One Year: No Gift Cards, No Gift Lists

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With Christmas just three days away and I in my normal last-minute scramble for gifts, I have decided to try something new. It seems to be working for this holiday season.

The idea is simple and was sparked by my friend Tiffany pointing me to this article from Semi-Rad.com pointing out the best gifts are not things you ask for.

The challenge is this: Spend one year buying gifts for friends and families without resorting to asking (or seeing) a gift list or ‘buying’ a gift card.

Why? Because I found out this year, so far, I can buy things for people that may not be on their list. I enjoy opening a gift and seeing something new, not something that I asked for, and I think others do to. It seems backward sometimes, to make a list and say “buy me this”. I know it helps people who aren’t familiar with my likes and dislikes, but if someone doesn’t know me well enough to pick out a gift they think I’ll like, then it’s okay to not get me anything at all. I won’t be offended.

And thus, I have purchased gifts for nieces and a nephew almost totally at random. They might already have them. They might not like them, but that’s okay. Maybe I’ll be known as the uncle who always gets crappy gifts the kids didn’t ask for. If that’s my place in family history, so be it.

I’d rather take the time to sit and think about what my family and friends would really like than to just check things off a list. It will help at birthdays because as it goes now; the birthdayee sends out a list of things they want. The other family members email each other explaining what they got. Phone calls are made when we can’t remember ‘the list’. It’s a hassle. I’d rather think about my brothers and find something that has some meaning behind it rather than something on a list. It has more meaning, I feel.

And don’t get me started on gift cards! “Here, I took some money and turned it into plastic.” I’d rather give cash. Or as I call it, “The US Gift Certificate; good at any store or drug dealer. Even accepted in some countries worldwide.” If you have no clue what to get the person, give them a card with a time and date on it. That time and date is for the two of you to go shopping (even if you don’t like shopping, because you’ll get bonus points if the person knows you don’t like shopping). If you’re going to just give the person money because you have no clue, at least use the money as as chance to spend time together.

I’m going to try this for a year and see how it goes. I have almost made it through one major holiday so I’m thinking the rest should be a breeze.

What about you? Are you up for the challenge?

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4 thoughts on “One Year: No Gift Cards, No Gift Lists

  1. I’ve never liked lists, in fact I only encountered the concept from my ex. If you don’t know what to get me, buy me dinner somewhere nice. If you don’t know I would love that, why are you buying something for me? (Half the internet would know…) My one exception is weddings, because helping to set a couple up in a new home requires feats of organisation that may be best done by a gift service :-)

  2. I have never asked my children (11, 10 and 7 now) to make a list…this year they decided to make a list of their wants and left it on the wall by their stockings. I actually took my daughter aside the other day and asked her how she would feel if she didn’t get those things from us. She decided that she would be okay with it. Which is good since I didn’t buy her one thing on that list. I personally have the same philosophy that you mentioned above. I love personally picking out gifts and hoping they will like it. I really prefer to receive gifts that are a surprise to me too. I have been thankful that my husband’s family approaches gift giving the same way. Makes Christmas so much more fun! I do on the other hand hear what the kids have specifically asked Santa for and have tried to accommodate. He is after all, Santa. :) I had taught my older two when they were younger that there wasn’t a Santa, but somehow when my older son turned 8, he decided he was real and so we have played along. I think the kids like the extra gifts and a little bit of fun with the season. Pretty sure they will get it figured out that he isn’t real, but I think the fun in them wants to still believe :). Thanks for your post, it was wonderfully confirming that I am not alone in my desire to be thoughtful with my gift giving.

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