Most people are surprised to hear that I’m a big ‘ole Scrooge when it comes to Christmas. It hasn’t always been so. When my son was little, I was very much into decorating the house, baking cookies, belting out carols, and wrapping gift and gift after gift in pretty paper with shiny bows. But now that I’m older and my son is grown, I find myself very put off by the whole idea of exchanging Christmas presents. I sit down each year and make a list of the people I have to buy for, and it feels like a chore, an obligation. And I never know what to buy, so I end up wandering around the mall looking for gifts to buy just for the sake of buying something. Surely that’s not what the spirit of Christmas is about. Try as I may to choose thoughtful gifts, I never know what to get. No one I know needs more stuff. It got to the point where we were just trading gift cards, many of which would sit in a drawer and home for months before being regifted at various times throughout the year. Ugh. After some deliberation with extended family members (many of whom, as it turned out, felt the same way), we’ve started a new tradition. This will mark our third year of the Kamikaze Gift Exchange.
The Kamikaze Gift Exchange is a variation of what I’ve heard others call Yankee Swap, Black Santa, Chinese Gift Exchange, or White Elephant Gift Exchange. Here are the rules:
- Each person brings a wrapped gift. It need not be something purchased. In fact, we encourage rummaging through the attic or basement to find the most hideous, unwanted item possible.
- All wrapped gifts are placed in a pile.
- Each person draws a number to determine the order of his turn.
- When it’s your turn, you may either select a wrapped gift from the pile, or steal a gift that has previously been unwrapped by someone who has already had his turn. (If someone steals your gift, you have the option of choosing another unwrapped gift or stealing a different unwrapped gift.)
- Whatever you end up with must be displayed in your home for one year.
This was such a huge success the first year we tried it, that it’s now the highlight of our holiday celebration every year. We laugh and laugh at the outrageous gifts people end up with. Our first year, I received a life-size painted ceramic bust of Elvis. It was gloriously gaudy, and a great conversation piece.
One significant advantage of this type of exchange (aside from not having to spend money on gifts) is that last minute guests aren’t left out. If someone brings a girlfriend/boyfriend, as long as he/she arrives with one wrapped gift (or if the host has a spare gift available), they can participate too. Not only that, but if someone isn’t able to make the gathering, there’s no worry about how to deliver the gifts to/from the missing person.
Of course, I still buy something special for my son and my husband, but our new tradition greatly eases the stress of holiday shopping and allows us all to focus on what matters most: spending time with family, laughing and enjoying each other’s company.
To celebrate the holidays and the spirit of giving, I am offering a free e-copy of my new release, Sock it to Me, Santa! To enter the drawing, please leave a comment below and tell me something you enjoy about the holidays.
About the Author: Madison Parker adores romance in all shapes, forms, and sizes (from beefy bottoms to tiny tops), but she loves her sweet, sexy boys best. She credits fanfiction for introducing her to the world of hot, humorous, and heartwarming manlove. Although Madison is extremely left-brained (logical, rational, orderly), her artistic, creative side never ceases to flail around in a desperate attempt to be noticed. She spends her days reading, writing, solving math problems, and playing with her feisty German Pinscher. She lives in North Carolina with her husband, her pup, and her troop of sock monkeys.
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Genre: Contemporary Young Adult GLBT Romance
Ryan is assigned to Jamie Peterson for his class's secret gift exchange. If word gets out that he has to make a handcrafted gift for flamboyant and openly gay Jamie, Ryan will be the laughing stock of the school. It's a good thing no self-respecting boy would be caught dead in a craft store, because otherwise he'd be at risk of being spotted when his mom drags him to her weekly craft workshops. He hopes Jamie will appreciate all the trouble he's going to for this assignment. Finding the perfect gift is gonna be tricky. Jamie deserves something good, though, after all the crap he has to put up with at school. At least, Ryan tells himself that's the reason he's putting so much thought into the gift. It couldn't be that he has feelings for Jamie, could it?Purchase Links: http://madisonparklove.com/sitms