So a few years back I decided I needed to switch things up at Christmastime. I wanted to do something unexpected for someone else. Maybe someone I wouldn’t normally interact with in person at the holidays. So I came up with the idea of giving/sending a gift to the first person who sent me a Christmas card. When I send or give the gift to the winner I make sure to tell them WHY they are getting it. But they usually don’t know beforehand that a gift is coming.
Without telling anyone, I eagerly awaited the first card of the season. It ended up being from one of my aunts who has since passed away. It was a Christmas decoration that I was told she treasured until she left us.
The problem with my new tradition was that once people found out about it, some rushed to get me a card in the hope they would win the gift and stretched the boundaries of when that should be. I once got a Christmas card in March!
Rules needed to be in place and I created a couple. The card had to come AFTER Thanksgiving and, because I live with my parents, it had to be addressed to ME and me alone. (None of this “Donnelly Family” stuff.) This worked for me until I realized that the same handful of people were winning the Christmas present year after year. So I had to change things up again.
I put a limit on how many times a person could get the present and because of that rule I had to change the criteria a bit. If the first few people to send me a Christmas card have already won the gift, I look to other things like what is written in the card, if it’s signed personally or printed by a computer and what the design on the card is. It’s probably good to point out that I never tell people what the criteria for winning is so no one has any idea when they send me a card if they’ll get the gift or not.
Also, it doesn’t have to be specifically a Christmas card. I have plenty of non-Christian friends who send cards that say happy holidays or seasons greetings (and I even have received a few cards celebrating the solstice). I don’t care what the card says as long as it is bringing me glad tidings.
The idea is to thank someone for thinking of me.
I don’t talk about this game a lot. Most people who know me well know that I do it and if they don’t many of them will find out now. I’ve found that knowing doesn’t necessarily make someone send out a card faster. (I mean, heck, I bought my cards weeks ago and still haven’t sat down to write them out. We are often lazy about such things.)
There is a small part of me that hopes other people would latch on to this idea and pass the Christmas spirit on in their own way. It isn’t that expensive and it’s one of those things that probably makes the giver happier than the receiver. (I often buy the present ahead of time and declare it THE gift for the card giver – as I already have this year. Other times I buy a gift specifically for the person I’ve decided is winning it.)
So while my tradition hasn’t stuck with anyone else just yet – I still enjoy getting that winning card and sending them their gift. You still have time to get yours in – the gift hasn’t gone out yet!