1. Draw names
You can have the adults draw names amongst themselves and then give gifts to all the children. Or include the children in the fun of picking a name. Any way you decide to do it is fine just as long as everyone is included. Designate someone to draw names for a family member not there and mail it to them. The best time to pick names is when everyone is gathered for Thanksgiving. Then you will have extra time to choose the right gift for that person.
2. Limit gift giving to just the children
This is a way for large families with a lot of children to ensure the holidays are still enjoyed without going broke. You can limit the age to 18 where a family member "graduates" to being a gift giver.
3. Set a spending limit
Setting a limit that everyone can stick to ensures that everyone receives something of equal value. You can go small with a $10 limit and be extra creative. Or you can draw names and set a $50 limit. Just make sure the limit works for everyone and is agreed upon.
4. Books only
This is the perfect way to share a much loved book you've read with a family member that you know will appreciate it. If you are unsure what genre they like, get them a gift card to a bookstore or online shop. Cookbooks, travel guides/maps and journals all work too.
5. Handmade gifts
This can be a thoughtful card, poem, drawing, photo album/scrapbook, craft project, even a coupon book for services (chores for a week, breakfast in bed.....) The possibilities are endless. Just as long as you think about the recipient and give something from the heart.
6. Food related gifts
Whether it is a gift basket, your favorite recipe and ingredients, or your family secret fruitcake, any of these would be greatly appreciated. Also a coupon for a homemade meal or a restaurant gift card are other options.
7. Give memories
A few years ago I realized my family didn't need all the "junk" I was buying for them. What they needed was more "me" time. So I started giving "memories". These consist of taking my son to a concert, my daughter to see her favorite play, giving my sister passes to a theme park, and my husband a coupon for a weekend I arranged for just the two of us. The idea is to pick something you know they will appreciate. It doesn't necessarily have to be spending time with you. It can be movie tickets and a coupon for babysitting for new parents. Whatever it is, make it personal and fun!
8. Give to a charity or family in need
The perfect way to teach children about the giving spirit is by example. Let them pick a name for a child in need and pick out the gift themselves. You can do this individually or as a group for a family in need. We would deliver the gift (if you know the family, of course), put everything on the porch Christmas eve, ring the doorbell and hide or drive away. Knowing that you helped out someone else helps to boost empathy in your children. There are also booklets where you can shop for gifts to give to families in impoverished countries. Give a gift in honor of a family member. They will be touched.
Don't stress over the details. No one will know that you forgot to serve the olives - again! They won't stress over that one forgotten gift, or not getting as much as someone else. The memories you make will be cherished for a lifetime. Play games, make new traditions, be silly & have fun. That is what matters most when it comes to family and the holidays! Whatever you choose to do, we hope you enjoy your holidays and make amazing memories.