Holiday DOs: Gift Exchanges

Last week, I wrote about what not to do at a pitch- in holiday dinner. At the end, I mentioned I would list what not to do when it comes to holiday exchanges. Only it came out, well...

Ungrateful? Hateful? Forgetting that it's the thought that counts?

Maybe snarky would be the best way to describe it. It's sitting in my drafts folder waiting to get the ax.

All in all, we are adults here, and over time, surely we've figured out what works and what doesn't. Or perhaps you all have, because I am not good at buying gifts. Well, it's not the buying as much as picking out appropriate gifts.

the winnerWhether it's the office party or your distant cousin on your spouse's side, follow this guide for a great gift exchange.

1. Start a wishlist. Some people balk at wishlists, but they have been coming increasingly popular. Sites like Elfster, Amazon, Wishlister can hold all the information of things you would like to have and vice versa. Elfster is great for Secret Santa exchanges, as well.

2. Set a price limit. 

crocheted doll3. Approach handmade gifts with caution. There are a thousand (give or take) people on etsy that want you do all of your shopping from them. They have taken out the negative connotation from "homemade" and turned it into a must-have on most wishlists.  However, that doesn't mean someone necessarily wants some crocheted doilies for the couch or the bathroom ensemble we all remember from our grandmothers' house.

4. Consider a cookie exchange. Last year, given the lack of bonuses and raises my husband's company gave, they decided to do a cookie exchange rather than gifts, secretly or otherwise. It doesn't have to be fancy. My husband and a couple of other people happen to love to bake. Others don't bake per se, but will plop some dough on a tray and add sprinkles.  It's still FUN!

And there are several cookies that hardly take any time at all:
Oreos dipped in chocolate
Peanut Butter and Ritz
Cake Mix Cookies

And just because it's a cookie exchange, doesn't mean it's has to be cookies. Try these treats:
Chocolate-covered Pretzels
Puppy Chow
Christmas Wreaths

But for the love of tinsel, leave the fruitcake at home. Seriously. Let's forget it exists. Unless you like it, then you can have my portion.

5. Gift cards go a long way. I love, love, love receiving gift cards. So much so that they used to expire before I used them. Thankfully, policies have been set into place that this shouldn't be an issue any longer. As long as you put some thought into which card you purchase, you'll be fine. If all else fails, a Visa gift card will work in most any venue.

As long as you actually put some thought into your gift, your recipient is most likely to be thankful. At this time of year, instead of focusing on the haves and have-nots and what to buy for whom, let's be focus on and show how grateful we are for the people around us that matter the most. That is our real gift.

*While the recipe isn't, "Buckeyes" is a regional name for this treat. When I was growing up, those peanut butter balls were completely immersed in the chocolate. It wasn't until I met my husband, who hails from Ohio--Home of the Buckeyes, that I saw, heard, and tasted the difference. Yes, he does in fact, make the best. Even my mom agrees. 

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