Alternative to gift-giving?
December 13, 2011 1:02 PM   Subscribe

What's a good alternative to exchanging Christmas gifts? We both have plenty of stuff.

A close friend and I live on opposite coasts. We like the idea of exchanging things for Christmas, but we want to stop buying each other gifts. (Even consumable gifts.) Some ideas we had are: donating to each other's favorite charities; choosing a charity to donate to together; finding something we already own that would be meaningful to the other person; and passing on a favorite book from the past year. In the past we've also made things for each other and written each other letters, but our lives are very busy right now and we don't want to obligate each other to spend too much time.

posted by chickenmagazine to Grab Bag (15 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
a holiday skype-date?
posted by costanza at 1:03 PM on December 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Virtual trip to a local favorite destination (e.g. narrated video plus souvenirs, ticket stubs, pamphlets, a couple of still photos (possibly photoshopped to include the friend))?

Personalized Calendar? (that may require some more preparation than time allows for this year, but there's always next year)
posted by Sunburnt at 1:11 PM on December 13, 2011

Could you send each other something from your shared past? Maybe this falls into the too-much-time category, but maybe some small thing that will evoke memories? A photo, a pair of earrings that were all the rage 10 years ago or were what everyone was wearing during your hippie phase, a book you both read the same summer and were wild about?
posted by not that girl at 1:12 PM on December 13, 2011

Agreeing with skype-date.

But with board game.
posted by Capt. Renault at 1:17 PM on December 13, 2011 [1 favorite]

Name stars after each other! I live thousands of miles from my family, but I can still find my Grandpa's star!
posted by kamikazegopher at 1:18 PM on December 13, 2011 [1 favorite]

Along the lines of donating to charities, how about donating to public radio or a podcast? Every time you listen to WNYC you think of her, for example. Or you guys could pick something you both like on Kickstarter and watch its progress? You could pick from the Ending Soon category to have a better chance of your project making it.
posted by stellaluna at 1:43 PM on December 13, 2011

I've donated to charities that seem meaningful to the person for whom I'm donating for. It's worked out well.
posted by rmd1023 at 2:00 PM on December 13, 2011

Agree on a date and a volunteer job, perform said job, then talk about your experiences together. So both work in a soup kitchen serving lunch on the same day, both do a tree planting community event, etc. It might be interesting to see how different the same activity and people involved might be on the two different coasts, it will give you something different from your normal conversations to discuss, and it will help someone or something in our world.
posted by maxg94 at 2:27 PM on December 13, 2011

Not to state the obvious, but have you considered just... not exchanging gifts?

My friends and I (and even some of my family members) have all agreed not to exchange gifts this year and I have to say, I'm pretty happy about it. No need to shop or stress or worry about the money.
posted by ErikaB at 2:49 PM on December 13, 2011 [3 favorites]

Cultural memberships? I get my husband a membership to our local aviary every year, and he gets me one for the zoo. Maybe find something you share that would bridge both of your cities (art museum? history center? history museum?) and then if you visit one another you could go there together. We don't "get our money's worth" of our memberships, but it makes me feel good to know that some of our money goes to support organizations we want to keep in our city.
posted by librarianamy at 2:51 PM on December 13, 2011 [2 favorites]

Plan a trip to be with each other.
posted by jacquilynne at 3:05 PM on December 13, 2011 [1 favorite]

Along the lines of a Skype date: how about a Skype cooking date? Pick a recipe, you each get the ingredients, talk to each other while you're cooking, and sit down and eat together.
posted by bassjump at 4:09 PM on December 13, 2011 [2 favorites]

Nthing the memberships. I got an annual pass to the local state park last year, and I love flipping it out when I bike up to the gate every time. Best gift for me ever.
posted by halfbuckaroo at 8:09 PM on December 13, 2011

I got an elephant last year. I get e-mails all the time about how she is doing. It's pretty neat.
posted by dogmom at 6:20 AM on December 14, 2011

Thanks for the great ideas! Maybe each year we'll choose something new to do.
posted by chickenmagazine at 2:26 PM on December 14, 2011 [1 favorite]

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