The Countdown to Christmas continues—15 days until Christmas.
Julia Roberts is a certified life coach, author of Motherhood to Otherhood and the host of GR8MOM Radio on myexpertsolution.com. Her approach is always about having more fun, freedom and love in your life. She blogs at www.motherhoodtootherhood.com, and runs a forum for moms at GR8Moms.ning.com. Her take on Christmas gift giving in her family is as creative and unconventional as she is. This is a big idea that can keep your Christmas bills small.
Three years ago, I proposed that instead of picking gift names out of the hat, we go back to giving everyone a gift—mind you, that’s 6 kids, our Mom and Dad, 5 spouses or significant others +10 grandchildren—with a twist that would make it much less expensive! Our whole family has completely switched over to regifting for Christmas. No apologies, no pretense. We each “shop at home” for things we think the other will enjoy – new or used! The most important aspect is to find things we aren’t using, but that are cool, valuable, new(ish), stylish, useful… all the same attributes you’d apply to finding the perfect gift for that person in a store.
We’re on our third year of this plan. Sometimes I make things with my voluminous craft supply, but often I just wrap something from my own closet or shelf. This year I have a pair of Gap loafers that are too small for me, and have hardly ever been worn. I’ll give those to a sister whose feet are slightly smaller than mine. (I’m glad they’ll find a new home, too. They’re nice shoes!) And don’t tell her but I used some Tandy craft leather and knitted two dog collars on my knitting jenny for her two dogs. ($1.99 per collar, for the leather.) I might find, buy or knit some socks to brighten the package. I have a biography of Shirley Temple that I’ll likely give to a sister who shares my interest in her. I may add a blue Shirley Temple milk pitcher I have, if I can bear to part with it – or see if I can get her own on Ebay.
I have brothers-in-law for whom my husband will pick interesting books, cds or dvds from our existing collection. The point is to not spend money, but also to take time to choose with care and interest and regift them with things they’ll be grateful to receive. I think we’re all grateful to spend much less each Christmas. And many of us are more likely to by the other a birthday gift than we might have.
For my own part, I find that my gift pile is about the same level of hit and miss as it ever was – but at least no one went broke doing it. When you’re regifting you can give someone a fancy coffee maker or a leather jacket, something the might be worth $100 to $300 – more than we’d normally spend on a sister. I get many things I like, I feel loved and considered, and I’m able to offer gifts that I already owned. This way I’m not stuck with things that maybe I bought and can’t return, or got as a gift or a freebie from somewhere, or regret buying, things that are beautiful but don’t fit me or my lifestyle.
We have all regifted in secret at some point in our lives. The beauty of this plan is the openness about it. There is no guilty secret when everyone is doing it. We all save money and make our best effort to pick a gift not that we just happen to have, but that we happen to have and the recipient actually wants. It can be hurtful to receive something that was obviously a regift – but only if that’s a “cheat”. It feels unfair if you bought a beautiful gift for your brother and his wife, and they give you the Football clock that came free with their Time Magazine subscription. When you agree to regift, all of the hurt, guilt and secrecy go away.
We took SHOP AT HOME to a new level! I can’t speak for all my siblings – but everything I’ve heard is that this way of giving really works for us. I look for gifts that I hope they’ll enjoy and that will express my love and deepen our connection. I just do it in my own closet.
Maybe you can let regifting come out of the closet in your family too.