My Tradition: Christmas With Stupid Gifts

The family and I have evolved a Christmas tradition over the past decade or so, and whenever I describe it to anyone, they love it. I’ll lay it out for you so you can see whether you want to give it a try.

Every year, we all go shopping at the last minute looking for cheap gifts for each other. Really cheap gifts. The Dollar Tree and Big Lots are our primary sources, but the main goal here is to get a heap of gifts at a low price from wherever.

The second goal is that each gift should straddle the line between welcome and stupid. Examples might include a DVD of an obscure movie or a glowing pen. In the afternoon of Christmas Eve, when most stores are closing, we wrap these little treasures, mark the To and From tags, and add them to the pile under the tree. They sit next to the real, not-at-all-stupid presents that we thoughtfully selected for each other, and that’s the real benefit of this tradition.

On Christmas morning, we take turns unwrapping presents at random. Most of them are deliberately stupid or half-stupid. When I unwrap a locker magnet thermometer (I don’t have a locker), I chuckle and put the stupid gift aside to donate later. If my recipient unwraps something stupid and likes it, I claim special knowledge of their character. On the other hand, and this is important, if they unwrap my carefully chosen gift and laugh it off, I join in on the laugh. Of course that boxed hardcover book set was just meant to be silly!

In short, this tradition removes all the pressure from Christmas morning. It also stretches out the unwrapping process and can introduce surprisingly nice stuff. The Brak CD I once got the wife became a comedy touchstone for us. The plastic tackle box of picture hangers and thumbtacks that the wife presented to me is a go-to resource for minor house projects. And dozens of goofy gifts got quick laughs and an afterlife at a nearby charity thrift store. Go out and give it a try!