As families gather for Thanksgiving feasts, this week’s post proposes a new approach to Christmas giving that will:
– Make sure everyone gets exactly what they want
– Give you the joy of helping others
– Ensure Christmas day is filled with laughter and magical memories, and
– Significantly reduce your holiday stress
Sound too good to be true? Read on . . .
Gallup Research reported that the average adult who bought Christmas gifts in 2015 planned to spend $908, and expectations are even higher for this year. For simplicity, let’s assume this year’s average spending will be $1,000.
This money will be spent in a stressed-out search for the “perfect” gift, battling hordes of other people in malls or researching for hours online. Retail prices are at their peak during the holiday period (despite the Black Friday specials). After you get the gifts, you must hide them and wrap them or, in some cases, spend Christmas eve night assembling them. You hope and pray your gift recipients will like your choice and get the benefit of your $1,000 outlay.
For the past few years, my family has followed a radically different approach to Christmas gift giving. We take half the money we would normally spend on Christmas gifts—in this example, $500--and designate that for charity. On Christmas Day, we decide what organizations we want to donate to, recognizing the many blessings we have received through the year. It feels really good to be able to help others, especially around the holidays.
The other $500 is paid out in cash to family members to choose the Christmas gifts each person wants, and buy them after the holidays. What happens in stores after Christmas? 50% off sales! $500 post-Christmas is worth $1,000 pre-Christmas, and each person gets the things they want, without the stress.
Yes, but what about gifts to open on Christmas day? Isn’t that a big part of the holiday? This is where the fun comes in. For Christmas gift giving, each family member gives a funny gift to everyone else in the family. The maximum amount you can spend is $10 per person, but there are extra points if you spend less or even zero. Usually, the funny gift deals with a personality trait. For example, one of our daughters likes to eat food off other people’s plates. So, her mother gave her an extendible fork. My daughter gave her grandfather a huge package. We had no idea what could be in the box and, when he opened it, he found a wireframe Christmas seal with lights and a moving head that she found discarded at a curbside (extra points for free, and it even worked!). Our son gave his mom a tattoo sleeve. Nancy gave me an “Ultimate Stud” coffee mug that I treasure. There’s continuous laughter, and so many fun memories that we continue to share over Christmas dinners years later.
I’ve shared this idea in my talks and have gotten great positive feedback from families who have benefited from this new approach to Christmas. As you sit around your Thanksgiving table this year, why not suggest a different kind of Christmas? You, your family, and charitable organizations will be glad you did.