I just finished putting the final touches on the invitation for our 2011 Holiday Hoopla, which is an event that my son, his dad, my beau, and I put on for our family in Ohio instead of buying everyone gifts. We've been having such great fun planning the event and I can't wait to see how it goes over this year!

Success Magazine and U.S. News & World Report wrote about our 2010 Holiday Hoopla — You can have this much fun, too!


Creating an event is a gift that you can give to a whole group of people at once. And it is something that can be from a group of people, like your immediate family. What you do is create some sort of experience for someone or a group of people you love. The experience can be a dinner party, musical talent show, scavenger hunt, poetry reading, variety show, or dessert bar.

What type of event you do and how elaborate you make it is totally up to you. If you use your imagination and consider the people you're creating this event for, I bet you'll come up with something wonderful. (It's not too late to plan something for this year if you keep it simple, with a real focus on something everyone can share in!)

Last year my San Francisco family wanted to come up with an experience we could create for our extended family whom we visit every year in Ohio. We decided to send out invitations for a Holiday Hoopla, which would be a carnival,variety show, and dinner held in my mom's house. Instead of buying presents for our family, we had a whole lot of fun planning the various carnival booths (including a "Validation Booth" and Alter Ego Photo Booth) and show (magic, kung fu demonstrations, juggling, piano playing, etc.). What made this such a joyful and amazing event is that it was so much fun to plan, so much fun to host, and so much fun to attend.

My 10-year-old son was excited for weeks beforehand. He loved making signs and decorating and brainstorming booths. Our family that attended got to be a part of something that brought us all together in a new, creative way. It was festive and full of vitality. And the memories are ours forever. This coming year, when we host  Hoopla 2,  we will hand out personalized booklets that include photos from last year's photo booth, as well as all of the "Validations" we wrote for each family member.

I'll tell you what the theme of this year's even is later. (Shhhh … it is a surprise for my family and I think they read this blog!)

Gifts don't always have to be material objects! What can YOU do to make a gift out of a family gathering?

Be sure and write to tell me about any special gift gatherings you create!


Click on the links below the covers to read about creating more joy with less money. Both articles mention our 2010 Holiday Hoopla!

How to Live Happily on Less


Modern Family Traditions