~ Charles Dudley Warner
With Thanksgiving memories still fresh, Christmas and Hanukkah are nearly here. To avoid the awkward gift-giving scenario of you got someone a gift and s/he did not get you one or vice versa, here is a tip that is easy to implement, and refreshing for most!
Whether it is in your office, your family, of your circle of friends, you know the deal, you are about to see someone in between Thanksgiving and New Year's and you wonder "do I get him/her a gift?", "if so, what and how much to spend?". These questions float quietly in our minds often and can just as easily be brought outside our heads and into a mature discussion with the other parties.
If you do a gift exchange with names, have people list a few things like favorite sports team, color, hobby, charity and stores along with their name to give the "secret" giver ideas what s/he might like and set a dollar limit as well. If you are not sure with friends/family/colleagues, suggest two options that you are comfortable with them selecting. For example, you could say "Sue, would you like to exchange $25 gifts like we have in the past or would you like to take each other out to lunch as our gifts to one another?", or "Joe, since we all have so much, do you want to skip the gift exchange and be grateful for what we have or give in each other's name to a charity?".
If you do receive a gift without one in exchange, it's OK, and the same is true for if you give a gift without receiving one back, as you ultimately are giving gifts because you want to, not because you are getting something in return. And, if you are the one getting a gift, the only appropriate reply is "thank you", not "yours is on the way" or "I'll stop by with yours later" (unless those are true statements). You don't owe a gift to someone, and you will likely avoid those situations if you talk about it this week before all the shopping is done!