How Do You Organise Family Gift Giving?

Image: Kira auf der Heide on Unsplash

Some people love giving holiday presents: To them it’s an art, something to be mastered, a fun way to spend an afternoon or two. Others dread the annual giving of gifts, wishing family members would just say what they’d actually like instead of relying on their nearest and dearest to waffle back and forth between the festive socks or the scented lotion.

I fall somewhere in the middle. Some people I’ve known for months what I want to get them, others I’m scrambling to find something for on Christmas Eve. Which is why I think it’d be much easier if family and friends just said what they wanted or gave a suggestion or two as the holiday season rolls around.

Typically my family members just buys what we think the other members will like, though last year, I sent my parents my Amazon book wish list and it was a great success.

Another idea I like is to create a Google doc with your family. It’s easier and more clear than an email going back and forth, and it can be edited at any time.

If you’re going old school, here’s a break down from the New York Times on how to give the “perfect” gift:

  • Don’t focus on a “big” reveal or extravagant gift: The gift receiver is more focused on the usefulness of the gift than they are on its impression.

  • Don’t “over-individuate” gifts: Sure, it’s nice to think you know everyone on your list so well you can find each person a different, amazing gift, but “The more gifts you select, the more likely you’ll pick some duds. If you can find one sure thing, don’t be afraid to give it more than once,” writes the Times.

  • Go ahead and regift: Seriously, why not?

  • Get them what they want: This is the big one, in my opinion. If they’ve asked for something, get them that! They’re sure to love it. If all else fails, everyone loves gift cards and cash (one exception, as the Times notes: your spouse).

And here’s one from me: Attach the receipt: Don’t make it awkward. Include a gift receipt with your gift and everyone wins.

But with those rules in mind, a Google doc makes a lot of sense. It’s collaborative, easily shareable, and everyone can instantly see what everyone else wants.

So, with all of that in mind, how do you and your family organise your gift giving? Do you have a Google doc, or is it every member for themselves?


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