It is a common sight for big families with young children around Christmas time. Many families exchange holiday gifts where everyone gives everyone something. The majority of the gift exchanges among members who are not as close become obligatory with frivolous items such as chocolates, coffee mugs, picture frames, or worse, another pair of gloves from the front holiday counter at the local department store.
Many gifts end up in attics, garages, and donation piles where at least they may find new owners who would want them in the end if they really end up being donated. The tragedy is when they end in in the garbage if they are not biodegradable or could have been re-purposed.
There are many ways gift giving can be meaningful, green and not wasteful. Here are a few common ideas:
A Meaningful Gift of Donation for the Holiday
Send a gift of donation to a charity which carries special meaning to the recipient. A donation to the SPCA is a good example for an animal lover or advocate. A monetary gift to a local school would probably be more meaningful than a scarf to an inner city school teacher. To top it off, put a note about the donation in a greeting card published by a local charity or one of the United Nations organizations on recycled paper.
Secret Santa Gift Exchanges for Christmas
Instead of buying something for everyone in the family, each person will receive a gift from one person and give a gift to one person. Designate someone in the family to pair up the givers and recipients or ask a family friend who is not part of the gift exchange to do the pairing and individual pairing announcements if anonymity is desired.
Many internet websites such as SecretSanta are now available to assist consumers to organize Secret Santa gift exchanges for large groups. An administrator enters the names and email addresses of the participants. Pairing is then done on a random basis and email announcements are sent out automatically. The administrator can even set up reminder functions. These websites and their functionality are very popular with offices and with large families.
Wish Lists for All Occasions
Another tool to enhance Secret Santa gift exchanges among family members or to ensure someone gets what he/she really needs or wants for his/her birthday is the wish list. Many online retailers, such as Amazon, allow users to create wish lists of items available for sale from its website and allows friends or families to view the lists. Although the element of surprise may not be there, the joy of receiving the perfect gift can easily outweigh faking excitement upon receiving yet another pair of gloves.
Electronic Notepads – Noting the Perfect Gift Ideas for Birthdays or Anniversaries
Take advantage of the notepad functions on your mobile phones or smart phones. Take note of comments like “that red Le Creuset French oven would really go well in our kitchen and would be perfect to make my signature chicken cacciatore” when walking by a kitchen store with your wife.
Cutting Down Costs & Waste
With a little bit of thoughts and coordination, gift exchanges for the holidays and special occasions can help minimizing waste, keeping costs down and allow everyone to appreciate their presents.