This post probably comes several months too late, but I've been thinking about ways to make Christmas gift shopping a little more special, a little more in-keeping with the season, a little less expensive and commercialise. In short, a little better.
Christmas for a Dollar
Two years ago my family did a £1 Christmas. Every gift for an adult had to cost £1 (about $1.50) or less. I was a little nervous going into it, but in fact it was wonderful. We all got very creative, and the gifts were truly thoughtful and appreciated. For example, my Dad got a pair of touch-screen gloves which I had bought from the local pound shop. He'd never come across them before, but since he has an iPhone, they were a really useful gift. For my mother-in-law I bought a make-your-own calendar (also from the local pound shop) and personalised it but putting in family photos. For my sister-in-law's family I made a cross-stitch family tree, with the materials (Aida and some thread I already had in my collction) coming to under £1. My sister loves books, so I gave her a £1 Amazon voucher. It's not much, but it's still enough to download an ebook or an MP3 track. I received some lovely gifts too - the delicious home-made marmalade was my favourite. And we saved so much money!
A family I know has an arrangement whereby rather than each adult buying a gift for every other family member, they draw names from a hat and each do a "Secret Santa" for just one other person. In this family they set a budget of £50 (but you could choose your own) and the secret Santa can buy one present, or many smaller presents, up to that value for just this one person.
Local Shops only
The big retailers like Amazon and toy shops like Toys R Us can afford to do great deals at this time of year because of their purchasing power, but it is the little local shops which suffer. Many of them have a great service to offer, and lots of original and eclectic gift ideas, and they need our support. Why not decide one year only to shop for Christmas gifts in family-run smaller stores, and see what treasures you can find there while supporting a community business?
Support an Author
Why not do a "books only" Christmas one year? Again, you might want to exclude children from this one, but you could agree with your family only to buy books for each other. Not only does a book give many hours of entertainment and pleasure, but you could introduce your loved ones to a new series, author or genre. Books are educational, affordable, and you're supporting humble writers like me. Plus, they're so easy to wrap!
So if it's too late this year, why not file away one of these ideas for next Christmas, and make your gift-giving and buying a little different.