I recently read the following quote, "According to a study by the economist Joel Waldfogel, much of what we give each other as gifts is not what we want anyway. Of the roughly $38 BILLION that Americans spent on gifts in the 1992 Christmas season, Waldfogel estimates that between $4 BILLION and $13 BILLION was absolutely wasted - money spent that gave no value to the receiver whatsoever. " (Overspent American by Juliet Schor)
Are we giving meaningful gifts to others, or do we just buy something obligatory to cross off their name from our list? Instead of a unwanted sweater, why not give a certificate to take them out to eat and spend time with them? You could also give them a gift card to one of their favorite stores. Why not try donating to a charity in their name if they don't really need or want anything? It takes more time to think of meaningful gifts.
This year, we asked our kids to do something nice for someone else with the money they would have spent on us, and write us a letter about the experience. I look forward to Christmas day and the opportunity to read about what they did. It will help make our Christmas more meaningful.