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Lisa R.

s/o Alternatives to Christmas presents for adult children

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We have adult children and aging parents at our Christmas gathering. Most of us purchase items we need and want throughout the year, so no one has a long Christmas list. 

Any fun or memorable ideas instead of buying Christmas presents for everyone?

In the past we've:

-drawn names and adults purchase items up for an agreed upon amount for the name drawn. We've done this with wish-lists provided and without.

-gone on a vacation over Christmas break and made it clear that the vacation was the present. This is my favorite idea, but we won't be doing it this year.

-I had a white elephant-type game where I bought all the gifts which were desirable because they were nice or desirable because they were funny. Gifts were stolen and fought over and it was really fun. I've done this 3x. 

-Last year I did an "auction" using Monopoly money. If anyone's seen Survivor, it was similar. I had a variety of items, gave everyone the same amount of play money and held the auction. It was a surprise to have the auction and was fun. 

For the white elephant game and auction, I had: things like a nice blanket, games ( Catan and Code Names), home made fudge, Christmas ornaments, a new cooking gadget, a new book, etc. The most in-demand item is always the certificate I make. One year it gave the certificate winner the ability to be exempt from putting away Christmas decorations. One year it gave the power to require the family to watch of movie of the certificate-holders choice. 

Any ideas of fun ideas that make memories and involve a gift but don't involve spending lots of time thinking of ideas, purchasing, wrapping and giving stuff that we could just get ourselves? 

(Disclaimer: none of us are really good with crafts, so while the "every gift has to be homemade" works well for some families, it would flop over here. LOL)

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Pick a charity you can all agree on, chip in to that? If you all like a bit of friendly competition you can divide into teams with some sort of cheesy trinket for the winning team, something that can be re-used next year.

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We always have an ugly cookie contest. Maybe you could give gifts for different categories-  truly ugly, ugly-cute, slightly obscene, etc. 

We have zero decorating skills, so it’s a no brainer for us. I use the larger, simpler cookie-cutters, so you can easily make a star, angel or Santa shape into a myriad of things. Dh wins yearly for the slightly naughty category.

Edited by Dotwithaperiod
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I like the auction idea!  We have a mix of married kids and college/high school, so Christmas is evolving around here.  I'll be watching this thread!

A hit last year was a family calendar with photos of all family members - their photo on their birthday and anniversary.  Photos of us together and apart.  I initially made it for my dh to have during his deployment, but the married kids liked it, and requested copies.  I'm not sure if I'll do it again this year or not.

I've been thinking of buying a few meals (maybe 4 or 8?) from one of those meal prep services for my parents and maybe our married kids.  May not be exciting to open, but could be nice after the holidays?

I have sent my dad various fun foods - hot sauces, exotic jerky, root beer making kit, fancy fudge, etc.  Things he will use up or toss and not clutter up the kitchen. 

With my siblings, we draw names and just buy a book for each other.  It's easy to just order on amazon and send it, but we are all over the country and won't be getting together over the holidays.

Hoping to read some great ideas...

Edited by WendyLady
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Dh and I once proposed to my extended family that instead of buying gifts, we draw names and then do some kind of charitable act or good deed in that person's honor - like buy a pile of groceries for the food pantry, or blankets for the homeless shelter, or kitty litter and dog toys for the Humane Society. When we got together on Christmas, we could take turns telling everyone about what we did in their honor. No one else wanted to do it, though - they all just wanted gifts.🤷‍♀️

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We have a ‘put your foot in it’ dinner complete with a trophy made from the casting of one of my kids’ feet. Everyone brings a dish that they think is the bees knees and we all taste and score the food. The winner gets the trophy. We even have the winner’s name engraved. We usually pair this with games and a white elephant gift exchange. That’s always fun, less so now that my grandma isn’t there to feign horror at the raunchiest items. I will never forget the year she threw all of her ‘dish’ votes to my sister’s unset, no-bake cheesecake. She always did love an underdog. 🤣

Edited by Sneezyone
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2dd wanted a zoo pass, she planned on doing the additional tag to take guests with her, but I bought that.

we do 'family' presents.

maybe a dvd/popcorn/etc for "movie night".

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We did the huge cling-wrap ball games with the whole family last year. It had $5-10 gift cards to various places, lotto tickets, cash, individual socks, coins, candy, etc in it. My goodness, it was so much fun!!!!

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Love the auction idea.  I have nothing in lieu of presents, because I love giving presents and never want to not do so, but the auction sounds really fun.  Might have to add that to the festivities.

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42 minutes ago, aggie96 said:

We did the huge cling-wrap ball games with the whole family last year. It had $5-10 gift cards to various places, lotto tickets, cash, individual socks, coins, candy, etc in it. My goodness, it was so much fun!!!!

 

I love the cling wrap idea, and plan to steal it so I have a fun way to wrap some little stocking stuffers for ds19.

And when I say “fun,” I mean fun for me! 😉

 

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2 hours ago, WendyLady said:

 I've been thinking of buying a few meals (maybe 4 or 8?) from one of those meal prep services for my parents and maybe our married kids.  May not be exciting to open, but could be nice after the holidays?

I pretty much like to cook, but I would still be extremely excited to open that! I'm sure they have a fun brochure or something to make it gifty. 

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2 hours ago, aggie96 said:

We did the huge cling-wrap ball games with the whole family last year. It had $5-10 gift cards to various places, lotto tickets, cash, individual socks, coins, candy, etc in it. My goodness, it was so much fun!!!!

How does it work?  Do you pass it around while the music plays or something?  

Trying to visualize it.  I'm not great at creative games....

eta - sounds like so much fun - I love the idea!

Edited by WendyLady

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41 minutes ago, WendyLady said:

How does it work?  Do you pass it around while the music plays or something?  

Trying to visualize it.  I'm not great at creative games....

eta - sounds like so much fun - I love the idea!

 

Yes, its like pass the parcel.  We have done it with a bought 'pass the burssel sprout" before and the family loved it https://www.thisisitstores.co.uk/christmas-family-party-games-pass-the-brussel-sprout.html

This year, I want to try an eco-friendly version.  So putting small items into socks first, and then maybe facecloths, dish-towels and scarves as it gets bigger.  I'll pin it all together with safety pins.  So when the music stops, the person holding the ball will pull off one layer and find their gift inside - obviously the layer is then also a gift (or will be handed to Mom in the case of a dish towel!)

 

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11 hours ago, Lisa R. said:

Any ideas of fun ideas that make memories and involve a gift but don't involve spending lots of time thinking of ideas, purchasing, wrapping and giving stuff that we could just get ourselves? 

I love your ideas of focusing on the memories separate from gifts, where the enjoyment was gained through interact with each other. I wish I had more suggestions to offer, but your past activities are awesome and sound like a lot of fun! 

We play board games or group games after the big Christmas meal. No gifts involved. We do other stuff for gifts, but I find the most fun thing is the games. Others may enjoy the gift-giving time, though. It's just not my primary focus.

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I'm planning on getting one of those meal delivery services for my parents and ILs this year, where they deliver a week's worth of ingredients and recipes.

I'm also doing theatre tickets to the local amateur theatre for my sister and BIL and in the kids stockings, they are doing As You Like It in February. 

My sister did a party last year where everyone got a painters canvas and painting things for one picture, and we all watched a Bob Ross episode and painted the picture - a winter painting of course!

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9 hours ago, WendyLady said:

How does it work?  Do you pass it around while the music plays or something?  

Trying to visualize it.  I'm not great at creative games....

eta - sounds like so much fun - I love the idea!

First person starts to unwrap the ball while the person to the left rolls 2 dice. When the  dice person rolls double, they get the ball and continue to unwrap it. The next person on left starts trying to roll doubles. It all happens as fast as possible because you want to hurry to unwrap and get the goodies. You can google Saran Wrap Ball game. My SIL made the ball. I think she said she used 4-5 boxes of wrap?

This game was a blast for all ages!

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15 hours ago, aggie96 said:

First person starts to unwrap the ball while the person to the left rolls 2 dice. When the  dice person rolls double, they get the ball and continue to unwrap it. The next person on left starts trying to roll doubles. It all happens as fast as possible because you want to hurry to unwrap and get the goodies. You can google Saran Wrap Ball game. My SIL made the ball. I think she said she used 4-5 boxes of wrap?

This game was a blast for all ages!

This sounds like a lovely twist on the  regular pass the parcel!

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I do love the idea about the food contest. I think I might do this at Christmas. This works for me in two different ways: 1) it’s a fun Christmas game 2) it’s a great way to have a potluck dinner and share food preparation time for me. 

It also accomplishes one of my goals to get everyone to participate and not just want me plan and execute everything. 

On 10/30/2019 at 7:14 PM, Sneezyone said:

We have a ‘put your foot in it’ dinner complete with a trophy made from the casting of one of my kids’ feet. Everyone brings a dish that they think is the bees knees and we all taste and score the food. The winner gets the trophy. We even have the winner’s name engraved. We usually pair this with games and a white elephant gift exchange. That’s always fun, less so now that my grandma isn’t there to feign horror at the raunchiest items. I will never forget the year she threw all of her ‘dish’ votes to my sister’s unset, no-bake cheesecake. She always did love an underdog. 🤣

 

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3 hours ago, Lisa R. said:

I do love the idea about the food contest. I think I might do this at Christmas. This works for me in two different ways: 1) it’s a fun Christmas game 2) it’s a great way to have a potluck dinner and share food preparation time for me. 

It also accomplishes one of my goals to get everyone to participate and not just want me plan and execute everything. 

 


It is a lot of fun. If you want to ensure variety And have a large enough group, you can have two entrants per category—meat/main dish, sides, soups, salads, desserts—and then declare an overall winner at the end.

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2 hours ago, Sneezyone said:


It is a lot of fun. If you want to ensure variety And have a large enough group, you can have two entrants per category—meat/main dish, sides, soups, salads, desserts—and then declare an overall winner at the end.

How do you score the food? Points for presentation and taste? I was thinking of bonus points if the dish was homemade. (I think a couple participants might purchase a favorite treat or dish.) In our competitive group, bonus points would encourage homemade items while allowing prepare food also helps everyone participate. 

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1 hour ago, Lisa R. said:

How do you score the food? Points for presentation and taste? I was thinking of bonus points if the dish was homemade. (I think a couple participants might purchase a favorite treat or dish.) In our competitive group, bonus points would encourage homemade items while allowing prepare food also helps everyone participate. 


We usually do it strictly based on taste but it’s all personal preference. All of our dishes have to be homemade tho. 🙂 the prize goes to the cook.

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Here's a link to a family unwrapping a Plastic Wrap Christmas Gift Ball.

Here's a tutorial about how to make one:

 

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On 10/30/2019 at 7:47 PM, Selkie said:

Dh and I once proposed to my extended family that instead of buying gifts, we draw names and then do some kind of charitable act or good deed in that person's honor - like buy a pile of groceries for the food pantry, or blankets for the homeless shelter, or kitty litter and dog toys for the Humane Society. When we got together on Christmas, we could take turns telling everyone about what we did in their honor. No one else wanted to do it, though - they all just wanted gifts.🤷‍♀️

Some of my kids are like this, but I think it's partly because they are just starting out and poor.  But, my kids all pick names so they only have to buy for one sibling or in-law.  

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On 10/30/2019 at 9:49 PM, aggie96 said:

We did the huge cling-wrap ball games with the whole family last year. It had $5-10 gift cards to various places, lotto tickets, cash, individual socks, coins, candy, etc in it. My goodness, it was so much fun!!!!

Please if you do this, don’t make this ball while you are angry or in a really engage conversation.  That dang ball took scissors and every hand to pull in the group I was in to get the damn thing unwrapped.  Three years later, it was still talked about at the Christmas  party.  Lol

 

Edited by itsheresomewhere
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I was looking to do a mystery/escape room box with our family. Some of them take a year to solve. I'd like something that can be solved in a night or two. I was thinking of this box because it relates to history and most of my family are history buffs. Has anyone done this? Are there any Christmas themed ones? 

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On 11/3/2019 at 8:38 AM, Lisa R. said:

I do love the idea about the food contest. I think I might do this at Christmas. This works for me in two different ways: 1) it’s a fun Christmas game 2) it’s a great way to have a potluck dinner and share food preparation time for me. 

It also accomplishes one of my goals to get everyone to participate and not just want me plan and execute everything. 

 

I think the food contest would be fun to do with appetizers!  

Your ideas sound so fun, love it.

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