Gift-Giving Draft

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One day each year, my husband's side of the family gathers for an event so exciting, it approaches the intensity of an NFL draft.

We never plan this family ritual in advance. Some would say this is because we prefer spontaneity; others would admit it's because none of us is that organized. We don't have firm rules carved in stone and ratified by Congress, but I have noticed three common factors:
1. Usually the event takes place during the summer or early fall when we've gathered for some other reason, such as a barbeque or birthday.
2. There are always at least three factions of the family present.
3. And — make of this what you will — Great-Grandma is always one of them.

Once those three pieces are in place, someone, with all the nonchalance they can muster, says, "Hmmm...there are a lot of us here today. Maybe we should draw names for Christmas." As soon as we hear these words, we drop whatever we're doing, and the gift-giving draft begins.

I haven't been able to prove it, but I suspect Great-Grandma is the mastermind. I'm convinced she plants the idea and gets someone new to suggest it each year. When it comes to holidays, celebrations, and her family, the woman is wily. I like that about her.

We started this tradition years ago when we realized that none of us adults needed anything, and most of us were on a budget. We decided we would all continue to give gifts to the children in the family, but the adults would draw names. That way, each adult would receive one gift from the family, and we'd all save the strain on our wallets.

This year, something new happened. Aunt Judy had been holding on to a great idea for my father-in-law all year, but didn't draw his name, so she brokered a trade with my husband's sister.

"Hey! I didn't know we could swap!" I said.

"Well, why not?" Aunt Judy replied.

I had to agree — Why not, indeed!

Our sensible tradition has turned out to be even more fun than it is practical. The anticipation while waiting to see who will draw whose name can only be compared to, well, a kid waiting for Christmas.

We've also discovered that when we have to buy only one gift, we put a lot more thought into making it special. Last year, knowing how much I love to have parties, Great-Grandma gave me a three-in-one cake plate, punch bowl, and chip-and-dip server.

Our gift-giving draft is budget-friendly and fun, but most importantly, it helps us take the focus off things and place it on our family — which is just how Great-Grandma, and the rest of us, like it.

How do you handle gift-giving with a large family? Click the comments link below to find and share solutions.

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Gift-Giving Draft

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