6 years ago in the Christmas Season, I was close to a nervous breakdown, wrapping gifts, saving receipts, baking cookies, wanting the gift exchange with my family to be perfect.... the type of insanity that leads people to hating the season and the holidays. That year, I slept 3 hours on December 23rd, and 4 hours on December 24th. And had to return at least 10 things, and donated half of my presents.
The following year, I decided that a new plan was needed, that I would no longer drive myself crazy trying to make the holidays perfect and instead, I would plan out the entire month. That November, I sent my family an email asking them to give me 5 things that they really wanted for Christmas, double and triple emphasis on really wanted. I told them that no wish was too big, or too small, but that I did ask for them to list things they would use. Somebody asked for an Apple TV device, somebody else asked for socks, while a brother asked for a nice dress jacket, and a sister asked for a pair of boots she had been looking at for 2 months, somebody even asked for a body wash set, because she loves those baskets.
My shopping trip became focused and with a purpose and this way, I was not wasting my money, got some sleep and didn't have massive headaches at the mall. It was a success!
Each year since, I have also offered my family one of the following options
* I go with them to the mall and let them pick their own gift. If they need to have something to open on December 24th, I will take it home, wrap it and let them open it that night.
* Take them out to a nice dinner- We all love to eat! and we love to eat at nice places. So, if instead of a sweater that they will never wear, a handbag that they wont' like, I offer them to take them to a nice dinner and pay for it. We call it a "Because I love you!" dinner.
* Gift cards- I know that the Christmas Police considers Gift cards the least personal present... but having a Starbucks gift card late in January, when I crave a latte and a butter croissant, but my budget doesn't allow for fancy drinks, that gift card becomes pure gold.
* To pay one of their bills- If you never had to struggle with knowing you have to buy food, gifts for people and worry about paying the bills.... then consider yourself 1000 times blessed!
* Told them that they do not at all have to worry about buying me a gift. I am lucky to be healthy, strong, a little emotionally unstable, but ok for the most part and I don't need another sweater, another book, another handbag. But I do want mental sanity and bliss for my family.
* Cash- say a number, I'll say a number back... we agree on a number that makes everybody happy.
Each of my family has taken me up on at least one of this offers, and those have been the best gifts.
What gifts do you wish your family would give you?
Do you have a shopping list?
Do you have any other non-conventional ideas on Christmas Gifts?
What is the best Christmas Gift you have gotten? Mine have been a Kitchen aid mixer, and MP3 player and my Garmin.