Author Topic: Opting out of giving/receiving Christmas presents  (Read 9721 times)

Zummbot

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 36
Opting out of giving/receiving Christmas presents
« on: December 18, 2014, 07:38:12 AM »
Hi Mustachians,

Has anyone here discussed with the family about opting out of giving/receiving christmas presents? My wife and I had the no presents talk years ago, and we don't give presents to each other at all, including birthdays, anniversaries, christmas, etc. And we prefer it that way. We'll go have a nice dinner out instead to celebrate.

But my extended family has the typical American christmas with a ridiculous amount of gifts. My wife and I buy for everyone else, because we don't want to be the party poopers who "ruin" christmas for everyone else. But every year it eats me up inside a little bit. I love spending christmas with family, but I hate the consumerism that goes along with it. I fantasize about telling everyone we will no longer be buying gifts for christmas, and please don't buy for us either. I don't want to stop the rest of the family from giving to each other, we just don't want to participate. Anybody have any success stories about opting out of buying christmas presents?
« Last Edit: December 18, 2014, 08:32:25 AM by Zummbot »

UpThrift

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 1
Re: Opting out of giving/receiving Christmas presents
« Reply #1 on: December 18, 2014, 08:43:11 AM »
I'm having a very similar issue this holiday season. Although I don't feel a lot of pressure to buy extravagent gifts for friends and family, I've been roped into the office secret santa. Even the company holiday party set me back a little because I had to flip the train bill. I've been called a "grinch" due to my anti-consumerist Christmas sentiment. Wish I had some advice for you Zummbot, but it seems I need help myself. How can I avoid work-related christmas spending??

GuitarStv

  • Senior Mustachian
  • ********
  • Posts: 13293
  • Age: 38
  • Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Re: Opting out of giving/receiving Christmas presents
« Reply #2 on: December 18, 2014, 08:45:20 AM »
There's no winning scenario.  Grin and bear it.

If I ask people not to get me gifts, they do anyway.
Then if I don't give gifts I am an asshole.
If I give back the gifts given to me, I am an asshole.

Gifting is deeply ingrained, and the reason it's often hard to think of what to get for some people is that they honestly don't need anything.

theglasses

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 7
  • Location: Chicago
Re: Opting out of giving/receiving Christmas presents
« Reply #3 on: December 18, 2014, 09:07:20 AM »
We're trying to pull back, one side of the family at a time. My wife's side of the family goes nuts for gifts for gifts' sake at Christmas, and her parents and sister always buy a TON of presents for everyone, including extended family and the families of family friends ... it's ridiculous and huge and overwhelming and everyone expects gifts. My wife got an unsolicited text from her (adult) brother a few weeks ago that basically said "Here's what I'll accept for Christmas this year." That's when we decided that 1) he's a little shit (he is. likable at times, but a little shit) and 2) we were definitely NOT giving individual gifts this year. Instead, since we aren't going to be there at Christmas, and we're sending one family gift for her parents and all her siblings -- a big tin of Garrett's popcorn (if you're from Chicago, you know it's awesome). The hope is that it will send the message that we're pulling back from all the consumer stuff. We've told them a few times that we don't want anything. They of course never listen.

We are doing gifts for my side of the family, but they don't really go overboard. And really, it's my first niece's first Christmas (the HALLOWED FIRST GRANDCHILD), so most of the attention is going to be on her. They also don't know we're coming. We're surprising them after telling them we weren't going to be able to come. Hoping the fact that they aren't expecting us will have kept them from shopping for us. My wife and I have gifts for each other that we're taking with us, so we'll still be able to participate in the Christmas morning ritual without other people feeling awkward ;)

I did buy my sister's husband some LED light bulbs this year. He's kind of a grouchy and rude person, so his reaction whether he likes or hates a gift is always the same. He also has a bit of a "stuff" addiction. I figured I may as well get him something useful that doesn't add to the clutter, if he's just going to grunt anyway no matter what we give him. Next year, everyone may get light bulbs.

Anyway, I'll let you know how it goes. I'm thinking this is like a four-year plan. My wife also still really, really likes to get and give presents (apparently it's her Love Language?), but admits that she hates the consumerist frenzy and the unnecessary spending so ... slowly but surely.




king674

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 1
Re: Opting out of giving/receiving Christmas presents
« Reply #4 on: December 18, 2014, 09:11:13 AM »
I had a hard time convincing my mother to stop buying me gifts... so I came up with a creative way to make her happy and to stop receiving gifts.  I have her pick an angel from an angel tree and donate my gift to that child who probably needs the gift way more than I do.  We have been doing this for a number of years now, and I can say that I think she has actually come around to kind of enjoying it.  Oh, and I don't get any gifts that I don't need anymore!

Oh, I forgot, I made it abundantly clear to everyone that I do not buy gifts.  It's just not my thing, so I don't do it.  The time with family is more important than and 'thing' I could buy them...
« Last Edit: December 18, 2014, 09:22:01 AM by king674 »

Zummbot

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 36
Re: Opting out of giving/receiving Christmas presents
« Reply #5 on: December 18, 2014, 09:14:09 AM »
I've thought about maybe trying to broach the subject incrementally. My siblings would probably be more open to the idea than my parents. I was thinking of talking about it after christmas is over and seeing how everyone reacts. If not a total ban, maybe we establish a cost ceiling per present (like $20 a person) or something like that. I'd love to just get everyone some nice coffee or wine or some type of consumable. But I also don't want to give someone $20 worth of coffee and then receive a $100 item from someone else. So there needs to be ground rules.

Truthfully I hate getting expensive gifts and then feeling obligated to give expensive gifts when nobody really needs any of this crap.

DoNorth

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 219
Re: Opting out of giving/receiving Christmas presents
« Reply #6 on: December 18, 2014, 09:20:17 AM »
just did it with my brother-in-law and his wife and my siblings...no major issues, although my younger un-married sister complained a bit.  we just couched it as "make it about the kids" so cousins can make homemade gifts for each other.

We just got tired of recycling gift cards to each other so it was long overdue.

KMAber

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 13
  • Age: 39
  • Location: Warren, RI
Re: Opting out of giving/receiving Christmas presents
« Reply #7 on: December 18, 2014, 09:23:09 AM »
This can be so tricky and yes, if you tell people you don't want gifts, instead you get a bunch of crap that you have to try to sell on eBay in January (our solution to the deluge of stuff from holidays and birthdays).
I managed to limit our list with a few strategies: 1.Have had the conversation with people you know will be cool with it 2.  Limit yourself to $20-30 for those you do exchange with. I have scored great presents for everyone on my list with this budget. 3. Focus on experience gifts...groupon is a great place to find these! and 4. Pretend you're poor. If you are a Mustachian, most of your friends and family probably think you are in need of things. Direct them to things you could use, like tools, cooking utensils, or a new winter jacket.

Finally, it is not poor etiquette to receive a gift when you have not given to the other person. Gifts are not a contract. An enthusiastic thank you as well as a follow up thank you card is all you "owe" the person who gave you a gift. I know this doesn't feel right (especially with immediate family members), but perhaps this could be effective to those who are on the fringe.

Good luck!

Bob W

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 2947
  • Age: 60
  • Location: Missouri
  • Live on minimum wage, earn on maximum
Re: Opting out of giving/receiving Christmas presents
« Reply #8 on: December 18, 2014, 09:39:29 AM »
It's a little late for this year.  So maybe float a balloon at the family party.  Something along the line of "white elephant or secret santa gifts are fun!"

At our house this year we did white elephant (girls and guys $20 max) for the extended 35 people family get together with each child under 14 getting a present.

For our immediate family we did a secret santa for the adult and kids getting more.  The secret santa was the 21 year old daughters idea (so put a bug in the poor younger folks ears).  My wife, of course cheated a bit and everyone found out who the secret santa was but that was fine.

So I literally had to buy 2 gifts for family totaling $70.    And everyone was happy.   I really think they were glad not to have the burden of crap and having to open  so many gifts while faking the "oh I just love this" smile. 

TexasStash

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 98
Re: Opting out of giving/receiving Christmas presents
« Reply #9 on: December 18, 2014, 09:40:25 AM »
My parents and our out of town relatives are scaling back their gift giving to each other this year, which I think makes a ton of sense. It was always stressful for them to shop at least a couple weeks before Christmas in order to then go to the post office, wait in line and ship a bunch of gifts to each other, many of which you were never sure were good gifts for them or not.

One thing I have found helpful if you have relatives who love giving gifts but don't want more things for yourself (my mom's love language is definitely gift-giving, for example) is to ask for gifts that are really donations to charities you care about. Non-profits have done a much better job in recent years of making these gifts look just like gifts to you (gift cards essentially), but really gifts to needy people around the world. And they have priced their gifts to be meaningful but also reasonable on any budget.

I particularly favor organizations like Living Water (building wells in Africa) and International Justice Mission (combating slavery, human trafficking and sexual exploitation globally), as well as Compassion International. All of these typically quantify what each gift means, and Living Water lets you go online and select where the money goes to if you so choose. Once we have kids, I think this will be a great way to teach the kids how to care about someone other than themselves!

Maseroni

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 25
  • Location: Central Ontario
Re: Opting out of giving/receiving Christmas presents
« Reply #10 on: December 18, 2014, 09:50:54 AM »
My wife and I have been working on this issue with our families for years.  We've managed to decrease it substantially amongst the adults, but the kids still receive insane amounts of gifts each year.  Their argument is that the gifts are all about the kids, but my concern is what is being "modeled" by the parents is being lost on the kids, because they are still getting so much.

We have managed, through better work/life balance to make almost all of our gifts this year.  I have always asked not to receive gifts, but my wife still wants something from me each year. This year I watched a bunch of youtube videos on book binding, and made a "Card-book" for my wife.  It turned out to be a really neat project because the purpose is to write the holiday or birthday card you would normally buy in the pages of the book instead.  That way you can keep the book and the "cards" year after year.  You could do the same thing by simply buying a good quality book with blank pages - I just made mine with card-stock pages.

bacchi

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3628
Re: Opting out of giving/receiving Christmas presents
« Reply #11 on: December 18, 2014, 10:03:38 AM »
One thing I have found helpful if you have relatives who love giving gifts but don't want more things for yourself (my mom's love language is definitely gift-giving, for example) is to ask for gifts that are really donations to charities you care about.

This is what we've done for siblings and parents. The gift amount is anonymous so people can comfortably give what they want, the gifter gets a tax donation, someone gets a house or clean water, and there's less crap in the house. An all around win.

iris lily

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3184
Re: Opting out of giving/receiving Christmas presents
« Reply #12 on: December 18, 2014, 10:09:23 AM »
Op, I suspect you are young. Us oldsters do what we wanna do. Years ago I opted out of gift giving for my side of the family, but it was always pretty low key anyway, and everyone was simply relieved to be rid of it.

DH's family which had lots of small children did the giant gifting things for years (although items were never expensive) and now those kids are grown up and have children of their own. Along the way, in fits and starts they downsized, and downsized, and then finally stopped. The family is scattered across several states.

But bottom line is this: do not give gifts if you don't wish to do so. Just stop it. This year it's too late to wiggle out of the expectations, but this also a good time to say to your family when they are all there: Hey, next year, we won't be buying gifts for ya'll. " Say it with a smile, be positive. But stop the actions.

You can't control what others do, you can only control your own actions. Take ownership of your feelings, act accordingly, and put up with the consequences.

If you want to get really fancy about analyzing the expectations of others, is it that your mom for instance believes that you aren't participating fully in the family lovefest if there isn't cheap plastic crap coming form you in a gift bag? If that's the case, you can try talking to her honestly and perhaps bringing food items for the family gathering, special things cooked by you, will address that.

But in the end, people  who are incredibly focused on gifting loads of crap are not open to self analysis and change in this area. So be it, let them buy truckloads of stuff that you don't want.

« Last Edit: December 22, 2014, 10:55:52 PM by iris lily »

The_path_less_taken

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 654
Re: Opting out of giving/receiving Christmas presents
« Reply #13 on: December 18, 2014, 10:19:43 AM »
***confession: I totally LOVE buying the 'perfect' gift for someone...the gift that makes them wanna do nekkid backflips. A friend once told about me a dream she had...and a few days later I found a piece of costume jewelry and a decorative tile that had the EXACT image from her dream. I totally had to buy it.***

That said...that was pre-MMM. Now, with my closest friends...I am experimenting with the "let's do experience gifts: a hike, a massage, share books, cook dinner, etc." Not sure how it's working.

And (go ahead, facepunch me because I deserve it) I probably have two years worth of gifts sitting here for my fave people. "Oh, he'd love that shirt it has a moose on it." etc. Ack.

I keep telling myself it's all a learning curve. And I am nowhere near the fucking top. But trying.

LibrarIan

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 435
  • Age: 30
  • Location: Greater Cincinnati
Re: Opting out of giving/receiving Christmas presents
« Reply #14 on: December 18, 2014, 10:27:04 AM »
I convinced both sides to one gift only, which is a good compromise. I just asked for them make a charitable donation on my behalf to an organization I picked out. Hopefully they just do that for me.

digging_dirt

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 1
Re: Opting out of giving/receiving Christmas presents
« Reply #15 on: December 18, 2014, 10:36:06 AM »
Here is an idea that may work for some, and may not work for some.  As background,for several years my siblings had a gift exchange with a $20 or $30 limit.  Half of the siblings are married, half are not.  The exchange got "worse" each year to the point that it usually went something like this:
  • Gift-giver calls spouse of gift-receiver, asks, "What does ____ want for Christmas?"
  • Spouse of gift-receiver gives some ideas
  • Gift-giver asks spouse of receiver to order gift for gift-receiver on Amazon, gift-giver will reimburse spouse of gift-receiver shortly.  (I was guilty on both sides of this scheme.)

I think everyone sensed something foul in this arrangement.  We were (most of us) working with decent incomes, and trading $20 gifts just for the sake of giving gifts seemed strange.  An email discussion started with the initial suggestion that we still draw names out of a hat each year, but instead of giving a gift, we write a letter.  This idea was axed due to the awkward situation this may create for some in-laws, but it was modified.  Instead of giving gifts at all among siblings, we select a theme each year, and everyone writes a story on the subject.  The theme could be "favorite holiday memory," or "best vacation," or "describe a time of success."  For the most part, we are writing memories about our childhood or young-adult years.  These stories are compiled by one of the siblings, and sent to everyone by email on Christmas Eve.  Someday, our kids will have a nice compilation of stories from their parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles.  For now, this is my favorite gift on Christmas.

We have been doing this for three years with great success.  Any material gifts that are still given take place spontaneously, or out of desire of the giver to give.  There are several nieces/nephews in the mix, and grandma and grandpa still give to the grandkids, but the obligatory expense between siblings of $30 on a gift that will quickly be forgotten has disappeared.

We have had less success in this arena with my wife's family.  Gifts seem to be more of a 'love language' there so the gift exchange will likely live on for some time.
« Last Edit: December 18, 2014, 10:38:00 AM by digging_dirt »

benjenn

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 284
  • Age: 55
  • Location: Gulf Shores, AL
Re: Opting out of giving/receiving Christmas presents
« Reply #16 on: December 18, 2014, 10:36:39 AM »
Hubby and I talked about this a couple of months ago after I ran across this wonderful "one less gift certificate."  We sent them to most all of the adults on our Christmas list... grown step-daughter and SIL, dear friends group known as the "goddesses and consorts," and other adults we've bought for in the past.  Young adult children still get a couple of small gifts (one consumable, one not) and grandchildren get a museum membership and a book.  We went from spending just over $2,000 last year to spending less than $600 this year.  No complaints from anyone!

http://www.lifeedited.com/get-everyone-in-your-life-a-one-less-gift-certificate/

mom2_3Hs

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 58
Re: Opting out of giving/receiving Christmas presents
« Reply #17 on: December 18, 2014, 10:40:41 AM »
Too late for this year.  Have a conversation about drawing names, Secret Santa or some other reduction.  A hard stop is giving up a tradition, or if you are the only one who opts out, you look like scrooge.  My husband has three siblings, and the adults have agreed to drawing names.  We all still give gifts to the mom and dad (they refuse to draw) and to all the kids, but it took it down from insanity to moderately crazy...while keeping the fun.

Greg

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1449
  • Location: Olympia, WA, USA
Re: Opting out of giving/receiving Christmas presents
« Reply #18 on: December 18, 2014, 10:43:05 AM »
My family goes back and forth, and at different rates for different family members.  I have extended family in other states and cities that we don't give gifts too.  Sometimes cards.

In our immediate family, we often give a family gift to ourselves, or do some other practical thing like a built-in desk in lieu of presents.  We like to give a lot of (christmas) stocking stuffers.  It's easy to give a few small things that fill up a stocking.

Other years we've done the "one gift from everyone" thing.  A couple of years everyone made "wish lists" from which folks picked, but that is sometimes uncomfortable.

I dated someone once whose family all just made cards with nice thoughts written inside, gifts weren't expected really.  The cards and the sentiments inside were the thing.  I thought that was nice but it was hard to sync with.  What is really nice about that tradition is it helps teach kids to make things instead of buy them, and thank you cards/letters are also an important habit to form.

One thing you could try is giving home made food.  Sauces, salts, cookies, etc.  As a beekeeper I often give small jars of honey.

Giving up gift giving is often a challenge, it helps to cultivate overall gratitude for other things like time, life and health.
« Last Edit: December 18, 2014, 10:47:00 AM by Greg »

lackofstache

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 313
Re: Opting out of giving/receiving Christmas presents
« Reply #19 on: December 18, 2014, 02:14:05 PM »
This has been difficult, particularly becuase although my wife & are are younger in both of our families we had the first two grandchidlren on both sides. We were young, broke & had grand kids. We couldn't give much and everyone wanted to give lots to us. We've scaled it bakc & said it's ok to buy for our kids, but just keep the rest. We typically give home roasted coffee, home-made granola, home-made cider or something along those lines that people can appreciate, but that we didn't spend much $ on. We try to line up what we make/give with the person as that seems to jive with how we feel about the season.

I don't think of it as a give nothing/get nothing, but more give of yourself/get of those that love you type thing...

Spork

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 5753
    • Spork In The Eye
Re: Opting out of giving/receiving Christmas presents
« Reply #20 on: December 18, 2014, 02:41:09 PM »

I have done multiple things over the years
* Just didn't participate - I can't say this works for me.  It is what makes sense, but feelings get hurt, things get awkward, etc.
* suggested (and once or twice won!) that we make an awesome christmas for a needy family.  (Sort of funny, since I am the uber-selfish atheist capitalist and the rest of the family is not.)
* whittled the family gathering down to either "lets draw names and each only buy one thing" or "buy random gift and we draw for who opens it."  The latter mostly works.  The former is just dumb.  We agree on an amount and everyone gets everyone else a gift card.  It is sort of like "on the count of 3, everyone give someone else $50."

Between the wife and I we usually will exchange a token.  Often it's a consumable: liquor, wine, meat, chocolate, etc...   This year we had a local animal charity that was in a dire situation and we decided to just give them some money as our presents to each other.

MooseOutFront

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 510
  • Age: 39
  • Location: Texas
Re: Opting out of giving/receiving Christmas presents
« Reply #21 on: December 18, 2014, 02:46:40 PM »
It's tough.  We haven't figured it out yet.  My parents are very generous so I can't barge in and shut it all down because they always get us some "needed" big ticket item and I don't want that to stop. :)  However after last Christmas I spoke with my brother and his fiancÚ about us stopping with the gifts for each other.  They agreed.  Then I realized as this Christmas approached that they're buying my kids stuff so I got them stuff anyway.  Shame is they're the only 2 people that I actually have a ton of good ideas for and enjoy buying gifts for.  Everyone else is a painful and wasteful obligation.  Wife and I do not exchange gifts. Once my brother and I are patriarchs of this side of the family the madness will end.  It's already ended on my wife's side.  Nobody gets anything but the kids.  Perfect.

Freedom2016

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 601
Re: Opting out of giving/receiving Christmas presents
« Reply #22 on: December 18, 2014, 03:12:57 PM »
An email discussion started with the initial suggestion that we still draw names out of a hat each year, but instead of giving a gift, we write a letter.  This idea was axed due to the awkward situation this may create for some in-laws, but it was modified.  Instead of giving gifts at all among siblings, we select a theme each year, and everyone writes a story on the subject.  The theme could be "favorite holiday memory," or "best vacation," or "describe a time of success."  For the most part, we are writing memories about our childhood or young-adult years.  These stories are compiled by one of the siblings, and sent to everyone by email on Christmas Eve.  Someday, our kids will have a nice compilation of stories from their parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles.  For now, this is my favorite gift on Christmas.

I love this!

In my family we:
--Stopped exchanging gifts between adults and instead we choose a charity on a rotating basis to make a family contribution toward. This year DH and I chose a charity that a close friend started. There is actually a film out right now that is based on our friend's work, so we are going to watch it over Christmas together, all 9 kids included, and then have a Skype session with our friend where we all (but especially the kids) can learn more about what he does.
--Draw kid names such that a cousin buys a $30-ish gift for another cousin (though in our case we'll be buying the gifts on behalf of our young kids to give to their cousins)
--Do a white elephant gift exchange, which leads to much hilarity.

This year we are backtracking a bit because my 75-year old dad got a little bratty and whined that he missed opening a gift at Christmas. Sooo, the adults are once again exchanging gifts.


Goldielocks

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 6229
  • Location: BC
Re: Opting out of giving/receiving Christmas presents
« Reply #23 on: December 18, 2014, 04:25:57 PM »
We chose this years ago.

Now only kids under 18 get presents, and I get something for my parents (this year it is a basket of pears and a donation to their charity).

It was easy conversation, as my sister already had so many nieces / nephews, and inlaws she was grateful for a reprieve.  (her husband is one of 6 siblings).

BUT -- a week before christmas is WAY TO LATE to have the conversation -- maybe bring it up on boxing day?

EngineerMum

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 130
  • Location: Perth, Western Australia
  • Working towards moderate badassity
Re: Opting out of giving/receiving Christmas presents
« Reply #24 on: December 18, 2014, 04:46:09 PM »
We've tried various things over the years. I've learnt that buying nothing doesn't work, even the adults genuinely enjoy opening a gift, and it feels weird to have nothing for you under the tree. For my family, we have settled into adults doing a secret santa - works well for us as everyone puts thought and time into it, and gifts are almost always well chosen, rarely do I see a gift card (other than for one person's mum who we don't see through the year, and she often gets a salon gift card because she is so busy looking after her elderly and unwell husband that being encouraged to take time out for a massage is actually very good for her). This year, even with the kids the presents are being ramped back. They all get a stocking, and parents typically buy "something you want, something you need, something to wear, something to read", though my toddler still just gets whatever I want to give her, plus mum buys all the kids a book, and others may or may not buy other gifts for the kids if they choose to, but no expectations. With my husband's side, I have literally seen one of the kids brought to tears /temper tantrum by being given yet another gift when he was just too overwhelmed. Since that year, they have ramped back a little. Adults now give a small token - often the ladies make food gifts, or one aunt gives each family a nice ornament. Kids still get gifts from everyone - which means that they get something from the great grandparents, their own GPs and 2 aunts, their parents siblings and cousins, and their parents - that's roughly 9 or 10 gifts each - but at least they are less extravagant gifts, and only one each rather than several. Then add on that MIL thinks that an appropriate gift budget - per kid - is around $500 - $1000. Hubby and I are separated, and I am really relieved that I don't have to be a part of that again this year. Though I did quite enjoy the designer purses that MIL used to give me (she didn't like my requests of power tools or shares).
One thing that my parents did when we were little, with relies all overseas. The aunts had an arrangement that mum would buy something for us "from" them, and they would buy something for their kids "from" mum. noone wastes money on postage or has to guess what nieces and nephews they barely know would like. And everyone spends the amount they want - and stop the tradition when they are comfortable to do so, while the other side may continue it if they feel the need.
TLDR: be upfront and say you want to try a different approach, and accept that it's probably going to take a few years to get to a comfortable arrangement. Then it's going to get all messed up when there's another generation anyway.

Hmm, I've just noticed, it's all about the women. The men a) couldn't care less about getting gifts, and b) are rubbish at buying them. The women in both families do all the work and make all the effort, and enjoy the opening the most. Is that just my and my husband's families or is that common?

This_Is_My_Username

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 323
  • Location: Australia, Mate.
Re: Opting out of giving/receiving Christmas presents
« Reply #25 on: December 18, 2014, 06:48:29 PM »
I have all the items that I could possibly want or need. 

I have solved this issue as follows:

1. In Late October/early November, I contact each person that might potentially give me a gift.
2. I ask them: "can we agree to not buy each other presents" ?
3. They say yes. 
4. If they say no, ask again next year
5. ( kids still get gifts )

iris lily

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3184
Re: Opting out of giving/receiving Christmas presents
« Reply #26 on: December 18, 2014, 08:14:51 PM »
...
Hmm, I've just noticed, it's all about the women. The men a) couldn't care less about getting gifts, and b) are rubbish at buying them. The women in both families do all the work and make all the effort, and enjoy the opening the most. Is that just my and my husband's families or is that common?

I don't buy presents for DH's family, never have done it. If there are/were presents to be purchased, wrapped, and mailed, that's on him.

pachnik

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1770
  • Age: 55
  • Location: Vancouver, BC
Re: Opting out of giving/receiving Christmas presents
« Reply #27 on: December 18, 2014, 09:14:02 PM »
+1 to Iris Lily's post. 

My husband buys presents for his side of the family.  I deal with my side.  And fortunately, there is less and less of it.  This is my second year of a gift truce with my brother and SIL.  I do buy for my niece and nephew though and we take my parents out for dinner in January.  They have everything they could possibly need and want.

This year for my husband I got him some new gloves and pajamas since his are falling apart. Plus, one month of ballroom dance lessons for the 2 of us.  He once got us some dance lesson and we had such a good time.  Hopefully he isn't lurking here.  :)

JustTrying

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 210
Re: Opting out of giving/receiving Christmas presents
« Reply #28 on: December 18, 2014, 11:14:49 PM »
Traditionally, I've dealt with this by avoidance. I buy for my sibs, parents, and living grandparent. Hubs buys for his sibs, parents, and niece. We skip town at Christmas time to avoid hubs' uncles, cousins, aunts, cousins' kids, etc.

Unfortunately, this year, hubs' mother decided to come to town, so now we can't run. I'm honestly annoyed/distressed by it. I asked him to call his family and ask them not to get us gifts, but he felt that this was pointless because he thinks that they'd get us gifts even if we asked them not to. He decided that he would make gifts for every one. It's frustrating because in my family we CAN have honest conversations and work things like this out, but his family just doesn't communicate the way I think that adults should be able to...and I'm the in-law, so I feel like my power is limited. :(

AllieVaulter

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 304
  • Age: 35
  • Location: Portland, OR
Re: Opting out of giving/receiving Christmas presents
« Reply #29 on: December 19, 2014, 10:01:51 AM »
My sister has two young children with TONS of stuff.  She mentioned to me that she was worried they were getting spoiled (first grand kids on both sides of the family).  I threw out the idea of reducing our gift giving to a draw, so that everyone only gives/receives one gift and then choosing a charity to donate to as a family.  Last year we did Kiva, this year we're doing Charity Water, but there's been a lot of suggestions.  I really like the idea of this becoming a family tradition.  Instead of spending so much time opening presents, we've decided to make cookies and decorate them as a family.  It gives us more time to talk and visit, and we get to make something we all enjoy.  Usually my mom ends up making all the cookies by herself.  It's gone pretty well so far, so I think it might stick.  Now we just have to convince the in-laws to cut back on gifts.