Take the stress out of exchanging gifts

Over the years, especially at Christmas, I have seen so much stress within families on who to buy for, what to buy and spending money they can’t afford.  With the economy the way it is something I am hearing more and more and thought I’d share a little story with you.

I remember when I finally got away from my first husband, my son and I were lucky to have a roof over our heads and Christmas was just around the corner.  Well I was feeling pretty bad that I didn’t have the money to buy any presents for him and at this time in our life we were starting over with nothing but us and the clothes we had on our backs.

So not to be without the spirit of the season, we went in the woods next to the house we were renting and chopped down a small tree and got that put up in the little living area that we were staying in due to how cold the winter was.   We look back at that now and know that we had guardian angels watching over us as all we had was a little wood pot belly stove because we couldn’t afford to buy the oil to heat the house.

Well, what we did was went back out in the woods and gathered wood that was laying out in the woods and we kept going out everyday as there was not much snow yet and we knew we needed to get as much as we could find.  At this time, we had no clue how much we needed but just kept gathering until we had quite a bit in the other room of the house.

I remember we didn’t have any decorations for the tree – so we took paper and cut out snow flakes and used twist ties to hang them on the tree – then we also popped up some popcorn and we strung popcorn till the bowl was all used up and then used that to finish decorating the tree.  The tree really turned out nice that year considering and now we can look back and smile.

For Christmas, we set around and sang Christmas songs and played board games and cards all nite and I have to say that was one of the most memorable both by my son and I.

So the moral of the story is that you don’t have to have alot of money to have the true spirit of the season – it’s what you make of it.  With that in mind the same goes when exchanging gifts – it’s not the price tag on the gift that matters.

If you want to take the stress out of exchanging gifts, I have a few suggestions to try as I know it’s hard to buy for someone that seems to have everything or for little ones that don’t need another toy.  This is what I did one year for Christmas for my ex’s nieces and nephews – I baked a one layer 9″ cake and then bought things that I thought would be fun to use for decorations and yes even frosting.

Then what we did was had all the cakes laid out on the table and each got to make Jesus a birthday cake – decorated with whatever they wanted to put on it and it was actually amazing at the talent that we had in the family and didn’t even know about – now this could also be done on a smaller scale with cookies to leave out for Santa.

The other thing that has been fun to do over the years is the white elephant exchange and this has gotten very popular – well most of the time you pick a number and pick out the gift you want and then your gift can be taken by the next person or pick a new gift.  And this is really fun to do.

This year at our garden club, we did a little different twist and I really liked this game and this could be done with with your white elephant gift.  There are many games out there that are called right/left games – there usually is a story with the words right and left in them and as someones reads the story – you pass the gift to the person to the right or the left to you.  Try this one …..  http://www.santalady.com/xmasgame/lftrt.html

The best part of this is that you can set a limit on the gift (ours was $10.00) and then you only have to buy one.  You get someone to read the story and try and keep up with all the right and left words in the story and then when the story ends, you have your gift.   For another one to try……   http://www.santalady.com/xmasgame/leftright.html

One of the members of the garden club stated that the kids even do that with an ornament – they all buy an ornament and then read a story with the same right/left in it.  So take the stress out of exchanging gifts and get back to enjoy the simple basics of enjoying your time together.

Have a wonderful Holiday Season everyone and Merry Christmas.

32 thoughts on “Take the stress out of exchanging gifts

  1. What great ideas! There are so many things folks can do to have the spirit of the season without spending, spending, spending. We all need to get back to the meaning of Christmas and not the commercial. Sounds like you found it.

    skype ellen_thorp
    Ellen Thorp recently posted..Season’s Greetings!

  2. I totally enjoyed your post Nancy. You are so right, I recently went to the store to pick up a few items. What I saw on faces was stress, anger instead of teh joyful, happy faces at Christmastime. I beleive many have lost the true meaning of Christmas. Its the small thoughtful things at Christmas that means so much then the big glamorous presents that everyone gives. If we get back to the true meaning of Christmas everyone would be so blessed.

    Thanks so much for sharing

    Susie Moore
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    susie moore recently posted..Can We Build Trust Online- Part II

    • Oh I totally agree Susie and know that things are not going to be any different till ONE person starts and hopefully more will follow.

  3. Nancy, thanks for sharing your story and some great incite in to the real heart of Christmas. Christmas should be a time of families connecting and enjoying the fellowship, not worrying about how big a gift they get or give. This time of year does create a lot of stress. I guess Christmas has never been my favorite holiday of the year because of this stress, however, I do love the lights and family and friends connecting. I love that this is the time of year the the Lords Birth is Celebrated.

    Always enjoy your words of wisdom.

    Kathy Clark
    skype: kathyclark1945
    Kathy Clark recently posted..Special Resource- 1 Modern Solutions – Traffic Generation SuperStar!

    • I agree Kathy and know I went thru the same feeling that you have – it got to the point that it was not enjoyable for me anymore

  4. The past years I have not been in the christmas mood of giving. As you pointed out we do have all what wee need and it seems be no more to need. Over the years things get more expensive but your salary do not follow the circle. I also had bad feelings of how big the high mountain of gifts under the tree there was – it is not the real reason why we do celebrate christmas in the first place.

    Last year we finally decided that we should no longer exchange gifts and I was so happy about that.

    This year, I will be of to work from christmas eve to christmas day. My grown up children will spend christmas with their father. I am not happy with it, but this is my profession and my profession means work no matter the day it is.

    Thanks for sharing and happy holiday season Nancy.

    • Ahhhhhhh but you will be rewarded as the elderly do need someone on those holidays also – as most are left alone during those times

  5. Awesome memory Nancy! I’ve often looked back at the way my brothers and I grew up and feel so lucky that I had the mom I did. She was very good at making an otherwise miserable time into a fun and memorable time for us. I recently read this saying: “The best things in life are not things.” Our precious memories can attest to that! Great reflection Nancy, thanks for sharing it along with the excellent ideas with us!
    Carol McCrow recently posted..Have You Fallen

    • Thanks Carol and I agree – I was told once by an lady in her 90’s that a person should make as many memories as you can BECAUSE at the end no matter how much money or material things that you have accumulated – they are just that – it’s the memories that bring you comfort those last hours – I have never forgot that and try to make as many as I can.

  6. Very Nice Post Nancy. I was fortunate when I was still married and the kids were young, to be able to make sure they had ample gifts. We may have struggled all year, but when Christmas arrived they were rewarded for being such great kids.
    Nowadays, I am alone for Christmas and my family is in another state, so I don’t plan on doing anything for Christmas, except throw myself into my internet ventures.
    My civilian employer is giving us too many unpaid days off this month, so to cut back expenses, I am staying in. I did put up the Tree and decorated a little and I’m listening to Christmas songs, so at least I can say I participated a little.
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  7. Thanks for sharing these great ideas Nancy. I remember Christmas’s like that with my Son’s. As a single Mom you do everything you can to create special times for the kids. We also made it special by baking our Happy Birthday Jesus cake.

    Thank you for your words of wisdom and your great advice. Wishing you a very Blessed Holiday Season!

  8. Yes, Nancy what a beautiful thought and memory. I came from a small family so I can not relate to having brothers and sisters but, I can appreciate the story and meaning behind it all. Thanks for sharing! I love the snow flakes. Have A Very Merry Christmas my friend.
    Kay recently posted..Organic Gift Baskets

  9. great story Nancy and I can relate to a lot of it our family does the white elephant game too this will be our third year doing it and it seems to work very well. another awesome post on your blog keep up the great work.

  10. Great post there Nancy. Yes it is sad how the presant side of things over the years has just taken over the Christmas. But of course if you go back and look at them when you were a child. you can not see the stress that your parents had to get all that was needed. Plus of course I also myself remember some of the kids I knew that did not have the parents in the first. So I am sure your story is and was a great way to do things. Plus of course as the times were at that time hards so you had to make do as we say. I know that it would be good if folks would get back to the Christmas spirit instead. But in this day and age it is or seems to be about the money side. Does it not.

    Kevan recently posted..Friends

    • Thanks Kevan and I sure hope that the real Christmas spirit comes back also – and not just during the holidays but year-round.

    • Thanks and your little ones would love decorating their own bday cake for Jesus and you would love the mess that they make – it’s fun 🙂

  11. That’s a great story Nancy.

    Christmas is blown way out of proportion by the world now. It’s really a way to create revenue. Well that is what it has come to anyway. But there still is a lot of people that know the real meaning of Christmas and don’t fall for the trap of spending money. Some kids are spoiled now days and they don’t know any better. This is a touchy topic around here sometimes because I don’t want to lose sight of what Christmas is about.

    Thanks for sharing
    Roland Leveille recently posted..Consistency Is KEY In Your Online Business

    • Oh I agree – I have to say that I see it with my granddaughter – being the only child – she gets sooooooo many presents that she really don’t even know what she got most of the time

  12. Nancy, this is a great post. Christmas is about giving and I am not talking about material things either. We should all remember that is about love and family. Sharing what you have with those that may not have. I think the most rememberable Christmas I have is when my Girls and I bought blankets to go around our town and give to the homeless people just off the streets.These ideas that you have shared are absolutely great ways of spending joyful times with family and friends. Thank you for sharing.
    Tammie Perry recently posted..Successful Online Marketing Requires Time

    • Oh I agree Tammie – people are going to have to learn to start living within their means – we cannot continue living like we all have a money tree in the back yard.

  13. Nancy,

    Very touching story and shows excactly what someone can do to have the spirit of Christmas and of giving. I am sure this will be an inspring post that many will pass along, thanks for sharing.

    • Thanks Rusty and with so many out of work – this is a great time to get back to the real art of giving – you know the gift of your time is an excellent gift to give – give sometime to help someone, to visit someone, or to just chat with someone

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