Elyse on Roommate Gifting

When you share a home with people, it can often feel like a surrogate family. I’ve had Sunday dinners and Thursday movie nights with roomies, but I’ve loved the Christmases I’ve shared with roommates more than anything. Last year, we all had a real Christmas morning together (albeit, the week before Christmas day) where we woke up, exchanged presents and went out to brunch. It even snowed the night before, so it really did feel like Christmas. Of course, the question does arise, how exactly does one exchange gifts with roommates, especially when you have lots of family and friends to shop for at the same time?

I’ve always been fairly close with the people I live with, so the question of whether or not we should exchange presents has never really been debated. The real question was always whether we should organize a Secret Santa or just exchange presents. When I lived in a dorm and there were 8 or 9 of us, it was Secret Santa hands down. When I lived with 3 other people, we discussed the idea and decided Secret Santa was the best option, although it was pretty easy to guess who had who, so it wasn’t the greatest exchange in the world. This year, I only live with two other people, so while cutting down your Christmas shopping to one present instead of three is reasonable, saving yourself from buying one extra present just seems silly. So we decided it was finally time to exchange presents in a more traditional fashion.

We’ve always set price limits, and 20-25 dollars seems to be the norm. I always find that to be a very important aspect to gift exchanges with roommates, because everyone has different opinions on what small and what’s expensive. And you don’t want big (and awkward) disparities between gifts. In the end, I think it’s important to take the time to exchange gifts with the people you live with. These are the people you see every day, whether you want to or not. Every year, I always look forward to exchanging presents with my roommates. I try to make a ceremony out of it by taking the time to sit together in a circle, pass out gifts and maybe drink some eggnog. It’s like a second Christmas with my second family.

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