A friend asked me how we managed gift giving with the amount of kids we have. With five kids, it can get quite expensive. We considered the idea of doing a name draw or Secret Santa or not giving gifts at all. But we came up with a solution that works well for us. The dollar store.

Each year we take all the kids to one of those stores where everything is just one dollar. They can then pick out a gift for each of their siblings plus parents and grandparents. This tradition has become one of our favorites.

Through the years we have gotten some…interesting gifts. For example this lovely blue fuzzy hat that my husband got from our Curly Girlie when she was four or five years-old. Not really a practical gift, but it was picked out especially for her Daddy and given with love. It makes us laugh, but the feelings and sincerity behind the giving are as warm and fuzzy as the fur on the hat.

Last year we all received professional wrestling action figures from Mr. Dude. I don’t think he quite grasped the concept of considering the interests of the gift receivers, but instead picked out something he liked. I never recall Grandma saying, “Gee, I wish I had a wrestling doll.” As you would imagine, Mr. Dude spent the days after Christmas playing with the toys he bought for everyone else.

The gifts are as varied and unique as our kids. Sometimes they are goofy and useless, but as the kids get older the gifts are well thought-out. It’s touching to see the kids consider what their siblings might want. One year, the Oldest picked out a Disney princess nightlight for the Curly Girlie when she was going through her princess phase. My husband has received travel coffee mugs because the kids know he needs his morning coffee. Babies have been given bibs and I have been given chocolate.

This is one tradition we all look forward to each year. It’s kind of crazy because we all go to the store together, dodging each other in the aisles, trying to hide what’s in our shopping baskets. True, they aren’t the highest-quality items, but everyone gets to buy everyone else a gift. It’s fun and it’s teaching the kids to think of others without breaking the bank.

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