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Old 12-10-2010, 10:01 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I'll try to condense this as much as possible because there is a lot of history, but here is the short version:

 

DH has a brother who lives in Miami. This brother (my BIL) is in his mid-thirties, has never really had a stable job etc.  BIL has a daughter who is currently 11.  A few years ago, BIL and daughter lived with us for about 2 years while we tried to help him get back on his feet.  At that time, he was basically bankrupt. 

 

Two years ago, he moved back to Miami and currently lives with MIL, his on again-off again girlfriend (who is the mother of his daughter) and his daughter in a one bedroom condo. 

 

Sooooo, we have been asking BIL frequently if our niece could come visit us (we live in Kentucky).  He calls DH on Thanksgiving and says that he thinks niece should come and visit us during Christmas.  So, she is going to be here from Dec. 19 until Jan. 2. 

 

We are thrilled that she is coming and so is she. 

 

My problem comes in that I am not sure what is appropriate as far as handling Christmas.  We have 2 boys and they will be getting several big things for Christmas (we don't buy toys or games at all except at Christmas and birthdays so this is a pretty big deal for us). 

 

So, what do I do about gifts for her?  Should I buy her equal to what we are getting the boys?  A few nice things?  I don't want her to feel left out, but we aren't exactly rolling in money and we budget all year for Christmas. 

 

A few things to take into consideration:  1.  We purchased her ticket to fly here and will be paying for all expenses while she is here.  2.  She currently lives in a very small, one bedroom condo so I don't think they have a lot of room for "stuff".  3.  In the past we have gotten her gifts only to find that her parents returned them. 

 

I am at a loss.  I want her to have a wonderful experience while she is here. 

 

Any suggestions?

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Old 12-10-2010, 10:43 AM
 
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Can you arrange to pay for lessons or something back home that she'd enjoy and be able to attend?  Music, sports, horseback . . . ?  Or even movie tickets, maybe something that could include the rest of the family there if you're inclined and able.  Another idea is to start an account or get savings bonds to which only she'd have access.  Not a "fun" gift, but you still get her some of those and make the bulk value something for her future.  (This sort of reminds me of my parents:  when our kids were tiny, their holiday and birthday gifts were $200.00 in bonds and a pair of festive socks.  They were thrilled then and are even happier now!)


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Old 12-10-2010, 10:52 AM
 
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When you say "several big things" for your boys, can you name them?  Also, how old are your boys?

 

I think many of the things that and 11 yr old girl would want aren't physically "big" anyway. Will her dad and mom and grandma be giving her presents? If so, how/when? Could some of their presents travel to KY, too, to flesh out the festivities?

 

Do you have a $$ figure in mind for what you could spend on her? We might be able to help you figure out some things that would have a big splash, but not be big $$.


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Old 12-10-2010, 11:08 AM
 
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Originally Posted by beanma View Post

Will her dad and mom and grandma be giving her presents? If so, how/when? Could some of their presents travel to KY, too, to flesh out the festivities?


That's what I was thinking too. You shouldn't have to buy your niece the same amount of gifts as your children, but your niece shouldn't have to feel left out either. So, her father should send some gifts for her to open. 


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Old 12-10-2010, 11:27 AM
 
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If you typically fill stockings, I'd fill a stocking for her and make sure there was a gift or 2 for her to open. They don't have to be large or expensive items. I'd just try to choose something thoughfully that she would enjoy. Definitely her father should send a gift to be opened too.  

 

Things my DD likes that aren't too pricey: 

 

Books

New shoulder bag or backpack

Retro lunchbox 

Hats

Scarves

Inexpensive jewelry

Scrapbooking supplies

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Old 12-10-2010, 11:31 AM
 
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I'd get her a few small things (books, movies, cds, etc) and maybe a gift card to somewhere she can buy herself some clothes when she goes home. 

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Old 12-10-2010, 11:42 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by beanma View Post

When you say "several big things" for your boys, can you name them?  Also, how old are your boys?

 

I think many of the things that and 11 yr old girl would want aren't physically "big" anyway. Will her dad and mom and grandma be giving her presents? If so, how/when? Could some of their presents travel to KY, too, to flesh out the festivities?

 

Do you have a $$ figure in mind for what you could spend on her? We might be able to help you figure out some things that would have a big splash, but not be big $$.



Our 2 boys are ages 8 and 6.  8 year old is getting a DSi with a few games and 2 wii games as his "big" present.  6 year old is getting a carpentry set and a camera.  Both are getting new fleece hoodies.  Both are also getting several board games that are "family gifts".

 

As far as I know, she will be getting minimal presents, if any, at home.  Her dad doesn't "do" Christmas (when they lived here, we purchased her gifts and that was all she got).  The grandma is on a fixed income and, with the three of them living with her, I don't think she has a lot.  she's never gotten our boys anything but I'm not sure if she's gotten anything for our niece. 

 

We would be able to spend around $150. 

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Old 12-10-2010, 11:45 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by ollyoxenfree View Post

 

If you typically fill stockings, I'd fill a stocking for her and make sure there was a gift or 2 for her to open. They don't have to be large or expensive items. I'd just try to choose something thoughfully that she would enjoy. Definitely her father should send a gift to be opened too.  

 

Things my DD likes that aren't too pricey: 

 

Books

New shoulder bag or backpack

Retro lunchbox 

Hats

Scarves

Inexpensive jewelry

Scrapbooking supplies



Oooh, I like the idea of a shoulder bag.  She could probably use that as a carry on for the trip home.  Hats and scarves are out since they live in Miami, so she won't get use out of them.  The jewlery is a good idea.  And, I love to scrapbook.  Maybe I can get her that and she and I can start it together while she is here. 

 

That brings up the other thing I wanted to ask about.  Since she doesn't have any winter clothes or a coat, we were going to try to borrow some from friends that have girls.  Just some things for her to wear while she is here.  Is that tacky? 

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Old 12-10-2010, 11:53 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Can you arrange to pay for lessons or something back home that she'd enjoy and be able to attend?  Music, sports, horseback . . . ?  Or even movie tickets, maybe something that could include the rest of the family there if you're inclined and able.  Another idea is to start an account or get savings bonds to which only she'd have access.  Not a "fun" gift, but you still get her some of those and make the bulk value something for her future.  (This sort of reminds me of my parents:  when our kids were tiny, their holiday and birthday gifts were $200.00 in bonds and a pair of festive socks.  They were thrilled then and are even happier now!)


 

I really like both of these ideas.  I don't know about the lessons because I know they often have tranportation issues, so that might be logistically difficult for them. 

 

The savings bond is a great idea.  I don't know a lot about savings bonds, though.  Is this something she would have to keep up with?  Unfortunately, her father moves them around a lot and I know he's had issues with losing her birth certificate and other such records.  Maybe we could keep it here for her?


 

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Old 12-10-2010, 11:59 AM
 
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Why don't you plan a special "girls day" with her and go shopping?  Pick a dollar amount for her budget and buy her a nice outfit or etc.  I would also do stocking stuff for her (11 yr olds- nailpolish, makeup, books, magazines, cute panties, jammies, jewelry, cute and trendy school supplies) and at least one surprise gift under the tree, along with what she picks out on her day.  I imagine she doesn't have a lot of opportunity for this kind of thing, so I would make a big effort to make it nice.

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Old 12-10-2010, 12:12 PM
 
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I agree with everyone else. You don't need to get her as much/as big presents as you get your kids, but you don't want her to feel left out, either.

 

I've never been in this exact situation, but my stepbrother (I call him that, but we don't really know each other all that well, as our parents got together when we were both adults with kids, and he lives in a different city), step-SIL and their two kids stayed at my mom's over Christmas a couple of years ago. We were still doing our big Christmas gift exchange on Christmas morning that year. (This is where all mom's grandkids open their gifts from their gifts from my mom & stepdad, my godmother, and the aunts and uncles...lots of gifts, but not a huge number for any one person, yk?). I probably spend somewhere around $30.00 for each of my nieces and nephews, and a little more for a couple gift for my brother & SIL, sister and BIL, and mom & stepdad (we don't exchange any more, but we did that year). I didn't get anything for my stepbrother and step-SIL, but I put together a little movie night basket for the kids (early and mid-teens). I know they eat candy, so I just put in a few boxes of movie theater type candy, a Blockbuster gift card for $10.00 - enough for a couple rentals - and some popcorn. They liked it. They got to watch a couple new releases while they were at mom's, and had something to open with eveyrone else on Christmas morning. They certainly weren't expecting to match everyone else's gifts, though!


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Old 12-10-2010, 12:43 PM
 
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Oooh, I like the idea of a shoulder bag.  She could probably use that as a carry on for the trip home.  Hats and scarves are out since they live in Miami, so she won't get use out of them.  The jewlery is a good idea.  And, I love to scrapbook.  Maybe I can get her that and she and I can start it together while she is here. 


 

That brings up the other thing I wanted to ask about.  Since she doesn't have any winter clothes or a coat, we were going to try to borrow some from friends that have girls.  Just some things for her to wear while she is here.  Is that tacky? 

 

IMO no, it's not tacky at all.


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Old 12-10-2010, 12:45 PM
 
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If you have about $150 to spend, for a 11 year old I'd get her an ipod shuffle ($49) and an itunes gift card so she can buy her own music.


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Old 12-10-2010, 12:54 PM
 
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As PP said, a girls day would be great! I would give her a stocking full of stuff and include a gift card to either the mall or a few places you think she would like. Buying her stuff while she is there will pretty much ensure that she will use it and take the tags off, so its unlikely her parents will be able to take it back.


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Old 12-10-2010, 01:12 PM
 
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Quote:
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ollyoxenfree View Post

 

If you typically fill stockings, I'd fill a stocking for her and make sure there was a gift or 2 for her to open. They don't have to be large or expensive items. I'd just try to choose something thoughfully that she would enjoy. Definitely her father should send a gift to be opened too.  

 

Things my DD likes that aren't too pricey: 

 

Books

New shoulder bag or backpack

Retro lunchbox 

Hats

Scarves

Inexpensive jewelry

Scrapbooking supplies



Oooh, I like the idea of a shoulder bag.  She could probably use that as a carry on for the trip home.  Hats and scarves are out since they live in Miami, so she won't get use out of them.  The jewlery is a good idea.  And, I love to scrapbook.  Maybe I can get her that and she and I can start it together while she is here. 

 

That brings up the other thing I wanted to ask about.  Since she doesn't have any winter clothes or a coat, we were going to try to borrow some from friends that have girls.  Just some things for her to wear while she is here.  Is that tacky? 


The last hat that DD wanted to buy was a HUGE floppy straw hat for the beach. She also wears silky scarves, paisley kerchiefs, etc. She's a little older though, 14 y.o, so maybe she likes accessorizing more than an 11 y.o. does.

 

I think borrowing winter clothes is sensible since it's only for a couple of weeks. It's not tacky at all.  If you can't find the right size, then I think looking for something second hand is fine too.

 

Your $150 budget is very generous. In fact, the whole enterprise is generous - the invitation, the plane ticket, the gifts, all of it. You are so kind. 

 

Along the savings bond idea, one idea that I'll mention is to set up an education fund for her. In our family, we had one "branch" that was struggling financially for many years. We set up a bank account and each Christmas and birthday deposits were made for the children. We kept an account book. It wasn't a true trust account in accordance with the laws for trust funds. It was simpler than going that route or setting up any kind of registered education plan. The adults had to agree on who would hold the account (it wasn't the parents). When the children reached 18, they received a lump sum. On an accounting basis, there could have been quibbling about dividing up the interest etc., but everyone was content to share it all equally at the point it was paid out. In any event, you might consider spending $75 now on gifts and starting with a deposit of $75. Depending on how much you can afford each year, when she is 18, she could have an extra couple of thousand dollars to help with college costs (or nice clothes for a first job or her own apartment etc.) 

 

 

 

  

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Old 12-10-2010, 02:15 PM
 
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As PP said, a girls day would be great! I would give her a stocking full of stuff and include a gift card to either the mall or a few places you think she would like. Buying her stuff while she is there will pretty much ensure that she will use it and take the tags off, so its unlikely her parents will be able to take it back.

That's what I was thinking.  Maybe take her shopping when she gets there so that things have been washed and used before she has to leave.
 

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Old 12-10-2010, 03:23 PM
 
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I agree that taking her clothes shopping could be really nice for her. I think she would really dig the iPod shuffle, too. My dd1 (9.5) has one (mostly for audio books) and I could definitely see an 11 yr old liking one. I think $150 is very generous. You could probably buy her a small digital camera for $50, too, but I don't know what her access to a computer is for printing pictures or if she would have $$ to get them printed off the card at the drugstore or Wolf camera. My dd1 is getting some books, clothes (I think), and I haven't gotten that much beyond that. She'd love nail polish, but would be embarrassed about undies in her stocking. She's getting some new socks, though. Thanks for doing this for her. I'm sure it's really special to her!


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Old 12-10-2010, 06:36 PM
 
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What about a portable DVD player and a few movies?

 

ETA: Of course a DVD player would depend on your and her parents' views about access to movies.


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Old 12-11-2010, 06:48 AM
 
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So many great ideas! My very first instinct was one of those gift cards with money (they are like visa debit cards with limits). From your posts I'm gathering she doesn't get things she just simply 'wants' very often. I imagine that being able to have a fun shopping day with Auntie and having a generous amount of money $50-$75 all to herself to spend as she wishes....that sounds like an 11 year old's dream. I know my 11 year old niece has asked her Grandmother for one of those this year. That is not the only reason for my response though. The idea popped into my head before I just remembered that about our niece.

Sometimes having money to spend as you wish is really fun. Especially if it's something that is a rarity.  And of course, she doesn't have to spend it all while she's with you. She may be ecstatic to go home with a little "cash" on a credit card.

 

You can always do that and then some stocking stuffers.

 

What you are doing is very wonderful and is the true meaning of Christmas. Not necessarily about gifts, but sharing your home and heart as well as being generous and caring so much about your niece. Bless you and your family!!


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Old 12-11-2010, 08:23 AM
 
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If you have about $150 to spend, for a 11 year old I'd get her an ipod shuffle ($49) and an itunes gift card so she can buy her own music.


Add in a fleecy hoody and she's getting basically the same thing as your DS1.

 

Plus, she's going to be there for a week after Christmas so she'll get to play the board games too.

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Old 12-11-2010, 09:32 AM
 
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ITA with the poster who suggested starting a savings account for her, especially if you can add a bit to it every year.  At 18 she's not going to have much, but she's going to want to be out on her own.  I'd talk to her about her future while she's visiting, what her hopes & dreams are, let her know she *can* have hopes & dreams.  I would *not* send her home with $$ on any sort of CC b/c chances are her Dad will talk her out of it, or justify taking it for something the "family needs". 

 

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Old 12-11-2010, 09:56 AM
 
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I think you should try to come close on the gifts.

 

It is very very nice of you to have her for Christmas, but the financial issue is one that should have been thought of before the invitation was accepted. Since she is only 11, it seems a little cruel to have her sit and watch your boys open the presents, and not have at least a some what close amount. You could consider holding back a portion of the presents from your boys and celebrat a 2nd Christmas in January. I had a friend once who celebrated Christmas in January because that was in her religion, but I do not recall what religion she was. So maybe you could do that. 

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Old 12-11-2010, 01:25 PM
 
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I don't think you'd have to not give your ds some of their gifts in order to make her feel like she has an equal amount.  You can do a lot with a budget of $150, and I'm sure you could easily manage to have as many gifts for her to open as they will.  An ipod shuffle would count as a "big gift" in my family, and (according to a pp) should only run about $50.  That leaves a hundred dollars to spend on clothes, itunes gift card, nice bag, little "pamper yourself" kit, etc, etc.  I'm sure she's going to have a wonderful time with your family.  It sounds like Christmas for her is usually not so exciting or fun.  This year will be a big celebration... and some special gifts that will certainly mean a lot to her.

 

OP I have a question - are you crafty at all?  Do you sew or knit?  Even at that age I felt the value of something handmade - the love and time put into it.  There are lots of quick knitted or sewed gifts that you would have time to complete before she gets here that would go over well with someone her age.


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Old 12-11-2010, 06:53 PM
 
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So I may be the weird one here, but I zeroed in on the fact that you had bought her things before that her dad & MIL RETURNED.  Did she keep the money, or did they?  I have a cousin (who is the same age as my nieces).  If I buy her something nice, her mom will either return it & keep the money or sell it.  So now we go clothes shopping.  When we get home, I take the tags off everything & wash it for her (after all I would not want her mom to have additional laundry).  I would get her a fleece hoodie (just like your kids), and maybe something else small for under the tree.  If y'all do stockings I would do one for her, and then take her shopping.  She should be able to get a ton of warm weather stuff on clearance since it is cold now (cold weather clothes are a waste when you live in a place where the seasons are summer and not-summer.)


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Old 12-11-2010, 08:40 PM
 
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So your kids are getting 3 or 4 gifts and some family gifts?

I would think for $150 you could get her 3 or 4 things. Put up a stocking for her. You could get her a fleece hoodie same as your kids but I don't think you need to necessarily get an electronic thing just because your kids are getting those. You could get her an art set or craft kit, books, science experiment kit, necklace, earrings, watch, body lotion set, a journal/diary (dd says with a cat on it) and cool pens. Maybe a scrapbook you can fill with pictures of her visit to you before she heads home.

I got my dd (who is approaching 11) a comforter and sheet set, a fur real friends toy, a nightgown, and a pair of boots she wanted. I spent less than $150. We'll probably spend $15 on stocking stuffers.

 

I hope you have an awesome Christmas with your niece!


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Old 12-11-2010, 11:47 PM
 
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If I'm right, you've posted about your niece and her situation before, quite awhile ago.  How wonderful for her that she gets to spend Christmas with your family!

 

I think the suggestions here are good - I have a niece who's 12 and I think she'd like many of the suggestions (the nano and itunes especially).  If her father and stepmother are selling/returning her stuff and pocketing the money, I'd look for items that wouldn't bring in much money, even used - I don't know whether the nano would be worth much if they try to resell it, but that might be something to consider.

 

If she's artsy or crafty, a 'how to knit' or 'how to crochet' book might be something she'd appreciate (especially if you know, and can teach her a little).  It's a low-cost hobby she could continue at home and would be virtually impossible for her dad/stepmom to get rid of the yarn, needles, etc. (and easy and cheap for you to replenish).  Another option would be to see whether she's interested in learning to embroider.  I know, it sounds old-fashioned, but there are some very fun, hip patterns out there and embroidery takes less time to learn than knitting/crochet.  http://www.urbanthreads.com/departments/hand_embroidery?category_id=108&nav=2 And, again, another hobby that would be cheap, and that you could replenish for her as she runs out of thread/needles (she could embellish clothes, etc.).  Both my older nieces enjoy knitting and crocheting ....

 

I also agree that a "shopping with aunt" suggestion might be *awesome.*  When you're a kid, you don't get to go in and explore all the stores at the mall ... especially if you haven't any money to spend.  At that age, I probably would have spent an hour or more at the book store, deciding what books to buy! (heaven) -- and then waaaay too much time in Vanity or Maurices.  ;)  The difficult about the "shopping" expedition would be allowing her to buy some things which don't seem practical or etc. (very faddish clothing or something).  But it would probably mean a LOT to her!! 

 

Good luck! 


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Old 12-12-2010, 02:51 AM
 
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So I may be the weird one here, but I zeroed in on the fact that you had bought her things before that her dad & MIL RETURNED.  Did she keep the money, or did they?

I wondered about that too! Did they return the gifts because they needed the money? Because they disapproved of the gifts for some reason? Because your niece disliked them? Because her Dad doesn't "do" Christmas? Because they wouldn't fit in the small house? It'd be a shame to buy her anything that was going to go back to the store. Could you ring BIL, ask for ideas about what she wants for Christmas, and maybe tactfully hint that you're asking because you want to make sure he's happy with the gifts and will let her keep them?

 

The girls' day out shopping idea sounds GREAT, by the way. :)


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Old 12-12-2010, 04:32 AM
 
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I am the first person to say that savings for children is a wonderful thing.  In F&F, I'm the first one to raise her hand when it comes to voting for savings... however, I cannot imagine how disappointing it would be for an 11 year old girl to see her cousins getting fun toys and she gets handed a savings passbook... that she isn't even supposed to access for another 7 years.

 

I definitely would make it as special and fun as you can afford.  $150 is a good amount to work with. I've always found it kind of foolish when people think that you should *spend* and equal amount of money on kids.  I think if you spend an equal amount of love on kids, they will see it and appreciate it (unless they are entitled and spoiled).  Put as much thought into the gifts for your niece as you have for your boys and it will be a wonderful holiday together.

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Old 12-12-2010, 08:08 AM
 
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I am the first person to say that savings for children is a wonderful thing.  In F&F, I'm the first one to raise her hand when it comes to voting for savings... however, I cannot imagine how disappointing it would be for an 11 year old girl to see her cousins getting fun toys and she gets handed a savings passbook... that she isn't even supposed to access for another 7 years.

 



I think a savings account is a wonderful idea, but I have to agree with the above. I understand money is money and opening a savings account is a gift in itself, but personally I wouldn't give it as the sole Christmas gift. I'd want to give her something tangible to open and immediately enjoy Christmas morning.

 

Also, regarding the BIL returning the gifts and pocketing the money.... that would royally piss me off. What a dishonest and disrespectful thing to do. It may be awkward, but I'd definitely want to address it with him. These gifts are for HER, not your BIL. 


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Old 12-12-2010, 08:37 AM
 
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When you say "several big things" for your boys, can you name them?  Also, how old are your boys?

 

I think many of the things that and 11 yr old girl would want aren't physically "big" anyway. Will her dad and mom and grandma be giving her presents? If so, how/when? Could some of their presents travel to KY, too, to flesh out the festivities?

 

Do you have a $$ figure in mind for what you could spend on her? We might be able to help you figure out some things that would have a big splash, but not be big $$.



Our 2 boys are ages 8 and 6.  8 year old is getting a DSi with a few games and 2 wii games as his "big" present.  6 year old is getting a carpentry set and a camera.  Both are getting new fleece hoodies.  Both are also getting several board games that are "family gifts".

 

As far as I know, she will be getting minimal presents, if any, at home.  Her dad doesn't "do" Christmas (when they lived here, we purchased her gifts and that was all she got).  The grandma is on a fixed income and, with the three of them living with her, I don't think she has a lot.  she's never gotten our boys anything but I'm not sure if she's gotten anything for our niece. 

 

We would be able to spend around $150. 


If she likes to read you can get an Amazon Kindle for $139 and throw on some books.  There are a lot of books she can get for free or very cheaply.  That is small, compact, and something that is very useful.


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