During this Christmas each family member received not one, but two gift cards to Pottery Barn. To be honest, it might have been easier to just say – hand your Pottery Barn gift card to the right and now back to the left – because I think the only one feeling super merry that Christmas were the Pottery Barn stockholders.
So after the “Pottery Barn Christmas” (and not because it looked like the catalog), DH family decided that we needed to “downsize” and instituted a new family tradition called “The Consumable Gift Exchange.” (Which was one of the BEST ideas we have ever come up with…)
Here is complex breakdown:
1. The gift can not cost more than $10.
2. The gift must be consumable – meaning it can not be “around” a year from now. Examples include food, beer, wine, candles, pens, stationary, candy, flower seeds, soap, lotion, body wash, etc…you get the picture.
Hard, huh? While we were all aprehensive the first year – it turned out awesome! And now, I look forward to it every year. Here is why I love the new tradition…
1. It is cheaper. Before on average, we were spending $40 per person – now we are spending $10. When you are buying for 5 people, the difference is a $150. (But this isn’t the main reason.)
2. It is less stressful. Let’s be honest, it is STRESSFUL to find the “ultimate” gift for $40 or less for people you may/may not see a couple of times a year. You want them to like the gift – but you never know if their smile meant “WOW – this is cool!” or “WOW – this is going out in the garage sale next year!” At $10 – you try your hardest, but if they aren’t in love – it’s okay, because it was only $10, and someone will eat it.
3. It is more fun to buy (and receive). My mother-in-law loves chocolate and my sister-in-law loves chai tea – so it is fun to buy them premium chocolate bars and chai tea. They love getting them as a gift because both of them have a hard time justifying the “spluge” when they have to buy it themselves. For some of us – it is harder to justify Dunkin Donuts ground coffee than a new pair of jeans.
4. It creates less waste. I hope I am not alone in saying that I have received gifts from people (who spent hard earned money) that I never used, wore, or took out of the box, and ended up either at a garage sale or given to a thrift store. When you think about it – what a waste. When you exchange consumables – nine times out of ten the item is going to get used.
5. It allows you to donate to worthy charities. If you are financially able, you can take the money you save and donate it to charity. There is a program called the Advent Conspiracy which talks about rethinking the way we look at Christmas – to worship less, spend less, give more, and love all. You could use the money to provide gifts for children who have parents in prison with Angel Tree or purchase some toys for those less fortunate with Toys for Tots or decide you are going to sponsor a child in a developing country for a year with Compassion International. (Really the possibilities are endless.)
So, if you are feeling holiday burnout with exchanging Christmas presents to extended family, looking for a way to downsize to focus more on the season, or trying to find a way to give more to charities this year, while still exchanging and having fun – you might bring up the “Consumable Gift Exchange” idea to the family. Believe me, you won’t be disappointed.