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Brilliant or Baffling: A Different Approach to Gift Giving

There's a bit of a rush that comes when you watch someone open a gift you've given them, and their expression leaves no room for wondering whether or not they love it. This year, more people are looking for gifts that have substance without costing a substantial amount.

Staying within this frame of thinking, Ron Lieber of The New York Times suggested a different approach to giving.

Everyone in the family puts their gift budget into a pot. A designated banker sets half aside and divides it by the number of gift recipients. Everybody takes their share and buys one special thing, though I might exempt small children. Everybody wears or brings their gifts to the holiday gathering for appreciation. Then, over dessert, the family votes on how to distribute the rest of the money to a worthy cause (or several).

His test panel reacted with several objections to his proposal. What do you think of his idea, is it brilliant or baffling?


Join The Conversation
kapikani kapikani 8 years
Another thing, I think if there are people who have enough money to give to charities, then more power to them. However, most of us barely live off the money we earn. I'm not selfish, I always say that if I had a little extra, I would donate it to charity. I do donate in other ways. I'm sure many get gifts that they don't really need/like. Most givers also forget to include gift receipts for us to return if necessary. So, when I get gifts that is not something I like or need, I donate them to any of the charitable offices in our area. I also donate a lot of the toys that are in like new or unused condition to family shelters. My son gets a lot of gifts (he's the first grandchild on both sides) so I'll donate whatever he doesn't need. I'm pretty sure most people do this already.
kapikani kapikani 8 years
Hey krae85, we also do that in our family. We only buy the children gifts. It actually works out well because I only have 2 nieces and 2 nephews, and my own son. I also do the same with my friends'; just buy their children gifts. Every year, in the beginning of December, I'll ask all the parents to tell me what they want for their kids (if their too young to decide) and/or what their kids would like for Christmas. I'll list all the stores in my area (anything within 50 miles) so that way they know that those are the only store options I have. I'll also tell them to make up a wishlist on amazon or any other website so that way when I order, it'll go directly to their home. This makes it so much easier. I love seeing the kids get excited when they're about to open their gifts. I take a lot of pictures of those moments.
psterling psterling 8 years
I love ideas that keep christmas about the things that matter instead of just the presents but I think this feels pretty thoughtless and therefore pointless.
longhornlass04 longhornlass04 8 years
My family just took a big a trip to Kauai this month so we decided for Christmas to buy each other one present and then we each pick a charity and the other family members donate to that charity. Granted, there's only 3 of us in my immediate family, so definitely don't need a "banker" to tell us how much to spend.
LoveSarah LoveSarah 8 years
I have some greedy family members, so I don't think this would work out all that well.
gemsera gemsera 8 years
charity giving is a personal choice, i think you would be putting people in a difficult position, particularily if they dont have alot of money or even are in charity positions themselves (they may have just lost a home, or a job etc) its much better to appreciate the act of giving, no matter how small. I love to buy presents for everyone, friends, friends siblings and parents, but they are just small tokens to show I know they are there, and appreciate that cup of tea they made me months ago. some people may spend alot of money but I think thats up to them.
verily verily 8 years
Talk about overly complicated. I come from a big family and we have a Secret Santa-like lottery. On Thanksgiving, we each draw a name out of a hat and give a gift to that one sibling. And then of course we each give mom and dad gifts. So much more affordable for us that way. The charitable contribution is a nice idea, but why not just ask for $10 or 20 a piece just for that?
lauriegilbert lauriegilbert 8 years
This seems like a way to cause fights and be selfish all at the same time, while masking it under a gift to charity. I definitely don't get how much better this would be than a Secret Santa and the family making a charity donation.
hithatsmybike hithatsmybike 8 years
I don't like it. At my big family gathering (aunts, uncles, cousins) we just do that "white elephant" or whatever it's called, where everyone puts a gift under the tree and then we all draw numbers. The first person picks a gift, unwraps it, then the next person can steal the gift or choose a new one from under the tree.
ilanac13 ilanac13 8 years
i've never heard of this and i think that it's a GREAT idea. i think that a lot of the time we feel like we should be spending more on gifts than is necessary and this is one of the best ways to go about it.
looseseal looseseal 8 years
That seems like an overly complicated process. Pool the money then divvy it up again? Why don't people just save their money for themselves and buy what they want for themselves then? Seriously, that way you don't have to try to read people's minds or end up getting people crap that they didn't want.
krae85 krae85 8 years
in my family we only buy presents for the kids, but there's so many of them (my younger cousins) that I still go broke!
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