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My ideas for a simpler holiday were shut down.

post #1 of 36
Thread Starter 
We are going to the ILs' for Christmas and my MIL asked for my input on traditions. I wrote back about how I wanted to focus on traditions/crafts/cooking together, etc. instead of gifts. I gave a bunch of suggestions we could try including:

- drawing names for gifts
- having gifts just for the kids
- having a dollar amount / theme
- exchanging wishlists of some kind

I explained that ds lately seems to not appreciate things if he has too much of them. For example, if he has quite a few of something, he starts worrying about the ones he *doesn't* have, kwim? He's actually happier when he has like one car and doesn't know that there are 40 more out in the world that he doesn't have.

I also mentioned our preference for open-ended toys. I suggested we do more crafting/cooking/other family activities and try to take the focus of gifts. I also added that they could (of course) give them what they wanted and the kids will enjoy everything no matter what.

Well, MIL writes back something along the lines of "that's interesting, but I'm not in charge". She apparently forwarded it to my SILs (for some reason the guys are not involved in these decisions!). The older SIL (who is hosting the holidays) responded very nicely, but in the end her answer is that nothing is going to change. Even the wishlist thing was basically turned down! The only thing that they agreed with was having some crafts for the kids to do while we are there. At least that might help a bit!
post #2 of 36
oh, i'm sorry that your family wasn't more receptive.

you can give them all a copy of this book for their gift.

(i'm actually reading it right now, and has some really great concepts for creating family traditions without all of the consumption/consumerism )
post #3 of 36
PHP Code:
you can give them all a copy of this book for their gift

post #4 of 36
well, at least one thing got through!

i think it's tough when you have family with very different ideas of what makes christmas special. for a lot of mainstream culture, that means consuming like crazy.

and, as we know, anyone thinking outside of that box is seen as being judgement for wanting something different.
post #5 of 36
Well, there is always another way to get them to back off...you just stop buying them gifts, or cut back.

For example, if you are concerned about buying things that won't get much use, buy everyone gift cards and be done with it. Tell them since you didn't know what everyone really wanted and didn't want to buy things htey didn't, this is the best way.

Or if you are concerned about the montetary aspects, buy everyone one fairly inexpensive gift - eventually they will cut back on what they buy for you too...
post #6 of 36
Holidays are tough. I send a wish list to everyone. Under the guise of making sure a child does not get 2 of the same thing. Then my list has things I would rather the kids get like crayons and other crafty things. I also include links
post #7 of 36
This is why I'm taking over the holidays. If they don't like it, they can go eat a turkey!

After last year's last minute "We cancelled Thanksgiving" (seriously, MIL called at like 10 that morning to let us know she cancelled the reservation at the nursing home cause gpa was in the hospital) and then "Crazy Christmas" at my grandparents (we really walked out in the middle, it was mayhem, especially w/ a 4 day old baby!) - they can do it my way or do it w/o us.

Maybe you can be in charge of Xmas next year? Put it under, why don't we rotate years? so it's not to much of a burden on any one family...etc...etc..

I would just go about creating your own traditions w/ your core family, and be as unhelpful as possible w/ their commercial christmas. Make them gifts, wrap in brown paper w/ real ribbon, and be done w/ it!

Good luck, momma!
post #8 of 36
We had a christmas "organized" by my SIL but held at our house last year... this year we've told everyone we're doing our own "no more than 5 gifts each" holiday and they can come if they want. Honestly last year was so miserable I cried for hours and that's not the way I want to spend a day! My in-laws are very well off and their idea of a clebration is literal piles of gifts covering a room... then everyone starts ripping off paper in an orgy of "MINE!" (my niece actually laughed at my dd who was unwrapping her gifts "too slowly..see? just rip it off!"). It was rotten.

So maybe just make a token appearance or let faily members know in advance that this year you are going to give home made gifts/one gift each and you "wouldn't mind" something similar in return? You could even mention all the toy recalls and say you're concerned about your little one or theirs getting a toy that will be recalled a month later so you're giving gifts you know are safe?

hugs mama... holidays can be tough!
post #9 of 36
It seems to me that you can make some of these decisions unilaterally.

For example, you have every right make your own decisions about the gifts that you will give. As long as everybody knows ahead of time, I see no reason why you can't announce that you and your husband will be giving gifts only to children, or to children and you'll give a single token-gift Christmas ornament to each family otherwise, or whatever you choose. If people want to still give you gifts, that's their choice.

And you could bring craft materials for your child, to give you and him something to do if there's a hour-long gift-opening orgy. If you want to try to influence others, you could bring extras and see if you lure the other kids in.

post #10 of 36
I like Crayfish's approach, which is very similar to what occured in our family a few years ago. We were down to no gifts at all but since our son was born, we will get him one or two gifts this year (he is only 2 years old) and Nana will get him a few things. There is no stopping her and at least she is reasonable about cost, utility, etc.
post #11 of 36
Thread Starter 
Thank you for all your advice so far! I'm sure they would all love the Unplugging the Christmas Machine book. I actually read that a few years ago and really enjoyed it.

It is even harder since it is my ILs. I don't think I could just not get them gifts without damaging some relationships. Especially since they all live on the east coast and see each other a lot more often. We would probably be the topic of a lot of gossip sessions.

Next year, we will have our own Christmas at home. We have been taking turns each year between home and out east. Last year my mom & stepdad came here for Christmas. The year before, we went to the IL's. But then ds was only about 2. He pretty much ignored most of the toys and spent most of his time playing with his cousin's train set and this one little wooden orange that had a wiggly bug inside. But now it seems like he is in a different place. Having a sibling now adds the possible dimension of "she has more than me" or "I want the one she has" etc. We shall see...

When we were there two years ago, the gift thing was insane. During the gift opening, someone had to be opening a gift at ALL times. No time to enjoy your gift, just get it open so we can move on to the next one, kwim? If you aren't keeping up, people bug you that you are "behind". Not exactly the message I want for my kids (get a new gift, toss it on the pile so you can open another one!).

I recommended the dollar amount idea because 2 years ago we bought MIL and FIL inexpensive mp3 players. Then BIL gave them an ipod. Actually, that year that BIL gave everyone expensive stuff because they were about to buy a house and this was their last chance to spend big money on people. :
post #12 of 36
i feel really lucky that we can be open with friends and family. for example, a couple of years ago a lot of us were hard up for cash (friends) and we all agreed on 'no gifts'--it was great. now, gifts are "consumables only" between our friends. it is SO great.

for family, i try to buy experiences or utilitarian objects. for example, i buy personal training for my parents and my sister. they love this as a gift. for my ILs, we buy things while we're on vacation, usually things that are utilitarian (slippers for FIL, earings for MIL). we tend to give gift cards to my SIL (ones that can be used anywhere).

we ask for experiences or specific gifts that are on our 'needs' list. and, we talked about future children and setting it up so that there are 'seasons' of buying which kinds of 'things.' we came up with four categories: art supplies, toys, educational (books, etc) supplies, and experiences. then, there's the fifth category of "the investment fund." in each category, we've come up with examples of what we feel we want/need, and we've talked about things like "no plastic toys, etc."
post #13 of 36
This might be OT but I thought since it had to do w/the simplification of the holidays I would mention….
Many years ago, pre-children, my husband and I found ourselves ‘missing’ the holidays; caught up in the stresses of work, shopping, etc. we would realize they were over and we never really enjoyed them or we placed so much importance on Christmas eve or day we were disappointed. We started doing what we called ‘holiday nights’. For example, one night we would put on Christmas music, mix drinks, and write out cards, another night we would watch Rudolph while wrapping presents, or invite over a couple on a Wednesday night for simple appetizers and drinks, or walk the neighborhood with the dogs to look at decorations. We really tried to enjoy the simple parts of the holidays so the plans were normally not elaborate. It wasn’t so much making plans as celebrating the things we needed to do anyway. The holiday nights changed now that we have kids but it is still fun savoring the holidays. Plus if you enjoy all the days leading up the actual holiday, a disastrous day with the IL’s doesn’t really affect you as much.

I would love to hear ways other people enjoy the simple tasks and include their children.
post #14 of 36
Thread Starter 
That's a great idea. I was thinking of doing something along those lines. Like have an advent calendar where every day we do some holiday-related activity (pick out a tree, decorate the house, make a gingerbread house, etc.). That way we can stretch it out the whole month and create a bunch of holiday memories - and we won't be relying on that one day to turn out well. My son is really interested in the calendar right now, so I think he would really like it!
post #15 of 36
The calendar is a good idea. I think it 'forces' you to go through with the plan without over-scheduling and stressing. My kids are also three, I wonder if they will get the whole calendar concept.
post #16 of 36
You might also look into celebrating the whole 12 days of the traditional Christmas Season. We've found that to be hugely liberating for our family, even though we've only been doing it for a few years and are still building up traditions surrounding the different days. It's so nice not to feel like Christmas is made or broken on the one day and to have an excuse to continue celebrating for a while.

We're also very lucky that DH and I are the only people in our generations to have kids. We were able to put our feet down with both sides of the family and point out that for us to travel with a toddler and a baby and their associated diapers and equiptment is a FAR bigger pain than for able-bodied, independent adults to fly or drive to visit us and therefore we'd be happy to host Christmas but weren't planning on flying ANYWHERE until our kids were substantially older. There was a lot of fussing on MIL's part, but we've managed to carry the day so far.
post #17 of 36
The last couple of years our family has fallen into the "consumables" gift exchange too, except for the kids. It's really lovely, and no guilt, no sweat. 'Course, I still try to give my Mom something quite "nice" because she just really loves receiving gifts.

I think the idea of wishlists are great.

This year I'm proposing that we all list our kids favorite things and coordinate to help the parents buy one really special thing, or all buy pieces of sets. Our families all have slightly different ideas of what we want most for our kids, and it seems so much easier to have the presents kind of pre-approved, ya know?
post #18 of 36
Don't go.
Simple as that.
I don't so much get along with my MIL or my two SIL's, FIL and BIL are okay. So, it really doesn't bother me to not see them.....
They're my kids, too, and if I don't like something, I let my hubby know (I'm SO over arguing with MIL - I prefer to spend my energy on happy things ) and he has the option to let MIL know or not. We discuss things and many times (not always) he sees my side and we just don't participate.
Start family traditions of your own - do things your own way - MIL shouldn't run your family - I figured that one out EARLY and put a "stop" to it within our marriage/family. There's no reason to hold that resentment when you wanted to do something new and had to do it MIL's way.
If they're not willing to listen to you about your own children, they don't really care and want to things their way, anyway... that sends a really negative message to your children - it's scary how much they pick up on - and at an early age!

Good luck with this! We've definitely broken away from our family's "traditions" so I understand.... It feels so much better to do what you feel you need to do with your family (it sounded right in my head! ) instead of what everyone else wants you to do.
post #19 of 36
It took my family a few years to agree to a 'lesser' christmas. We now get gifts for all the children and we each get a gift for one adult (kris kringle) and set a price range. It was my sisters who didn't want to give up on the gifts but they finally were able to see how crazy it was the way we were doing it.

I love the holiday nights idea. We do it on the weekends (cutting down a tree, making glogg, wrapping presents) but it always seems to go so fast that way.
post #20 of 36
Originally Posted by alleyoop View Post
I love the holiday nights idea. We do it on the weekends (cutting down a tree, making glogg, wrapping presents) but it always seems to go so fast that way.
Yes, we started the holiday nights because we were trying frantically to fit it all in on the weekends. Or I would wrap present in front of the TV while my husband was in another part of the house - no fun! Even the small stuff is fun now.

About your glogg...My dad used to make 'glugg', I'm assuming it was the same thing but we were probably saying it incorrectly. I never got his recipe - he passed away last Nov. Could you PM me with your recipe? Thanks
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