Every year, my extended family gathers around the Christmas tree to enjoy a home-cooked meal and exchange gifts. As a child, I always loved our delicious potluck dinners and the joy and merriment of the gift exchange. While I always enjoy the festivities now as an adult, it definitely requires some executive functioning skills to successfully carry out, especially when my extended family includes 15-20 people! While everyone has different holiday traditions, here are a few things that helped me prepare for the gift exchange this year:
- Create lists and brainstorm. I list all of my family members and do a bit of brainstorming before immediately clicking over to Amazon to buy things. I ask myself, “What are their hobbies? Have they mentioned anything recently that they wanted? Have they started a new chapter in their lives (e.g., college, new job)? Do they prefer a practical gift to a fun one? “For example, I know that my best friend has gotten into baking cakes recently and wants a decorative book for her coffee table. I figured that the best gift for her is a nice-looking baking book. Once I’ve decided and bought a gift for someone, I check it off my handy list.
- Utilize a hobby or skill. For the past few years, my aunt has been making her own organic creams and soaps. I appreciate a hand-made gift, so I always look forward to receiving one – plus, she can make them in a batch! Similarly, my grandma loves to make jewelry, so she makes necklaces for each of her granddaughters. If you’re stuck on an idea for a gift, see if there’s a hobby or skill of yours that you can put to gift-giving use!
- Budget. Gift-giving can be expensive. To make sure I’m budgeting appropriately, I use a Google spreadsheet to keep track of my purchases and pick a limit for each gift because it can be easy (and quick) to spend over budget.
- Start early. I usually start buying gifts over a month before the exchange so that I can take advantage of Black Friday sales. Sometimes I even start earlier in the year – summer sales can be the best time to snag a deal for winter goodies.
Of course, the holidays shouldn’t be a stressful time, and there are many ways to make sure it is a fun one instead (luckily, we decided on a White Elephant this year). Regardless of how your family likes to celebrate, there are many ways to help you enjoy the process. Happy holidays, and let the gift shopping begin!