I love my large family, but when it comes to Christmas and buying presents for everyone it can get crazy expensive. Buying for our kids and each other can be an Olympic event with our bank account, but then when you have to add in your siblings, your parents, cousins, etc. it can get out of hand very quickly. Do you have the same problem? Not to mention you’re buying gifts for your family and your husband’s family, or significant other’s family. I’m tired just thinking about it!
I feel like one of the best ways to solve this problem for a large family, is to exchange names. You heard me! You don’t have to buy everyone a present! What I’m talking about is outside of your own home. My family meets for lunch on Thanksgiving and my husband’s family meets for dinner. Counting my siblings, their spouses, their children and spouses, and even their grandchildren and my parents, there’s about 25 of us. I’m sure some of you have even bigger families. My family was even larger when I was a kid! My grandparents had four children and with all of their children, etc. it was huge and crazy fun. If we bought a gift for every single one of them, we’d be broke and Christmas isn’t about being broke. So, what do we do every year to keep from going broke buying for all of these people that we love so dearly?
We have a special tradition that started when my mom and her siblings got married. It may have even started long before that. Every Thanksgiving, after dessert, has been eaten, but before everyone scatters to play football outside or watch football inside, we exchange names. Simple, right? It really is. And it’s pure genius! I know we’re not the only family that does this, I know lots of families that do this every year, just like us. I remember as a kid it was one of my favorite things at Thanksgiving. My cousins and I looked forward to it every year. The adults exchanged names and us cousins exchanged names. The fun part was seeing who’s name you were getting and then having to keep it a secret. Kids love keeping fun secrets!
Now that I’m all grown up with a family of my own, it’s been so exciting to see my kids get excited year after year for this tradition. Don’t even mention exchanging names before Thanksgiving or saying out loud who you’ve got. They are serious about it. Even as adults now, we all still can’t wait to exchange names. So, how do you exchange names and still make it a fun and affordable tradition you’ll want to do every year? Here are my tips!
- Decide how you would like to split up the names. We have two different groups. A group for adults (you move into this group when you get married or reach a certain age and another group for the kids (birth and up). Some years we’ve had a third group for teens depending on the ages of people in our family. We all still buy our parents gifts or go in together to buy them something, so they are not included in the name exchange.
- Type or write each adult’s name or each child’s name on a slip of paper. My freebie is perfect for this! You can also use this for gift suggestions which is very helpful. Write down your or your child’s favorite places to use gift cards, sizes, things they want for Christmas and more.
- Find a hat or basket for each group, one for the adults and one for the children. Then go around to each person and they let draw a name. Children should give the names they draw to their parents. Remember to keep it a secret!
- Choose a dollar limit and stick to it. We have a $10 limit for children and a $15 limit for adults.
- Set up your rules.
- Rule #1: you are NOT ALLOWED TO TELL ANYONE whose name you drew. The only exception is a child telling their own parent.
- Rule #2: You can’t draw the name of someone living in your house. In other words, my daughter can’t draw her brother’s name.
- Rule #3: You can’t put someone’s name back in the hat just because you don’t want their name. (exception is rule #2).
- You are not allowed to go over the dollar limit set for gifts. It’s no fun if everyone spends $15 and then someone spends $50. That’s a no-no.
That’s really it and it’s so easy. What’s funny is watching how the kids get all excited about whose name they’re going to draw and spending the next several weeks wondering who drew their name. It really has become a precious tradition and such a simple one. Let’s be honest, I still love drawing names and picking out something special for that family member and looking forward to who got mine. Then as we all open presents we announce who gave us our gift. It’s so much fun, I promise! What traditions does your family have?
And about the freebie! It’s from my Snowflake Christmas Planner. It’s so pretty and it will have you ready for Christmas in no time. I thought the Gift Ideas page would be perfect to go with this post and give you a little peek at the planner. If you would like to purchase the planner, click on the button below and it will take you to my Etsy shop, Tera Bare Designs. Think of the freebie as an early Christmas present from me to you. Merry Christmas!