I would like to stop exchanging Christmas gifts - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 25 Old 08-26-2005, 11:50 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I would like to stop exchanging Christmas gifts with my sister and her husband. Christmas is such a stressful time for me because of all the gift buying. Then the gifts that we receive just add to the clutter. I'm afraid she will take it the wrong way and think we just don't want to bother with them anymore? I'll suggest that we still exchange gifts for the kids. For me, buying things for kids is fairly easy. Maybe she will be relieved. On the outside, she is perfect--perfect home, perfect clothes, perfect scrapbooking albums. But she has 3 young kids and DH gone a lot for work--I bet she gets really stressed sometimes and might welcome less work at Christmas.

I wish we could stop giving gifts altogether, but that would feel too strange to suggest that to my parents and inlaws. And I would feel bad announcing to my grandma that she won't be receiving anymore gifts. Although she doesn't give us gifts anymore, which is fine with us!
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#2 of 25 Old 08-26-2005, 01:06 PM
 
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We started choosing names a few years ago in both my family and with my in-laws. All of the adults (me, DH, my siblings, their spouses, mother, and grandmother for my family) each buy for just one other person. This has worked really well for us--we buy a lot less, but nobody is left out.... If you think your family might be interested in that, it could be an in-between step on the way to eventually getting rid of the gift exchange entirely (though of course you wouldn't have to say that now).
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#3 of 25 Old 08-26-2005, 01:40 PM
 
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ive been wanting to take a family trip at christmas just so we can skip all the hooha...but I ant let go of the white christmas....
maybe vermont
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#4 of 25 Old 08-26-2005, 04:11 PM
 
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with my friends and cousin I have a consumable gift policy. We have all agreed that we don't need anymore clutter or things that just aren't our style choosen by a well meaning but off the mark gift giver. Usually we share baked goods or give candles or something that doesn't need to find a new spot in our already too small over crowded dwellings. I just wish I could convince in-laws and family to go this route. Last christmas dd received 3 rocking horses (2 divorces = 4 sets of grandparents that don't communicate : ) unfortunately she only has one butt (hey, that's a good thing!!) :LOL
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#5 of 25 Old 08-26-2005, 05:56 PM
 
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We have gone to the "kids only" gift thing with my brother's siblings and it has been a big relief for all. I bet if you phrase it as kindly as you did here, your sister will be thrilled with the idea.
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#6 of 25 Old 08-26-2005, 07:02 PM
 
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This year I want to ask my family members to give what they would have spent on me to a charity in my name. I don't know how that will go over though......my family has issues with Gift Certificates: too impersonal and "Everybody need's to open something".

Emily SAHM to four unschoolers Olivia (9), Brian (7), Jack (6), and Liam (5)
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#7 of 25 Old 08-26-2005, 07:30 PM
 
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i wish my family would do this as well, but last year, dh's side of the family totally flipped when i very gently asked people to not go over board on gifts for us, and especially the kids.. they have way too much toys already, we just have to keep decluttering

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#8 of 25 Old 08-26-2005, 08:14 PM
 
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We have decided to do this this year. I mentioned it to my sil and parents and suggested just getting the kids something this year (we have 2 ds's and they have 2 dd's). It was just getting to be a bit much for us...going deeper and deeper into debt to buy people mostly junk! My mom kinda took it hard - she loves all the gifts, etc. so we thought about just the adults drawing names and putting a $50 limit on the gift for that person. I think it's gonna work out great! That could work for you maybe! That way we only have 1 gift to buy (besides the 2 for the kids) instead of 4.
We are also cutting out a lot of gift giving to friends - telling them let's just all go out to eat/have them over for supper and enjoy a night together. So far the response has been good. They are all in the same boat we are.
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#9 of 25 Old 08-26-2005, 08:52 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Emmama
This year I want to ask my family members to give what they would have spent on me to a charity in my name. I don't know how that will go over though......my family has issues with Gift Certificates: too impersonal and "Everybody need's to open something".
This went over like a lead balloon with DH's family. I am hoping your family is more receptive because I think it is a fabulous idea.

JM
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#10 of 25 Old 08-26-2005, 09:08 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lisa_and_Sarah
We started choosing names a few years ago in both my family and with my in-laws. All of the adults (me, DH, my siblings, their spouses, mother, and grandmother for my family) each buy for just one other person. This has worked really well for us--we buy a lot less, but nobody is left out.... If you think your family might be interested in that, it could be an in-between step on the way to eventually getting rid of the gift exchange entirely (though of course you wouldn't have to say that now).



Thats what we do and it works great!!!!!! plus, i live in colorado and everyone lives in minnesota (i miss everyone) so it saves me on shipping cost!!!!!!!!

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#11 of 25 Old 08-27-2005, 03:57 AM
 
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Dhs family is completely unresonable! We have suggested the name drawing or even drawing families but they think it would be unfair if someone got the family with only 2 and another got the family of 5. And when we suggested only buying for the kids we were told if you cant buy for everyone dont buy for anyone. Maybe thats what we will do. i am so stressed at christmas just trying to gather the money for my own kids that i dont need the extra stress about them. They are also the type that will say something rude if you dont get them something nice enough for their taste. I was thinking this year that we should just got to the dollar store and buy them all something silly then that way we'd only be wasting a buck each.
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#12 of 25 Old 08-27-2005, 05:18 PM
 
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some other fun things to give if she isn't into the whole no gift thing
and if planned far enough head you can skip the wholechristmas rush thing. Ilove buying, giving and recieving gifts but I hate stuff randomly choses for the sake of choosing and hate waiting until the last minute and doing it in stress. I also have very limited funds.

consumable - someone already mentioned.

theme exchage- you could do kitchen towel, socks, bookmark, homemade somethin, etc. . . . and everyone is limited to just one item. one pair of socks, one candle, one towel, one game whatever. it will take the stress of "oh what do I get her" and add a little fun of picking out the best little cheap whatever you can find.

we used to do the drawing names but we spent more time and energy on that one person than we ever did on finding little things for everyone.

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#13 of 25 Old 08-28-2005, 01:50 PM
 
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We have cut back a lot -- I love the gift giving and wrapping but it is expensive and stressful to find what someone would want. One idea that we started doing for my grandmothers is donating a small amount of $ in their names to a "Santa" fund our newspaper does --their names appear in the paper and the $ goes to a family in need. We all feel good about that as their homes are full of stuff they don't need/use. We don't exchange with my brother or his wife either -- we just buy for the kids and it works great for us. Maybe she would welcome the idea -- you never know until you ask!!
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#14 of 25 Old 08-29-2005, 11:46 AM
 
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We eased out gift giving over a few years. This includes to each other as well.

I went thru a declutter phase a few years back and donated about 13 boxes of stuff that was stuffed into my house. After looking over it, 75% was some sort of gift. This made me think- I hardly ever see the gifts I also give so they are also stuffed into someones home as well. I decided that year, we are not exchanging anymore. It was tough for my sil because she loves to spend money and buy things and its still tough dealing with her- last year she handed us almost a crate of gifts on xmas even after saying we do not want to exchange even with the kids.

We did do the adapt a child at church. They have ornaments on a tree and you pick one. I always try to pick dd's age. Last year we spent $120 and bought everything on the list- incl a new coat and all the toys that were listed. This year we will pick a 3-4 yr old girl. I would rather do that, help someone and then take the tax deduction. We now tell family and friends etc starting around now- we are adopting a few charities to give to this year and we are NOT participating in any gift exchange. We also say we try to stick to the real meaning of christmas- Christ mass and its a holy holiday for us.

Also we started this w dd's first xmas- Jesus received 3 gifts, so she will receive 3 gifts on Xmas morning. The first christmas it was stuff she already needed and we just wrapped them up for the pictures. But since we have already started this, I do not see her missing out on anything. She will recieve stuff from both sets of grandparents and I will not try to stop them - its usually a check for her savings and a small gift from my inlaws and my parents, my mom and dad will find a bunch of stuff that I will make them give over a few weeks time so not to overwelm.

I have already gotten 2 of the 3 gifts. Both on sale that I know she would like and I just stuck them in the closet. One is already wrapped too!

If need be just say to all family- we are not particpiating and be gentle but ask that everyone respect your position on this.

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#15 of 25 Old 08-29-2005, 12:01 PM
 
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Great ideas!

We draw names--that way we only need to buy a gift for one person. The adults still like to buy the children gifts, but we limit them and it's OK to give yard sale finds etc. Works out really well. My MIL gives me money to buy the children what they want/need and then tell them it's from her. She's a saint. She herself has never wanted gifts. The kids usually give her drawings or art and I have given her photo albums (not scrapbooks-- just albums with pictures).

For other folks (college friends, for instance), we agree to one family gift. A book, A DVD, nice coffee, games, things like that. Nothing extravagant.

ETA-- I forgot that lat year we did a Yankee Swap, which we joked and decided to call Red Sox swap (after years of having picked names). :LOL (Yes, we know the game is not named after the team--but it was a World Series win year!) It was *so* much fun! My then 5 yr old loved it. She mentioned it the other day how fun it was. She got the one gift, but loved the game. She ended up with a little basket of $3 and $4 GC to various places. Dunkin Donuts, Panera, the video rental place etc. She still has the Dunkin Donuts card. She is savoring it and keeps changing her mind about what she'll get with it.
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#16 of 25 Old 08-29-2005, 12:21 PM
 
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We've gone the gift exchange route on both sides of my family.

My family started it first. We have ten adults and five kids, so each adult draws one other adult and two kids (of course not their own kids). That way each kid gets two presents. We set $ limits (I think it was $25 for kids and $60 for adults last year) and everybody writes down suggestions of what they'd like.

We suggested starting an exchange to dh's family, and they were receptive. The only difference is that kids aren't included in the drawing, but that's no big deal since there are only two cousins we need to buy for.

It really makes our lives easier, and cuts down on the expense and the clutter. People are pretty good about following the "wish lists," which helps a lot. It definitely takes a lot of the surprise of gifts away, which would be an issue for some, but for most adults it's really hard to know what they could use or would like if you don't see them often. I have found myself thinking, "hmm, I don't want to spend money on that, but I'd really like it... Maybe I'll save it for my Christmas list." Now if only I can remember those things when the time comes!
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#17 of 25 Old 09-02-2005, 02:27 AM
 
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Yeah, I sort of hate the Christmas gift x-change, too. I don't mind giving to kids in family. In fact, I enjoy choosing gifts for them at other times of the year. But it seems to forced and weird at Christmas. DH and I don't even give each other gifts. Blech. I really dread it. I would LOVE to just go away for the Christmas holiday. In fact, I would love for everyone in the extended family to plan a trip and spend the $$$ that way. Hmmmm???
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#18 of 25 Old 09-02-2005, 10:39 AM
 
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Originally Posted by Bearsmama
Yeah, I sort of hate the Christmas gift x-change, too. I don't mind giving to kids in family. In fact, I enjoy choosing gifts for them at other times of the year. But it seems to forced and weird at Christmas. DH and I don't even give each other gifts. Blech. I really dread it. I would LOVE to just go away for the Christmas holiday. In fact, I would love for everyone in the extended family to plan a trip and spend the $$$ that way. Hmmmm???
You should read skipping christmas by John Grisham. Its a cute quick read about just that. I think a movie was made out of it but it was silly. The book as usual is better.

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#19 of 25 Old 09-02-2005, 12:56 PM
 
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I was just thinking about this.
I decided last year to make note cards or general occassion cards for gifts. I know I like to give cards but they are expenisve and not very nice, so this year I have stocked up at sles of scrapbooking supplies and started my cards. This gift will work for most people and it is fun for me.
I also try and make things i know people can use. I made cookie jar mixes (the ones you put in a canning jar) for gifts two years ago and everyone who recieved one used it and enjoyed it. My oldest is 3 1/2 and can help me make them this year. I also save baskets and things from yard sales to use towards making gifts.

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#20 of 25 Old 09-03-2005, 02:22 PM
 
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To the OP - if your family is in town, could you arrange to get together for dinner instead of exchanging gifts? Maybe before Christmas or a week or so after, so you get to visit and the kids can play but there's no object involved. Or you could get together and bake cookies or make ornaments.

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#21 of 25 Old 09-05-2005, 05:32 PM
 
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Two years ago I felt the same way as you. Even buying for the kids. I felt like there were enough of us getting together for Christmas that we didn't need to buy for nieces and nephews. Grandparents were bringing tons of presents and I didn't buy into the mass quantities of gifts. I told this to dh and he agreed. So we just didn't buy anyone anything. We got maybe 2 gifts for our dc and that was it. I don't know what my SIL thought, but the next year I noticed she bought less. Maybe this year she'll follow our lead, who knows. It just got to be too much. I was hauling it all to the used store about a month later and I just thought why bother? Am I a scrooge?

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#22 of 25 Old 09-05-2005, 08:49 PM
 
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My family and I used to draw names for gifts. As I was the one always keeping track and doing the draw every year, I decided last year that we would do a Chinese gift exchange, with a maximum of $30-35 per gift and that's what we would do. Everyone loved the idea, and got some great gifts and a lot of fun out of it. I think if you still would like to exchange gifts, but not have to buy for everyone, this is a good way to do it.
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#23 of 25 Old 09-05-2005, 10:32 PM
 
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Given the events on the Gulf Coast, you could phrase it in such a way that you want everyone to help give a Christmas to those who have lost everything, rather than giving more stuff to those who already have enough. Pick a charity and have everyone donate to it from "The _________ Family." Expect that not everyone will go for it, and be gracious in receiving the gifts that come in. Most charities are happy to send/give out cards saying something like "A generous donation has been made in your name to _______. Thank you." This could be the start of a family tradition.
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#24 of 25 Old 09-05-2005, 11:16 PM
 
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Hey, Fionn, that sounds like a great idea as well. Any charity that you like would be great as well.
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#25 of 25 Old 09-18-2005, 04:17 AM
 
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I love the idea of donating expected spent money to charity in one's name.

We (dh and I) are at the point that we don't want any gifts for ourselves or our kids. We need for nothing, and the boys have more than enough toys to keep them busy (and more than I care to have to begin with). My parents have already said, when I've mentioned it in passing, "You can't take all their fun away ... ." : (We - dh and I - also don't celebrate christmas either so they're really bent out of shape about that.) It's like all our children's (and our) fun is wrapped into one day and a bunch of stuff. (Pun intended) Has anyone out there stopped exchanging gifts for the kids too? Maybe suggesting a "family" gift would be cool ... I know we'd love some unit blocks or a nice globe ... maybe (because on my side we have a lot of kids - 11 currently) everyone would go for that.

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