A different way to give at Christmas

Written and accurate as at: 16 December 2011

In the era of consumption, it seems if you’re not buying new then you’re cheating the system. While purchasing new items can assist retailers, there are other ways to engage in the gift giving spirit.

There was a family who went to their Grandmother’s house each Christmas Eve.

Over time, the family grew from a dozen to over 50 people. As the family grew, the cost of buying gifts for the other family member’s became rather expensive.

As a solution, the decision was made that everyone’s name would go in a hat, and each person would draw out a name and buy a present for just that person the following year.

While the intent was wonderful, due to the size of the family, and the long gone era of delayed gratification, it was difficult to buy something that was deeply meaningful for the other person that they hadn’t already purchased for themselves.

Upon this experience, a novel concept was born.

The Family Christmas Auction

Instead of hitting the shops to buy new, each family member would bring along books, games, toys, tools, CD’s, DVD’s and similar they no longer used, but were still in good condition.

With each child provided with a little bit of money from the elders, and all the other family members encouraged to spend what they would usually spend on Christmas presents, the family would run their own Christmas Auction.

In the spirit of giving, the auction proceeds were donated to a variety of charities, which seemed to bind and connect the family more so than any of the previous gift giving strategies embarked upon.

While there were many benefits, here are just some of them:

• Toys, tools and so on lived longer as they were passed up and down generations and across families;

• There was less stress around trying to work out what to buy for people, and negotiating the shopping centre during the busiest time of the year;

• Everyone seemed to find something they liked and wanted;

• Family members could talk about toys, tools, DVD’s CD’s and so forth that they had both enjoyed;

• The sense of generosity is felt throughout the family through the donation to charity; and

• The whole family could get involved in the charity auction in a fun and light hearted way.

Whether this is an idea you choose to run with for your family or not, keep in mind that there are many ways to give, and finding cost effective yet engaging ways can be deeply rewarding and enriching for the whole family.

If you want a laugh have at the Happy Christmas Message video, which is a compilation of 25 songs in 2 minutes.