Secret Santa -- Everyone participating draws a name from a bowl and buys a gift for that person -- usually with a spending limit. The gifts are presented anonymously, often placed on a table with the name of the recipient on the wrapping. Sometimes each person in the group submits a wish list and the Secret Santa purchases something on that list. Another variation is to buy only gag gifts. Often called a Polyanna, this is typically used for adults, with more traditional gift-giving reserved for children.
Santa -- The same as Secret Santa, except
that the giver of the gift is not anonymous. Each
person draws a name and buys a gift for that person.
This is one of the old standbys, especially for
large families. It can be dicey, of course, if
someone (and there's usually a family member like
this) who refuses to stick to the limit. Have
a conversation and decide what will work.
"A friend of mine and her husband
do 12 days of $5 gifts for each other," says Holly
Renehan in Gainesville, Ga. "It forces them to
be creative." For her own family, Renehan says
everyone makes a list of things they want. Then
everyone draws names and there is a set spending
limit. Another common strategy is to have a key
person select the giver-receiver matchups.
"About six weeks before Christmas,
my sister puts all the adult names in a hat,"
says Steve Archambault in Albuquerque, N.M. "Then
she matches each of us up with one of the names.
Usually these are pretty small gifts with a $50
(or so) limit. Then, we all buy what we want for
-- Yes, that's right. Don't listen to your mother's
voice inside your head -- or Jerry Seinfeld's,
for that matter -- telling you how inappropriate
re-gifting is. Guess what? You're in good company.
Consumer Reports found in a 2006 survey that 24
percent of respondents re-gifted during the 2006
holiday season. Just make sure you remember who
gave you that ornament last year or re-gifting
could be very awkward.
your resources -- Forget gifts and have
a party. Everyone chip in a dollar amount for
decorations, food and maybe even entertainment.
Each potluck dish is that person's gift to the
Siblings Elisabeth Butler and Mary Butler
divided up their 10 relatives between them when
they were growing up in Arkansas. Each shopped
for five relatives, spending about $20."Now that
Elisabeth is married, my budget has been slimmed
down, so I can get 10 of my relatives on my own,"
Mary says. "I'm compensating by baking several
types of cookies and breads and including them
with my gifts."
Carol Stratford, an employee of
the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of
Delaware, says she collects $2 every payday from
her co-workers and when December arrives they make
reservations at a fabulous restaurant and enjoy
each other's company. "It's a clever way to save
and really enjoy the holiday season," she says.