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Yankee Swap...I do not love it.


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D/h's family started this a couple of years ago, and I just received notice that it will continue this season.

 

Each person attending brings one gift. We draw names to decide who opens first, etc. Then we can open a new gift, or steal one someone has already opened.

 

I hate it. When I purchase a gift for someone, I really put thought into what they will like, their interests, their needs. I do not like buying 5 or 6 miscellaneous $20 gifts. And because we have the largest family, my kids usually end up with one or two of the things I purchased for the swap.

 

My in-laws think it is super. I voiced my objections early on, so I keep my mouth shut now and try to be a good sport, but I just.do.not.get.it. I do have a good sense of humor, so it is not that!

 

Those of you who love this type of exchange, please tell me why! Help me understand so I can move past my resentment and do this with a happier spirit.

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I wouldn't mind doing it with silly $5 gifts.

 

What bothers me is that it just seems mean! When someone opens a gift they like, and then someone else steals it and they end up with something they do not like, it just seems ugly.

 

I have suggested drawing names, but d/h's sisters make the decision and I am not going to battle over it. If we opt out, we are at the family Christmas lunch, which I host, watching everyone else do it. Kind of yuck.

 

I know there is no solution. I just wish I could figure out a way to please all.

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I'm with you. It can be fun when it's an office party or similar, when you likely don't know everyone well enough to choose a gift for them, so everyone gets something most people will like, and you have a fun activity at the party. It's also fun to do a white elephant exchange.

 

But for a family? Nope. I wouldn't like it either. It's not really a gift that way, and not everyone is going to get something they like.

 

Wendi

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The only way I've seen this played out was with "white elephant" gifts. Something quirky, but not stupidly cheap, or one was specifically regifting something decent you had already around the house (and these have all been office party events - never family). The goal was to find a neat something that everyone would want. Last year dh crocheted potholders for his business event because he figured it would be unique that a guy could crochet (I taught him one winter when we were in college and he made his mom discloths :))

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We do this at DH's office party each year, but with a twist - you bring a gift you've gotten that you didn't want/need and add it to the pile and then everyone draws numbers and does as your inlaws do. It's a hoot some of the stuff that's *re-gifted* during the swap!

 

I do agree though, that when you're someone who puts a lot of thought into gifts, doing it the way they're doing makes it really hard to get into the whole thing because it lacks the depth of trying to find something great for a particular person!

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My mom's family does this for the adults (not the kids). It's a lot cheaper than buying gifts for my entire family. We love it, it's a lot of fun with my family. Things that have been popular (as in lots of stealing) are wide ranging: bb guns, bath goodies from Lush, Dr. Who coffee cup, Lord of the Rings maps, cooking stuff like a griddle or nice teapot, tools like flashlight or screwdriver sets, card games, fancy coffee, movies, etc. My family buys good gifts, so everyone gets something good. :)

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I wouldn't like that type of swap, either. Not for family gifts. I agree it's fun for gag-type gifts or office parties, but not for the family Christamas get-together.

 

I DO like drawing names for gifts, though. The type of swap where several weeks before Christmas everyone draws a name--so you know who you are buying for, and you buy one gift. You still have the fun of finding the right gift and the fun of the gift exchange, but it really helps keep down the costs. However, my husband's family repeatedly ignores the fact that we can not, and will not, buy a gift for every adult and child in the family. :confused: I've suggested the swap for so many years, and made it clear that we will not be buying gifts for every single person, but it never works. And it drives me nuts. We feel like horrible tools when everyone gives us gifts and we don't give to anybody. One Christmas we had a relative who bought everyone a gift even though they couldn't afford their rent or bills. But they did it anyway, because they felt obligated to do so. That just makes no sense to me at all. I really like giving gifts, but we simply cannot afford to buy gifts for 12+ people, and I know that not everyone in the family can afford it, either.

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I think it has to be looked at as a game rather than the traditional gift giving of Christmas. If your kids generally get a couple of your gifts, purchase the gifts with that in mind.

 

We have a large extended family and the gift exchange mechanics change yearly. When we've done it this way, I try to purchase cool items that anyone of the family might like rather than purchasing with a specific person in mind. One of my favorite sites is: SteepandCheap.com. It is a wonderful site for outdoor loving folks. I get many of our gifts there. They often have things for 60% off and more. The average is 50% off. So you can get something very nice at a very good price. It is a good idea, though, to Google the item to see if it is on sale everywhere for the same price (that has happened a few times).

 

I put my personal effort into purchasing gifts for my immediate family. The other gifts are what I would get if I were just "shopping".

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I wouldn't like that type of swap, either. Not for family gifts. I agree it's fun for gag-type gifts or office parties, but not for the family Christamas get-together.

 

I DO like drawing names for gifts, though. The type of swap where several weeks before Christmas everyone draws a name--so you know who you are buying for, and you buy one gift.

 

To *me*, drawing one name is less fun than figuring out something fun that as many people as possible will like. I think this has more to do with the attitudes of the participants more than anything.

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We also have a large family/extended family, and I wouldn't mind a swap like this too much. Normally what we do instead is a family gift - game or movie or something like that.

 

It may be that since you have a big family, it is overwhelming to come up with a gift for each person, so this may be a fun and less stressful way for others to participate in gift giving, although I'd prefer it without the "stealing" of gifts part. Maybe you can convince her to take that aspect out for the sake of the children?

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Our family does this but we also have other gifts that we exchange before we do this game. I am not sure how this would work if those were the only gifts. I know another family who did this as their main gift exchange. Nothing but hurt feelings becasue some people just don't buy that nice of gifts. If you spent money on nice gifts who wants to get junk?

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We've done this in our family with funny, inexpensive (under $5) gifts and it was always really fun. One year the popular gift was a beat up copy of Othello, another year it was a mechanical chinchilla that sang Kung Fu Fighting...etc. They are all silly little things. It would be totally different if we were playing it with real, thoughtful gifts.

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Trying to figure out gifts that are super for males or females between the ages of 1 1/2 and 84 is challenging at best. I try to find family-friendly stuff, but I know not everything is right for every person involved.

 

Nobody else is interested in changing it, so I will make the best of it. I think in January I will tell d/h's family we will opt out if this is going to continue next year. I much prefer buying for the kids & grandmom and leaving the adults out of it. Or doing a $5 fun exchange for adults, and buying for kids & grandmom.

 

I am glad to know I am not alone in my opinion, and I appreciate those who do enjoy it giving me another perspective.:)

And d/h is completely disinterested. He leaves it to me.

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Can you suggest drawing names instead? Or jus opt out for your family?

 

:iagree: I understand why people don't want to shop for everyone. Honestly, the adult gift exchanges in both DH's and my families were getting ridiculous. Mostly gift cards anyway. Not everyone has the time or energy or finances to shop for an extra slew of people. If this were happening in DH's family, I'd probably just grin and bear it or ask to opt out. How does your DH feel about it?

 

To *me*, drawing one name is less fun than figuring out something fun that as many people as possible will like. I think this has more to do with the attitudes of the participants more than anything.

 

I can definitely see this too! I'd actually enjoy this more than the name drawing we all uesd to do. I buy my kids what they really want and/or what I really want to see them have. Anything else they get that's good is gravy. And if not, I send it out the door quickly. I find the holidays are better if we have low to no expectations about family behavior or gift exchanges.

 

My brother screws up gifts for my kids EVERY holiday and birthday. I just suggested to him we stop exchanging at all. He has missed my kids' birthdays by months and then when his children's birthdays are rolling around all of a sudden a gift will show up that he's put no thought into whatsoever. If something in particular was requested, it's always wrong.

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You are definitely not alone! I hate those swaps, and don't participate. If it is a party I have to attend, I just watch the swap. There is always at least one gift that people clearly don't want, yet isn't meant to be a gag gift. I always end up feeling bad for the person who brought it. The most popular items are usually gift cards for the maximum amount.

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I don't like it either. And I've seen kids cry over it. It's one thing to get a generic gift, but to have someone steal it out of your lap is just plain wrong. And naturally there are people like me who will buy nice gifts, and then other people who buy crappy gifts because they think it's funny.

 

I would tell the kids that it's just a funny family thing and that the REAL presents are at home.

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We make rules each year to constrain the gift to some type. Last year it had to be handmade. There is a huge competition to make the best thing. I am not crafty, but used mix book.com and scanned a book my mom had written about her life to my oldest daughter. No one in my family even knew I had asked my mom to write it 16 years ago when I was pregnant with dd. Since then, my mom has passed away from breast cancer. So this prize was very desirable! My brother made one of these bowls for his gift: http://www.etsy.com/people/mikeflanigan?ref=af_you_circle

Aren't they amazing?! We didn't know he could even make one. (That is him, btw.) We totally cheat to win this game. I won't tell our secrets, but we try hard to win! It is way better than years ago when we got random things we all wished we could return.

 

This year the theme is Christmas songs. We were each assigned a song and have to spend $50 total on a basket full of items that go with our song. The kids' theme is gold, frankincense and myrrh and we can do things like gold nail polish, gum for the myrrh... Kind of fun too.

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Oh- I just thought of this: some people do it where a gift can be stolen up to three times and whoever has it keeps it. They also have the first person who picked gets to pick at the end. The way we do it is there is a pile of gifts in the center and if you roll doubles you get a gift. Once the gifts are all gone, you can steal gifts from others and there is a time limit on it. Of course, if you don't get doubles, well you don't get a gift. The adults give their gifts to the kids that end up with none.

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We make rules each year to constrain the gift to some type. Last year it had to be handmade. This year the theme is Christmas songs. We were each assigned a song and have to spend $50 total on a basket full of items that go with our song. The kids' theme is gold, frankincense and myrrh and we can do things like gold nail polish, gum for the myrrh... Kind of fun too.

 

 

That sounds like so much fun!

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We play this at the family (aka all the aunts, uncles, cousins, in-laws and out-laws) Christmas party.

 

Best guy gifts: tools, gift certificates to Bass Pro or other sporting good store, and car stuff

 

Best gal gifts: bath stuff, blankets, makeup accessories, and cooking gadgets

 

Best all around gifts: snack stuff, movies

 

Best "gag" gifts: household decor (think giant rooster, ceramic lemon tree), putting other gifts in interesting containers (one uncle put a sporting goods certificate inside of a pregnancy test box)

 

Try to figure out what gifts go over well, but that you don't mind getting back. And having a sense of humor about it helps quite a bit (I know, I had to acquire one as well).

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I don't like them either. I don't think they're fun, and they just don't seem very nice. Everyone goes around taking the "good" presents from other people. Way to foster a loving family spirit. :glare:

 

:iagree:

 

I hate them and won't participate.

 

It turns gift giving into a chore and a competition and the result is usually money and time wasted on silly junk that no one needs and few want.

 

We just don't put that much emphasis on gifts. We buy for our kids and most years that is all we buy. We rarely even buy for each other. If we happen to see something we think someone else would like and we happen to have the funds that year, then we buy it and honestly could not care less if they reciprocate at all.

 

The swap gift stuff is one of the many reasons I'd like to skip Christmas entirely and go straight to Easter. Yes. I am a bah humbug. And it's taken me almost 20 years to get this enthusiastic about Christmas. :tongue_smilie:

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How about while the gift exhcange is going on you have your family do clean up and than give your kids money for helping and they can buy whatever they want later?;) $20 a gift seems like a lot. Can you just have the kids participate?

 

I would totally do this instead. If anyone asked me why, I'd tell them! I'd be happy to have everyone else do it if they want to, but as I age, I find I'm getting tired of having to do things that I don't want to do or are against my personal values. To me, that kind of game seems like frivolous consumption and waste. Right now I'm struggling a lot with letting go of useless things in my home, so to acquire more or allow my kids to acquire more in that way wouldn't work for me (unless they really wanted to participate in the game--then I'd be fine with it).

 

I think your plan for doing it this year and opting out next is a good one too. Of course there's no need to be a buzzkill about it (I know you know that :D), but there's also nothing wrong with quietly abstaining from participating if you truly don't want to!

Edited by melissel
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The adults in our family do this every year and it is tons of fun! The way we do it is that the men bring men's gifts and the women bring girlie gifts, we draw numbers and then you can either pick a gift or "steal" someone else's gift. Married couples often work together to get what they want. We usually end up with something good and everyone has a good time.

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We do this for the adults, and it is fun, and a lot less expensive then buying everyone a gift. We tried a gift exchange by drawing names one year, and that really didn't work out as well. That being said, the children are not in the gift swap. Everyone just get the children gifts separately, and they don't participate in the swap. I don't think it would be as much fun if we needed to stick to having something good for all ages 6+ months to 60.

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I love it. I think it's a fun, goofy game to play. But you do have to shop for it in a different way than you are used to, getting something that would have a wide appeal. Of course there are a variety of ways to play and a variety of ways to plan: some better and some worse. I think maybe if you can get past buying something for Uncle George to buying something *most* of the men would like it could be a lot of fun.

 

My favorite way to play is to bring something from home, thus making it a very cheap game. And it's alot of fun when there is an item so goofy that it keeps reappearing each year and it becomes a family joke as to who ended up with it etc., etc.

 

My parents were in a group that did this year after year. My parents actually had a ceramic white elephant (one of the alternate names of the game) that they used to decorate their home for 20 years or so. They decided it was time to part with it and wrapped it for their swap. I hear that their white elephant was *that* gift for years and much fun was had by all. :lol:

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I wouldn't mind doing it with silly $5 gifts.

 

What bothers me is that it just seems mean! When someone opens a gift they like, and then someone else steals it and they end up with something they do not like, it just seems ugly.

 

I have suggested drawing names, but d/h's sisters make the decision and I am not going to battle over it. If we opt out, we are at the family Christmas lunch, which I host, watching everyone else do it. Kind of yuck.

 

I know there is no solution. I just wish I could figure out a way to please all.

 

I have seen at many swaps that at the end of the game someone who really had their heart set on something was gifted it by the person who stole it when they realize the level of disappointment. Grown-ups can learn how to deal with coveting, sharing, disappointment and being the bigger person too. It's just a game. Sometimes you get the cool thing and sometimes you get the bag of m&M's. Hey, candy's good too. :D

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It is definitely meant to be fun and not at all serious. If you can't relax and go with the flow then it is not the game for you. We have quite a large family and buying gifts for everyone is just not an option. This way everyone ends up with one really nice gift instead of 15 crappy gifts.

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I didn't realize so many people disliked the game. :confused: I tell you what. This board certainly expands my mind to positions on all kinds of things that literally never cross my mind.

 

That's a good thing, btw. :D Hopefully it will make me more gracious to those people who will be joining our family in the years to come who have totally different experiences and expectations (ddil's and dsil's) Our extended family doesn't do this kind of swap but I can totally see doing it with our grown kids.

 

I think it might go a long way if you, pp, can put your finger on the worst thing about the whole game and see if you can change *one* aspect of it. I think it would really be a bah humbug if you totally sat out. Maybe kids don't play. Maybe there is a dollar amount so nobody ends up with the rusty muffler while someone else gets an ipod. I love that theme idea a pp mentioned. Maybe limiting stealing to 3 steals. Maybe if great Aunt Edna's crocheted slippers aren't the toast of the party you can steal them and give her a smile. :)

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Thanks for the ideas. I have been talking to my kids at home, and I think we have a plan.

 

We will "buy" animals through World Vision and give something silly in representation. For instance, we'll buy chickens for a family, and give a rubber chicken with a note. This way I won't go crazy with it, we'll do something positive for others, and my outlaws can still have the swap their way. If they want to steal the chicken, have at it!

 

Thanks for giving me the push to think it through.

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Thanks for the ideas. I have been talking to my kids at home, and I think we have a plan.

 

We will "buy" animals through World Vision and give something silly in representation. For instance, we'll buy chickens for a family, and give a rubber chicken with a note. This way I won't go crazy with it, we'll do something positive for others, and my outlaws can still have the swap their way. If they want to steal the chicken, have at it!

 

Thanks for giving me the push to think it through.

 

Now THAT is an awesome idea. That way even if you end up with something you don't care for, you still feel OK with having spent money on something worthwhile!

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We call this the White Elephant exchange and it is one of our family's favorite holiday traditions. We set a $20 limit. ETA: Clarification on how we do the white elephant. Everyone buys and wraps a present and puts it in the pile. The oldest person picks a gift from the pile and opens it. The next oldest person can then take the present from the oldest one or pick a gift from the pile. It continues down the line with each succesive person being able to take someone else's gift or open a new one until we get to the youngest person who can basically take any present already open or open the last one and then exchange it with anyone else's gift. Sometimes there are additional exchanges that go on after we are done. This way the youngest and second youngest usually end up with what they want and everyone else is old enough to appreciate what they did get.

 

We are also all pretty creative with present so there is rarely anything that someone doesn't want. Some big favoriates have been: An Easy Button (from Staples), a

red Straighline Stapler (like the one from The Office), a tabletop pool table, marshmallow shooters. There have been more but I can't remember them all right now.

 

We also do a secret Santa with a $20 limit. That way we end up spending $40 total for Christmas gifts instead of one gift for each person. This makes it easier on the people who don't have a lot of money and we really enjoy the process of the gift opening. Of course, as mom I also buy a gift for each person. I am surprised at how many people don't like it when we enjoy it so much. To each their own I guess.

Edited by KidsHappen
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We do it and love it! Well all have a good spirit about it though and usually we theme it so this year is "as seen on TV" for the most part we all know that the point is not to get an amazing gift, but rather to have a bit of good natured fun. We also put a limit on the cost. I cant tell you how many fleece blankets I have ended up with but I dont care because I have a blast every time!

 

Also, I guess after all these years I am used to it, but I still put a great deal of thought into my gifts. Sometimes I go for silly, sometimes functional, sometimes I pick something because I like it. It is a challenge and I love it!

 

For us it started as a practical way to get around the fact that we had 50-75 people at our get togethers. Even at $5 per person most of us cant afford to buy for everyone.

Edited by AnnaM
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My DH's family does this too and while it is kind of fun, I also put a lot of thought into even the swap gifts. Last year two of my gifts were the ones NO ONE wanted and it got to be a big joke as to who would get stuck with them. :angry: My feelings got a bit bruised. They were fighting over some silly scarf that was probably 99c, but I had a few nicer things that got passed like poison. This year I am buying 5lb bags of M&Ms and being done. No thought required and at least the teens will want them. I am over the swap game.

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To *me*, drawing one name is less fun than figuring out something fun that as many people as possible will like. I think this has more to do with the attitudes of the participants more than anything.

 

See, I am just not that creative. :lol:

 

Originally Posted by bzymom viewpost.gif

Thanks for the ideas. I have been talking to my kids at home, and I think we have a plan.

 

We will "buy" animals through World Vision and give something silly in representation. For instance, we'll buy chickens for a family, and give a rubber chicken with a note. This way I won't go crazy with it, we'll do something positive for others, and my outlaws can still have the swap their way. If they want to steal the chicken, have at it!

 

Thanks for giving me the push to think it through.

 

Now that is a great idea!!! :D

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My DH's family does this too and while it is kind of fun, I also put a lot of thought into even the swap gifts. Last year two of my gifts were the ones NO ONE wanted and it got to be a big joke as to who would get stuck with them. :angry: My feelings got a bit bruised. They were fighting over some silly scarf that was probably 99c, but I had a few nicer things that got passed like poison. This year I am buying 5lb bags of M&Ms and being done. No thought required and at least the teens will want them. I am over the swap game.

 

So one year I bought something I really thought everyone would love. I bought 2 really nice grass fed organic t-bone steaks. I mean I thought it was such a unique idea. No one stole them. So I did and they were yummy.

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Thanks for the ideas. I have been talking to my kids at home, and I think we have a plan.

 

We will "buy" animals through World Vision and give something silly in representation. For instance, we'll buy chickens for a family, and give a rubber chicken with a note. This way I won't go crazy with it, we'll do something positive for others, and my outlaws can still have the swap their way. If they want to steal the chicken, have at it!

 

Thanks for giving me the push to think it through.

 

Great idea!

 

What about giving a Webkinz or Lilkinz to represent the gift? They are often pretty inexpensive on Amazon.

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