This year I saw Christmas decor at the mall before Halloween! Yikes! When will the Christmas selling season stop starting sooner?
One common concern I hear from friends and clients at this time of the year is how will they handle the massive quantities of material gifts given at Christmas while still being appreciative. Some parents do a major purge before Christmas just to make room for the onslaught. (Great idea, by the way!) If you need help in this area, see my related post, "Mine, Mine, Mine! - Helping Kids Reduce Toys".
But how can we keep so much from coming in? This is the part most of us haven't considered and is the true root of the problem.
So many of us have so much stuff that it is hard to find a gift that is something needed, wanted or loved! This year, instead of giving gifts that turn into clutter, consider these ideas that may turn into wonderful memories: gift certificates for spa treatments, cooking or woodworking classes; fresh flowers; wine of the month club like that found at Cabernet and Company in Glen Ellyn, IL; make homemade bread, cookies or entrees; schedule time to take a class with the gift recipient; spend some of your holiday budget on family portraits or plan an outing for yourself and the grand kids to the Field Museum in Chicago. With high unemployment, many families are struggling and might prefer a monetary gift for their kids so they can keep them in their favorite activity. I recently read that some park districts, such as Wheaton Park District in the Chicago area, have gift certificates.
How do you stop the influx?
- Tell your family that you are blessed to have so much and that you would appreciate if they would consider a different type of gift. Maybe the grandparents can give the kids money for their college fund. It's not as instantly gratifying but it is meaningful and will be appreciated in the future, even if it isn't totally appreciated now. Our son loves to take money to the bank to deposit and loves seeing his statement showing he's "in the black"! What great life lessons to be learned from such a simple process! (I know my parents are smiling gleefully as they read this.) I was recently reminded of how important it is in life to be able to handle waiting for things. Saving money is definitely a waiting exercise!
- See if your family would be interested in a gift name draw where each person gets one name to give to and each person receives one gift. Set a dollar range if you wish. It doesn't have to turn into a grab bag gift if done well!
By the way, don't be fooled by gift cards. They are a license to spend and most of them will turn into purchases of clutter or be lost or forgotten about!
How does your family curb the gift onslaught? Which idea will you try this year? Please share your tips, comments or questions below.