Here we are…. a few days before Christmas.
The pressure is on to get the gifts on time for Christmas and some folks are living and breathing the coined American idiom, “Shop ’til you drop.”
Contrary to the common belief that all women love shopping, I don’t. Maybe I am an exception, but I avoid the mall as much as possible. Christmas can be such a hectic time and, for someone like me who does not enjoy shopping, it can bring an unnecessary dread to the season. Furthermore, people like me procrastinate until the last minute to do our Christmas gift shopping, avoiding the yearly ritual until we can’t anymore. Of course, that doesn’t help the stress level. Doesn’t it seem kind of silly that we would dread Christmas or be stressed out by shopping demands? Add a large family to this mix, and it can be a sheer nightmare!
I have a big family.
I have three siblings and by God’s grace, we all managed to find spouses (decent ones at that) and produce offspring (pretty awesome ones if I might say so). To be exact, there are 13 children of the four siblings. You do the math and yes, there are 23 people when everyone on the Lee side gets together. I love having a big family! No one is without a friend and even when drama happens (sometime it happens with family), we still manage to have a good time together.
When there were two kids, no problem. Each kid got gifts from everyone and they were doted on. But, we went through an explosion of babies and the doting on our kids with gifts from everyone no longer seemed like a good idea. One Christmas the kids received gifts from all the uncles and aunts, and once was enough to make us realize this was over the top! Seriously, it felt like we were in the sea of wrapping paper and the mayhem from unwrapping gifts was so crazy that no one really paid attention to anyone else opening their gifts. It was a sheer madness.
So, we instituted a gift-giving tradition that we all love.
We have not looked back since. It’s simple and hassle-free and I think you will love it too if you have a big extended family!
- Every Christmas, one person in the family draws names for everyone.
- Each child gets one gift from a cousin; each adult receives a gift from an adult who is not their spouse.
- We set a budget. For adults, we have set our budget at $50. For kids, we have generally set it at $30. But, it is flexible.
It means that as a family, we purchase 5 gifts for our extended family, instead of 18 gifts! I am really grateful that we practice this tradition every year. It helps us to not overextend financially during this season.
For us, the end of the year and the beginning of the new year is when our finances are most tight.
Maybe you can relate.
Starting Thanksgiving until April, we have a lot of birthdays in our family. So on top of travel and Christmas gifts, we have birthdays and anniversaries that come right before and quickly follow after the holidays. Furthermore, our property tax bills come right at the end of February and before you know it, the tax day comes. Although we budget for them, we have noticed that our spending goes up during this time. It can be especially tight as one income family.
Doing this way, we feel good about the gifts that we get for each other. We can get each other decent gifts for the amount we have set. We cannot possibly imagine having the pressure to get gifts for 18 people in our family on a tight budget, plus getting gifts for each other as a nuclear family! We can really focus on getting our one person the gift he or she really want within a reasonable budget, instead of purchasing a bunch of little gifts. It is nice to be able to give something that someone actually wants!!
Lastly, this tradition helps us to focus on the real reason behind our celebration: Jesus!
We can spend more time enjoying the days leading up to Christmas and celebrate the gift that God sent to us. This gift-giving tradition has been a true gift for us! So if you feel overwhelmed by your big family and your current gift-giving ways, perhaps this Christmas, you can talk to your family about starting a new tradition in 2018.
What about you? How do you handle gift-giving in your family? Do you have special ways that make gift giving a fun, special, and less stressful? Feel free to share!