Friday, December 3, 2010

A Moose Mug, a Slap Chop or Dental Floss?

A couple years ago, my sisters and I (there are four of us) decided to quit buying gifts for each other for our birthdays and just go out to dinner once a year. We were basically giving each other gift cards so it wasn't like we were missing out on the perfect gift. It also forces us to find the time to get together JUST the four of us at least once a year. It's been a fun event so far.

We try to pick a restaurant or style of cooking that we might not normally sushi or a tapas bar.  I'm lobbying for Greek food next year! My favorite Greek place is reopening soon after a devastating fire earlier this year. Can't wait to go, order some saganaki (flaming cheese) and yell "Opa!"

What does this all have to do with moose mugs and dental floss? Not much but I'm building to it. Stay with me!

At the same time my sisters and I stopped exchanging birthday gifts, we also changed up our Christmas gift giving routine. We bought some giant stockings...

OK, maybe not that big but they are much larger than the average Christmas stocking. We then drew names and had to buy gifts for the sister we drew. The rules were simple:
  • Gifts had to fit into the stocking.
  • No gift cards worth more than $10.
  • Couldn't spend more than $50.
  • No telling who you drew!

We've had fun with that over the last couple of years but we still fell into the trap of buying exactly what the person wanted...a new black belt, slippers or socks. This year we wanted to try something a little more fun and not so structured.

After MONTHS of thinking about it, we finally settled on each buying five gifts ranging in price from $10-15 each. Then we'll do a gift swap. I'm not sure what it's called...I think there are a variety of names for the concept. Basically, someone will start by choosing a gift. Then the next person can take the gift already open or choose another gift. Then the next person can choose to open or see where I'm going with this?

I think it will be fun. I bought five gifts that I would enjoy receiving (I can't say what they are because I THINK some of my sisters read my blog!) in case I get "stuck" with them. But I guess I can give a hint. Can you say lawn ornament...

Boy, I still haven't gotten to the point of this post, huh? Hang on...

When I was telling some coworkers about our gift exchange, we got to brainstorming (we love to brainstorm in my office) other "themed" gift exchange ideas. Here are a few we came up with:

Items from "classic" Christmas movies
The objective here would be to pick a movie and give gifts that were either featured in the movie or items that have become iconic because of the movie.

Anyone know what movies inspired these ideas...

Daisy Red Ryder 70th Anniversary Edition BB gun air rifle

Christmas Story 20" Lamp - Desk Leg

Yep, A Christmas Story...a classic set in Indiana! I actually saw this leg lamp at my local Walgreens last week!

How about these?


Did you say...
National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation (Ultimate Collector's Edition)
Another classic!

As Seen on TV items
We've all seen those infomercials featuring the next great product that we can't live without. There are even whole stores dedicated to these products. Personally, I love looking at the endcap at my local CVS store where some of these products are prominently displayed.

This gift exchange is all about these products, like...

I have to admit that I've picked up one or two of these in my time but there are SO many to choose from that a gift exchange devoted to these products could yield some great fun. One that I personally have been tempted to buy is...

If only for the awesome infomercial remix that I saw late one night. Miss it? No worries, I found it on YouTube for you. Check it out at the end of this post!

Restaurant Gift Cards
This one is tame compared to the first two ideas.

Everyone simply brings a gift card to their favorite restaurant (for a pre-determined amount) and the cards are chosen, stolen and kept.

Used but Still Useful
A co-worker and her family chose to do this one for Christmas this year. Each person chooses something they already have around the house that they may not want anymore but that still has a use. I thought this was a very clever idea. Real Simple magazine even did a post about "new uses for old things" that could be used as inspiration for this exchange.

I love the idea of an old cast iron skillet as a recipe card holder...

Or a gift box as a cupcake holder...

Or even dental floss as a cheese slicer (see I tied into the blog title eventually!)...

I think this last exchange is quirky and fun. Now, my coworker and her family added one more step. In addition to bringing their "used but useful" gift, each person is also to bring $10 cash to donate to a pre-determined charity. This year it is a school in Africa where my coworker's sister taught earlier this year.

I LOVE the idea! It truly is a season of giving when you think of those less fortunate than you and do something to help them. There's nothing stopping you from having a bit of fun while doing that.

Do you have any fun gift exchange ideas? I'd love to hear them.

Now, I'm off to start my gift wrapping...anyone know an easy way to wrap a flamingo?

Almost's the Slap Chop Infomercial Remix!


  1. Before the un-named Crummugeons in my family out-voted some of us to give up the gift-giving, we used to draw names and exchange under the rules: 1. $20 limit and 2. Must be previously owned (not necessarily by the giver).

    Those some of the best, most creative gifts we ever gave.

    I know someone whose family does a books-only exchange. I kind of like that one.

  2. I think I missed out on not having sisters! Sounds like fun!

  3. next year ours will be "as seen on TV for sure!" Some other ideas may include:
    -It must weigh one pound
    -Movie exchange - except you wrap up clues and the opener has to guess the movie.
    -Alcohol exchange
    -Items all bought from the same store
    -Mat Exchange: think creatively (a photo of your friend matt in a nice frame, a door mat, placemats, the entire t.v. series of Matlock, etc.

    I liked your post!



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