The Imaginary Gift Exchange

Last year, as we were fervently trying to save money while awaiting our foreclosure, we were trying to figure out what exactly to do for Christmas. We’re not normally the sort of people who go completely hog wild for the material side of Christmas anyway (at least not on Christmas gifts), but last year we were pretty sure we couldn’t do anything.

Enter the idea of the imaginary gift exchange.

How to have an Imaginary Gift Exchange this #Christmas. Click To Tweet

Imaginary Gifts?!?!

I’m terribly sad to report that I can’t remember which blogger I got this idea from (I lost my bookmarks in a computer crash), but I read about this somewhere out there in cyberland. 🙂 It’s not my original idea.

However, the imaginary gift exchange was a huge hit in our family. (scroll down for instructions)

the imaginary gift exchange was a huge hit in our family...even my mom! Click To Tweet

Even….with my mom!!

The kids had the idea of including grandma and grandpa in the imaginary exchange, though I was not sure they’d be game. At first, my mom didn’t fully understand what we were talking about, however, when we actually did it, we all had more fun than we thought possible. She recently asked if we were going to do it again this year.

It was so fun that it’s now going to enter the fray of Eddy Family Holiday Traditions on a permanent basis.

How to Have an Imaginary Gift Exchange

The idea is fairly simple. For every person you are “exchanging” with (in our family, we all exchanged with each child, each parent, and each grandparent), you need to select for them three gifts. We had some rules about these gifts:

  • You were not limited by money
  • You were not limited by reality (it could be something from a fictional book)
  • You were not limited by size

Basically, our rules were more along the lines of anything goes, although I’ve heard since this time of families who pick out a theme each year to follow, which is also a good idea.

Edit: over the last several years since I originally wrote this, to keep it from going “stale” we have picked out a different theme, usually Historical Era, something relating to a work of Literature, or so on.

Imaginary Gift “Shopping”

In my case, I went online, and looked for three gifts for each person that I would get them if money or reality were no object. For example, one of my kids got a time machine, which I neither have funds nor technology for. 🙂

I printed off pictures of each item, sometimes with a caption if necessary. However, my mom, her husband, and two of our kids just wrote their gifts on index cards.

I then “wrapped” them in an envelope with each person’s name on it. You could also wrap it in a box with pretty ribbons too if you wanted.

The Imaginary Gift Exchange

On Christmas, after dinner was done, and while we were making room for dessert over some coffee, we passed out our gifts to each person. Each person then took turns opening their gifts, reading them out loud, and talking about them.

I can’t describe to you how special this was. It really showed a great deal about our hearts, and the heart of giving, without filling our homes with more clutter and stuff, and spending money we didn’t have.

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