Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Our $10 Christmas

My family is a crew of perennial over-gifters. We love giving gifts; in fact, we can’t quite control ourselves. Our Christmas Eve extravaganzas are infamous. Presents begin in neat piles under the tree, but not two feet later are stacked to dizzying heights, toppling over one another, and spreading out half-way across the living room floor. We have a ritual for opening the gifts, too: one at a time, oldest to youngest. It takes hours. There is applause and fanfare after each gift is opened. As I said, it’s a ritual.

But 2009 has presented itself as that fateful Christmas that would belie tradition, for reasons of scheduling and economy. First, we’ve moved our usual Christmas Eve extravaganza to Christmas Night so that my niece’s maternal grandparents finally get a chance to host Santa (they’re three hours away). With that being the case, Trevor and I realized how much money we could save by traveling on Christmas morning instead of Christmas Eve, so we jumped on discount airfare. (Christmas Eve all alone with a boy? What ever’ll I do?!)  Oh, and did I mention that half of us are looking for jobs or desperately hanging onto the jobs we have? Yep.

So with everything so in flux this year – and our family focus becoming increasingly grandchild-centric anyway – the family matriarch put her holiday-socked foot down and issued a proclamation*. In the spirit of simplifying and treading lightly while Ye Olde Economy is still kicking our butts, no gift can cost more than $10 per person.

What the…?!

All my family gift ideas went out the window. No Flip videos, no yummy bedding, no DVD box sets. I started dreaming up themed gag gifts, but even those I couldn’t find for $10. Every item that followed the rules seemed so random and insignificant (I mean sure, I can buy my brother a $9.99 CD, but do I really want to?). I wracked my brain for a group activity that we could do together instead of giving material gifts (and still love that idea!), but living 1,000 miles away and only being there a weekend at a time doesn’t really allow for that.

You can see where I’m going with this, can’t you? That’s right, folks, it’s Crafty Christmas!

Who am I kidding? There’s no way I could ever sew these gender-specific awkward Christmas sweaters for everyone!

Since I can’t sew to save my life, my mom and sister are better bakers than me (hot savory meal in a box, anyone?), and no one except my parents is really interested in wedding photo gifts, Crafty Christmas has been a bit of a challenge for me. I do have some DIY chops (remember our day-of wedding paper?), but I'm pretty sure my siblings don't want random signage for Christmas. Hmmmm. So after much whining about my lack of good ideas – and much hysterical laughing over “homemade gift” google search results (tissue box holders! CD suncatchers! Handprint wall-hangings!), I finally have a plan. Actually, I have more than a plan – I have gifts underway as I type. They are thematic, homemade yet still very much me, personal, and promise lots of fun.

No more hints! I’ll reveal and do a DIY post after the holidays.

Until then…

I’m pretty sure I could make us these awkward antler headbands by next year

*That same holiday-socked matriarch is not complying with the $10 rule herself, by the way. Why not? “Because I’m the mom and can do whatever I want.” Okay then! As the obnoxious eldest child, I decided that in that case, it’s my prerogative to gift my parents outside of the $10 limit, too. Whatever, it’s a wedding-related gift! Once-in-a-lifetime chance and all!


  1. I'm dying to know what you are making! I am struggling with first x-mas with the in-laws. My fam is the opposite of yours in that it's not very gift-centric (one year my mom gave me slim-jims, but that's a story for another time). Hubs' fam send out demand lists of exactly what they want, and I am expected to purchase for htem. I'm not a complete Grinch, I just like to pick out stuff on my own.

    I think the ten dollar rule is fab! I think I have irritated Hubs and my new family by asking for donations to Knoxville's Opera as my list (I'm on the board so I have to donate a hefty sum anyway). So, that was a really long ranting comment, huh?

  2. I wish my family would make a change like this. Our rituals sound eerily similar to yours--way too much, taking hours, everyone opens one by one!!! Every year we say we'll scale back, but somehow it never seems to happen!

  3. Our family decided to only buy gifts for kids. So none of adults get anything. That way the kids get more...

    I wish we had went the homemade gift route!

  4. Maggie-did you find those pics at ? If not, you should check it out for some continued hilarity.

  5. As the matriarch (which makes me sound incredibly old, by the way) I decided that it was best to continue to spoil all of you young'ns. Your Dad and I want to make sure that when we are even older and grayer, you will feel very guilty if you don't take wonderful care of us! MOM

  6. Oh my gosh. Hilarious post! Can't wait to see what you're making. Best of luck with the DIY-ing!


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