With the holidays coming, Thanksgiving may be the perfect time to bring up potential changes in holiday gifting routines with your family. As family and friends gather around a Thanksgiving feast, it can be a relaxed time to float new ideas, while expressing what you’re truly thankful for.
For many people, the holidays are a huge “production” and cost a lot in terms of your time, energy and money. From gifts to decorating and travel to holiday outings, many people express a desire to pull back and relax more around the holidays. And one of the most expensive areas of holiday spending is gift giving. Gift buying costs time, money AND energy. And many families have rituals around gift giving that haven’t changed in years.
I come from a family that has a long drawn out gifting ritual. Each person takes a turn opening a gift while everyone pays attention. The gift may cost only ten dollars, but everyone watches. It takes hours. It’s a ritual we’ve repeated for decades. And the cost does add up.
Last year, I wanted to change this ritual. So when I emailed my sister about the Thanksgiving plans, I mentioned in my email that I’d love to talk about shifting how we exchanged gifts, at some point on Thanksgiving Day. She sent me back an immediate enthusiastic reply. My mother, who was copied on these emails, chimed in: “Well, if we’re going to give fewer gifts, you guys have to promise you’ll play some games on Christmas because I want to make sure we spend enough time together.”
My mother knew that part of our gift giving ritual was about spending time with each other.
For you, what is the real need underneath your Holiday gifting? Is it about spending time together, or relaxing, or showing your thoughtfulness?
For my family, many of whom are now adults, the real need was to spend time together. So we’ve decided to play some games on Christmas day and exchange fewer gifts. We’re playing Pictionary and other games that are fun for all ages.
In fact, on Thanksgiving we’re going to brainstorm game ideas, as well as gift giving changes, with the help of lots of turkey.
Here are some ideas for your family to ponder at Thanksgiving:
Draw Names at Thanksgiving – an oldie but goodie. On Thanksgiving everyone puts their name in a hat and then draws a name out. Then there is a limit set on how much you can spend. This is an important part of the “game” as it levels the playing field and can make people more creative.
Set a gift limit at Thanksgiving – this is the obvious one, and many adults welcome it. What if there was simply a pre-arranged limit, so you knew that you were supposed to bring one gift (not two or three) for certain people?
Give a family gift instead of individual gifts. It depends on how many people are at your gathering, but your extended family may welcome this idea.
Decide to only do gifts for children.
Edible gift idea: Decide to only gift things that are edible or drinkable and set a price limit. Thanksgiving is when you share some of your favorites. Adults LOVE this one.
Play White Elephant at the family gathering. This is a very fun and silly game and the entire extended family will LOVE it. And it’s about presents!! When I was growing up, this is what we played at the extended gatherings that had 30+ people. (Yes, I come from a large catholic family.) Everyone brings one gift- likely something silly (probably re-gifted or found in the garage) —with no name on it. Then you draw numbers and the game begins. Here is a link with directions and rule variations. This game involves a lot of shouting, running, trading and laughing. And spilled drinks.
I could go on and on. The point though, is to think about your gifting ritual. Do you want to change it? If you do, then Thanksgiving is a great time to open the conversation. Or simply send some emails out to your family. And if you have a small family, then just sit down and talk about new ideas for gifting. What ideas do other people have?
The point is to have fun, craft a gifting ritual that is intentional and create a holiday you love. And wouldn’t it be lovely if you could avoid that post-holiday spending hangover?
Now that’s real holiday magic.
In a couple of weeks we are going to share with you a powerful process- how to create a holiday spending plan. And we’ll also have a special eBook for you on crafting the holiday of your dreams that is soulful, balanced and financially sane.
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