Then my friend Sharon proposed a gift exchange for the office party that changed my life. It wasn't her idea originally, she had gotten the idea from Oprah.
You know when Oprah finds a great product, she buys one for everyone in her audience? Well, that year my office did a gift giving party where everyone brought "their favorite thing" and shared one with everyone. We had a $2 limit, per person. There were 22 people in the office, so I wrapped 22 of the same item and distributed 1 into each stocking.
We had a party and opened each item and tried to guess who it came from. It was fun and we received unexpected things.
I bought everyone a k-cup of "chocolate donut flavored" coffee. Other items gifted were small book of sudoku puzzles, a ball point pen, a candy bar, a laser pointer... The point is, whenever I do a sudoku, or the kids play w the laser pointer, it makes me think of the person who gave it to me.
I proposed this plan to Jeff's family. It was simple. Think of what your favorite thing is, and buy one for everyone. The recommended range for the gift is $25, per item. This could be anything that YOU think is cool, maybe you found great wool socks, a flashlight, an US weekly subscription.... You would just buy 6 of that item and be done w Xmas shopping for the grown ups. It doesn't matter as long as YOU like it, don't worry if I will like it.
We would still give individual gifts to the Beechnuts and the Beechnut's cousins.
I was a little nervous, since there was a chance I could ruin Christmas for my husbands family.
On Christmas day, it was a hit! We received an assortment of gifts that really are more personal to the giver. My mother-in-law, who thinks coffee that isn't hot enough to give a 3rd degree burn is too cold, gave travel mugs that keep coffee piping hot for hours. I gave a wall-charger that has 4 outlets and 2 USB ports, which stopped the constant unplugging of each others cell phones in our kitchen.
And now, whenever I use the travel mug, I think of my Mother-in-law. When I travel and need an extra charge for my cell phone, I think of my Father-in-law when I use the solar-powered external battery he gave me.
The next year I sold it to my family and it went just as well. I think of my brother whenever I wear an Under Armor shirt for a run. I think of my sister when I put truffle salt on, well lets be honest, everything.
Its fun to see what others have found for their favorite thing for the year.
We also brought the Beechnuts into it. They gave their favorite things last year. And they spent a lot of time thinking of their favorite thing this year. The big Beechnut even used her allowance to buy her gifts this year. Which is what I wanted in the first place, to have a meaningful gift giving experience, and not just ask people "What do you want for Christmas"
I know its a little late in the year for this post, I'm sure it would have been more helpful to have this in September so you can sell it to your own family, but now you can be ahead of the game for next year.