How to get and gift exactly what’s wanted this holiday season.

As the holiday season approaches, check out these tips to give and get exactly what’s needed - an alternative secret Santa.

If you’re like about 50% of Americans, you’ll receive unwanted gifts this holiday season. 39% of you will keep those unwanted gifts, and at least 7% of you knowingly gift unwanted gifts! As an organizer, I’ve seen firsthand how the backlog of unwanted gifts creates a great burden of guilt, unnecessary use of precious storage space, not to mention the largely unseen burden on the environment. For these and many more fascinating statistics on unwanted holiday gifts, peruse this comprehensive article and infographic (then send it to your friends - the worst culprits in giving unwanted gifts)!

I’m coming up on my fourth Christmas as a part of my husband Nic’s family. I’m so grateful to have married into a large family who has made a beautiful tradition of remedying this problem. Nic has three siblings and five nieces and nephews. To find meaningful and enjoyable gifts for every family member would be impossible. Everyone is let off this hook though with their Secret Santa gift exchange. 

In the past I’ve received $50 worth of chocolate truffles, a Yeti tumbler that I use weekly, and a beautiful oak pepper mill that we use daily.  Just last week my sister-in-law told me how every day she wears the Tom’s slippers I gifted her last Christmas. This year I’m asking for either an Athleta gift card, a milk frother, or Williams Sonoma measuring cups and spoons. Even though we have a one-in-three chance of guessing our gift, the thrill of opening the gifts is as if they are complete surprises. Gifts are also accompanied by hand-written riddles - my least favorite part!  I’m a horrible wordsmith in the face of each of their finely-honed riddle writing skills.  But it sure does add to the merriment.

Here’s how we do it:

We submit to the Secret Santa moderator a list of three gifts we’d like under $50. She randomly assigns each of us a single family member for gifting. The gift giver remains anonymous until we all open them together on Christmas Eve. The giver and the gift are surprises.  Instead of receiving numerous gifts that may miss the mark, we’re each ensured one that will surely please.

We do Nic’s family's gift exchange on Christmas Eve each year in Baldwin, MD, making an entire food, cookie, and wine-filled night of it. Everyone walks away happy with something that won’t collect dust in a closet or end up at a thrift store within days. 

Do you and your friends and/or family have a solution for a clutter-free Christmas? Is our family Secret Santa something you will adopt this year? Please share in the comments!

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Office Organizing Expert Kacy Paide loves to do what most people hate: organize offices & paper.

She works with folks who are desperate for a more functional, more beautiful, more inspiring office. Kacy has been a Professional Organizer since 2001 and has worked with over 500 clients. Call her crazy, but she loves a good mess and wants to fix yours. Learn her time-tested solutions in her eBook, The Inspired Office: Organize Your Life One Paper at a Time. Based in Silver Spring, MD, Kacy is nationally available for consulting & speaking.