This year for the first time Sam and I took part in an advent swap. This meant we had to buy 25 small gifts for his partner using the information we were given (sex, age, allergies) wrap them individually and number them 1-25. We then boxed them up and posted them off and waited for the postman to bring ours. The smaller sized items we put in this hanging advent calendar and what wouldn't fit went in a pile separately.
We really enjoyed shopping for it and it was good for sam to learn to think about what other people would like. He's loved opening his presents and he's had lots of fun things like toy cars, a Christmas ornament, coloured pens, a notebook, a toothbrush and chocolate bars.
I can recommend doing it yourself but make sure you do it with someone you trust to follow through as it would be awful for your child to send their gifts off and not get any in return. We will definitely be doing it again next year. In fact we already have 2 things for next year as I miscounted hence tip 2!
If you do decide to have a go here are some tips:
1. Agree a budget with your partner before you start so That no-one ends up feeling cheated that they got less back than they sent. Although the idea is about giving not about receiving it is best to plan ahead just incase. Our agreed budget was an estimate of £10-15.
2. As you buy things keep them in one bag together and make a list so that you don't end up buying too much or too little and you know where to find things when it comes time to wrap
3. When it is time to wrap lay out your labels along the floor in order and place your presents next to each number. This allows you to see if things are distributed well so like things aren't next to each other and there is a good equal pattern of the more expensive gifts and the cheaper gifts.
4. Make your money stretch. We chose 6/7 larger gifts like a costume jewellery necklace, a pretty notebook, a hello kitty pencil, a Disney cup and then filled in the gaps with smaller cheaper items like candy canes and chocolates. You can pick up things like Christmas chocolate lollies at aldi for £1-£1.50 for 6 which will cover 6 days leaving more of budget to get a small number of very nice things. Also things like multi packs of colouring pens/pencils can be picked up at low cost and split to cover multiple days. We decided we would rather have a few very nice items with small filler items on other days rather than have 25 okay things but that is our preference.
5. Don't forget to factor in postage of your swap. Ours cost around £5.50 to post.
If you do decide to have a try next year enjoy yourselves.