One of my husband’s favorite holiday movies is National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. It’s actually relevant to this piece because one subplot of the film is Clark’s hope to get a nice bonus at work so he can surprise the family with a swimming pool. If you’ve seen the movie, you know the circumstances that get Clark the needed pay boost, but the movie’s given me something to think about. Is a swimming pool a reasonable family holiday gift? If you have wanted one for a while, it seems reasonable to make it part of the Christmas celebration, yes?

It’s not uncommon for people to gift the family with large gifts. Car manufacturers would have you believe that people receive new convertibles every years, and while a pool may not cost as much as a high-end Mercedes, it is a pricy gift. It’s also one best given if the family knows to eventually expect one.

There are a number of factors to consider, too, before you decide on such a gift to your family:

1) Can you afford it? Depending on the contractor you hire, you will need to work out payment and other expenses. Are you getting a salt water pool over one that requires chlorine? What changes in landscaping need to be done in your backyard?

2) Above or in-ground? The type of pool you buy will determine the final cost, but you should know what style of pool you want. An in-ground pool may make more sense of you have seasoned swimmers in the family.

3) Can you have one installed? Do you have to adhere to a neighborhood covenant? If so, you may need permission to have the pool put in your yard. Find out before you make a deposit.

Once you have all the tough decisions about the pool made, next comes the anticipation of giving the gift. If this is a surprise for the family, there are creative ways you can go about teasing the kids about their big present. Buy some small pool toys or accessories like swim goggles or a snorkel for stockings and let them figure out the theme. Or, you can place a bow on the space in the yard where the pool will be installed.

However you decide to present the pool plan to your family, have fun with it. This is a gift your family will enjoy for years to come.