Let’s rewind back to the year 1995. It was a few days before Christmas and my nine-year-old self had just woken up and come out to the living room. My mom pointed my attention to the deck where I was saw a present in the snow. I asked her where it came from, but she just shrugged and told me it must have come from Santa. I was both bewildered and excited, but my mom encouraged me to go outside and bring it in. It was wrapped beautifully and attached was a vintage looking scroll with a letter from Santa addressed to me. He had wrote me a letter and sent me an “extra” gift for being so thoughtful. You see, earlier in December, I had mailed a letter to Santa to ask him to give homes to homeless people – along with a doll house, clothes, a water baby, and baby born. I had recently seen a few homeless people in my community and had been upset by this and I was hoping Santa could help. I will always remember this, not because of the Water Baby Doll that I unwrapped on Christmas morning (although it was awesome because it could pee and everything), but because of the beautiful scroll and the genuine thought behind it all. It was truly magical.
Now that I am older, I still don’t fully know how my mom pulled off the scroll, but I definitely appreciate it even more. Unfortunately now I also see the money that is spent and the WASTE that is created. Between Thanksgiving and New Years each year, the trash grows a whopping 25% more than the average. This is HUGE! I can’t tell you how many well-meaning people have given me gifts that I don’t like/need and have had to donate or sadly throw away almost immediately. I must admit that I too have made this mistake. It is terrible for both the environment and our wallets. It also makes gift giving feel in-genuine.
How does your gift giving go? Do you save up all year to gift your friends/SO/family with lots of gifts? Do you also give gifts to your coworkers? The mailman? Is it about quantity? Do you do yankee swap? Pick names? A coworker recently told me that each person in her family will purchase an item that they want and then Venmo another family member for it. I was at first surprised by this as it did not seem thoughtful, but I feel like I could get behind it for some family members. You are getting a person you love exactly what they want. No money is wasted and I believe less waste is created because this person will likely keep this item much longer than something that they didn’t actually want. I’ve personally done it all, but this year we decided to do things a little bit different in my house.
This year, we are gifting each other a Want, a Need, a Wear, and a Read. Have you heard of this before? I know that this tradition has been around for a bit, but I only recently found this 4 gift rule while scrolling through social media and my wife and I embraced this idea almost immediately. This honestly made gift giving exciting for us but felt practical and a little less wasteful. We loved the guidelines because they don’t necessarily put a monetary value on items, but instead force you to be very thoughtful with each gift. I really took my time to pick out each item as there are only four.
I do have to be honest and say that we did not do this with our daughters’ gifts. We got her about 4 – 6 small gifts and left the bigger gifts and needs for other family members to get for her. When a family member would ask what to get her, we would have an answer ready. This limits the amount of items that come into our home and it also helps as we only asked for items with a lasting quality, such as wood. Overall, it was really fun to choose gifts this way and we plan to do it again next year.
PS… I can’t wait to see my wife’s face when she opens the…