How do you handle X-mas presents in a family with lots of kids? - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 23 Old 09-05-2012, 09:04 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Dh's family is very traditional when it comes to Christmas gifts, by that I mean that homemade gifts probably are not appreciated and there are no worries about the children getting too much "stuff" is not a concern.

 

In 3 years we have went from 1 child in the extended family to 7 AND four of the kids have birthdays with in two weeks of Christmas.  So that means that I have to send 9 gifts every December.

 

There are 2 issues I am feeling with this

 

#1- its expensive- I am trying to make as many as possible but I know I will not have time with baby #2 coming in a few weeks

 

#2- I hate sending a HUGE amount of stuff to kids who have way way way too much of it already, and I dont like DS thinking that Christmas is about as many presents as he can get or getting more stuff.

 

I am thinking about bringing up the idea of doing a "secret santa" like the adults in the family do, meaning each child buys for one other kid.

 

DH thinks we should just suck it up instead of rocking the boat...but I know in the next few years there will be more babies and  this could get out of control!!!

 

I am wondering what other people do in these situations....

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#2 of 23 Old 09-05-2012, 03:58 PM
 
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I would find some other way, I would never send gifts to that many kids -- in fact, I don't send gifts at all to people I won't actually see for Christmas (unless I know they won't be getting any gifts from others). I just send a card and call them on the day itself to wish them well. I feel Christmas is too commercial and "stuff-centered."

Besides Secret Santa, you could also consider a group gift (if these kids are all in the same one or two families) like a DVD or board game or gift card to the zoo or a tin of homemade cookies. I also wouldn't be afraid to say you will just be too busy with the new baby, or can't afford it this year. Or just send something simple for each kid like coloring books & crayons.

One thing we did with my large group of cousins was a gift card swap -- everyone bought a gift card ($15) to a different store and we randomly swapped them. You just have to make sure the stores aren't local-specific (I once got a gift card to a place 8 hours away... not very fun...)

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#3 of 23 Old 09-05-2012, 07:29 PM
 
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DH's family is the same way. The first year we were together, my MIL informed me before Christmas that I was part of the Secret Santa and that the budget for the kids was $15 or $20 each. I told her my family doesn't exchange gifts between adults or nieces/nephews. She said "You're part of OUR family now and this is how we do it." like I had no choice in the matter!! The way I dealt with it was to not make it my job. DH can do it if he wants, but the priority level seems to be a lot lower when the responsibility is in his own lap.

 

I'm pretty sure the reason she was so assertive about it was that DH'd been dropping the ball for years already. What *I* do at Christmas is Ukrainian eggs... they take a lot of time but they're fun to make and are super cheap... and lucky for me, MIL loooooves Ukrainian eggs, so I made a bunch of them to give out and that smoothed over any hard feelings. 


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#4 of 23 Old 09-06-2012, 06:43 AM
 
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Dh's family is very traditional when it comes to Christmas gifts, by that I mean that homemade gifts probably are not appreciated and there are no worries about the children getting too much "stuff" is not a concern.

 

 

 

A few thoughts: 

 

-The Secret Santa or drawing names out of a hat works well for a lot of families. If the idea is rejected in your family and they insist that each child get a present from everyone, then I don't think they can insist on the kind of present that is given. If you want to send homemade gifts, then go ahead.

 

-Consider shopping sales throughout the year to manage the expense.

 

-Consider a shared present for a family of children with lots of little items like a theme basket eg. Food theme - mixing bowl, a bunch of cookie cutters, pre-mixed cookie dough ingredients, sprinkles. With some careful shopping, for the price of one gift you can cover them all AND your shipping costs will probably be reduced too. If the kids are getting lots of presents from a large extended family, they won't notice that one gift was a shared item. 

 

Our family gives individual gifts to all children until they are 18, but we only gift at Christmas, not birthdays or other occasions (first communion, etc.). Some people have also opened bank accounts for some children (it's a complicated story about which relatives and which children) and over the years, deposited gift money into the accounts. The kids get the money when they are grown. They have been very healthy sums which have been used for education, travel and career assistance. When you have a big family and the kids are overwhelmed at Christmas with numerous presents, they don't notice that they didn't receive something from one set of Uncles/Aunts but they have really appreciated getting the cash at the end of their high school years when they are facing lots of "grown up" expenses.      

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#5 of 23 Old 09-06-2012, 11:18 AM
 
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We've always had extended family members who scale back giving for either birthdays or christmas (ie. just send birthday cards then do a small gift around christmas).  If you do prefer to give for all occasions something like that is totally acceptable and is customary for lots of other people (like us).  

Now, I happen to have a pretty small family - but there are lots of gifts we've gotten or given that were $10 or less that were very nice and well-chosen.  We surely didn't feel slighted over it being something inexpensive and they were enjoyed a lot.  

 

 

 

 

With a large group of kids to get for - maybe get a large bar of chocolate (or other traditional christmas candy - or huge gingerbread man cookie) and pair with a book or art supply (sketchbook & colored pencils, or crayons & coloring book, few mini playdoh tubs).  Easy to do for a variety of ages, not as demanding of you, can potentially be very affordable.  

 

Whatever you do - making it something that's equal across the board (chocolates for everyone, books for everyone, scarves for everyone, cocoa and marshmallows for everyone. . etc) has always been my habit when trying to manage a difficult gifting situation where I'm also needing to minimize the expense for us.  

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#6 of 23 Old 09-06-2012, 11:34 AM
 
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Books! My uncle sent us books every year, and I LOVED it and still have most of them. And you could get them at half price or somewhere and just put a sweet letter on the inside of the cover and leave it at that.

 

I love the idea about the group gift, and you can always find pretty cheap and reasonable gifts for about $7 each at target or walmart, even toys r us. And they are pretty cool, action figures for boys, or barbie clothes for girls, board books for baby, or play dough for preschoolers. Or save on shipping and just send $5 or $10 cash to each. I loved money when i was a kid.


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#7 of 23 Old 09-06-2012, 11:53 AM
 
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I love the book idea (but I've always been a bookworm redface.gif).  My dad's side is super weird, so we don't do gifts at all there.  My mom's family is HUGE and what we've always done (even when I was a kid) is draw names (there are so many kids I think adults/couples sometimes draw 2, but still, that helps!).  It makes it more special, IMO, if one person has your name and gets to thoughtfully pick something for you - instead of being deluged with tons of random gifts. You look forward to it more.

 

My husband's family is "gifts for everyone!" oriented, and I find this a bit expensive and annoying, so we do as many lil homemade gifts for adults as possible (cookies, truffles, jams, etc.), plus cash for allllllll the kids.  It's insane - I really wish they would draw names! 


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#8 of 23 Old 09-06-2012, 12:26 PM
 
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Several years ago I just stopped sending gifts at holidays. I couldn't handle the stress (emotional and financial) as well as the drama.   Everyone lives out of town - or maybe I live out of town LOL, and honestly,  the holidays are so much more relaxed that I only need to focus on MY child and our own holiday traditions.


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#9 of 23 Old 09-07-2012, 02:19 AM
 
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I either don't send gifts or I send a family gift.. This year we will most likely be visiting my husband's grandparents so no young children to worry about. Im doing a "large" handmade gift for his grandparents (a photo quilt with pictures of their children, grandchildren and great grandchildren), a giftcard for his aunt/uncle (who will be hosting and we might be staying with) and a small gift for his other uncle (because hes lonely and every time I see him I feel like he needs a little extra love, he will be overwhelmed that someone remembered him honestly).

 

His other family Ill send a small gift to my inlaws and to his middle sister (she will be forgotten by everyone so I feel like she "needs" it) then everyone else will get updated family pictures. My father asked for some nice pictures of the family so he will get those for Christmas..

I am "lucky" that there are only 2 children among his 4 siblings. 1 is 10 and I refuse to get her thing on her shopping list because they are either to expensive (xbox games) or not appropriate in my book (coach purses/shot glasses etc). So, I won't be getting her anything since I know it won't be appreciated/used. The other is a month younger than my son and his parents don't respect anything anyone gives them (I handmade them a quilt for a baby gift and they threw it away since it was "crap" since it was handmade) so he won't be getting anything. Im not throwing my money/time/energy away.


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#10 of 23 Old 09-07-2012, 10:15 AM
 
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You can announce you are "simplifying" this year and won't be exchanging gifts.

 

You can just not send anything without telling them. After a year or two, they will stop reciprocating.

 

You can send one family gift to each family. I remember one great-aunt sending us special pastries that were a regional item. I loved that.

 

You can give each individual a smaller token gift. 

 

My family started out with everyone giving everyone else a gift. People got married and we continued. I would give couple's gifts. People had kids and it started to get crazy. I tended to give the nieces and nephews homemade token gifts. They were individualized but inexpensive. We talked about doing a Pollyanna. Someone decided each person would get two adult names with a $50 each limit. That was someone on a different financial planet than mine! So, since dh would be given two names, we would have 4 gifts to give with more pressure that they be something nice. Since I have 6 siblings and gave couple's gifts, cutting down from 6 to 4 more expensive gifts was hardly an improvement. Gift giving to kids was optional. People with kids tended to exchange gifts or people who saw kids on Christmas would give them gifts. After a year or two of the Pollyanna, I announced we wanted out, couldn't afford it. I still give gifts to people we see but I don't ship things.

 

This year is going to be extra tricky for us since several families have decided they are coming here to celebrate. We live with my mom so don't have any say in the matter. I'm ok on the gift giving end. I'll crochet or knit everyone a scarf and they can like them or not. But I'm worried about giving ds gifts as nice as his cousins will get from their parents. I'd rather just give ds 3 things he'd really appreciate but the other kids might have a mound of things (this has happened in the past). I have no clue what kind of gifts or what quantity of gifts the one family does for their kids since they haven't come since they've had kids. The usual family that comes has started not giving all their gifts to their kids at our house which I appreciate. The previous year, their oldest had noticed all the gifts seemed to be for their family. But then it felt awkward in the other direction of ds getting more gifts (even though the cousins already opened theirs elsewhere) and I think the younger cousins were a bit disappointed. Ds doesn't enjoy the craziness (especially noise) of many excited kids or watching other people open gifts. He'll probably spend Christmas in another room playing computer games...


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#11 of 23 Old 09-07-2012, 10:45 AM
 
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Some thoughts.

 

Seven kids really isn't a huge number and since you know about birthdays every year in advance, planning for them is just a budgeting thing. If you prefer to buy them gifts than plan ahead or tell their parents you will give "six month" birthday gifts instead of actual birthday gifts to both spread out the gifts and make it more special.

 

If they "get too much" than consider other options like always sending books or a group gift for the family.

 

Personally, I am not a fan of secret santa or rotational things for kids. I'd give a lot more preference to the gifts for kids than any adult I was giving with.  We switched to trading names among the adults years ago and then finally dropped it. I can't imagine giving preference to adults over kids.

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#12 of 23 Old 09-07-2012, 11:13 AM
 
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We draw names for kids on the side of my family where there are a bunch of them.  The other side is starting to really ramp up as my generation (the grandchildren) start having babies, so we started drawing names there as well last year.  I still get my nephews gifts, even if we don't draw their names.  I only have 2 nephews, so that's still easy on us.


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#13 of 23 Old 09-07-2012, 03:16 PM
 
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Personally, I am not a fan of secret santa or rotational things for kids. I'd give a lot more preference to the gifts for kids than any adult I was giving with.  We switched to trading names among the adults years ago and then finally dropped it. I can't imagine giving preference to adults over kids.

Oh, I can. Most kids I know get SO many gifts that they don't really need more being sent from relatives. Those relatives are often making wild guesses as to what is appropriate for a child they don't know very well. And many adults don't even exchange gifts because of financial concerns. Giving preference to adults usually is just evening things out. I think it sends an odd message to children that holidays are all about them. I don't want my son growing up thinking moms and dads don't get birthday or Christmas presents. I think it would be a bit of a disservice to his future mate!


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#14 of 23 Old 09-07-2012, 03:52 PM
 
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Some thoughts.

 

Seven kids really isn't a huge number and since you know about birthdays every year in advance, planning for them is just a budgeting thing. If you prefer to buy them gifts than plan ahead or tell their parents you will give "six month" birthday gifts instead of actual birthday gifts to both spread out the gifts and make it more special.

 

If they "get too much" than consider other options like always sending books or a group gift for the family.

 

I agree with the above.

Other ideas for giving things that encourage kids to be less materialistic:
-savings bonds
-special, exotic fruit or nuts
-tickets to movies, concerts, plays
-sentimental things like photo albums, heirlooms
-board games/card games for the family
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#15 of 23 Old 09-07-2012, 03:55 PM
 
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Magazine subscriptions

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#16 of 23 Old 09-07-2012, 06:23 PM
 
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This year is going to be extra tricky for us since several families have decided they are coming here to celebrate. We live with my mom so don't have any say in the matter. I'm ok on the gift giving end. I'll crochet or knit everyone a scarf and they can like them or not. But I'm worried about giving ds gifts as nice as his cousins will get from their parents. I'd rather just give ds 3 things he'd really appreciate but the other kids might have a mound of things (this has happened in the past). I have no clue what kind of gifts or what quantity of gifts the one family does for their kids since they haven't come since they've had kids. The usual family that comes has started not giving all their gifts to their kids at our house which I appreciate. The previous year, their oldest had noticed all the gifts seemed to be for their family. But then it felt awkward in the other direction of ds getting more gifts (even though the cousins already opened theirs elsewhere) and I think the younger cousins were a bit disappointed. Ds doesn't enjoy the craziness (especially noise) of many excited kids or watching other people open gifts. He'll probably spend Christmas in another room playing computer games...

I would consider staying with a friend or even at a cheap hotel or something just to be able to celebrate Christmas more peacefully!! But if that's not an option... why not call the other families who will be visiting and discuss how many presents will be given at your house? I think it's reasonable to ask, you don't want anyone to drastically outnumber anyone else because the kids will probably feel bad. You could suggest they only bring 3 gifts for each kid and give the rest when they return home (or even privately in the guest bedroom or something, if each family plans to spend some quiet time separate from the whole group).

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#17 of 23 Old 09-08-2012, 12:18 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you all for your ideas.

 

I love the ideas for books and activities. The idea for group gifts will be great for one of the families, 3 of the kids are siblings and are 1,3 and 5 years old so I will put my mind to that.

Activities might be hard as the live in a very small town and I don't want to commit the parents to driving very far :)

 

Their family is not the type to say "you have to buy a present for all the kids" BUT they will gossip and/or bitch to each other if I try to change anything. I know I should not worry about it but it concerns DH (for many reasons I understand), he does not want to rock the boat. So i will definatly use some of your awesome suggestions.

 

The adults are easy and enjoyable, we do a secret santa with a fairly reasonable limit for the siblings and their partners and for all the grandparents in our families I make a calender with their grandkids every year, its cheap, fairly easy and they LOVE it!!!!!

 

4evermom: I get the concern with the family differances. We wont have that issue this year but when/if we do go visit DH's family in future years it will be tough. Their kids get pretty big gifts which I am not into for my family. The biggest issue is that Santa comes to their house in the evening after mass and gives the kids their presents in person, in our house Santa always came while we were sleeping and we woke up to a surprise in the morning, I will carry this tradition on with my kids....so it will be an interesting one to explain.

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#18 of 23 Old 09-08-2012, 08:37 AM
 
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I would consider staying with a friend or even at a cheap hotel or something just to be able to celebrate Christmas more peacefully!! But if that's not an option... why not call the other families who will be visiting and discuss how many presents will be given at your house? I think it's reasonable to ask, you don't want anyone to drastically outnumber anyone else because the kids will probably feel bad. You could suggest they only bring 3 gifts for each kid and give the rest when they return home (or even privately in the guest bedroom or something, if each family plans to spend some quiet time separate from the whole group).

It makes me feel so scroogy to find the idea of going somewhere for Christmas appealing... At least the one family will have checking luggage considerations which I'm sure will encourage some minimalism. And the family that drives started giving their kids gifts from them at their own home, after doing it here for some years... There will definitely be some sort of conversation about this in advance. I just wish that I wasn't the one feeling like I have to put a damper on things. Partially, this is because I'm a plan in advance type person. Others are more last minute and honestly don't even know how many things they have for their kids until they are wrapping Christmas Eve. I just don't like the uncertainty of it all. Makes me dread the holiday rather than look forward to it. Also, I have, or had, the kind of kid who would open a gift, and want to take his time checking it out before moving to the next. When he was three, he took days to open his gifts. Now there is pressure to get everything opened fast... But it'll probably be fine. if I wear earplugs;-)

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4evermom: I get the concern with the family differences. We wont have that issue this year but when/if we do go visit DH's family in future years it will be tough. Their kids get pretty big gifts which I am not into for my family. The biggest issue is that Santa comes to their house in the evening after mass and gives the kids their presents in person, in our house Santa always came while we were sleeping and we woke up to a surprise in the morning, I will carry this tradition on with my kids....so it will be an interesting one to explain.

Maybe you can tell your kids that Santa visits the other family earlier on his route, hence the evening visit. Your house is later on the route so it's a morning surprise...


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#19 of 23 Old 09-08-2012, 10:00 AM
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We now have the cousins draw names for each other.   I didn't necessarily mind buying for all of my nieces/nephews, BUT I hated getting so many presents back for my kids that we had no place to put them.  


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#20 of 23 Old 09-08-2012, 10:15 AM
 
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We draw names. We have two drawings - one for the adults and one for the kids. Worked out well especially when people started multiplying wink1.gif.

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#21 of 23 Old 09-08-2012, 10:32 AM
 
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1, 3, and 5: Play-Doh. Not even necessarily one of those goofy fancy sets, but a basic cutter set w/ a giant pack of dough containers. Buy from Amazon so that shipping is cheap or free. My kiddos LOVE Play-Doh and go thru cans of it like it's water. Or art supplies. Not kits, just general supplies. Again, order it all together for better shipping. Highlights magazine publishes High Five, which is for the preschool set. My girls love this magazine.

 

I am partial to giving and receiving gifts of food. I don't want candles or soap or lotion. I don't use mainstream versions of these items anyway. Even candy or food that you don't really care for can be given away or shared with others. Food is consumed and doesn't need to be displayed for all eternity. We have an excellent chocolate shop here & it makes great gifts. Especially fancy or silly stuff that people are not likely to buy for themselves or their own kids.


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#22 of 23 Old 09-08-2012, 10:40 AM
 
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We now have the cousins draw names for each other.   I didn't necessarily mind buying for all of my nieces/nephews, BUT I hated getting so many presents back for my kids that we had no place to put them.  

ITA, it would be ridiculous if my ds got a gift from each aunt/uncle and grandparent couple. 11 gifts plus what dh and I would like to give him, at least 3 more. I think it's hard for kids to even appreciate that many things all at once.


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#23 of 23 Old 09-13-2012, 01:56 PM
 
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Oh, I can. Most kids I know get SO many gifts that they don't really need more being sent from relatives. Those relatives are often making wild guesses as to what is appropriate for a child they don't know very well. And many adults don't even exchange gifts because of financial concerns. Giving preference to adults usually is just evening things out. I think it sends an odd message to children that holidays are all about them. I don't want my son growing up thinking moms and dads don't get birthday or Christmas presents. I think it would be a bit of a disservice to his future mate!

I should mention that on my side of the family, there are nine cousins total and five aunts and uncle and the grandparents. My sister and I buy gifts and my brother doesn't (not philosophical, just overwhelmed). Dh has one brother who is unmarried and has no children. So really, they get at most gifts from two aunts/uncles and two grandparents. No santa gifts. Everyone maintains wishlists for the kids and/or often do things like zoo memberships, etc.We also open gifts over several days sometimes weeks so it won't be overwhelming.

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