This year the family (the in-town family, meaning my wife’s family plus spouses/soon-to-be-spouses) all converged on a new way to do the Christmas gift exchange.
Until the next generation of little people comes along, we’re all adults and thus we’re all apt to get whatever physical stuff we want on our own. So there’s a generally not a lot of things we need or could get excited about which we don’t already have, which makes gift giving tricky. So we came up with a few rules to make it interesting this year:
- Stuff is out: experiences are in. The gifts you give are to be experiences for the recipients. An experience that you can share with the recipient is encouraged, but optional.
- Quality over quantity. Everyone randomly picks two people to get gifts for, so it’s like Secret Santa doubled.
- No picking yourself or your spouse/spouse-to-be. Keeps things interesting by requiring cross-couple creativity.
- Just to throw back in a dash of material goods (and to make things tastelessly teeter on the brink of over-complexity), everyone brings one gift valued between $20-50 for White Elephant exchange.
How did it work? Really well, methinks. It took a few tricks of logic to do the drawing of two names each where self and spouse weren’t allowed, all whilst one couple was missing (we sealed the remaining un-drawn 4 names in an envelope for them to draw from later, and had to concoct an elaborate ruse by which we could be certain they wouldn’t be stuck with a mis-draw, forcing a full do-over).
The gifts we all came up with really good–things like a weekend getaway, a snowshoeing adventure, a ride in a sail plane, a Cirque du Soleil show, and membership to the Botanic Gardens all marked the creativity put in to the theme. What’s more, each of us left Christmas with 2 experiences to look forward to, making the fun of the exchange way more long lasting than it usually would have been.
All in all, taking the time to call time out on the standard model and inventing a new one was a big win, worth doing again both in the sense of using those exact rules, because they worked so well, as well as inventing another set of rules to mix it up yet again.
Which is good, because I think we’ve got a few more years before the little people come and make gift exchange simple again.