Author Topic: Telling the Family not to Buy Birthday/Christmas Presents  (Read 36658 times)

jabba

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Re: Telling the Family not to Buy Birthday/Christmas Presents
« Reply #50 on: September 02, 2014, 07:52:21 AM »
My in-laws are exactly as the OP described. Gift giving is a 6-hour ordeal on Christmas day (3 couples of adults, 2 kids), it's long, drawn out, and we end up with a pile of junk we don't want or need. The first two years we were married, we lived oversees and her parents sent us a huge box of gifts to Germany after I told them to please not... Well, for a grand total of $70 worth of crap in the box, they paid $80 for shipping and then I had to pay another 40 euros to receive the package from the customs office - not to mention taking a half-day off work to go retrieve it. Such a pain.. Anyway, over the years, I've slowly "trained" them to be a bit more efficient about this. I won't ever win the "don't buy me anything" battle, but here's what we do now:

I got everyone in the family to start using Amazon Wishlists - they also let you put stuff on there from other places, so it's pretty universal. They all agreed that this is the best thing ever, so a few months before Christmas, everyone loads up their wishlists with what they want and it's pretty guaranteed that you will get stuff off your wishlist, so at least now it's easy for us to do shopping for them. We go through each wishlist, randomly pick a few cheap things, order, it all shows up, we never leave the house.

For me, I tell everyone that asks what I want to just get me Amazon gift cards for Christmas/birthdays, etc. In addition to that, every time I want/need *anything*, I just put it on my amazon wishlist. I'm talking car parts, usb cords, batteries, anything and everything that I buy usually just goes on the wishlist. When I decide that I actually want to buy something, or actually need something, then I go buy it from my own wishlist. Simple. In addition, come birthday or christmas time, I just end up getting a bunch of stuff from my wishlist. It's not gift material, per se, but stuff that I was probably going to buy anyway. Like last year I was going to order a usb car charger for my phone, but didn't have an immediate need for it.. put it on the wishlist, got it on Christmas day. Perfect. They were happy that they could get me a gift of what I wanted, and I was happy to not spend the $4 to get a thing that I didn't really need, but was going to be useful. Half the time, they have no idea what they are buying me, but that's not what they care about.

The ones that do listen and just get me amazon gift cards are the best, because I just apply them to my amazon account, and since I participate in amazon subscribe&save for stuff like toilet paper, coffee and other household goods, it just magically works out. Inevitably most of the christmas gifts I get just end up offsetting my regular budget, allowing me to save my own cash. Sometimes it works out extra well, such that amazon credit I get for my birthday can just be used to buy gifts for other family for Christmas (my birthday is about two months before Christmas). It's like a whole ecosystem that eventually gets obfuscated from my real budget and things tend to work out such that I don't have to budget much for the holidays.

Summary: Amazon makes it all simple for me.

justajane

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Re: Telling the Family not to Buy Birthday/Christmas Presents
« Reply #51 on: September 02, 2014, 07:54:07 AM »
This is a definite struggle in my life as well. I hate all the waste, and over the years, I've noticed a pattern that the things that languish in the basement or end up in the Goodwill are invariably Christmas gifts from well-meaning family. The reality is that even if someone thinks they know what you like, they often don't. This is especially the case with clothing. Heck, I can't even get it right with my own husband sometimes.

One thing that compounds this problem, at least in our family, is divorce. Since my husband's parents are divorced and both remarried, we get twice as many gifts. It didn't really start to be a problem until we had kids, and oh boy, the clutter! I have about two freak outs each year about the sheer volume of kid stuff in our home, and they usually come right before our big birthday month (May) and Christmas. I just can't STAND all the crap, but I gave up a long time ago. The best we do is direct the parents towards one type of toy. When the kids were younger, one Christmas was Little People Christmas. We have at least 10 little people sets, but I figure now I can eventually sell them in a lot on Craigslist. Now it's all about the Legos, because they are expensive and small. That minimizes the amount of crap we get, since the parents appear to have a set amount of money that they want to spend which is way out of proportion to what they should spend. It hurts my frugal heart to have so much money wasted on more Legos, but at least they all fit into one plastic storage system.

To no avail, we had suggested that the grandparents give one small toy, some clothes and put the rest in savings bonds or the 529 for the kids. But after several suggestions to that effect, we gave up. As the kids get older, the toys get smaller and more expensive, but I still can't shake the colossal waste of it all and how much more useful that money would be to my kids if it was put into a 529. But there's only so much you can do.

But with my third child, who is now an infant, I am going to put my foot down about the toys and say adamantly, NO TOYS!!!! I mean, come on, he's the third boy. We pretty much have every developmental toy and every type of toy he could ever want. 

jabba

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Re: Telling the Family not to Buy Birthday/Christmas Presents
« Reply #52 on: September 02, 2014, 07:56:27 AM »
Another thing I wanted to mention about gift cards. Sometimes I get VISA gift cards and I hate using them because you can't use them at gas stations or restaurants efficiently, tracking the balance sucks, and if you don't use them fast enough there is usually a fee. My solution: use the VISA gift card to buy myself an amazon gift card, then apply it to my amazon account. Again this works because I generally buy quite a few household items from Amazon anyway.

MillenialMustache

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Re: Telling the Family not to Buy Birthday/Christmas Presents
« Reply #53 on: September 02, 2014, 07:58:14 AM »
Jabba,

I like the way you think. We do something similar at our house. Amazon is awesome.