When What You Do for Gifts at Christmas with Extended Family Has to Change

by | Dec 9, 2019 | Life | 37 comments

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Has gift-giving at Christmas with your wider family become a little ridiculous or impossible?

Or is Christmas itself with your extended family become too big? This post is going up a little bit late today because I’ve been under the weather for a few days (I’m still just recovering and not feeling the best). But I had a few thoughts I wanted to share. With Rebecca and Connor having a baby now, our family has another generation. So Christmas is no longer getting together with the grandparents and the grandkids (and us middle generation); I’m now the grandma. And that may mean that we want to do different Christmas traditions. A few years ago we also changed the way that we did gift-giving in our extended family. But that can be a big source of stress at Christmas. Do you still buy siblings Christmas presents when you’re adults? What about parents? What about when the siblings get married? Do you then buy the spouse a present, too? Is there a value limit? We ran into issues with our extended family because some family members would get gifts for everyone, but some wouldn’t. And then a few years ago we changed up everything. And in the process, I wished I had raised the issue ten years earlier, because we were all thinking it, but none of us knew what to do. In this post, I’d like to just give some different options for how to do gift giving, and then you can take a deep breath, get some courage, and raise it with your extended families, too! Ways to do Gift Giving with Extended Family at Christmas

7 different models of Christmas gift-giving for extended families:

The Everyone-Gets-a-Gift

Everybody still buys a gift for everybody. Often this is the default. You grow up as a teenager buying your sister and brother a present, but then you get to be no longer teenagers anymore, but you keep it up. But then you get married. Do you still keep it up? So you do, and just wait to see what your siblings do. They still bought gifts as well. And then this goes on, and on, and on… The Pros: Everybody feels included. People with gift-giving as their love language feel valued. The Cons: It gets really expensive, and often a little bit ridiculous. Everybody is buying stuff for each other that we could just buy for ourselves. It can seem a little pointless.
Gift giving with extended family at Christmas

Katie with her cousin Jessica at Christmas

The Everyone-Gets-A-Gift but There’s a Limit

You still buy for everyone, but there’s a limit (say $20 or $40). The Pros: Sometimes the gifts can be interesting, especially if there’s a lower limit, because you spend all year looking for something really interesting or quirky that’s under $20, and what you buy can still be kind of interesting, because looking for something that’s cheap often means you find some amazing vegetable peeler or some really quirky back massager or something. The Cons: You’re still shopping for a lot of people, and you’re still spending a relatively lot of money. And do parents only get the cheap gifts? What if parents used to give you great gifts?

The Pick-a-Name

Everyone reaches in a hat at Christmas and picks the person they buy for the following Christmas. There’s a limit (say $50), but you can keep a look out all year. We did this one year, and one sister-in-law bought another sister-in-law a beautiful Christmas ornament with a picture of her dog who had passed away. A sister-in-law bought Becca and Connor a night in the Escape Room in Ottawa. It was actually pretty great. The Pros: You get a gift that’s tailored towards you. The Cons: It can be hard to buy a good gift for someone you don’t know very well. Again, what do you do with parents? Do they stop buying gifts?

The Secret Gift Exchange

This one goes by several different names, but everyone brings a gift, wrapped, of a certain value (say between $30 and $50). Then you pick numbers to see who goes first. The first person chooses a gift and opens it. The next person can either steal THAT gift or opens another. If a person gets their gift stolen, they open another gift.  And it keeps going. The rules we’ve always used are: You can’t steal the same gift twice in a row; and once a gift has been stolen three times it’s settled and can’t be stolen again. The Pros: It’s actually a game, so it’s not just everyone sitting around opening stuff. You can buy pretty funny gifts to make it interesting. The Cons: Often the gifts are still not what you would have spent money on yourself, and you still run into problems with gifts for parents.

The Children-Get-Gifts-but-No-Adults-Do

You restrict gift-giving to just the kids, and once they hit 18 (or they’re done college, your choice) they stop getting presents. This way adults aren’t spending money on each other, buying stuff that you could have bought for yourselves. This is what we’ve always done on my mother’s side of the family, and it’s worked great. We’ve combined this with charity giving as well, and it’s just more in line with what we’re like, plus none of us is particularly gift-giving. The Pros: It’s a lot cheaper, and the ones who honestly don’t have money and who actually appreciate gifts still do get them. The Cons: The adults with gift-giving as a love language are hung out to dry. And, again, what do you do with parents?
Extended Family Christmas Gift Exchange

Rebecca and Connor on Christmas morning

The Pool-Your-Money-And-Have-an-Event

Another idea is to take the money that you would have spent on Christmas gifts for each other, and pool that money so that you can all do something together as a family and make some memories. Maybe you go out to eat for Christmas at a restaurant if no house will hold you (this also makes it easier to escape if you don’t want to stay all day). Maybe you all go bowling or go skiing, depending on your budget. This is what the “cousins” in our family have decided to do, rather than presents for each other. My kids’ generation are all very close in age. The five of them are within 3 1/2 years of each other. And now that they’re adults, many have significant others (or spouses). They’re all also short on money because they’re young and they’re all trying to either pay off student debt, get through school without debt, or save for something big. But they’re also quite good friends who don’t see each other very often, and they want to get together outside of just the big family event. So for the last few years they get together to have a big board game tournament at Christmas, and they take the money they would have spent on presents and instead buy snacks and hors d’oeuvres. It’s actually a lot of fun!
Loving Your Extended Family

Board games with the cousins in 2016!

The Pros: You actually spend time together and get to talk and make memories. The Cons: It can be hard to find one activity that everyone in the family would want to do.

The Pool-Your-Money-And-Give-to-Charity

If your family is big on giving to charity, you can all get together, throw money into a hat, figure out how much you have altogether, and then look through those charity “gift catalogues” where you can buy 3 billy goats for a family in India or a well for a family in Liberia or soccer uniforms for a team in Kenya and you can all together choose that. Partners International, World Vision, and many other charities put out such catalogues. The Pros: Your money goes to something important, and you can feel good about that. The Cons: If it’s not clear how much you should contribute, some may not contribute much and then feel judged; or if you put an amount everyone should put in, some may feel pressured. Also, then no one gets a gift.

Thoughts when deciding which gift-giving method to choose for extended family

The hard part comes when some people in your family really love gift giving and have gift giving as  your love language. I don’t; they’re like negative on the scale to me. But when people really enjoy it, to take away gift-giving can be jarring for them. Also, not wanting to buy gifts for siblings/cousins and in-laws is one thing; but parents can be different, because parents often still want to buy for kids, and still appreciate presents. In my experience, the younger generation seems much less wedded to gift giving than the older ones, and the younger ones are often eager to dispense with it (though perhaps that’s just my experience). But there does come a time when buying gifts for so many people that you don’t know well at Christmas becomes too expensive and too stressful, and makes it hard to enjoy the season with your own nuclear family. So sometimes you do have to figure out something new to do.

What about the bigger picture of family get-togethers?

This is what we’re also struggling with right now. When we started having the Gregoires all get together for Christmas, for instance, when I first married Keith, there were 7 of us (Keith’s parents, three brothers, and me). Then one by one everyone paired off, adding 3 more. Then the kids came, adding 5 more. Then the kids paired off, so that our numbers are now at 21 if everyone is there. That’s a much bigger production. You can’t all sit at one table. It’s hard to fit everyone in one house! Not just that, but now with grandkids having significant others, that’s a lot of OTHER family’s schedules that have to be worked around. In our family group, it used to be that the kids would have Gregoire dinner and Wray dinner, plus our nuclear family dinner. But now, for Katie, for instance, there’s Gregoire dinner and Wray dinner and Emerson dinner and then our nuclear family dinner. That’s 4 dinners. (Granted, our nuclear family one is usually leftovers while in pyjamas all day and playing board games, but I’m totally wedded to that. That’s the most important part of Christmas for me!). And at least Katie doesn’t have any divorces in her family. Add some divorces, and then you’d multiply everything by two.
Christmas Board Game Tradition

Playing board games on Christmas!

It’s fine right now, but I can see how, in the future, as more little babies are born, something’s going to have to give. What I’m thinking is that we’ll have a Gregoire get-together in the summer, and at Christmas, Keith and I will still get together with his parents, but the next generation may not even come home. We may go to them. So those are all my thoughts and ideas. And now I’d love to know: Has this become a big problem in your extended family? How do you navigate gifts? What about getting together at Christmas? Let’s talk in the comments!  

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Sheila Wray Gregoire


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Sheila Wray Gregoire

Author at Bare Marriage

Sheila is determined to help Christians find biblical, healthy, evidence-based help for their marriages. And in doing so, she's turning the evangelical world on its head, challenging many of the toxic teachings, especially in her newest book The Great Sex Rescue. She’s an award-winning author of 8 books and a sought-after speaker. With her humorous, no-nonsense approach, Sheila works with her husband Keith and daughter Rebecca to create podcasts and courses to help couples find true intimacy. Plus she knits. All the time. ENTJ, straight 8

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  1. Nathan

    A few years ago, we decided, as an extended family, to do the “kids get gifts but not adults”. Mainly, it was because most of our “gifts” were just Gift Cards.

    And here’s hoping you get better, Sheila! We just got over some stuff, too.

  2. Going to be a hard holiday

    I would throw in this- please please please consult everyone when making changes to large family gatherings. This has happened this year only no one really took into account how it would affect my family. My husband is the oldest of his generation by a lot and so my kids were the first of the next generation. But he still had siblings and cousins who were early teens when my oldest child was born. So we were expected to conform to the way they did holidays regardless of how hard it was for us since it was only us with babies. Now there are several married with preschoolers and under and everything has changed. But that change has left my kids (still being elementary-19) with suddenly having all their traditions gone. This has been so hard to deal with- lots of sadness and trying to make new traditions. I regret going along with all their traditions for so long because I believe it robbed my kids of traditions that I could have established for them that wouldn’t have suddenly changed. In the midst of all this change it has come to light that we have been left out of gatherings as well. So this close knit family we thought we had, isn’t really true. So now I’m trying to determine how to guide my children through this change and create new traditions that they enjoy and are centered around who we are as a family.

    The ideas in this post are good ones. I would add to also look forward and determine what will be best for your family. And then when working on a change for large family- please try to understand where everyone is coming from also.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      That’s so true! It is hard when you’re the first to have kids, because you do get sidelined, and then if everyone else has kids all at the same time, they’re naturally focused on their own kids. I hope you can find your own traditions!

    • Lea

      My mom is really struggling this year with a change my SIL made that leaves us out of christmas day… I think we have great alternate plans worked out but changing traditions and leaving people out can be really hard. (It didn’t bother me nearly as much except that I had to talk my mom down – but this is part of a larger issue not just christmas)

  3. CharitySolvesMostProblems

    My siblings and I have had to figure this out to some extent over the past few years. None of us are married or have kids, yet, but the gift giving between siblings has gotten a little monotonous. I like the idea of the siblings/brothers and sisters in law having one way of doing gifts (whatever works, depending on consensus) but having a “let’s all get together and get mom and dad something great” mentality for parents. Tickets to dinner and a show or a nice weekend vacation from all the grown “kids” for parents . . . $20 maximum for siblings (or no gift, just a warm hug) . . . and quirky gifts for the kids from extended family- nothing that they would have on a wish list, so it’s always a guessing game (like funny socks or a weird toy)!

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      That’s great! I like that. I actually may mention that parents thing to my in-laws!

  4. Cynthia

    We celebrate different holidays, but “where do we go for holidays?” was a MAJOR point of stress in the early years of my marriage, as each side was insulted that we weren’t attending the same dinners that we had done in the past (because we couldn’t clone ourselves).

    We eventually resolved things when we moved to our current house and announced that WE would host the big holiday dinners from now on – with both sides invited. We deliberately looked for a house with an open plan where we could add folding tables and chairs to accommodate a crowd (we can squeeze up to 40), and now everyone knows that this is our new tradition. Both of our parents have since downsized into condos, so it was time. We also do the dinners potluck, so that it isn’t overwhelming.

    We’ll see how this changes in the next 10 years or so. My kids are just a bit younger than yours and still single, but I’ll have to share holidays at some point.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I actually enjoyed hosting the last few years! I’m not hosting this year for the Gregoire side, and I think I’ll miss that. It’s nice when you can combine the sides, isn’t it?

      • Cynthia

        Yes. We are truly blessed that we were able to buy a home that allowed for us to do this, and also that all sides of the family get along well! My sister’s children have grown up with my husband’s nieces and nephews, and my ILs literally moved to the building beside my parents. I realize that this degree of togetherness is not common, but it is really nice. The effort of making a big combined family dinner is nothing compared to the ease of having no stress over picking one side over the other.

  5. Blessed Wife

    So my family is huge. We started out with a name draw, but as my generation started having lots of kids, that got to be unmanageable.

    A few years ago my cousin had this great idea- each person picks some small item they really love, gets five of it and wraps it. It can be a nifty gadget, or if you’re broke, a handwritten recipe you love, dried herbs you grew, or whatever. The items are sorted into stockings, with each person getting roughly the same number of things but no two stockings ending up exactly alike. Then we all go through our stockings together, and each person tells what they contributed and why that thing is special to them.

    This works great too when space, time, or money (or all three) are at a premium!

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Oh, that’s really sweet! I like that a lot.

  6. KellyK

    I buy gifts for my nieces & nephew, my parents, and my siblings. For my siblings are usually gift them with a restaurant gift card because I know they like to dine out but they are strapped for cash.

    My brother in particular, because he and his wife have a special needs child. My brother works a second job in addition to his primary teaching job so they can pay off some bills. Which doesn’t leave them much money for date nights, etc. one of their favorite restaurants is Texas roadhouse so I usually give them a $50 gift card at Christmas.My brother in particular, because he and his wife have a special needs child. My brother works a second job in addition to his primary teaching job so they can pay off some bills. Which doesn’t leave them much money for date nights, etc. one of their favorite restaurants is Texas roadhouse so I usually give them a $50 gift card at Christmas .

    It’s hard to buy for my parents because my dad is 78 and my mom is 69. They have everything they need. But I will usually get my mom some make up because she wears it daily and I know it is something that she’ll use. As for my dad? I might buy him a new T-shirt or something because he lives in T-shirts

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I think that’s lovely about your brother, and does bring in a dynamic that I didn’t talk about. When someone in your family does have real financial hardship, then I can see gifts making a lot of sense. When everyone makes a good income, then it’s less so (because why wouldn’t you just buy yourself what you really wanted?).

      • Anonymous

        Well- when you are married to someone that doesn’t want you to spend any money that isn’t absolutely a need, then gift giving becomes important because it’s the only time you can get things that are just fun and just for you.

        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          That’s very true.

  7. Carrie

    About 25 years ago we realized that with 7 kids, 5 married so far, and grandkids on the way that gift giving would grow way too much. So we started rotating names. We started buying for the person just older than us, then 2 older, etc. Everyone gets parents gifts- unless I choose a big gift for all of us to go in on (others could, but never do).
    This worked especially well when I decided to make quilts for Christmas. Each year for 6 years I made a quilt for a sibling. Quilts are expensive to make, but since I was only doing 1 per year, it was doable.
    My husband’s family is a different story. We usually buy his 3 brothers each a $5 gift. They don’t give us anything, so I don’t feel cheap.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I love the quilt idea! That’s a real treasure and family heirloom.

  8. Nathan

    Before we switched to “kids only”, we tried a “family unit” secret santa, where one smaller family unit would buy gifts for one other smaller family unit.

    That didn’t work due to confusion and the fact that some had more kids than others, so one group would up buying more things than others.

  9. Anon

    In my family, it’s pretty much left up to each individual or couple. One of my uncles & aunts decided a few years back that they weren’t giving any gifts. A couple of people still gave gifts to them, but they got quite upset and said any gifts given to them in future would be returned, as they felt ‘pressured’ to give back. I thought that was so sad. The whole idea of giving is surely that you give without expectation of return. So I don’t get the whole ‘you gave me x so I must give you y’ idea. I guess in some families, the idea of equal giving is so ingrained that you have to have a group decision about giving. But in general, I would say just do what you think is right – if you’re worried that someone may buy you a gift and then feel cheated not to receive one, simply announce ahead of time that you’ve decided not to give gifts or to give gifts of no more than xxx amount. Then they can choose for themselves whether to match you or just keep doing their own thing.

    We don’t spend huge amounts on anyone, but usually someone who is a bit more hard up than usual will get more generous presents – and usually vouchers, food or clothing, so something that will also help to save them having to buy stuff themselves.

    • Arwen

      Anon, you’re right the idea of giving is to give without expectation of return. But trust me on this mos people who give 99% of them are keeping track in their hearts and actually have a small incline that you will do likewise. If someone has made it clear that they don’t want something, since we don’t know their financial situation back home, it is important their boundaries are respected. I come from an extremely large family, i’m not in a financial position to buy gift for 85 people! I also had a cousin who used to give me gifts “without expecting anything in return” and when we had a falling out she made sure to remind me how much she spent on me throughout the years. Ironic!

      Many people run their mouths because talk is cheap. So when somebody opts out because experience has shown them that most humans are two faced hypocrites, kind like when Jesus said, “with their mouths they praise me but their hearts are far from me” the same can be applied to humans who say one thing and deliver another. I would be extremely offended too is someone shoved material possession down my throat when i have made it very clear that i don’t want them! So i sympathize with your aunt & uncle. People need to seriously respect others boundaries! No matter how “sad’ it makes one feel. It’s not sad to them.

      • Anon

        Wow! I seem to have really touched a nerve with my comment. To clarify, we did not ‘shove material possessions down their throats’! The moment we realized they didn’t want to receive gifts, we stopped giving. But that first Christmas, when they said they were no longer giving gifts, it didn’t even occur to us that this meant they didn’t want to receive gifts either – simply because, as a wider family, we don’t give in expectation of return. So to label us as ‘two faced hypocrites’ who ‘say one thing and deliver another’ is a little harsh! My comment was simply that I thought it was sad that gift-giving should be viewed as an obligation, not as a joy. (And by the way, their decision not to give gifts had nothing to do with their financial position – they are the wealthiest members of our extended family!)

      • Lea

        Sometimes people just dont want more ‘stuff’ too. I like to give consumables to friends/coworkers because at least there is something you can use. I also like to make gifts.

        But for family sometimes you end up just giving cash (i dont like gift cards so much) and that doesn’t seem very christmasy.

  10. Jane Eyre

    I would be careful about when and how to broach this. It wasn’t a big deal, but my husband was irked when it was suggested this year that only the kids get presents.

    His two brothers have been married for many, many years, and both have two kids each. So he’s faithfully bought 8 presents for them every year: 2 brothers, 2 wives, 4 kids in total. Now, he feels like the moment he gets a wife and has a kid on the way, it’s “too much” for everyone to get presents for his family.

    He didn’t say anything, nor did I, but it did rub him the wrong way. (Ultimate conclusion was to focus gift-giving on the kids and do token presents for the couples.) Also, I’m flummoxed as to how to put together any sort of list: it feels weird to ask for presents for my unborn child (outside of a baby shower), but parents aren’t getting normal presents. Do we put together a list for our unborn son, separately from our own? That’s kinda weird. So…. yeah. Awkward.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Yeah, that is awkward. I get that. When you’re on the younger end, I think you do miss out.

      My cousin faithfully bought presents for my kids every Christmas because we did Christmas all together, but then she got married and moved away, and I haven’t been as faithful at Christmas presents for her kids. That’s actually reminded me that I should do something about that!

      • Jane Eyre


        The issue is that if the person who wanted to move to giving gifts only to the kids had waited a few years to make the suggestion, it would be less awkward. But when the suggestion is made just as the last one to get married is expecting a baby, it sort of looks like, “We never had to buy more than one present for you and yours, and we’re not going to start now,” or maybe “It was fine for you to buy all these presents when you were in grad school and we were working professionals, but now we don’t want to buy a whole slew of presents.”

        And it’s so awkward to solicit Christmas presents on behalf of a child who hasn’t been born yet.

        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          Yep. Totally get that. That’s super awkward.

  11. Ina

    One idea we’ve liked is family gifts. Instead of three things for a brother, sister in law, and kid we’d buy one all ages thing for the family. A new board game (they get expensive!) or a new sled. Something they either suggest or something everyone can enjoy.

    Or, for minimalists like myself, all the little familie putting money in together for an experience like a few nights all together at a cabin over the holidays

  12. Jessica

    I’m one of 4 kids, 3 of us are married, and 2 of us have kids (6 in all). We all live in the same area as our parents and we do Christmas together every year. So we’ve tried a few ways of doing things, drawing names, drawing couples (my single brother being his own unit). Then last year we drew couples, and I drew one of the married couples (my sister and BIL) but I really wanted to get my single brother something because it’s just him and he doesn’t have anyone buying for him in his home, and then I had a good idea for my other brother’s wife, so then I was getting something for everyone but my married brother and I could hardly leave him out so we got something for everyone. Oops. My SIL and I like to shop for everyone and I think my sister does too but sometimes struggles with ideas for people. Yeah, most of what we give each other is stuff we could all buy ourselves. But most of us have Amazon wish lists and I find that we put stuff on there that we’d like to have, but tends to get sidelined for the other things that come up in life.

    What does help with us is that we only have my FIL on my husband’s side, and my siblings’ in-laws aren’t super plentiful either. So, it works to shop for everyone. If more kids are born, we may dial it back, but we’ll see.

  13. Rachel C

    Growing up, all of us cousins on my mom’s side, and there were 10 of us, had a name draw gift exchange. As we each turned 18, we were taken off of the list.
    Now, my sister and her husband send gifts for my kids. But she understands that I have less funds available than she does, so I don’t buy a gift for her son. When I can, I send a check or gift card to them that they can spend on whatever or whoever they wish. I also (after one more solvent year of sending lots of boxes out of state to parents and siblings) never buy physical presents for family members if I would have to mail them. At the very least, I do send a Christmas card and a copies of my oldest son’s school picture and a candid shot of my youngest son to all the parents and sibling groups. (That’s my sister and family, my husband’s brother and his wife, and my husband’s sister and her family.) My husband’s siblings give how they wish to. His sister doesn’t buy us anything other than the year we were at her house for Christmas. His brother usually only buys gifts for the kids, and if they can afford it, they give us adults gift cards. Now, my parents live nearby, so I do buy them a small gift, but my husband’s mom and her husband as well as my husband’s dad and his wife live in other states so they come under the no sending big packages out of state. It has worked out well for us. Also, we can’t usually travel, so we eat Christmas dinner with my parents, but we do any other activities as just us four.

  14. Sharlizma

    We celebrate Christmas with extended family and it can range from 30-45 people. A few years ago I suggested we do two hats, one with the adults names and one with the kids name. Adults pick one name from each hat and we set the spending limit in October. We like this because We didn’t think kids only was fair. It seems my family is shifting towards getting married later, and it wasn’t cool to leave the adults out. For next year I may propose doing one name twice if there’s someone that has had financial hardship that year. The person that gets her brother a gift card made a great point around this.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      That’s a great idea!

  15. Arwen

    Sheila, in the culture i grew up in we don’t do gift giving for Christmas. Instead everybody gets together, eats, hangout and play games. I’ll be adopting that into my future family life. But from the list you have written i really like the, only children get gifts until 18 and just having family get together and playing board/other games. I’m like you gift giving means NOTHING to me. I have never gotten birthday presents since we didn’t do that gowning up. I’m also the type that i need you to tell me what you want and i’ll buy it for you, if i can afford it. I don’t have time for guessing games. I just love Christmas and all the festivities that accompany it! My FAVORITE holiday by far!

  16. unmowngrass

    Be careful with this. Hard as it might be to have conversations about dropping gift giving, picking it back up will be even harder. So DON’T change it for financial reasons, because when your circumstances change again you’ll be stuck. And, outside of basic needs, what is money for other than for investing into relationships anyway? Surely buying gifts is a big part of that?? Just… buy everybody a present. Even if it costs only £2. Buy SOMETHING. Or when you have more, spend more. But if you, individually, value the person, individually, then buy them something, individually. Don’t dishonour your relationships by making it about logic, or greed (“we could get better stuff if we pooled our resources to get one gift each from the whole family”). Don’t even sign your presents from both in a couple. Just… buy a present for each person you personally value. Have your spouse do the same. Some of those people will be the same people. That’s fine. Isn’t it fine?

    Don’t forget… it’s easy enough to lose relationships without trying through the years. Why would you ever do anything to deliberately cut one off, or partially cut it off by downgrading who you value enough to buy a gift for??

    Sorry, that probably turned into a bit of a rant, I just don’t think it is at all a good idea.

    • Anon

      It doesn’t even have to be something you buy – I’m probably the most hard up in my extended family, and one year I made everyone Christmas biscuits, another year, everyone got a jar of homemade jam or pickle!

      • Lea

        I make things like bath salts and body butter for friends and some family members…Seems to be well received, is consumable and doesn’t break the bank.

        I think the single people sometimes get the hardest side of the ‘no gift giving’ coin because they aren’t getting gifts from SO, multiple families, in laws, etc – at this age I dont mind so much because I have plenty of funds to buy myself stuff but there have been times when it felt sad.

        I do have a family member who is like a sister and we give each other gifts and those are probably the most meaningful because they are just a collection of a few fun things we thought the other would like.

        • Anon

          What a lovely idea – the ‘homemade’ bath salts you buy are really expensive and not the kind of thing you’d ever buy for yourself, so I think your idea is a real win – personal because it’s made by you AND the kind of luxury item people wouldn’t be likely to buy themselves.

  17. YetAnotherPhil

    I’m late to the party on this one, but our family does something that’s a combination of a few of these. For my siblings and their spouses, we not only pick a name (I use random.org to randomize a list, the only rule being nobody buys for their spouse) and set a dollar limit ($25), but there’s also a theme. One year it was books. Another year it was consumables (whatever it is has to be used up as you use the present). This year it’s wearables.

    We have a lot of fun with it- sometimes the gifts are just silly, sometimes they’re very thoughtful, but we always look forward to it.


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