Organizing Gift-Giving in a Large Family

presents3Let me share a system we developed this year for organizing gift giving in our family. This system was invented for two reasons:

1. All my children are at an age at which GIVING presents is as much fun as receiving them.

2. Economics are difficult this year. Both myself and my children are operating on very small budgets. Some of the kids can’t find work and others have had their hours cut back.

Last year present-buying was a bit chaotic.  I was running around at the last minute trying to “balance” all the gift-buying. The kids were having trouble getting gifts for everyone on limited budgets. A few gifts were almost duplicated. So here’s the system I came up with:

Those of us who have any money this year will pool all the money together. I turned this over to one of my more organized children with a bank account.

The children will meet together, divide this money up evenly and order or buy gifts for everyone.  They will have a brief series of meetings to decide on everyone’s gift. Naturally, each person is excluded from the meeting where their gift is being discussed.

The Organizer arranges purchases, recruiting others for driving and shopping as necessary. Our Organizer signed up for a free trial of Amazon Prime (which I would highly recommend trying out). For the whole month, she can order Amazon gifts with free two-day shipping and no minimums! We can cancel after a month if we like and pay nothing.

All the gifts to each other will be “from everyone”.

I buy the gift for the Organizer myself. That way she doesn’t have to buy her own.

The advantages of this system for us are many. First of all, everyone gets to participate in gift GIVING. Those who can’t contribute money contribute time, energy and organization. Secondly, everyone can receive nicer (though fewer) gifts.  Each person trying to buy gifts for a large family with very little money results in frustration and lots of very inexpensive gifts.  Thirdly, a lot of the burden is unloaded from my wife and I. We don’t have to run around shopping, buying and wrapping (unless we WANT to). The children do all that as their contribution to the presents. And yet we (and everyone) have the fun of helping decide on the gifts, and the fun of watching them being unwrapped knowing what they contain – being in on the secret. Forth – there’s is no danger of duplicating gifts. The Organizer sees to that.

So there’s our new system. Please share your own ideas and systems for gift-giving in the comments.

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