Friday, December 5, 2008

Unplug the Christmas Machine, part 3b

Note: this is the second part of a topic started on Wednesday. Click here to read that post or to review the "rules" mentioned below.

What are some ways you've challenged the hidden rules of gift giving?

One example of a way I've tried to challenge these rules is in scaling back on gifts to my girlfriends, especially since most of them live far away. For one thing, I've shortened the list of recipients. Then I suggested a couple of years ago to a couple close friends that rather than sending gifts for both birthdays and Christmas, that we select just one giving occasion. I think this has been a good compromise, at least for the time being.
Another personal example: as our families continue to grow, I felt it was becoming too much to give a gift to each niece and nephew, but I still wanted to send something. Now we give one gift to all the children in each family (a book, DVD, or activity are some ideas of something they can all enjoy), as well as make a donation in their honor to the Christmas gift program from Samaritan's Purse.
I hope our families can continue modifying and adapting our gift giving in coming years, and I love what the book says in regards to suggesting alternative gift giving arrangements to your loved ones:

"When you talk with your family and friends, keep five points in mind. 1) Choose a relaxed and comfortable time when people are in an accepting mood. 2) Be clear about your reasons for wanting to make changes. 3) Be open to other people's opinions and suggestions. 4) Keep in mind that other people have done less thinking about gifts than you have and want some time to consider before they come to any conclusions. 5) Don't be afraid to experiment. You might want to try out an alternative gift giving arrangement for a year and see how it works, then make some changes the following year."
I think that's wise advice. I know this is a struggle for many people who don't know how to explain to others that they would like to give or receive gifts in a different manner than has been done in the past. I'd love to hear from you:
What are some alternative gift giving arrangements you've tried? How have you approached the topic of a new arrangement with your friends or family?

For more thoughts on simplifying gift giving, I loved this post--be sure to read the comments for some excellent ideas! And if you haven't taken the two minutes to watch this powerful video (Advent Conspiracy), I strongly urge you to do so.

Thanks for joining me in this series. We'll wrap things up Monday with a post (or two, if I get long-winded again!) about values and traditions. As always, I appreciate your comments and ideas, so thanks to all who've taken the time to share!


Jenny said...

Just since reading your post I have paired back my list of gifts to my extended family. I started early purchasing things. But recently my mother told me that the Holiday pillow cases I made last year were so wonderful. That she ended up using them all year. So I am finding that I can also cut cost by making things for my family. I am making my mother some more pillow cases and they are going to cost a total of 5 dollars for 4 of them.

mom said...

Dear Carrie, I read this book several years ago and have appreciated reading your reviews and insights. I have to admit that gift giving is harder for me to limit when children are involved -- oh what fun it is to give gifts to our own children and grandchildren! I am trying hard to stick with the "guideline" we came up with when we just had one grandchild (and now that we will soon have five grandbabies, I am rather glad we established this early on!) -- a toy/something fun, an item of clothing or something else practical, and a book.

I think it is important to keep in mind that the tradition of gift giving is based on God's greatest gift to us of His Son -- we love because He first loved us (and we give gifts because He first gave to us)!

Good series! :) Love you, Mom

Linda said...

One thing we always do is giving gifts to whole families instead of gifts for each person individually.

so a family of three (mom dad & kid) may get a basket with one item that each person loves, and some food/drinks for all to share..

greetings from holland!

Amanda said...

Carrie, thank you for your thoughts on this topic. This is weighing on my heart lots this year. I desire to change a lot, but I need to realize, it may come slower for others. Thanks for the tips listed in sharing with others. I have already planned to sit down and really thing about what I want to say in a gentle way and I've asked my family to be prepared to talk about it together this year.
I also loved the two links, the video is great and I might use it with Greg's family Christmas this year, as we are donating money together to a cause that we each get to suggest and then we'll vote as a family on which one to do... and the comments on the post where encouraging to me as some mentioned they have been confident in their decision to opt out of gift giving. I love Christmas, but without gift exchanges, I think it would be a much better spent holiday as we give to each other in ways that are more like Christ while he was on this earth, time and heart. Thanks.

Marianna said...

Thank you for stopping by and reading my McKibben review! I went back and read yours...I too was surprised by how much history he managed to squeeze into this little book. To me that was the most fascinating part, as it really opened my eyes to the whys of the way our culture celebrates.