A couple of years ago we faced a dilemma with our Christmas gift giving. Our children were all adults and their gift needs as well as our gift giving capacity had changed. Because they were “grown up” and mostly on their own, they really didn’t require or desire the over-the-top gifts of years past. As parents, we felt the same way. It gets to a point that all that really matters is spending time together especially since we are all strung out around the country. I didn’t want to give up gift giving all together. After all, that is part of the joy of the holidays. But something had to change in the how and why of giving presents.
For the first two years of this grown-up Christmas phase, we planned family destination Christmases. The money we would have spent on gifts went toward a family vacation. One year we went to Utah and went skiing. It was the first time skiing for our kids and they were excited to try. Some skied, some snow boarded. We had one son-in-law at the time and one almost son-in-law who both had lots of snow experience and were great helps assisting our children at their first skiing attempts. It was a very memorable Christmas.
The next year, we decided to take a mini-cruise. We live near the Port of Long Beach in California so it was convenient to catch the ship going to Catalina Island and Ensenada,Mexico. We were worried that it would be weird hanging out with strangers on such a special holiday, but our non-traditional celebration turned out to be quite fun. We all pitched in for the tickets and considered it the ultimate group gift.
Then, the first grandchild came and we had to rethink our grown-up Christmas gift giving once again. I believe it was one of our daughters who suggested that we observe a handmade Christmas. All gifts were to be either 1) made by the giver or 2) made by someone else or 3) something the receiver could make something with. Everyone put on their creative hats to figure out how their gifts could meet the new criteria.
I have to admit it was really fun to come up with ideas that matched the person. The first time we tried it out, we gave our son and son-in-laws tools and our daughters received kitchen themed gifts. I made them darling aprons and they each also received a cookbook and a cupcake tree. In return, our children were just as clever in preparing gifts for my husband and I. They either made items or went on Etsy to purchase things for the family. Christmas morning was so electric with everyone gushing over their clever gifts. You have never seen such a grateful family. We definitely hit on a low cost and meaningful gift giving strategy.
That first go at a handmade Christmas was such a success, we decided to repeat it this year. Once we saw the possibilities of what could be considered, we were all excited to replicate this idea. We’re even including extended family this year and they are just as excited to play along.
The only drawback is that you do have to think ahead, especially if you are doing the making of the gift. But hey, Christmas is the same day every year. It isn’t like it is a surprise or anything. Just one more thing to schedule out.
Keeping Christmas gift giving simple, meaningful, and from the heart. Isn’t that what the holiday should be all about?