I have gotten a lot of feedback for my Christmas Gift Guides. It seems to fall into three categories:
- People selling their own books/gadgets/junk who are link baiting.
- People accusing me of selling out to rampant commercialism.
- People who are happy for the ideas.
Let me explain the context that they are created in.
Wendy and I have a hard cap for Christmas shopping. It has been the same for the first 11 years of our marriage and only this year did it go up by $50 for each of us. We spend about $150 each on each other which includes all of our gifts from the kids as well. The amount works out really well for us.
We spend about $100 on each of the boys and a little more on Lee. We also exchange gifts with some friends who on top of that amount. Shopping around the house starts in September which allows us to take advantage of any sales that come up like weekly loss leaders at Canadian Tire. A the end of the day it allows us to avoid the panic that sets in with too many. On Saturday, I was picking something up for Wendy with Mark and a women actually tried to take our item out of our hands while in line (which both freaked out Mark and the staff of the store who had to escort her out) and it wasn’t even December yet.
Wendy and I create a Google Spreadsheet where we list everyone we plan to buy gifts for and then we start listing ideas. Some of the ideas are horrible but they start as a base for what we need to budget for and also starts a place where we can discuss and revise the list. It’s the countless versions of the spreadsheet is where the gift guides emerge from. The hope is that they serve as gift ideas for others. We decided this year
While quite a few links head to Amazon.com, I link there because I really enjoy shopping from Amazon and because I find their prices are often better than other retailers. I am also partial to linking to MEC because I am a long time member. In case you are wondering, I do also get a portion of sales to Amazon.com and Amazon.ca that my site generates and that is dealt with in this sites disclosure statement. It isn’t a lot of money. Back in 2000, it generated about $200 each quarter but while the sites traffic has grown, the lack of dedicated store has meant that my revenue from Amazon dropped to $10 each quarter. When I do get a gift certificate from them, it means that Mark gets a PS2 or Nintendo DS game. The last thing I am thinking is that I want JordonCooper.com to be an online shrill for affiliate related goods.
Many of my friends have alternative visions of what Christmas is supposed to be. Jason Evans and the Ecclesia Collective has done a really good job with Make Something Day. Mennonites across Canada are behind Buy Nothing Christmas and of course Ad Busters has Buy Nothing Day. All are in some way or another reactions against an overly consumeristic Christmas and I understand where they are coming from. When I was working as a pastor, I heard people talk about spending $5,000 over Christmas and I was shocked until I knew someone who spend over six figures for two consecutive years putting on the perfect Christmas between work and home (a couple of big parties, a couple of big gifts…) which is exactly what people are talking about.
At the same time our annual Christmas spending as a household is under one thousand dollars, we pay for it in cash with no credit card debt at all. Part of the creativity of Christmas is not spending a bunch of money but finding a gift that articulates both who we see they are and what we value about them. It’s why when Oliver opens his gifts, he will find things that Lee and I loved while growing up, it is why when Mark opens his gifts he will find his gifts are things that we will do together, why when Wendy opens her gifts she will find gifts which honor who she is and even the dogs are going to find something that they love (for Maggi is squeaks and needs to be fetched).
Yeah, I could be selling out to the consumeristic machine and encouraging people to commercialize Christmas but my intent is to just share some of the cool stuff that I have seen over the last couple of months in my quest to find some fun gifts for friends, family, and the arch-nemesis on my list. You are more than entitled to disagree with me in the comments below.