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Unique Christmas Gift Exchange Needed

Christmas gifts

Naomi posted a request for an unique Christmas gift exchange on our message board. The answers were varied and full of great ideas. Some ideas also lend themselves for gift exchanges at work. Here is an edited version of the post:

I am part of a small family, just one sister, our spouses, and our parents. We are looking for a creative gift concept this year. If you have suggestions I would be ever grateful!

Response from Vicki

How about following the 12 days of Christmas idea by way of giving a small part of the complete gift in 12 parts? For example you could give a place setting each day to equal 12 settings or an ornament a date to equal 12 ornaments (have the last ornament in a nice box to store all of them in), or a tool set a piece at a time and the last tool in the case to holds the whole set etc. Just a thought. Or you could even have just little like secret Santa gifts each day until Christmas day :) take care and I hope you find something that is fun :)

Response from Maureen

Our family started doing a book exchange recently. It's wonderful to receive books that have obviously been chosen with care to suit each person, and finding out what everyone is interested in is a great bonding experience all year long.

Response from Michelle

Try each person writing a letter to another wishing them something for the coming year. Dinner date, shopping trip, movie etc then each of you donate what you might spend to buy gifts to a needy family and /or spend time at a shelter. Make a dinner for a lonely neighbor and invite them to a meal on a day in January or February after all the holidays are done and those folks are again alone.

Response from Michelle

I love your question because we are a small family and have faced the same dilemma. If your family lives geographically close, and you enjoy each other's company, I recommend an idea that has worked well for our small family...we choose a service opportunity in our community and/or a family activity and fund it with the money that we would have otherwise spent on gifts for each person (if you tend to spend $25 per person, your contribution to the family activity or cause would be 5 x $25 or $125). Here are some community service ideas that have been a good fit for our family in past years: Bake cookies together - perfect for all ages - then take them to a local retirement center and visited with residents who are not spending Christmas with family. Make fun no-sew fleece pillows and donated them to a home for homeless adolescent girls. Have a family diaper drive (or blankets, coats or toys) and personally deliver the diapers to a shelter. Pick an angel tree or giving tree gift for a person the same gender and age as the family members that you normally buy for and give a gift in their honor (this is great for children who love to buy a gift for someone the same age and gender as their cousin). Purchase food and volunteer as a group at a soup kitchen. Have fun and Merry Christmas!

Response from Leslie

As a variation of what Michelle mentioned, the family of a friend of mine decided that instead of spending money on things no one needed, they'd rather spend time with each other. But instead of going to one or the other's homes, they decided to rent a cabin or something along that line where they could all stay and enjoy themselves. It needn't be too expensive, just someplace somewhat centrally located, where all family members can get together, and use gift money on the rental. Off-season somewhere would be cheaper. For example, I live in Texas near the coast, and think a beach rental would be wonderful for Christmas! My church's women's group got together one year and went for a weekend, so I know some of those places can hold quite a few people! You can take your own games, or everybody could bring their photo albums to reminisce over.

Response from Debbie

If you live close to each other, you could have a progressive dinner. Start at your house, exchange one small gift, eat your first course; go to your sister's house, share a gift, eat the main course; go to your parents' house last. There you could eat the dessert and open the final gifts.
You could make it a requirement that these gifts have to be homemade with love and creativity: they could be sewn, painted, easy gluing projects, a scrapbook of cherished mementos involving the family, a family tree (there are SO many on the web that require little talent. Maybe some of the men are handy with wood-working, photography, or welding. There are all kinds of projects with all kinds of skill levels--but the best are those that someone made with lots of thought as to the person's personality, interests, and made with lots of love.
I also like the idea of involving the family in a charitable event, or temporarily enlarging your family just for Christmas by inviting a needy family to share a meal with your small family.

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