Friday, November 30, 2007

Ideas For a More Meaningful And Cheaper Christmas

Every year there it seems that there is more and more commercialism and the meaning of Christmas becomes more and more diluted. While your paycheck or other circumstances might have made you think that you want to limit your spending on the holiday, you still want a memorable and meaningful Christmas with more emphasis on the presence of Christmas and less on the presents. Here are some ideas for more meaningful and cheaper Christmas.

Review and pare down the list of people that you give Christmas gifts to. Chances are that there are probably some people that have been added to your list that might not truly belong there. Like any other list that has been created over time, your list of people that you give Christmas gifts to should be reviewed for relevancy and that it is still aligned with your relationships.

Choose quality over quantity. Instead of giving a lot of gifts to those people on your list, you can focus on fewer presents but things that mean more to the recipient. Why give a bunch of stuff that will just end up in someone’s garage, basement, or closet and not be used and/or enjoyed.

Know your recipients. This is an extension of the point about quality. Giving a gift that reflects their interests is more likely to be enjoyed than a thousand gifts that don’t have meaning to them. It also shows that you put thought into the gift.

Apply the secret Santa principle where possible. This is where there is a group of people and you draw names, so that everyone participating gives something to one person. This can work well if have a large extended family, a close group of friends, a club, or at work. I’m not saying that you should add more people to your list of recipients (unless that is your choice), so by participating in one of these exchanges you might buy a gift for one person compared to 20 that you might have before. These exchanges can be a lot of fun if done right. There is a lot of curiosity about who has drawn my name.

Have a Christmas potluck. A potluck is a meal or party where everyone brings something to share. At a Christmas potluck, you would probably have some pasta dishes, various salads, perhaps a Christmas dish that comes from an old family recipe or tradition. If the potluck is organized well, you can have a very nice meal and the burden of making it doesn’t fall on any one person. The potluck could be part of other activities and you could have a nice Christmas party.

Give white elephant gifts. This where you give a silly or gag gift. White elephant gifts are something that you would like to discard anyways (maybe a vase that you received in the past that you find terribly ugly. This is often part of a Christmas party and is generally known up front. Often the gifts are wrapped and you don’t know who will receive your gift (when this is part of a party). It can be fun to see what you end up with. I don’t recommend giving this type of gift to someone unless it is known upfront or you know that they will truly appreciate the gift. In general, you don’t want to give a gift that isn’t going to be appreciated.

Do something for someone. You could offer to watch the kids of your brother or sister, so that they can have a nice night out with their spouse or just some good alone time. Maybe you have a friend that needs something fixed around their house, you could offer to fix it. This can mean a lot more than buying a gift that doesn’t mean anything to them.
Send them a card or letter. You can write a letter or a card and let someone know that the mean a lot to you. You want this person to realize that they mean more to you than some gift bought without any real thought behind it. This should let them know that you took time out of your busy schedule and thought about them.

Give them a call. Maybe you don’t see this person that often. This could be a chance to re-connect and re-establish or renew your relationship.

Buy them a coffee. There is probably a friend (or family member) that you haven’t seen in a while or would just like to spend some quality time with. You could also treat them to lunch or dinner or maybe go shopping with them.

Give them a book. Books are a wonderful gift. Here is another chance to show that you know the person. You can buy them a book from their favorite author or about their favorite subject. You can also give them a book that you have enjoyed reading. There are also a lot of used bookstores, so your book doesn’t have be brand new.

Board games make great gifts. Not everyone likes games, so you should know that they like games. There are a lot of games out there to choose from, so you there is a good chance that you can find one on a subject that they like. A few years ago we were given Ticket to Ride, which we have really enjoyed. Every year a game of the year is selected in Germany (note the site is in German). These games are usually pretty good as well as the ones that are nominated. Even some of the old standbys have been remixed, so to speak. There are so many different versions of Monopoly, you can buy one that has a team of a sports team, university, movie, and many other themes. If your recipient likes trivia, you could buy one of the many editions of Trivial Pursuit, with topics such as “the 80s”, silver screen, and so on. Then there are some of the old standards like Risk and Sorry. I have put some links to some of these games toward the end of this post.

Bake some cookies. This is something that your kids might want to help you with, so feel free to enlist their help with this. While there is cookie dough that is all ready packaged and ready to be spread out on a cookie sheet in the oven that you could buy, there are a lot of recipes for cookies to be found. You can get creative with shapes and decorations. You can also take this opportunity to bake healthier cookies (especially for those people that are concerned about their health or waistline).

Make a photo album. If you have a lot of pictures of the recipient, you could print off some of them and put them into a nice photo album. It would be nice if you could show the relationship that you have to that person. Maybe you have a lifelong friend and you could put in pictures of you and them over the course of your friendship. Parents would probably enjoy pictures of you and your kids. You can be very creative in putting together photo albums. It also shows that you really thought about that person when you created the gift.

Make a gift basket. One time I received a nice basket with various teas and cookies and I thought that was a really neat gift. Maybe you could make up a nice coffee basket for the coffee lovers in your life, it seems that there are a million different varieties of coffee out there. You can get very creative in making gift baskets.

Make them a gift. If you like to do arts and crafts (maybe your kids could even help you with this), you could knit a sweater or make a quilt. I received some hand made picture frames as a present in the past. This is a chance for you to be very creative and show that you really thought about the person that you made the gift for.

Ask them what they want. Especially with your kids, they might want everything under the sun, so it is good to find out what they would really want if they could only get one gift. Of course you don’t have to get them just one gift but you want to get their focus away from the “gimme gimme” attitude that a lot of kids have this time of year. This is also really good for a spouse, girlfriend/boyfriend, parent, or anyone else that is hard to shop for.

Follow some of these ideas and you’ll bring more meaning back to Christmas, enjoy the holidays more, while not breaking your piggy bank.

Lord of the Rings Monopoly

Monopoly Disney Pixar Edition

Memory Game - Disney Princess Edition

My MLB Monopoly

My NFL Monopoly

My NBA Monopoly

Late for the Sky Productions Michiganopoly Game

Dallas Cowboys Monopoly

Pirates of the Caribbean Monopoly

James Bond 007 Monopoly


Dog Lover's Monopoly

Simpsons Monopoly


Late for the Sky Productions Irishopoly Game

New York Yankees Monopoly

Boston Red Sox Monopoly

Chicago Bears Monopoly

New York City Monopoly

Green Bay Packers Monopoly

Los Angeles Lakers Monopoly

Harley Davidson Monopoly

John Deere Monopoly

My NASCAR Drivers Monopoly

Trivial Pursuit 1990's Edition

Trivial Pursuit: Totally 80s

Trivial Pursuit Disney Edition

Trivial Pursuit (Silver Screen Edition)

Trivial Pursuit Star Wars Classic Trilogy Collectors Edition

Trivial Pursuit: The Lord of the Rings Movie Trilogy Collector's Edition
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