Every family is different. My family’s Christmas is unconventional in a few ways. First: We’re a blended family. My dad and step-mom got married in a beautiful backyard wedding in 2012. She has a son and a daughter; My dad has three daughters. In one day, we grew our immediate family from four to seven.
Then, my sister got married. Then, my other sister got married. Then that sister had a baby. Oh, and then my step-brother got married. And not to mention I’ve been with my serious boyfriend for more than 5 years and he’s definitely a part of the family now. So that brings us to a whopping twelve immediate family members.
Another way our Christmas is unconventional: My step-mom is Danish. She doesn’t just have Danish ancestors. She is a straight-up, speaks-Danish, grew-up-in-Denmark, blonde-haired, hygge-loving Dane.
If you’ve never heard of a Danish Christmas before, you’re in for a treat. Their holiday is celebrated on the 24th starting with a decadent meal of sugared potatoes, red cabbage, roast pork with cracklings, more potatoes, and rice pudding with a cherry sauce for dessert. The tree is always real and decorated with lit candles (yes, it’s terrifying). Once the Swedish Glogg (a mulled wine with cinnamon, orange zest, and cloves) has sufficiently buzzed everyone up, we hold hands and dance around the Christmas tree singing Christmas carols.
It’s a blast.
Then, in true American form, we dive into our piles of gifts, stumbling over pots and pans sets, books, clothes, or whatever else was gifted that year, yelling “thank you”s across the living room, until there’s nothing left but a scene of utter gift wrap massacre.
I won’t lie. Getting a lot of gifts is fun, but giving them can be stressful, and I think most people can agree. With the obligation to get every person in our immediate family a gift, money can be tight, not to mention the anxiety of finding the exact gift they’ll like. It’s such a great feeling when you find the perfect gift for a loved one, but the whole Christmas shopping process can really put a downer on the season.
So this year, we’re doing without it. We’re sticking to the basics: food, family, singing, laughing, reminiscing, loving, and memory making. And just one gift with a Secret Santa drawing. If you’re not familiar, a Secret Santa gift exchange is where everyone draws a name out of a hat. You have to get that person a gift, but keep it a secret until you give them the present!
It’s the best of both worlds. We’ll get to focus on the important stuff like spending time together and keeping our traditions alive, but we won’t totally lose the gift-giving part, because it’s just too fun.
To keep it fair, here are the rules we made:
- You can’t gift yourself.
- You can’t gift your significant other.
- You can’t spend more than $50.
- You can’t get anyone else in the family a gift other than who you drew out of the hat (except for your SO).
It’s as easy as that! If you decide this is a great fit for your family, Thanksgiving is the perfect time to draw names! Have fun and Happy Holidays!
Does your family do Secret Santa? Or do you do the traditional everyone-gets-everyone-a-gift? Do you think a Secret Santa would work for your family?
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