Several years ago when things were tight with my immediate family we reached out to our extended family and discussed a couple of ideas regarding that year’s Christmas gifts:

  1. Skipping individual gifts and instead give one gift per family
  2. Exchange homemade gifts (the same homemade gift for all families) only

Everyone agreed and it worked out well. We got together with this part of the family on Thanksgiving every year but not Christmas. So we have our little Christmas exchange the day after Thanksgiving and make gingerbread houses or decorate sugar cookies together. Because this get together is part Thanksgiving weekend and part Christmas we have been calling this exchange Thanksmas.

Now over 10 years later we are still exchanging homemade gifts. We revisited the idea of purchased gifts a few years later, but we all seemed to enjoy the homemade gifts, so we are continuing. It has been SO nice over the years to make 4 homemade gifts and be done. It doesn’t always eliminate the stress as I sometimes still procrastinate making them!

I think this was one of my better gifts: garden art

Do some homemade gifts turn to clutter? Yes, of course. But what is given to you as a gift is yours. I have also like practical gifts. Edibles have been popular with our family: soups in a jar, jams, nut butter, cookies in a jar, etc.

Is everyone crafty? No, but that is okay. Some ideas are found on etsy, sometimes I find inspiration in craft stores, in magazines or in retail stores & recreate my own.

Can you find something that your family can agree upon for the holidays to reduce the clutter, reduce the spending, reduce stress, and BE more with our families and friends? A friend of mine does an annual Thanksgifting party where the goal is to give away the best white elephant gift! There is even a prize for the best (read worst) gift. I love it! Talk about making clearing clutter fun! My Aunt donates to a charity in the name of her granddaughter. I also heard about a family that gives experience gifts. They draw names from a hat and spend time with that person and give an experience with a limit of $25. What a cool idea! What does your family do to limit holiday overwhelm when it comes to gifts?

Here’s to increasing our love while reducing the number of gifts (future clutter) this holiday season! ~Ellen

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