<b>The Gift of Time</b>
"Our family gives gifts to the children and young adults. For each other we give the gift of time. One year it might be help on a project around the house, or a trip to the coast & a picnic. It might be wine tasting or beer tasting - almost all outings include a meal. It isn't always cheaper than a present, but none of us needs anything and the time spent together is the point. There's usually a small consumable gift under the tree like wine, coffee, cocktail napkins, etc."
<b>Gifts for the Greater Good</b>
"For years we were just nuts in our house with the gift-giving. I think it became a sort of contest, with some competitive overtones; who got the best, most, biggest sort of thing. It was pretty silly because we all love to bargain shop, so we were getting ready for the post-holiday sales while opening our gifts. We cut the addition, cold turkey, and it wasn't painful at all. Now we look for a gift that represents something bigger. A scarf from The Greater Good Network to help people, animals or the planet - or a wrist bracelet acknowledging a donation to the Team Jesse Foundation, formed to honor Sgt. Jesse Williams of Santa Rosa who was killed in Iraq. We enjoy the &‘thing' but the gift is far greater!"
Claire Light, who is 91, said her family has just gotten too big to buy for everyone. So they play Pirate Bingo, using cards that slide a cover over the number if it is called. Up to 70 people can play.
Each person playing must bring at least three gifts, wrapped in newspaper to assure anonymity. They can be things that are homemade, home-baked, bought at a garage or white elephant sale.
The children hand out the Bingo cards to everyone, including the babies. Someone with a loud voice is designated the caller. A Bingo is vertical, horizontal or diagonal and if a player gets more than one at once he can pick up two presents. The cards aren't cleared after each Bingo. The game just continues until all the presents are gone.
The second round of the game goes this way, according to Light: "Don't open the presents yet, but clear the Bingo board and start calling numbers again. Once the first Bingo is called, set a time limit. We set a clock for five minutes and the caller calls the numbers as fast as he or she can.
"If someone gets Bingo, they can steal a present from someone else. While he is stealing a present, his collection of gifts can't be stolen. Presents can be hidden anywhere in the room or on the person. When the clock rings the game is over. Everyone can open their gifts. If they don't want their present they can try swapping or giving away what they don't want."