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#1 of 57 Old 10-24-2008, 12:18 PM - Thread Starter
 
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DH and I are thinking about trying to do a no-gift Christmas with our families this year. We already have all the things we need, and in fact would like to simplify a bit. Skipping gifts would save us all time, money, and lessen our impact on the planet (the wrapping paper, the gas needed to shop or ship things, etc). Home-made gifts are great, but even with those there seems to be the pressure of getting it right and certainly lots of time and energy can be poured into them, too. So we are hoping the rest of our family might be willing to try this with us. Is anyone planning to do this this year? Have you done it in the past? How did people react?

One of our motivations for doing this is realizing that there are really THREE holidays that go by the name of Christmas around here: Advent (the celebration of Christ's birth) American Cultural Christmas (lights, wreaths, fir trees, eggnog, gingerbread, reindeer, Santa, etc) and Giftmas (Black Friday, Day after Christmas Sales). We'd like to focus more on Advent and some aspects of Cultural Christmas, and much much less on Giftmas.

I found this article to be inspiring, too.

Thoughts?

thalia loves Jesus and DH wordyeight and DD#1 : 8/2007 and DD#2 9/2010
and remembering: little turtle 5/23/2006 and poppyseed 7/15/2009
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#2 of 57 Old 10-24-2008, 12:42 PM
 
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Well, we are doing a one gift xmas which is not as far as you are suggesting, but still a big change for our family. We proposed it to my parents last Jan and they grudgingly agreed- they can afford lots of gifts but it is just a waste. So we will see if they stick to it this year.

Suzan, mama to DS 9-18-07 and #2 EDD 3/4/10 GIRL!.
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#3 of 57 Old 10-24-2008, 01:55 PM
 
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We are doing this with my side of the family. We are going to concentrate our efforts instead on a nice family meal and play some games and bake cookies, attend an evening Christmas church service. I'm very much looking forward to it.
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#4 of 57 Old 10-24-2008, 04:34 PM
 
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I just phoned my sister last night to tell her that DP and I decided and we won't be doing gifts of any kind this year. Not homemade, no re-gifting, no nothing.
We don't want 'stuff' and we're in the hole financially, so we're not willing to spend even five dollars on jars and ingredients for 'soup in a jar' or spend twenty dollars on craft supplies to make something.
We.
Are.
Spending.
Nothing.

Nada on gifts. We will spend the $75 in gas it will take to get to the city to celebrate the day with family and friends by having a beautiful homecooked meal that we'll all contribute to as we have done for several years. And so we will spend on our food contribution as well. But no more gifts.

We tried doing consumables and handmades for several years. The consumables were appreciated, but not as much as the store bought gifts that were floating around. The hand made stuff is always ooed and awed over, but it costs money in supplies and time, so no more of that either.
We also did 'experience' gifts, but found that several people didn't bother to 'experience' it. We got my sister and her GF gift certificates for a three-hour snowmobiling tour and they never used it. It was not cheap.

We love Christmas dinner. That's our special holiday highlight.

As for the fallout, emotional or otherwise, we can handle it. We believe in this.

dust.gifFour-eyed tattooed fairy godmother queer, mama to my lucky star (5) and little bird (2.5). Resident storyteller at www.thestoryforest.com. Enchanting audiostories for curious kids. Come play in the forest!
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#5 of 57 Old 10-24-2008, 05:41 PM
 
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We tried that last year with the only people we exchange gifts with, my dad and grandparents. They still bought us stuff and then whined behind our backs about how horrible we were for not buying them even something small to show we "care". The rest of my family has always had a no gift giving needed policy, and its wonderful! We just enjoy each other and do a lot of church stuff.

Mama to a 6 year old diva, and new little man July 2011.

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#6 of 57 Old 10-24-2008, 06:40 PM
 
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Originally Posted by starling&diesel View Post
As for the fallout, emotional or otherwise, we can handle it. We believe in this.

This is very, VERY powerful.
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#7 of 57 Old 10-24-2008, 07:02 PM
 
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Good for you!!!! We've tried to suggest a variation of this the last couple of years but always back down. Last year, DH and I thought it would be a great idea to take the $50+ that we spend on siblings in a gift exchange to be pooled and used at Heifer International. Very lukewarm response and we didn't push it. Part of our problem is that there is affluence in both of our families. (not so much in our little branch of the tree. lol.) It's hard to convince everyone that it's not a good idea to spend a bunch at the holidays. They're also pretty hardened to the ecologic argument. And, two of my sister-in-laws are MAJOR shoppers and this is their favorite time of year! It's tough to tame the mad urges of shopaholics.
Good Luck to you, though.
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#8 of 57 Old 10-24-2008, 07:05 PM
 
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I have been married for 7 years and have known DH for 9 years, and we've never given each other a Christmas gift or a birthday gift. DD is 3 years old and we've never given her a Christmas gift (we did buy her a birthday gift one year, but not the others). It's not been a problem for anybody. But we ARE getting gifts from our parents and his sister (and we give them gifts too). Honestly I'd rather skip it all I'm sure many people would consider us miserly, but I can honestly say that we don't miss it; the gifts don't in any way have anything to do with our love for each other. DH shows me he loves me by doing the dishes, helping me walk in the dark (I have low vision) and being a good father. I show him I love him by figuring the tip at a restaurant, navigating for him in the car or giving him really good driving directions, and making certain phone calls he dreads. A shirt for him and bath salts for me really doesn't come near that

ETA: Oops, sorry, I thought this thread was about no gifting within YOUR family. I didn't realize it was about no gifting within extended family. I haven't gone there. Would like to But don't have the guts!

This year everyone is getting homemade stuff - only thing I'm buying is homemade soaps from an MDC mama

Homeschooling mama to 6 year old DD.

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#9 of 57 Old 10-24-2008, 07:08 PM
 
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I'm afraid to even suggest it, although my mom and I decided that we'd start doing christmas vacations - i.e going somewhere around holiday time instead of buying stuff. We still ended up buying a couple small things ,but it was much nicer. It works well, b/c my mom has timeshares that we can travel to at the holidays.

Interested in responses of other people who tried this.

Jenna ~ mommy to Sophia Elise idea.gif  (1/06), Oliver Matthew  blahblah.gif (7/07) and Avery Michael fly-by-nursing1.gif(3/10)

 

dizzy.gif Wading slowly and nervously into this homeschooling thing.

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#10 of 57 Old 10-25-2008, 10:19 AM
 
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Dh and I have been doing the no-gift for a while. We do buy gifts for the children or give them gift cards (for nieces & nephews) but for the adult family members no gift. Both our parents are ok with this as they much prefer money to go into their vacation fund or whatever. Our siblings know that dh and I don't/won't buy any useless gifts for them. most of them are OK with this as well although they do buy us small token gifts.

I find it odd that adults would get pi$$y if they don't get an expensive gift for Xmas. I think we need to get back to the true meaning of Xmas.
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#11 of 57 Old 10-25-2008, 10:46 AM
 
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I REALLY want to do this. DH's contract ended for his 8 yr job last month and he still hasn't found another job. We had saved a down payment for a house and now it's rapidly shrinking.

The problem is I cannot get anyone on board. There's no way. They'll say they're going to do it, and then they will get us something and we'll have nothing and it will feel really bad. I could maybe get a couple of my friends on board.

I still want to get xmas morning presents for DD. I know it's still new to her- but I'm an adult, I'm not Christian, I HATE Christmas shopping, I almost never get gifts I really want or need, and it's all so wasteful. I feel like a brainwashed drone heading to this store and that. I've tried the handmade thing- soap, table runners, aprons, wreaths- incredibly time consuming and not all that satisfying outcomes. Last year I did shutterfly photo albums for all the g-parents and they were so expensive I didn't even get one for US. Our own kid!
Quote:
Part of our problem is that there is affluence in both of our families. (not so much in our little branch of the tree. lol.)
tell me about it :

DD1 7/13/05 DD2 9/20/10
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#12 of 57 Old 10-25-2008, 10:51 AM
 
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bri276, In your shoes, and especially given your feelings about gift exchanges, I would stop asking. I would simply tell people that you are not buying, please do not buy for you. Explain the situation to your comfort level. With the mention of the savings for a house shrinking, I cringe to think about something like that spent on frivolty.

Maybe make them some nice cards instead and/or a letter telling them how much they mean to you, and call it good.
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#13 of 57 Old 10-25-2008, 11:23 AM
 
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bri276, In your shoes, and especially given your feelings about gift exchanges, I would stop asking. I would simply tell people that you are not buying, please do not buy for you. Explain the situation to your comfort level. With the mention of the savings for a house shrinking, I cringe to think about something like that spent on frivolty.

Maybe make them some nice cards instead and/or a letter telling them how much they mean to you, and call it good.
Yes, I agree with that. When job loss or something of that sort is involved, all bets are off. You don't do gifts. Period.

lady.gif
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#14 of 57 Old 10-25-2008, 11:30 AM
 
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I think a nice picture of you on a cardstock "frame" with a note would be sufficient. This yr we have decided to just get a few small things for the kids and donate to the state foodbank in addition to volunteering. And since the kids are old enough to understand, they will have ownership in this.

I have learned alot from my husband's sister who has a big empty hole she fills with "stuff" which has led to her ending up with nothing, really. But alot of stuff!

I want my kids to know what really matters (we joke I am brainwashing them) which is love, family...and the special friends we have who are part of our family now. I feel like they need to learn to give as well as receive...so there isn't a black hole in them, that is never filled....

It's all about the love, and you can tell the dissenters that. ANd that does not come from a gift, no matter how thoughtful.
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#15 of 57 Old 10-25-2008, 11:52 AM
 
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I'm getting much much closer to a no-gift Christmas this year. I always go overboard every year trying to buy everything for everyone. This year we have prepared the kids for getting one gift. We will probably get one family gift, and then I want to fill their stockings with lots of goodies.

I am hoping for much less stress and lots of time to do fun stuff like go ice skating or see the Nutcracker.
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#16 of 57 Old 10-25-2008, 12:12 PM
 
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Good luck with it. We did this last year, only buying gifts for our two neices and three nephews, all under age six. All the adults in the family agreed ahead of time not to exchange gifts.

But when the day rolled around, every. single. one. bought us something! Grr! That made me feel like a cheapskate.

We are doing it again this year, though. We simply can't afford gifts for everyone in our family. I'm going to make gifts for my neices and nephews, using materials I already have, but that's it.
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#17 of 57 Old 10-25-2008, 12:24 PM
 
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I try to do this with my sister--tell her that we're not buying gifts and we don't want anything from her either--and she still buys gifts. Then she tries to put on a guilt trip about how she doesn't have any money. Truth is--she buys because she's depressed and shopping makes her feel better. I'm trying to talk with her about it, but it's tough, especially at Christmas.
My parents always give us $$ for Christmas and we always bake them batches of their favorite cookies (sometimes sent in January). That's all we do there and everybody's happy with it. With dh's folks and siblings, we usually pick out very small gifts for them and send them (both our folks live far away), like a nice pair of socks or something less than $20. This year we'll be fresh with a new little one, so I'm thinking that we won't have time or $ to send anything. Maybe we can go the cookie route in January with them as well. Oh yeah, we also usually make them photo calendars which are pretty inexpensive.
I'm so over buying just to buy.
Dh and I never buy for each other and we don't buy for dd either. She gets enough presents from her grandparents in the mail. We just save them for Christmas morning. We're trying to instill more the "spirit of love, sharing, and family togetherness" for Christmas in her rather than the gift giving part.
Hope it works
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#18 of 57 Old 10-25-2008, 01:08 PM
 
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we kind of stepped down little by little. the first year I bought everyone a "certificate" through heifer international (basically donated in their name) and made everyone a homemade ornament (I was on bed rest and had plenty of time!). That in and of itself pretty much got the message out (I did give forewarning by talking about the heifer project and how great it was and how everyone would be getting that from us that year)
people tended to buy-down for us since they knew we weren't spending too much on them. I think it's natural for some people to try and "match" so that if you are spending tons on them, they spend tons on you, and when you spend little on them they spend little on you.
so that worked for a while.
then as we had more kids and all of their 20 sets of aunts and uncles and grandparents sent each one a present, I had to send out an email to say all the gifts were just too much (seriously, that's 60 gifts arriving in one day!! my house is just not that big), and that we would be going gift free to focus their lives more on the spiritual side of christmas. I'm sure they had a lot to say about that, but for the most part everyone did as we asked (we did "allow" great grandparents and grandparents to buy whatever, we figure if you live that long you deserve some simple pleasures).
we do have some gifts coming in (our nieces made home made playdough for our kids, a single aunt bought them mag gift subscriptions, and some single aunts and uncles put money into their college funds). and I don't mind any of that. I feel we've cut back massively on the consumerism side and that those who are giving are giving what they can afford to and we are doing what we can afford to do.
luckily, being frugal is something both sides of the family value.
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#19 of 57 Old 10-25-2008, 01:10 PM
 
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I think that if you have the mindset to go the no gift route then just do it no matter what everyone thinks. It took dh a while to get on board with the idea as he feels obligated to buy something (anything) just to return the favour. I though that it was a waste of time and energy as I never seem to be able to buy anything they want. Dh still feels embarassed when my brothers' wives buy us token gifts (chocalate, bath products, etc) and we have nothing in return. But I refused to give in. They know that I will not buy gifts. I rather do something nice for them or have a lavish dinner instead. Maybe I'm thick-skinned but overall I know that our parents prefer money over gifts. I might add that we do buy/give our parents things during the year if they need something. We just don't wait till the holidays or birthdays.
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#20 of 57 Old 10-25-2008, 02:40 PM
 
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My mom seems offended at the idea that she cannot shop for random gifts for my children. We have tried suggesting specific things, but that "takes the fun out of it" for her. In a nutshell, my mom seems to enjoy shopping more than spending time with her grandchildren. So I don't really know where to begin in suggesting a no-gift event. Last year we thought we were successful in arranging for a few nice things, but then got stockings full of crap. I keep telling DW that we are probably going to have to make a scene before things change.
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#21 of 57 Old 10-25-2008, 02:51 PM
 
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WHY is it that when people agree ahead of time to not do gifts, it's the ones who follow the agreement that are made to feel like asses?

How can we shift that onto the offending people? Like, they hand you a gift and say "Oh, just a little something, I know we said no gifts but I had to get just a little thing" you can look at it in surprise and say "Oh, wow, I had no idea the gift agreement had changed - oh, I simply can't accept this, thank you." Would the other person then feel like an ass? Or would they think you were a horrible person?

This stuff really chaps my hide.

Homeschooling mama to 6 year old DD.

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#22 of 57 Old 10-25-2008, 02:58 PM
 
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Is this a generational thing or is it just that we subscribe to a set of NFL values and are different from most folk? I hate shopping. I hate spending the money. I hate knowing that whatever I get, the recipient probably isn't going to like. I hate physically going to the store. I hate the obligation. I hate the rush. I hate the stress. And I hate receiving the gifts too - a pile of stuff cluttering up my home. Trash from wrapping and packaging everywhere. Rewarding corporations for coming up with useless, inane crap. Making a midwinter celebration / birth of Christ (depending on whether you're Christian or not) about consumerism.

And yet I hear from my mom, and other mothers of MDC moms, that shopping is like the only fun they have in life - or something like that. My mother only yesterday was doing the same thing - the good news is that she's going to buy things we really need (a winter jacket for DD, and some long underwear for her). Thank god for that. But I simply don't get the joy she gets out of it, and that part I can live with, but it irritates me how much she spends on DD given that my folks don't really have the money for it. My dad wants to retire 1.5 years from now, and their financial counselor flat-out told them that they couldn't, because of my mother's spending. My mother KNOWS this. And I guess she's trying to cut back. And somehow she still wants to do this. I don't understand how the amount of joy she gets going shopping somehow outweighs financial security, and having her husband retire (she complains all the time how much he works... so she WANTS him retired... I guess?). Argh I am so sorry, I just went on and on. I seem to be in a whiny mood today (Not the only thread I've whined in today)

Homeschooling mama to 6 year old DD.

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#23 of 57 Old 10-25-2008, 03:14 PM
 
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Our friends and family don't give our kids stuff that is awful . Personally though I don't feel comfortable dictating gifts to people unless asked - I think it borders on rude. Of course, it's OK to inform people that cr@p will be promptly disposed of -- they may think twice before buying things of that nature.

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#24 of 57 Old 10-25-2008, 03:18 PM
 
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We have done no gifts to adult family members - and no cards for the last two years.

The adults on the IL side have more money than we do, nothing we could afford to buy them would be valued in any way so we just decided not to compete.

This has probably added to the poor relations with that side of the family but we aren't going to do anything different this year.

My mum doesn't need anything from us other than our time and our love so that is what we give her - along with tasty food when we see her.
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#25 of 57 Old 10-25-2008, 03:19 PM
 
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Originally Posted by laohaire View Post
WHY is it that when people agree ahead of time to not do gifts, it's the ones who follow the agreement that are made to feel like asses?

How can we shift that onto the offending people? Like, they hand you a gift and say "Oh, just a little something, I know we said no gifts but I had to get just a little thing" you can look at it in surprise and say "Oh, wow, I had no idea the gift agreement had changed - oh, I simply can't accept this, thank you." Would the other person then feel like an ass? Or would they think you were a horrible person?

This stuff really chaps my hide.
IMO it would be gracious to accept the gift as if it was given with the best of intentions. Then dispose of it if it's something you don't need or want later.

I feel that people can make their own choices. I am going to let the adults in my life know that I will not be getting them a gift this year -- in an email with this image from the adbusters site. I will let them know that I don't want to stress myself out and spend money that I don't have at a time of year when I want to focus on creating magical experiences for my children. OTOH, if people wish to give me a gift, that is fine. I don't want to force people to fit into my idea of what Christmas should be -- I want to liberate myself and others. For some people, gift-giving is a love language. They don't have to be where I am right now. Also, they might give me a gift this year, but next year be inspired to just let go of needing to do that and spend their time and energy on connecting with me in other ways.

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#26 of 57 Old 10-25-2008, 03:25 PM
 
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The problem is I cannot get anyone on board. There's no way. They'll say they're going to do it, and then they will get us something and we'll have nothing and it will feel really bad.
Choose not to feel bad . Really. Celebrate how you want to, and let others celebrate how they want to.

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#27 of 57 Old 10-25-2008, 04:06 PM
 
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Choose not to feel bad . Really. Celebrate how you want to, and let others celebrate how they want to.
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#28 of 57 Old 10-25-2008, 05:45 PM
 
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Has anyone considered White Elephant gift exchanges? SO MUCH FUN, and doesn't cost you a dime. Plus you get rid of some clutter! Doesn't work for out of state family, but it is a night of hilarity, and no one feels like they've arrived empty handed.
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#29 of 57 Old 10-25-2008, 09:13 PM
 
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I can't even beleive it, I am feeling light headed.... I just convinced DH to do an all-homemade xmas.

I never thought the day would come. We are better off than his family and he feels that we should get them nice stuff for xmas because we can afford it, despite the fact that they don't want/need whatever random stuff we pick out.

Off to email my family (who tends to go overbaord on gifts) to warn them. baby steps, baby steps.

Suzan, mama to DS 9-18-07 and #2 EDD 3/4/10 GIRL!.
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#30 of 57 Old 10-26-2008, 10:30 AM
 
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We have quit exchanging with my sibling and my husband's siblings, and my adult nieces and nephew. I'd rather drop gift exchange with my ILs, but I can see why they want to buy for their own children.
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