Our Family Gift Exchange
Over the years I’ve been asked how we do gifts at the holidays. Low key spenders and absentee shoppers that we are, I’ve never thought I had much to share on the topic, but with much of my (mid)life being about reflection in recent years, why not. Now that I’ve spent some time thinking about it, I realize we do have a certain way of approaching holiday gifts! Maybe sharing it can be helpful or at least relatable for another person.
Truth is, for a family of low key spenders and absentee shoppers, we do actually exchange gifts pretty heavily at the holidays. Maybe not “heavily” by western standards, but for us, it is indeed a time of abundance. I guess because we don't shop much throughout the year, or spend much money on ourselves in general, we approach the holidays as a big annual resupply. A single day of abundance, even if most of the items are everyday things that others might budget for throughout the year. Instead, we wrap it all up and place it under the sparkly tree. For some reason, we find this to be fun! And, tradition! Seriously, I’m genuinely happy to receive a half gallon of local raw honey. I have so many more uses for that than I would a gold bracelet. Yes, please load me up with beeswax for candle making, or oils and fun ingredients for soapmaking. A fat quarter bundle from the quilt shop? Heaven! Yarn from my favorite yarn shop? What a gift. A new broadfork? What did I ever do to deserve such nice things! A couple of books for our library? Swoon.
Adam is thrilled with his annual package of Made in USA bungee chords and also one of tie-down straps (hint: every man you know would appreciate this gift). He is genuinely happy about a few new pairs of Darn Tough socks. Tools are something he usually holds off on buying throughout the year, and let’s me know of a couple he could use. Another axe, one more knife. Maybe some new boots. A couple of books. Good chocolate, a few bottles of wine. Hunting gear. Work gloves. Always new work gloves.
Emily is a less is more person when it comes to material goods; too many gifts would be stressful for her. She’s young and is building her library, so books from her favorite authors are always appreciated (she is someone who re-reads favorites). Clothing if she needs it, maybe a new pair of boots. She’s become quite the world traveler so luggage and travel accessories have made their way under the tree in recent years. She likes a new journal and stationary set each year (she is a dedicated journal + letter writer). Living Libations face wash (Best Skin Ever). Adam likes to buy her organic-free-range mascara and nail polish because the thought of her buying low quality makeup on her slim college student budget is not cool with him. Tea, snacks, some cash. Good chocolate.
Chocolate for all!
There are popular themes out there (something to wear, something to read, something to play with... though I’m probably getting that wrong), but we’ve never followed a theme. For us, it’s really just about not buying much throughout the year, then having fun, being generous, and stocking up on one special day. All with a nod to practicality and good consumer choices. Also, anything that can be found second hand, all the better.
Our main gift exchange takes place on Christmas morning, which we try to linger over as long as possible. As for Solstice, I’ve written about how we celebrate that here. One more fun link: I made this Cranberry Orange Tea Bread over Thanksgiving and it was the very best ever. I think the buttermilk can take credit for that! And the orange zest in the glaze. If you're looking for a good cranberry orange recipe, look no further.
I do love this time of year.