Christmas gift exchange


#1

Our family meets at my brother's house around Christmas Eve each year to exchange gifts. We are trying to get away from the commercialism of Christmas and have an ethical problem with the piling up of gifts and gift-wrap that doesn't do anyone any good. What's more, we don't need gifts. The kids have plenty. How do we approach the subject with my brother and sister in law who might be quite offended and, frankly, are never impressed with the gifts we give them...? Should we have a rule of no store-bought gifts? I would not mind giving gifts that are handmade (my brother gives excellent handmade kalhua and we have given handmade gifts, but 90% the gifts we exchange are highly disposable.


#2

We use gift bags, save them and recycle next year. They last longer and no one minds. Actually, we’ve marked a couple with the year to see how long it will last. Doesn’t take much to entertain us…:smiley:

You didn’t say how old the kids were. Hubby and I are at the point we need nothing. However, the “kids” still want to give us something. The new rule is nothing that needs to be dusted, washed or fed. They’ve given us Holiday gift baskets, Omaha steaks, and/or holiday centerpiece, tickets to plays, and certificates for restaurants and movies, and a day of beauty.

I would ask for the homemade liquer. Tell him you really like it and hope he takes the hint.

Thing about presents it isn’t only the giving of the gift, it is also the art of accepting it graciously. That means it is very difficult to tell someone what you expect.

Kids are kids. Nice for them to find something under your tree. How about a game like mahjong for the whole family?


#3

Last year my husband was laid off, my son-in-law was laid off, my son had a lot of medical bills, so we decided no gifts except for the grandkids. We had a great Christmas. I bought something for my mother and her husband and for my daughter's inlaws who are like family. I made wardrobes for the girls' dolls and bought them each a small gift and they were thrilled, esp. with the doll clothes. Santa did come for the girls. We all pitched in for good food for Christmas Eve and Christmas day and just spent the holidays enjoying each other. We did not miss the gifts.

This year my husband is retired, my son-in-law has a job, my son is in a better financial position, but guess-what? We probably won't do gifts. Last year was one of the most enjoyable Christmases ever. All we really need, we have, and what we really need is each other. I don't want any gifts. God gave me the best gifts of all--His Son, and my family. Christmas is going to be different now in my family, and I think it will be much better.


#4

Is this a money issue or just anti-consumerism? If you really can't afford to exchange store-bought gifts this year, I am sure they will understand and appreciate a homemade gift such as baked cookies. However, if you don't want to give them anything because you want to make a statement about our materialistic culture, you need to take a step back and think about how they will see it from their perspective. People give gifts because it's fun and they want to show the recipient that they care. If you reject all that, they will probaly be upset and maybe even offended. It might send the message that you don't care about them, that you didn't appreciate the gifts they gave in the past, or that you are more concerned about making a political statement than participating in a fun activity with the family. It will put a bit of a downer on their Christmas season. I am sure that is not your intent at all, but it might look that way to them. You might even get called a party pooper. :p
Also keep in mind that they may have already picked out gifts for you this year. I went to a friend's house yesterday and accidently found my Christmas gift :o, and it's still October.
I guess the bottom line is that if you really don't want to exchange gifts with people, you need to be very clear with them about your reasons, tell them way ahead of time, and be prepared to accept that they might still be upset about it. I know I've always been a little annoyed and hurt that my parents never accept gifts for birthdays and holidays. It always comes off as a bit rude, you know?


#5

[quote="Charlotte1776, post:4, topic:217269"]
Is this a money issue or just anti-consumerism? If you really can't afford to exchange store-bought gifts this year, I am sure they will understand and appreciate a homemade gift such as baked cookies. However, if you don't want to give them anything because you want to make a statement about our materialistic culture, you need to take a step back and think about how they will see it from their perspective. People give gifts because it's fun and they want to show the recipient that they care. If you reject all that, they will probaly be upset and maybe even offended. It might send the message that you don't care about them, that you didn't appreciate the gifts they gave in the past, or that you are more concerned about making a political statement than participating in a fun activity with the family. It will put a bit of a downer on their Christmas season. I am sure that is not your intent at all, but it might look that way to them. You might even get called a party pooper. :p
Also keep in mind that they may have already picked out gifts for you this year. I went to a friend's house yesterday and accidently found my Christmas gift :o, and it's still October.
I guess the bottom line is that if you really don't want to exchange gifts with people, you need to be very clear with them about your reasons, tell them way ahead of time, and be prepared to accept that they might still be upset about it. I know I've always been a little annoyed and hurt that my parents never accept gifts for birthdays and holidays. It always comes off as a bit rude, you know?

[/quote]

Charlotte has a point here. As I posted above, we gave up the gifts by mutual agreement and found it to our liking. It wasn't a one-sided thing or just a statement we wanted to make, although there is nothing wrong with that if everyone is on the same page. We choose to forgo gifts entirely among us, but we did all pitch in some for some extra special food for the holidays.


#6

If it becomes a problem (the other members of the family still want a gift exchange), I have a suggestion of something that worked for my family to cut back on the craziness of gift giving.

We exchange names. Basically, at Thanksgiving, we all put our names (or a short list) into a bowl and we each draw one name as a secret Santa. There is a price limit on the gift too (it's been going up over the years, but I think it's $25 now). It preserves the fun part of gift giving and exchanges without the overwhelming about of "stuff". everyone gives and receives just one gift. It helps keep costs down for everyone too (I have a lot of cousins with their spouses and children, aunts, uncles, etc).


#7

What about pooling the family money usually spent on gifts for family members and contribute to a charity of your choosing? This is a wonderful time to do that since the economy is down and lot of nonprofits are really struggling.

I like Cross International because almost all their intake is put into missions, not administration. They were in Haiti long before the earthquake.


#8

[quote="mellowcalico, post:6, topic:217269"]
If it becomes a problem (the other members of the family still want a gift exchange), I have a suggestion of something that worked for my family to cut back on the craziness of gift giving.

We exchange names. Basically, at Thanksgiving, we all put our names (or a short list) into a bowl and we each draw one name as a secret Santa. There is a price limit on the gift too (it's been going up over the years, but I think it's $25 now). It preserves the fun part of gift giving and exchanges without the overwhelming about of "stuff". everyone gives and receives just one gift. It helps keep costs down for everyone too (I have a lot of cousins with their spouses and children, aunts, uncles, etc).

[/quote]

We do the same - with an added touch or two. Each year has a theme and we do not draw names. We simply draw numbers to see who picks first. There are rules about stealing and such. Last year was "as seen on TV". It was hilarious! I just missed out on getting the Snuggie. Actually, my wife got it, so I can use it when she isn't. This year's theme will be gift cards.


#9

Homemade gifts are always nice. They speak more of the giver and less of the amount of money that was spent or not spent.

I always loved my mother's pralines. One year I had little money, and the gift I gave my daughter actually cost less than a dollar. I had some leftover yarn that I used to crochet a bag which I lined with material bought on clearance.

When I married, we established a single gift per person policy. As my daughter said, "the gift might actually be three or four." Decorations on the packing may be gifts in themselves. The primary reason for this was to keep the focus on the true meaning of the season. For me, there was a secondary reason. Growing up, some of our Christmases were small while others were extravagant . The smaller Christmases were generally more memorable. My parents were frugal. A second hand scooter and wagon bought and repainted is still new to the receiver (me).


#10

[quote="dconklin, post:8, topic:217269"]
We do the same - with an added touch or two. Each year has a theme and we do not draw names. We simply draw numbers to see who picks first. There are rules about stealing and such. Last year was "as seen on TV". It was hilarious! I just missed out on getting the Snuggie. Actually, my wife got it, so I can use it when she isn't. This year's theme will be gift cards.

[/quote]

So everyone buys a gift and then it's like a white elephant? You all take turns picking gifts? That sounds like a hoot, really!


#11

[quote="arvgreen, post:1, topic:217269"]
OurShould we have a rule of no store-bought gifts? I. . . ..

[/quote]

you can't unilaterally impose any "rule" on what is supposed to be a voluntary family activity. what you can do is contact the family members involved, share your own concerns without using any language that judges, condemns or comments on the practices or preferences of other family members, and ask for input and suggestions for this year's family gathering. If it comes across as you laying down the law or saying "if we don't play my my rules I am not participating" the firestorm you ignite will destroy any positive intent you had. There is no rule against honesty
Jake and I are still recovering from the economy and cannot be as generous financially as we would like, and from our limited resources really want to focus on giving something to the children
something to Mom and Dad
some collective gift each family can enjoy together
or whatever your preference is.

you can also be honest about not wanting your own children to have too high expectations, lose the meaning of Christmas in the gift hooplah etc., and voice concerns about the environment or whatever else is at the top of your list

we frankly told our children we cannot, and would not even if we could afford it, participate in the ever-escalating gift-giving program initiated by their in-laws, and henceforce we will be giving a family gift (annual membership to institution of their choosing that is good in multiple locations--zoo, science center, art museum whatever). we also bowed out of the birthday thing, which also had become competetive, and do "unbirthdays", monetary gifts to each child at set times of the year when we receive the bulk of our income, for the parents to spend or save as they deem appropriate.

our kids and their in-laws already think we are weird so no problema


#12

[quote="puzzleannie, post:11, topic:217269"]
you can't unilaterally impose any "rule" on what is supposed to be a voluntary family activity. what you can do is contact the family members involved, share your own concerns without using any language that judges, condemns or comments on the practices or preferences of other family members, and ask for input and suggestions for this year's family gathering. If it comes across as you laying down the law or saying "if we don't play my my rules I am not participating" the firestorm you ignite will destroy any positive intent you had. There is no rule against honesty
Jake and I are still recovering from the economy and cannot be as generous financially as we would like, and from our limited resources really want to focus on giving something to the children
something to Mom and Dad
some collective gift each family can enjoy together
or whatever your preference is.

you can also be honest about not wanting your own children to have too high expectations, lose the meaning of Christmas in the gift hooplah etc., and voice concerns about the environment or whatever else is at the top of your list

we frankly told our children we cannot, and would not even if we could afford it, participate in the ever-escalating gift-giving program initiated by their in-laws, and henceforce we will be giving a family gift (annual membership to institution of their choosing that is good in multiple locations--zoo, science center, art museum whatever). we also bowed out of the birthday thing, which also had become competetive, and do "unbirthdays", monetary gifts to each child at set times of the year when we receive the bulk of our income, for the parents to spend or save as they deem appropriate.

our kids and their in-laws already think we are weird so no problema

[/quote]

I agree. It is not for us to impose our will. We can still live by our own values. While expensive gifts may easily be afforded by one person, this is not true for everybody. Don't compete with the family member who has more. If they want to give extravagant gifts, let them. It is their money.
I come from a large family. It was never expected that we should give gifts to every niece, nephew, or cousin. To ask how much something costs was considered rude. Gifts should come from the heart. A lopsided candlestick made in school may mean more than the latest flat screen TV to both the giver and the receiver. I might choose one family member, for no particular reason, and give that brother or sister a gift. A table game can be given as a family gift to be enjoyed by all.
As we approach Christmas, it is not unusual to be asked, "Do you have all your shopping done?" I could almost always say yes. Instead of looking at Christmas as a shopping season, why not shop year round. I would buy the gift during the birth month of the particular person I had chosen and then send it to him/her for Christmas.

For several years, my mother would send Christmas checks. She lived in a different state. If she knew of a particular need, she would say to use the money for that purpose. I would share how I spent mine, whether for a new set of dishes or as the registration fee for a mountain camping trip. She liked the idea of my spending the money on something "non-materialistic."


#13

I must add that although I appreciate Christmas cookies.....they are not cheap. I learned years ago watching a friend knit a sweater, that I could find the same thing...or close to it...for a lot less money than the time and effort plus materials she put into it and, frankly, made better.

I shop all year looking for really nice things on sale. I usually pick things up right after a holiday for the next year. We all do it in the family so no one is insulted nor should they be because the gifts are quality from quality stores.


#14

[quote="TheRealJuliane, post:10, topic:217269"]
So everyone buys a gift and then it's like a white elephant? You all take turns picking gifts? That sounds like a hoot, really!

[/quote]

It is so much fun! Both mine and my wife's families are filled with a bunch of characters. Yeah, everyone just buys one inexpensive gift. The fun is in trying to get something unique and especially in the gift exchange itself. Lots of good memories!


#15

[quote="TheRealJuliane, post:7, topic:217269"]
What about pooling the family money usually spent on gifts for family members and contribute to a charity of your choosing? This is a wonderful time to do that since the economy is down and lot of nonprofits are really struggling.

I like Cross International because almost all their intake is put into missions, not administration. They were in Haiti long before the earthquake.

[/quote]

This reminds me of something a friend of mine and her family has done for the past few years. In the past they had exchanged gifts among the adults. No one needs anything and everyone has $$$ to buy what they want, so they decided to each donate the $50 that they would spend in the gift exchange to a local charity. Of course they still have a nice Christmas and get together for fun and good food and to celebrate the birth of Christ.


#16

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