When I was child my Pa, created this super special gift exchange for our family. It didn't involve a lot of money or a few moments in the store, but it did require a lot of thought, and a great deal of planning. On Christmas Day, the members of our family who participated had a blast exchanging their gifts, and when I became a mom I knew that this gift exchange was one I wanted to recreate for my family as a special tradition.
The rules were pretty simple - you had to make your gift, you absolutely could not buy it, and you had to be over 18. I think they had that last rule so that it didn't turn into a ton of extra work by the parents. What they didn't expect was the way all of the children would look up to them and beg to be included. One year, we even did a secret make a gift, gift exchange as kids without telling the adults. We were trying to show them we could do it without there help, so they would include us in the big one. It didn't work! Haha, but they were impressed. ;-)
I decided I wanted to recreate this tradition with my family but this time, include my kids. So every year my family of five draw names and then as parents we help the kids think of an idea and make their gift. As they get older, I'm sure we won't be as hands on because that's part of the fun, but for now I am the keeper of the list (so the kids don't forget who they have) and we help as much as we can without taking over or learning about the gift we will end up receiving.
My Pa was my hero and I miss him everyday, being able to carry on a tradition he started in our family means so much to me. It also feels so good knowing I am teaching my children that it's not about how much money you spend or how flashy the gift, it truly is the thought that counts, and with this gift exchange they have to really think about the gift they are giving.
How It Works
It works like most gift exchanges where you draw names, keep the name you draw a secret, and present your gift at the Holidays. The way it is different is that you can't purchase a gift, you can buy the materials if you need to but the point is to use what you already have and not spend any money. The goal is to use your talents as opposed to your wallets.
What Makes It Special
This gift exchange requires you to think carefully about who is receiving the gift. You can't simply go buy a book that they will read and forget about. This is something that they can have forever, to cherish and always think about the way you put so much love into their gift. Some very simple questions we ask ourselves when thinking of what to make -
What does this person need?
Do they have a hobby?
Is there something sentimental they would appreciate?
What is something age appropriate that I can do? (this ones for the kids)
What Are Some Gift Ideas?
When I was growing up watching the gift exchange I saw many different, thoughtful, creative gifts and they all had a lot meaning which was so special. Now that I'm doing it with my young family, it's amazing to see how my young kids also create such thoughtful gifts that mean so much.
My mom collected Ruby Slippers (like from the Wizard Of Oz) and one year my uncle made her a beautiful display for her collection.
Last year Owen made his sister a photo collage of them together that is still hanging in her room
Emmalyn once made Owen a Build A Bear with her voice recording in it. (This one was a little on the grey side of the rules but since she was young I let it slide.)
My husband made me a 614 Mom sign to hang above my desk last year, which was so sweet.
This year Owen is illustrating this book for my husband. (Riley, don't click on the link)
There are so many amazing ways to do this gift exchange. This is the time to get really creative.
If you decide to try this gift exchange in your family, I would love to hear about how it goes. Share your photos with me on social media, email your stories, I want to hear it all. Happy Holidays!