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Simplifying Gift Giving

Now that Halloween has passed, many people will be going into full blown holiday shopping mode. It no longer waits until after Thanksgiving for many.

Christmas is of course the big holiday for many families, and it means a lot of gift giving. Unfortunately, it also means a lot of trash and so forth generated, as well as useless gifts bought because people didn’t know what else to do.

Especially between adults, I think it makes a lot more sense to simplify holiday gift giving. Really, as an adult, how many gifts from how many people do you really need? Are there better ways you can handle it?

In my family we do name drawings. This helps matters in a lot of ways.

First of all, we each have to shop for fewer people. It also means that no one has to go over budget trying to shop for everyone, as gift ranges are predetermined, and the list only semi-random (I handle it myself). The lower a family’s budget, the less their responsibility.

This also has the advantage that better gifts can be given. It’s not buying a little something just to have something to give, it’s finding something wanted because you have a set price range, and that’s what that person will be getting from family members for Christmas.

This may well not work for a lot of families. My sisters and I have always gotten along well, and so we don’t mind making things a little easier on those with lower budgets.

Another idea is to give to favorite charities in someone’s name. It’s a gift that you have to know the person well to be sure they will appreciate, but it’s much better than adding to the clutter in their home.

Time is another great gift. It’s especially good if you’re always complaining that you never get to see your family or they’re complaining about not seeing you. Alternatively, do something for them that needs doing. This was the idea when we painted my mother’s house for her birthday.

Many of these ideas to simplify gift giving require some discussion with the recipients beforehand to be certain that they will be welcome.

If none of those ideas are sufficiently welcome, think about memberships that may be in the budget. Every year, for example, my inlaws get us zoo memberships. The kids just love it. Pretty much any area will have a place you can get a gift membership to, whether it be a zoo, museum or other place.

Changing your family’s view of gift giving from something purely consumeristic to something more considered may not happen overnight. It may take a few years. However, as you and your family get used to it, it will get easier for all concerned.

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