“It started when mum became a pensioner,” Wini says. “We had to acknowledge that not everyone in the family had lots of money for presents during the festive season.”
Wini’s mum started the ball rolling with ingredient jars. The jars come beautifully packaged and include all the ingredients for special family recipes, except the eggs and milk.
“It is more than just the jar that mum gives though, it is the history behind it,” Wini says. “She attaches the recipe to the jar, penned in traditional cursive handwriting and we really appreciate it.
“One year Mum gave all the grandchildren hot chocolate jars with a separate bag for the marshmallows. She wrote a date on the lid of the jar and that date was when each grandchild was invited to come over and share a hot chocolate with her.”
Now the family recycle their possessions, give joke presents to their bachelor uncles and gift their talents to each other. Among the many amusing moments are the $1 bikinis her sister decided to give all the girls in the family; the set of Fifty Shades of Grey books one grandson thought would be a great gift for his nana; and the hideous op-shop painting that now resides prominently in an uncle’s house.
“We have a lot of fun!” Wini says. “And we enjoy reminding each other about the laughs we have!”
There are thoughtful gifts too. Wini’s sister has borrowed a pair of her high heels a few times this past year and Wini has taken great care to keep them pristine so she can gift them to her sister this Christmas. One sister is a keen gardener and gives new potatoes to her siblings for Christmas. Another offers aromatherapy massage sessions, and Wini’s sister-in-law bakes and will bring each family a loaf of fresh bread and a voucher for bread making lessons.
“We’ve also had to give re-gifts with a story,” Wini says. “My five-year-old grandniece gave me the teddy bear she’d received from her nana, and said it was because I didn’t have grandchildren and she wanted me to have it for when I did have grandchildren.
“Our Christmases teach our kids how to create family memories and think about why they are giving a gift,” Wini explains. “But really our actual present is the time that we spend with each other.”