decorations going up; they begin tempting us to spend our money.  What do you want to give this year?  It’s never too late (or early) to make plans so you can make the most of the holiday season and appreciate its real purpose – to appreciate family and be grateful for what you have.

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