If you’re honest, I am confident you would tell me that you wish you could spend less around the holidays. This has nothing to do with being a Scrooge. But you also know from experience, that you end up spending way more than you intended. Not necessarily because you were extravagant. Quite often it’s just the sheer number of people in your life that you exchange gifts with, that can add up.
So here’s my suggestion: Right now, a few months before holiday gift giving fever takes hold, survey your family to see if you can all come together with a unified gift-giving plan. By having the conversation now—or an email chain–I think you will all be more inclined to approach this rationally.
Some options to consider:
1. The Kids Will be More Than All Right with One Gift from All the Aunts and Uncles and Cousins. Not multiple gifts from all the aunts and uncles. Just one. You and your sibs and cousins can figure out a system for assigning gift givers for this year. And rotate next year.
2. Set a Kids Gift Budget. I don’t care if some family members have more money to spend. This is all about what everyone can comfortably afford. Pick a per-gift amount (or range) that is respectful of everyone in the family. I’d also suggest that both sides of grandparents be on-board with this plan for their gift-giving.
3. Skip the Adult Gifts. Don’t give me the “Oh, Suze, how could you?” look of shock and horror. C’mon. Do you really need to give/receive a gift from other adult family members? Is that the key to your relationships? Of course not! Or create the same sort of system as you will use for the kids: Pool together all the adults in your extended family and then assign a gift giver –just one!-for each of you. And a budget.
4. Buy Experiences. Okay, if you know someone is dying for some particular item, by all means, go for it. But if you’re not sure what sort of gift to give someone, go for a gift certificate or voucher for an experience. There’s actually some pretty interesting research showing that we tend to enjoy experiences over material purchases. And when we gift an experience–a massage, a dinner out, rock climbing lessons–there’s research showing that it deepens the bond between the giver and recipient, more so than if the gift was something material. A tighter bond is my idea of a fabulous holiday gift for everyone.