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20-40-60 Etiquette---Fun gifts for all? Should we give gifts to children only?


By Callie Gordon, Lillie-Beth Brinkman, Helen Ford Wallace

QUESTION: As our extended family has grown, the cost of everyone getting presents for everyone has risen. Is there a certain number at which you should shift to a "kids-only" or "Secret Santa" type gift exchange? What's the best way to keep things fun and affordable?

CALLIE'S ANSWER: This year, the kids in my family decided on giving "couples gifts." This way, they don't have to purchase gifts for everyone. Although drawing names out of a hat works, too.

LILLIE-BETH'S ANSWER: There are different ways to approach this as long as people are in agreement. Can you start an email chain to discuss this issue back and forth until you come to a resolution as a group?

Drawing names is fun and would cut down on the costs. You could also do one gift per family or only shop for the kids. Someone in your family might even have an idea you haven't thought of yet. Just throw it out there for discussion and see what ideas develop.

HELEN'S ANSWER: A budget would be helpful and a gift limit for those people who exchange gifts. If you are responsible for 30 gifts every year, you might want to buy things during the year or draw names.

We always loved the "Secret Santa" gifts with everyone bringing a $25 gift and drawing numbers for choices of the gifts. All ages participated.

Readers, how do you celebrate the exchanging of gifts with family members? And how do you get everyone to agree to the rules?

Maybe whoever hosts the family gathering sets the gift-giving guidelines -- for children only, gifts for everyone, or name drawing.

However it turns out, happy holidays and gift-giving to all!

GUEST'S ANSWER: Kathy Walker, local community leader: With the lure of perfect packages for perfect people on every corner and Christmas and Hanukkah shopping enticements going viral through the Internet and television, we have reacted by backing ourselves into corners of heightened anxiety when the very mention of "holiday" emerges. Prozac, anyone?

Perhaps we should focus on the lasting memories of faith traditions such as lighting the menorah each night for eight days during Hanukkah or lighting the candles in the Advent wreath each Sunday during the season of Advent. Assign the children to light the candles and ask them to light whether it be for peace, love, hope, joy or justice in this world or beyond.

Special meals for the family and friends can become a springboard for collecting recipes from everyone in the family. Journal and publish a record of this year's gatherings with photos and recipes and distribute to everyone as a communal gift.

A good friend plays Santa Bingo with her family. She provides the gifts, sets a dollar limit on each one, and the entire extended family plays on Christmas Day.

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Helen Ford Wallace

Helen Ford Wallace is a columnist covering society-related events/news for The Oklahoman. She puts local parties online with daily updates. She creates, maintains and runs a Parties blog which includes web casts. She is an online web editor for... Read more ›