Author Topic: Christmas Gifts: To Give or Not to Give?  (Read 5667 times)

KristenC

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Christmas Gifts: To Give or Not to Give?
« on: December 26, 2013, 09:49:30 AM »
Earlier this year, I sent out an email to my sisters and my mom suggesting that we not exchange gifts this year and instead plan something together.  This email was completely misinterpreted and created a lot of confusion for some reason. They all thought that I was enforcing this on them even though it was definitely written as a suggestion and even ended with a "what do you think?" Ultimately, I spoke to each of them and said that they can do what they want but I am not planning on exchanging gifts except for my nieces. Christmas arrived and they all exchanged gifts and bought me gifts.  It was kind of awkward.  I really don't mind if they exchange gifts but I don't want to receive gifts when I am not giving gifts.  On the other hand, I loved this month.  I loved not having to go out shopping or wrapping gifts.  I baked, which I love to do.  I gave to charity.  I spent some really great times with friends and family.  I really don't want to go back to buying gifts (usually about 10+ gifts) but not sure how to get my family to stop getting me gifts.  I am concerned that they are going to start resenting me.  Any suggestions?

Eric

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Re: Christmas Gifts: To Give or Not to Give?
« Reply #1 on: December 26, 2013, 11:06:16 AM »
You didn't get them anything?  I'd use my baking skills and hand out baked goods.  My wife and I made some goats milk caramels and mailed them our families.  (they were awesome!)  I don't think you have to buy them stuff, but a little effort in the kitchen will probably go a long way.
« Last Edit: December 26, 2013, 11:29:42 AM by Eric »

Michread

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Re: Christmas Gifts: To Give or Not to Give?
« Reply #2 on: December 26, 2013, 11:21:03 AM »
Send them a thank you note, card or email. Do NOT buy them gifts because then you WILL keep the gift giving going!  Maybe they like to shop and spend money but you do not.  Try again next year with a similar note before the holiday season and then maybe they will get it.

tat96

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Re: Christmas Gifts: To Give or Not to Give?
« Reply #3 on: December 26, 2013, 11:25:09 AM »
Sorry to hear about your family issue but I fear it is all too common.  My in-laws and immediate family are big into buying expensive gifts and my recent attempt to get them to cut back on giving me expensive gifts resulted in a lot of arguing.  Apparently, asking for 3  t-shirts was not sufficient and I subsequently got lots of high-priced gift cards I can't possibly use (donate??) in addition to 3 t-shirts. 

I don't really have any advice.  I have witnessed first-hand how so many people have bought into the consumer lifestyle that comes along with holidays that trying to do anything other than spend money on presents will not be received well.  Perhaps you can find a charity and make a donation in their names.  While it is still an outflow of cash at least you can feel better about it than just gifting expensive crap!

Good Luck!

gimp

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Re: Christmas Gifts: To Give or Not to Give?
« Reply #4 on: December 26, 2013, 11:56:14 AM »

navystache

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Re: Christmas Gifts: To Give or Not to Give?
« Reply #5 on: December 26, 2013, 12:02:54 PM »
My wife used old jars filled them with epsom salt mixed with peppermint oil and red food coloring(used for baths) about a 1.00 gift but very pleasant.  She also made a special hot chocolate mix that were put in the old style jars.  Our relatives all called back loving the gifts.

KristenC

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Re: Christmas Gifts: To Give or Not to Give?
« Reply #6 on: December 26, 2013, 12:16:10 PM »
You didn't get them anything?

I didn't mean to imply that I didn't get them anything.  I just didn't do the traditional expensive/wrap in a box gifts.  I did give away all (okay, full disclosure, almost all :)) of the baked goods. I also gave to three charities (Ovarian Cancer Research, St. Judes and a local charity started by my sister's father in law) in their honor.  I also got little stocking stuffers.

swick

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Re: Christmas Gifts: To Give or Not to Give?
« Reply #7 on: December 26, 2013, 12:30:20 PM »
I think part of the challenge is being okay (and secure) with what you are giving. We kind of struggle and feel bad that we are only doing homemade gifts, but that is the decision we came to that aligns with our values and we spend  a considerable amount if time and effort making sure those gifts are meaningful and will be used. Way more of a time investment then buying something random off the shelf.

 Having conversations well in advance of the holidays is a good idea too - lucky for us my side of the family is all on the same page, it is just natural. My Dh's side of the family relies much more on the "Christmas Gift List" style of consumer giving - it is a work in progress, but they seem to appreciate our efforts and sometimes don't even realize their gifts are homemade until we mention it.

The cool thing about making homemade gifts is it is really easy to go beyond your usual gift giving circle. I'll usually make a batch or two of candies or something a little different but still scalable and wrap them in cute single serving sizes and have them on hand to give to those who help us out throughout the year or the random person walking down the sidewalks who looks like they need cheering up. Their reactions are my favorite part of Christmas.

anastrophe

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Re: Christmas Gifts: To Give or Not to Give?
« Reply #8 on: December 26, 2013, 12:36:14 PM »
I would rather not give or receive, I rarely like anything people get me and suspect it's the same for them. But gifts are important for social connections and I like to maintain those.

Once somewhere I read some research (or "research," I can't remember the source) that people prefer to receive things they have actually asked for. On the basis of that, I like the way my in-laws do it: they all spend at least $50 per person, it seems, but only off each others' Amazon wishlists.

This year I gave away jars of peach salsa made in August and a few nicer regifts that people had given me in past years. It was all well-received.

plainjane

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Re: Christmas Gifts: To Give or Not to Give?
« Reply #9 on: December 26, 2013, 01:10:11 PM »
Earlier this year, I sent out an email to my sisters and my mom suggesting that we not exchange gifts this year and instead plan something together.  This email was completely misinterpreted and created a lot of confusion for some reason. [...] Ultimately, I spoke to each of them and said that they can do what they want but I am not planning on exchanging gifts except for my nieces. Christmas arrived and they all exchanged gifts and bought me gifts.  It was kind of awkward. 

If you want to do something together with them, then the gift could be a brochure or "tickets" for that thing.  If you're baking already, a well-presented set of that baking usually works as a gift, and after a year or two they'll ratchet down gifts as well.  If you're doing donations already, give them a baked item + a note saying you donated to charityX in lieu of a gift (hopefully a charity they also agree with, and you don't need to say whether it was a donation in kind, in cash, or time).

You've already told them you don't want to do gifts, making a big statement again next year will likely not be well-received.

CrochetStache

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Re: Christmas Gifts: To Give or Not to Give?
« Reply #10 on: December 26, 2013, 02:55:54 PM »
It is very difficult to change tradition but it can be done.

I do not give gifts for any specific holiday or birthday. Nor do I expect any in return. About 95% of the people in my life understand and respect that is just how I am. The few who do provide gifts receive a handwritten thank you card for that gift. I wouldn't reciprocate with your baked goods because that would be seen as a gift, also.

There are so many other ways to give to friends and family through skills, knowledge or as an emergency babysitter at 2AM!
Many people give to charity in Dec whether it is in the true spirit of giving or just for the tax break, but what about April or August? The same charities would love steady attention throughout the year.

Stand your ground regarding your personal gift policy, but also respect the fact they may not stop. Have those Thank You cards ready :)

MrsPete

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Re: Christmas Gifts: To Give or Not to Give?
« Reply #11 on: December 26, 2013, 03:00:27 PM »
It's too late for this year, but I think MANY people balk at the idea of doing NOTHING for Christmas, especially when it comes to family.  I'd suggest that instead of saying, "Let's not exchange gifts", you suggest that your traditional gift-giving frenzy be replace with something much smaller, more manageable.  Examples:

- Suggest that at Thanksgiving all the adults draw names and purchase one gift for just that person.
- Suggest that every adult bring one generic gift to the family get-together, then do a gift exchange.
- Suggest that everyone bring stocking stuffers only, and put out a big gift bag for each person (kind of like Valentine mailboxes back in elementary school), and have everyone drop in their stocking stuffers ANNONYMOUSLY. 
- Suggest that you do some sort of family outing, and the experience IS everyone's gift to one another.  For example, we've talked about doing a family cruise, and taking the trip together would be the gift -- no gifts would be exchanged on Christmas day, except perhaps between parents and children, which would be done in private rather than with the extended family. 

This isn't just about money.  It's about keeping Christmas simple and allowing everyone time to focus on the real meaning of the season, which has nothing to do with Santa or gifts.  If you come at it from this point of view, acknowledging that the financial savings is an added perk, you will likely meet with more success. 

fidgiegirl

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Re: Christmas Gifts: To Give or Not to Give?
« Reply #12 on: December 26, 2013, 04:15:15 PM »
I feel for you.  This went on for a few years with DH's sister, and finally she got the hint and quit buying.  I sometimes wonder if it was the right way to go about it, but when the person won't engage in the downsizing conversation, well, we decided to simply discontinue.

I agree to stand your ground, do what YOU want to do and if they choose to continue buying, that is their choice.  But don't allow yourself to be guilted.  Gifts are not about guilt.

firelight

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Re: Christmas Gifts: To Give or Not to Give?
« Reply #13 on: December 26, 2013, 04:53:08 PM »
You said you gave baked goods as gifts... these are gifts. Even if the monetary value/shininess of the gifts you got might be different, the idea of gift giving is the same behind all gifts. Heck! I prefer homemade baked goods that I can enjoy without adding to my pile of stuff any day over a gift I rarely use and I have to find space for in my tiny apartment.

oldtoyota

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Re: Christmas Gifts: To Give or Not to Give?
« Reply #14 on: December 26, 2013, 05:41:10 PM »
I admire your resolve. I spent way less than last year, but I could have done better.

I made a lot of gifts this year...hot chocolate mix, etc, etc.



Noodle

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Re: Christmas Gifts: To Give or Not to Give?
« Reply #15 on: December 27, 2013, 08:13:39 AM »
A lot of people who want to negotiate changes in Christmas gifting seem to want to change a whole group's approach at once...that seems very difficult to me unless the whole group has close relationships and good communication skills (unusual for a whole extended family!) I think it's also helpful to remember that some people genuinely express love through giving and receiving gifts, and sometimes receiving a gift gracefully (or not being dismissive of gifting) is a genuine kindness. Exchanging gifts is a human habit that goes back to prehistory--I think you have to be prepared that making changes may take more than one email.

In my family, it was more successful to talk to people individually. For instance, each pair of siblings worked out how they wanted to do the gift exchange--and they did make different choices...some see each other often and knew what would be enjoyed and used...others do not.

Charlotte

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Re: Christmas Gifts: To Give or Not to Give?
« Reply #16 on: December 28, 2013, 03:18:40 AM »
For me it was my husband's family that was crazy with the gifts (they still are!) It was kind of easy to be new to the family and to just say that we don't do gifts for adults. My husband had wanted out for years so I got to be the bad guy, so-to-speak.

They took it pretty well. But I probably lucked out -- they are super nice people and super good Christians. Taking it poorly just isn't in them.

Every now and then we buy something for someone and every now and then someone buys something for us. But it isn't expected. And it makes the gift giving extravaganza a bit less crazy (you should see the piles of presents!)

scrubbyfish

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Re: Christmas Gifts: To Give or Not to Give?
« Reply #17 on: December 28, 2013, 07:02:12 AM »
So far so  good! You sent the letter well in advance, you weaned them off your gift giving by giving smaller or otherwise less consumer-y things in the transition. Perfect!

The only additional thing you will need to do is: get comfy with receiving from people even when you are not giving gifts yourself. This does involve significant psychological shift, but it's necessary to the success of your goal and you can do it!

You can propose, suggest, or request new approaches, but you can change only yourself. And the only real issue here now is your own psychological discomfort in receiving more consumer goods than you gave.

My family has gone through this transition. A few still give. I just receive with a happy and open heart and give a big thank you. If the item fits in our lives, we keep it and if it doesn't we pass it along. They need or love to give -that's okay. They are doing what they like to do. And I do what I love to do: maintain a simple, uncluttered home; donate things to thrifts; etc.

If it's really important to you to receive nothing, you might request that for yourself next year: Dear family, This past year I have been reflecting, and realize it's really important to me that I live more simply. I've been making a number of changes and am feeling happier and happier as a result! I won't be giving regular Christmas gifts this year and would love if you would gift me only with a riddle or something :)

Between now and then, practice breathing through your discomfort at receiving differently than you are giving. So worth it!