One side of the family gets together on Christmas Eve and we all bring 1 gift that has to cost $15 or less. All the presents go in a big basket. We eat and converse, play games, watch old home movies, etc… Then we all get in a big circle (and I do mean big we’re talking 60ish people) and everyone selects a gift from the basket. 1 person is selected to read the story Olive the Other Reindeer. Everytime you hear the name Olive in the book you have to pass your present to the right. When the book is over the person to the right of the reader opens their gift first and so on down the line until everyone has a gift. If somehow you miraculously end up with your own gift you have to trade with someone. In the end sometimes we end up trading, but everyone goes home with a little something extra and we sure have a fun time opening presents. Grandma is excluded from the present pass game. She buys or makes gifts for all the kids (anyone under 18) and the rest of us she gives money too. Bless her! She says she doesn’t want or need anything, but most of us make her something or buy her something anyway. Oh and I almost forgot… my grandfather, who passed away just before last Christmas Dec. 20,2009, was a quarky guy and years ago he got this kit to make your own toilet seat. Well he made it with clear resin and added all kinds of weird knick knacks and junk into it. Think rubber bands, tacs, plastic game pieces, change, etc… As a joke he gave it to one of my aunts for Christmas. Thus, a tradition was born. It’s a great honor in my family to be given the toilet seat for Christmas. I am yet to have the honor, but my younger brother got it when he was 10yrs old. He proudly displayed that toilet seat on his bedroom door. Then my mom moved it into his room and hung it in his closet. I guess she didn’t appreaciate the tackiness. Anyhow the reciever gets it for exactly 1yr and then the next Christmas they pass it on to someone else and so on every year. In permanent marker there is a list of who has had it each year. Maybe this year will be my lucky year. Ha ha!
The other side of the family is slightly smaller. We’re talking 30ish people, so we just draw names. Everyone is in the mix. I got my aunt this year and my fiance got my cousin who is 19. Last year I got my grandfather’s wife and fiance got my cousin who is 6. You never know who you’re going to get. They normally do the drawing @ Thanksgiving dinner, but this year too many of us aren’t going to be there so they did it early. We’ve also got a limit of $30 for this gift. We eat dinner, open presents, play board games, and hang out for hours. This is literally an all day marathon. We have church in the morning and then Grandpa’s straight after that until it’s dark.
My cousin’s family does a really cool gift exchange idea. Everyone is required to make a gift. Anything really, I don’t believe they have any limits on what to make. One year my uncle made a park bench. It was large and goregous wood with metal legs. All presents are wrapped, if they can be that is, and put under the tree. Each person picks 1 gift from under the tree starting with the youngest and working their way up. Then each person starting with the youngest again gets to open their present. When it’s your turn to open you can exchange 1 time with someone else if you want. My cousins and aunt, and uncle are very creative and talented people, who make amazing gifts each year, so it’s a breeze for them. My cousin’s wife on the other hand is a sweet girl, but completely un-creative and every year she struggles to come up with ideas. She loves the gifts she recieves, but she dreads making something. I wish my family would start doing this. My fiance and I are both art students and we love creatiing. We’ve started making all our own Christmas presents for the most part. Last year I made all the women in my life bathscrubs and soaps in fancy jars. This year we’re making clothes for the guys since my fiance is a master screen printer. I’m so excited!
I love Christmas time. Good company, Good food, Good Music, and Fun times!
P.S. Sorry that was so long. I guess I had a lot to say.