Sometimes the hardest part of gift-giving is not choosing the gifts but navigating the giving.




Q. Our extended family is dwindling. We now range in age from 18 to 90. Christmas Day was great fun when we were all younger and the kids were little. Now presents are a problem. For the past several years, the six remaining adults would draw names and exchange gifts with a limit of $100, but we all agree that routine has gotten tiresome. As a solution, I have suggested a Yankee Gift Swap, where everyone draws lots to exchange gifts, then takes turns swapping what you received for something you want more, with a limit of $20 to $30. I think it would be fun, but I'm getting resistance from others. Any suggestions that would help us avoid having to go back to buying something for every other adult in the family?




A. It sounds like what everyone misses is the fun, not the presents. So why not turn the conversation about how to celebrate away from who buys what toward something you can do to enjoy each other: Dinner at a great restaurant? Tickets to a show at Wolf Trap? A weekend in Atlantic City? Having a great time together could be more memorable than anything you could buy.




Q. My husband and I have been married 23 years and years ago decided to choose one gift for the house rather than personal gifts for each other. But now I think there's not really anything we need, and my husband wants to continue what we've been doing by getting us a new flat-screen TV. How can we resolve this?




A. There is a huge price range for flat screens, starting from small portables under $200 to home theater models costing thousands. If you and your husband can agree on about how much you'd like to spend, he could use his half for a TV and you can treat yourself with something else. Not a lot of surprise here &

but at least you won't have to pretend to be happy about getting something you don't really want.