My husband’s family made the mistake of leaving me, the sustainably-minded west coaster, in charge of our Christmas Exchange last year. With four siblings (and now three spouses) the family has an exchange where we draw names and buy just one gift instead of buying gifts for everyone. Usually there are price restrictions around the gift to keep it as a little gesture.
I suggested instead of a price restriction that we start a nothing new exchange. Why? Well I find Christmas has become more and more about buying stuff and not about a nice sentiment for the people you love. There can be a lot of waste at Christmas. Items randomly purchased because we have to give someone something.
The “nothing new” exchange took us a bit more time to think about, but it also meant one less trip to the mall during the busy holiday season.
The rules for the exchange were to put together a creative gift, which could be something:
You make, bake or craft yourself
Find used on craigslist/ebay, at a consignment store, at a vintage store, flea market or garage sale
What wasn’t allowed
Brand new items.
Because this was a new idea to the family I gave everyone an opportunity to opt out. Nobody did. They actually got really excited and creative in their thinking. I started getting updates on ebay auctions and crafting ideas. The final results were fantastic. Everyone had so much fun seeing what people put together, with nothing from a mall.
Some of the goodies included:
Used Jazz photography book in mint condition - 2nd hand book store
Vintage dessert bowls - eBay
French fry cutter - kitchen cupboards at home
Used carving set and cook book - eBay
Very unique brass fish lamp - antique store
Pop-up light reflector for photos - cupboards at home
My eldest sister-in-law drew my name and I scored big receiving a pink purse from her closet, a re-gifted black and white polka-dot head band and a vintage pearl necklace with matching earrings.
But the best gift award went to the middle sister-in-law who had the name of our youngest sister-in-law, who was 14.
The gift was like a never ending surprise.... it started with a vintage 1979 Avon overnight bag tied up with necklaces and bracelets from her jewelry box. Inside was a black bubble skirt, along with a cute army green t-shirt (both from SILs closet). She added some used cork squares for the crafting centre and the finishing touch were used Nintendo Wii game remotes so the youngest SIL could play with her girlfriends.
It was great to see my husband’s family embrace this idea of not buying anything new for Christmas. The idea was supposed to be just for the adults, but the family loved it so much it was carried over to the kids with my son receiving many well-loved toys and books from his older cousins. He was just as thrilled by his new “to him” gifts as the rest of us.
Our new 3 R’s for Christmas are now Reduce, Reuse and Regift!
Do you have any eco-friendly traditions for the Holidays?