Gift exchange season is upon us, as is the impending doom of shopping for everyone on your holiday list while also managing to pay rent. And let’s hope your lease isn’t up at the end of the year too…
Sharing presents with roommates can be a fun group activity or a potential disaster. If you have more than one roommate, chances are you’re closer friends with one of them and would probably be more inclined to spend more on him or her. Without wanting other roommates to feel left out, how can everyone feel joyous during the holiday season? And if some of your roomies are guys, the thought of a gift exchange may totally freak them out.
First, you’ll want to talk with your roommates about gifting. Do you want to do it Secret Santa style and each draw a name for a single roommate to give a present to? If you’re having a party, would you like to exchange presents then? And if you all expect gifts from each other, are they personal gifts or perhaps gifts to the apartment, like a nice new set of wineglasses or the treat of a maid service or perhaps even a seasonal storage space rental.
Roommates are unique in that you share your home with them, you probably see these people more than your family, and know if they could benefit from an extra set of sheets, an electronic key finder, or a special Tupperware to take leftovers to work
In New York, many apartments are too small and cramped to accumulate more belongings, and acquiring more stuff, ie clutter, and experiences are often valued more than objects. (Studies prove that this can make you happier!) Even if you’re not confined to small spaces, maybe treating your roommates to a special dinner, ordering an enormous platter of sushi to your apartment, going to paint matching mugs, or all going out for a night on the town can be a fantastic gift.
My roommates and I are all super busy, with schedules that rarely overlap, and even though we’re not all best friends, it’s nice to spend time together, catch up, and bond. It somehow makes paying the bills the next month less stressful….
If you’re strapped for cash, let your roommates know (but also assure them you can pay the bills and the rent!) and tell them your gifting expectations. Perhaps your holiday gift can be offering to run some errands, or do a thorough clean-up of your area– there are so many great ways to improve your home without spending a lot or any money. Just stay away from crafts. No one likes them. Unless they’re edible.
Gifting is a highly personal and unique exchange. Some people will inevitably have expectations you cannot meet and others may adore whatever you get or do for them. The most important part of the holiday season is to be thankful and appreciative of each other, and sometimes, but not always, gift exchanging is the best way to accomplish that.