Oct 262010

With the recession, in my opinion, still in full swing, money’s tight and the economy’s barely holding steady, it’s time to look at Christmas lists. More importantly, looking at alternatives to gifting for everyone on that list. My sisters and I a few years ago started drawing names when we each started having kids. This year we talked about doing whole-family gifts instead, but after one sister pointed out how stressful it can be to budget and buy and send gifts–very time and money consuming, we all came to a truce and agreed no gifts this year.

If you want to start drawing names, that can be an emotional point for some people who are used to buying something for everyone. But we had a lot of fun with it–I’m the one who initiated it, and everyone said they’d be willing to try it, so I literally matched one person to another through the Randomize Excel function (you could also literally draw names–but I hate to waste paper!) or if you’re the one drawing the names and you know of a specific person you’re dying to give a gift to, I’m fine with people “claiming” someone.

The other part of drawing names for us was putting a dollar amount on the maximum amount you can spend on a gift. For me, this did not include shipping and handling, but it could and does for some. My girlfriend had a ton of stuff in her kitchen cupboards that she knew her giftee would love, so she packed that up–and sent it off to a very happy Xmas recipient! And because she considered it already bought for a different purpose, she didn’t count it in the dollar amount. Savvy!


"Lanie & Tina, with their 10rmb (~$1.50 USD) exchange gift." Photo by amazingGie. From the Flickr Creative Commons."

On that note, definitely go through gift closets, giveaway piles and check your cupboards for unused items that for others would make a very desirable gift–believe it or not, most of us have great stuff squirreled away. This is an extremely economical way to find gifts for both list-people and name-drawing.

"tacky gift exchange dec 16 2009." Photo by waferboard. From the Flickr Creative Commons.

Another great gift idea especially for parents and grandparents are scrapbook-style items. My parents LOVE our annual calendar we put together on either Walmart.com, Snapfish.com, or any other photo site. They run around $15, and are a reminder year-round of our kids and their goings-on through the past year. Another cousin took pictures of her son’s preschool artwork and uploaded it to a printed book and gave that to her parents for Christmas. It’s absolutely precious! The other great thing about items like this is that once you create the calendar/scrapbook, you can have multiples easily made and shipped to numerous recipients. Definitely a gift from the heart!

Another cousin made on her own her own cookbook compilation. It has fun family recipes among her personal favorites. I keep it with my cookbook collection because of the great sentiment that went into that. She printed the pages and took them to Staples or Kinkos to have them spiral bound so it lays flat while cooking or reading it.

Tell us if you and your family are drawing names, coming to a gift “truce”, or buying for everyone–and any other gift ideas! ‘Tis the season to get started! Happy Halloween and holidays in advance from Ruly Ruth!

 Posted by on October 26, 2010 General, Ruly Ruth Tagged with: , ,

  4 Responses to “Ruly Ruth: Name Drawing and Holiday Gift Planning”

  1. Re. your family, “… we all came to a truce and agreed no gifts this year.” Let me be the first to say, “Hurray! Bravo! Way to go!” We did the same just last week — a few good friends, even seemed relieved, and will put our energy, time (and money) where we see the need.

    Re. stuff around the house, we’re even giving some smaller items away for Halloween–rubber duck key rings (old party favors), packages of gift tags, stickers, etc. (Of course, will have the required chocolate–but their smaller than last year!)

  2. Hey Ruth! Miss you and love reading your blog! It’s funny I happened to read
    this tonight……I’ve just spent an hour drawing names for my large family and Jeff’s! It always falls on me to come up with new and creative ideas….maybe since I’m the only girl on both sides? This year I drew the names like usual, careful not to cheat, and then I drew times out of another hat. I decided to do an “Around the Clock” theme. The gifter will get a name and a time of day, they will have to buy a gift based around the time. Looking forward to seeing what’s under my tree this year!

  3. Hey Ruthy, here is a idea i have been toying with, giving a gift of giving. Give to a charity “Example: Toy-for-Tots’ Purchase each item like say for $5.00 or 10 ea, and give each familly member a card with a copy of the reciept with the toy on it and tell them that you donated a toy for there christmas present. Give to a child that parent are not able to afford any thing or just to make a child smile would be the best present ever. I think this is a wonderful idea. I think that i have been blessed with familly that has been so giving and caring but you know me and the kids, i would still have to spoil the two youngest children of our family, This would be a good way if you do have money to spare in this econmcy down ward way. This should not cost any thing more then time and a $50.00 for the whole familly, that cheaper then shipping and you will have a child wake up with a toy under the tree with a huge smile.

  4. Who knows? Maybe we’ll actually have time to embrace and participate in what Christmas *should* be all about?!?!?! I have to admit, though, I do love seeing photos of all the fam in their Christmas cards…. fun to display and admire. 🙂

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.