Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Gift Lists and Name Exchanges - By Trish Berg

This year, Mike and I are getting a joint gift for each other...no surprises this year. We want to have an elliptical/treadmill to use at home. We have been running and biking together, and losing weight, and want to have a treadmill or elliptical to use at home this winter.

But we also have extended families on both sides, and we have celebrated Christmas gift giving many different ways. Here are some tips.

5 Tips for Gift Exchanges

1) SWAP NAMES ONLY - With my husband's family, we swap names at Thanksgiving for Christmas gifts. Each person, whether child or adult, draws one name out of a hat and that is who they purchase a gift for.

2) SWAP NAMES & GIFT IDEAS - A friend of mine has a different take on their name swap. They swap names, but include a list of gift ideas. So when you draw a name out of the hat, you get a list included of some things they would love to get for a Christmas gift.

3) THE GIFT GAME - In years past, we have had everyone bring a gift for extended family worth $25-$30 and wrap it anonymously for a man or women. Then everyone draws a number on Christmas day and you start at 1 and go up. When your number is called, you pick a wrapped gift to open and keep. But everyone who has a # bigger than yours can choose to "steal" your open gift, or choose an unwrapped one to open. If your gift is stolen, you can steal someone else's gift or choose an unwrapped gift.

4) THEME GIFTS - Decide as a family of a gift theme for this years Christmas celebration for extended family gatherings. i.e. Swap names, and then if you are all Ohio State fans, have everyone everyone purchase an Ohio State themed gift for the name they draw. You could have themes like: jewelry, sports, theatre tickets, night out on the town, etc.

5) EVENT INSTEAD - Instead of buying gifts for extended family, do something together, Create a family event and spend the money you would have spent on gifts on that event. You could all go to and indoor water park/hotel, an amusement park, take a Christmas train ride, or simply go out to a fantastic dinner at an area restaurant. Memories are made at events that last far longer than many gifts last.

Whatever you do for your gift exchange, remember to stay within your spending budget. Set limits, and stay within those limits. Shop sales and clearance outlets. And when you set price limits for gift exchanges, make that for the GIFT VALUE not what you actually spent. That way, you can shop on sale for a $45 valued gift and only spend $20 when you find it on sale, saving you a ton of money.

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