If babies have started popping up in your extended family, then you’re probably strapped for cash this holiday season. As Maria already lamented, kids make you broke as a joke. You may not have enough extra money to buy your kids the gift at the top of their Christmas list, not to mention gifts for parents, siblings, BFFs, lovahs, and more.
When I was a kid, my parents were always on a budget. I did get some pretty cool gifts, but I don’t ever remember a holiday that was wildly over-the-top. Everyone in our house knew that we had a Christmas budget, and we had to stick to it. My husband also grew up with parents that pinched pennies on the holidays.
Fast forward a few decades later, and our families still aren’t that gung-ho about lavish holiday giving. Now we have two kids and two nieces. On my husband’s side of the family tree, the adults quickly decided that personal gift giving was a totally stupid idea since there were so many babies sapping everyone’s Christmas funds.
Ever since I joined my husband’s holiday celebrations, the adults had a regular gift drawing (Secret Santa) and a White Elephant gift drawing, each with a set amount. For a few years, the White Elephant gift was supposed to be silly and random—just as the game intended. Some gifts that made the lineup were a fistful of scratch-offs from yours truly, as well as Christmas Story pint glasses and a Superman snuggie.
Since everyone is going broke buying baby gifts these days, we transformed the White Elephant into a semi-nice gift drawing with a $50 limit. It seems like the perfect solution to curb holiday excess and help everyone stick to their budgets. I’d also like to add that we really don’t care who gives our kids what, if anything at all, but it’s bound to happen. Money will be wasted on the children, and the adults will have the White Elephant as a consolation prize.
I don’t know how other families do their holidays or when it’s appropriate to stop giving grown-ups gifts, but the White Elephant totally works for our side of the family tree. If your family holidays are making you broke and no one seems to be enjoying it anymore, just stop giving people stupid gifts that they probably aren’t going to use anyway. I know the White Elephant concept is hardly new and has been a favorite of church potlucks for years, but it just might be the antidote to the stress—and expense—of unnecessary gifting.
(photo: Getty Images)