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<p>I'll try to condense this as much as possible because there is a lot of history, but here is the short version:</p>
<p> </p>
<p>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. </p>
<p> </p>
<p>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. </p>
<p> </p>
<p>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. </p>
<p> </p>
<p>We are thrilled that she is coming and so is she. </p>
<p> </p>
<p>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). </p>
<p> </p>
<p>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. </p>
<p> </p>
<p>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. </p>
<p> </p>
<p>I am at a loss.  I want her to have a wonderful experience while she is here. </p>
<p> </p>
<p>Any suggestions?</p>
 

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<p>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!)</p>
 

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<p>When you say "several big things" for your boys, can you name them?  Also, how old are your boys?</p>
<p> </p>
<p>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?</p>
<p> </p>
<p>Do you have a $$ figure in mind for what you could spend on her? We might be able to help you figure out some things that would have a big splash, but not be big $$.</p>
 

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<br><br><div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">Originally Posted by <strong>beanma</strong> <a href="/community/forum/thread/1284736/need-ideas-for-handling-an-unusual-christmas-situation#post_16107350"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a><br><br><p>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?</p>
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<p><br>
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. </p>
 

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<p> </p>
<p>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.  </p>
<p> </p>
<p>Things my DD likes that aren't too pricey: </p>
<p> </p>
<p>Books</p>
<p>New shoulder bag or backpack</p>
<p>Retro lunchbox </p>
<p>Hats</p>
<p>Scarves</p>
<p>Inexpensive jewelry</p>
<p>Scrapbooking supplies</p>
 

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<p>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. </p>
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
<br><br><div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">Originally Posted by <strong>beanma</strong> <a href="/community/forum/thread/1284736/need-ideas-for-handling-an-unusual-christmas-situation#post_16107350"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border-bottom:0px solid;border-left:0px solid;border-top:0px solid;border-right:0px solid;"></a><br><br><p>When you say "several big things" for your boys, can you name them?  Also, how old are your boys?</p>
<p> </p>
<p>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?</p>
<p> </p>
<p>Do you have a $$ figure in mind for what you could spend on her? We might be able to help you figure out some things that would have a big splash, but not be big $$.</p>
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<p><br><br>
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".</p>
<p> </p>
<p>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. </p>
<p> </p>
<p>We would be able to spend around $150. </p>
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
<br><br><div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">Originally Posted by <strong>ollyoxenfree</strong> <a href="/community/forum/thread/1284736/need-ideas-for-handling-an-unusual-christmas-situation#post_16107433"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border-bottom:0px solid;border-left:0px solid;border-top:0px solid;border-right:0px solid;"></a><br><br><p> </p>
<p>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.  </p>
<p> </p>
<p>Things my DD likes that aren't too pricey: </p>
<p> </p>
<p>Books</p>
<p>New shoulder bag or backpack</p>
<p>Retro lunchbox </p>
<p>Hats</p>
<p>Scarves</p>
<p>Inexpensive jewelry</p>
<p>Scrapbooking supplies</p>
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<p><br><br>
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. </p>
<p> </p>
<p>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? </p>
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
<br><br><div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">Originally Posted by <strong>MariaMadly</strong> <a href="/community/forum/thread/1284736/need-ideas-for-handling-an-unusual-christmas-situation#post_16107323"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border-bottom:0px solid;border-left:0px solid;border-top:0px solid;border-right:0px solid;"></a><br><br><p>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!)</p>
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 </p>
<p>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. </p>
<p> </p>
<p>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?<br><br><br>
 </p>
 

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<p>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.</p>
 

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<p>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.</p>
<p> </p>
<p>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!</p>
 

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<p><br>
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. </p>
<br><p> </p>
<p>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? </p>
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<p> </p>
<p>IMO no, it's not tacky at all.</p>
 

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<p>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.</p>
 

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<p>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.</p>
 

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<br><br><div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">Originally Posted by <strong>delphine</strong> <a href="/community/forum/thread/1284736/need-ideas-for-handling-an-unusual-christmas-situation#post_16107497"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a><br><br><br><br><div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">Originally Posted by <strong>ollyoxenfree</strong> <a href="/community/forum/thread/1284736/need-ideas-for-handling-an-unusual-christmas-situation#post_16107433"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border-bottom:0px solid;border-left:0px solid;border-top:0px solid;border-right:0px solid;"></a><br><br><p> </p>
<p>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.  </p>
<p> </p>
<p>Things my DD likes that aren't too pricey: </p>
<p> </p>
<p>Books</p>
<p>New shoulder bag or backpack</p>
<p>Retro lunchbox </p>
<p>Hats</p>
<p>Scarves</p>
<p>Inexpensive jewelry</p>
<p>Scrapbooking supplies</p>
</div>
</div>
<p><br><br>
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. </p>
<p> </p>
<p>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? </p>
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<p><br>
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.</p>
<p> </p>
<p>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.</p>
<p> </p>
<p>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. </p>
<p> </p>
<p>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.) </p>
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<p> </p>
<p> </p>
<p>  </p>
 

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<br><br><div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">Originally Posted by <strong>Adaline'sMama</strong> <a href="/community/forum/thread/1284736/need-ideas-for-handling-an-unusual-christmas-situation#post_16107699"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a><br><br><p>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.</p>
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<p>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.<br>
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<p>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!</p>
 

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<p>What about a portable DVD player and a few movies?</p>
<p> </p>
<p>ETA: Of course a DVD player would depend on your and her parents' views about access to movies.</p>
 

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<p>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.</p>
<p>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.</p>
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<p>You can always do that and then some stocking stuffers.</p>
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<p>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!!</p>
 

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<br><br><div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">Originally Posted by <strong>IxIa</strong> <a href="/community/forum/thread/1284736/need-ideas-for-handling-an-unusual-christmas-situation#post_16107674"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a><br><br><p>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.</p>
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<p><br>
Add in a fleecy hoody and she's getting basically the same thing as your DS1.</p>
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<p>Plus, she's going to be there for a week after Christmas so she'll get to play the board games too.</p>
 
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