Sunday, December 15, 2013

My 'PURSE' Gift Giving Plan: A "Practical, Utilitarian and Radically Simple Exchange"

Pinterest photo by Jerry Muladi
As noted on my 12/10/13 blog, trying to find the right gift for people who have far too much stuff already can be a pain. So economist Joel Waldfogel suggests just giving a gift card or writing a check to a favorite charity in someone's name instead.

I love the giving to charity idea, but before you go shopping for gift cards, here's an even more efficient plan, one I've called the "Practical, Utilitarian and Radically Simple Exchange (PURSE for short). In all modesty, I consider it the perfect answer for today's busy and cost conscious shopper, and it can feel way more generous than a $50 gift card.

Here's how it works. You first get your family members, co-workers or friends together and agree to draw names. This makes certain that each person will give something and get something. But my PURSE plan goes further in assuring absolute equality for all, and better yet, it costs no one a single dime. Yes, you heard me right, in the end it costs no one anything, not even a trip to the mall (for me one of the better parts of the plan).

You accomplish this by simply agreeing to give each other money--legal tender, filthy lucre, dough, cash, a check, whichever--but solemnly agree ahead of time the exact amount to be given, which can range from a small to an outlandishly huge amount, say $1000 or even more. Because with the revolutionary PURSE plan, the agreed on amount doesn't even matter, as long as everyone gives (and receives) exactly the same amount.

Is this brilliant or what? It couldn't be more simple or more fair, right? And when your annual Christmas exchange is over no one is a dime richer or a penny poorer. And better yet, no one is stressed, exhausted or disappointed.

True, the economy gets no benefit from this little transaction, but for people who already have everything they possibly need, it's only the thought that counts anyway, right?

And I've even cherry-picked a Bible verse to go with this scheme, "Cast thy lot with us, and we will share a common PURSE."
(Proverbs 1:14, emphasis mine, and with tongue firmly in cheek, of course;-)


Debra Hope said...

Great idea! I once gave MCC gift cards to the three attorneys for whom I worked. What do you get an attorney anyway? I bought three cards, made three little Christmas bouquets and put them on their desks. Shawn, a fairly young associate who I truly enjoyed working with, was soon at my desk. "Oh, Debra," he said, "what a wonderful thing to do! I loved it! But how did you know?" "How did I know what?" I asked. "Well, you gave me a card about a project in Guatamala; my parents were missionaries in Guatamala for 11 years. How did you know?" I didn't know; I declared, as the hairs raised on the back of my neck. I asked what denomination; he said, "Church of God." I laughed as I said, "Boy, I bet you went to tent meetings, didn't you?" He said, "Yes, but please don't tell anyone. Everyone in this firm is Jewish and Catholic and they just don't get evangelicals!" I agreed, then asked, "But weren't some of those sermons scarier than any horror film you ever saw?" "Well," said Shawn with a grin, "they weren't so bad when it was your Dad preaching!" Needless to say, we became the best of friends, had a brand new understanding of why we reacted to/thought/believed the way we did and are, to this day many years later, still in touch. Happy holidays to my friend Shawn!

harvspot said...

Thanks for your wonderful response!