Downscaling Gift Giving is Freeing

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Posted 11/15/2012 by writermom1 in NSBR Board

Thrift Whisperer

PeaNut 114,407
November 2003
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Posted: 11/15/2012 6:13:44 AM
I am blessed with a wonderful group of extended family and dear friends, co workers, etc.

Over the years we have singularly and sometimes in group decision ceased to exchange Christmas gifts.

ILs went to a chosen name exchange - kids only.

My BF/Cousin and I chose experiences and plan a fun group outing with us and our kids rather than a gift exchange.

When I read people stressed about buying for dozens of people or more I feel for them. I think I would be overwhelmed.

I shop for my immediate family, one niece and three grandparents. 7 people.

I realize it won't work for everyone but if anyone has considered paring down their list we have found that not exchanging with cousins, siblings, in-laws etc has been freeing to all. We share the love, experiences, and gatherings and don't miss the gifts.

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Proudly Canadian

PeaNut 43,061
July 2002
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Posted: 11/15/2012 6:19:53 AM
Sounds like you found a good balance. I can't do that. I hate the thought of not giving someone a gift. I love finding that perfect item, whether it's for family or friends. I love my long list, I love the chase of finding the gift, I love wrapping the gifts and I love seeing the reaction of the receiver. Downscaling gifts would be very stressful for me.

To me, Christmas is all about the gifts. It's all about giving gifts or tokens that tell the people around me that I care for them and that I am thinking of them and that I love and appreciate my relationship with them. To me, Christmas without gifts wouldn't be Christmas.

But I am aware that I am not likely the norm. Everyone has their own vision. Mine involves a lot of gifts.


PeaNut 439,705
September 2009
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Posted: 11/15/2012 6:27:00 AM
Oh how I wish our family, either side, would do this!!! But no, 25 people are on the list. The problem is, the other adults we buy for don't have near as many to do for themselves, (like 7-8 to buy for) so they don't want to downsize.
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PeaNut 246,234
January 2006
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Loc: Indiana

Posted: 11/15/2012 6:33:22 AM
I have pared my list down to 35 people. I love doing it, but it is overwhelming at this point, and a lot of $$. This year I am doing something different, just trying to figure out exactly what.

Serendi-PEA-ty Storyteller

PeaNut 16,712
June 2001
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Posted: 11/15/2012 6:37:25 AM
We had a hard time with this and mostly it's DH = I'm more than willing to reduce. The grown kids in the family finally do a name exchange and that's helped them a lot.
We still buy for our children and their spouses, all the grandchildren. Where I insisted on cutting was the grandchildren's spouses and children. We just do a check for the family.
Let's see 7 children - spouses - total 12
Grandchildren we buy gifts for 10
If we add in step- grandchildren and their family(we do a family ck for them) 6
grandchildren that are married - 2 - so checks .

It just got to be that I was not enjoying the season much and this is making it a lot easier.

It's still a lot of people but I also know it's really hard to buy things when some of them are really far away and you have no idea what they can use.

I've also cut ot any secret santa, ornament excanges and etc.

Janet M

Peaing From Podunk

PeaNut 45,443
August 2002
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Posted: 11/15/2012 6:49:11 AM
One of the best things I ever did was to quit buying gifts just because it was a certain date. I do buy for my 5 grandkids but that is it. I hate getting obligatory gifts too. I can only shake my head at and wonder about all the billions of $$$$ that are spent because you 'have' to get someone a gift they neither want or need. Seems we could feed a lot of hungry people with the money that gets wasted on things to shove in a drawer or closet.


Mother Goose's Meandering Mind


PeaNut 198,489
March 2005
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Posted: 11/15/2012 7:29:47 AM
I have the shortest Christmas list and I love it. We only buy for DH's side of the family; mom, grandma, and sister. Of course we buy for our DD and for each other as well. The last few years with my immediate family, we just ended up exchanging gift cards which was a waste IMHO.

My MIL complains about the amount of gifts she has to buy every single year. She buys for everyone, even past acquaintances. I've told her over and over again that she's really just wasting money. Most of the time the gifts aren't reciprocated. Her excuse is that she's been buying them for years and now they expect a gift from her.

Ancient Ancestor of Pea

PeaNut 80,815
April 2003
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Posted: 11/15/2012 7:34:14 AM
I agree. Though in our case some (not all) of the list being cut down is due to people no longer getting along or getting together for the holidays. So that part kind of sucks, though it's also more relaxing not having a half dozen different family gatherings over two or three days.

But some of it was initially agreement to cut down etc. We used to buy for around 25 people. Now it's around eight. Much less stressful in regards to time and money. Honestly we just flat out couldn't afford to do it these days. Our income has been cut almost in half since those days.

I should say that eight is what I shop for and includes dd and dh. He buys for me also of course.


Mom to Lia Grace age 13


PeaNut 294,285
January 2007
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Posted: 11/15/2012 7:34:22 AM
Stopping the gift giving was so freeing on an emotional level! No more stressing out.

I buy for my children, DH, DIL and grands, plus one dear friend. Easy!

I also participate in 2 adopt-a-family organizations in place of extended family giving.


Ancient Ancestor of Pea

PeaNut 302,969
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Posted: 11/15/2012 8:58:04 AM
My family is pretty much all of modest means so we have never given gifts to all family members and extended family and neighbors and ....on and on and on. I often find myself shaking my head at how many people others feel the need to buy for. But, of course, whatever works for you is fine, but I can't imagine the pressure that puts on the holidays.

Hey! Where's my theme music?!?


PeaNut 54,403
November 2002
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Loc: Washington State

Posted: 11/15/2012 9:00:55 AM
We stopped buying a lot of gifts. Mostly we do hand-made Christmas now.

It's great!

I really only "buy" for my BFF now, and even that is home-made this year. Not planned, just worked out that way.


PeaNut 89,393
June 2003
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Posted: 11/15/2012 9:04:02 AM
My list isn't too bad:
1 niece


Don't shop...Adopt.

PeaNut 263,696
June 2006
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Posted: 11/15/2012 9:13:00 AM
Our Christmas list is as follows:

1. Grandson

He lives in California so we send our DS and DIL some $$$ to get something for him from us.

That is it. We stopped stressing over it years ago. It feels really good.


While we may never
know the pain or
struggles of a rescue dog
the love they show
is unlike any other...

Thrift Ninja

PeaNut 226,011
October 2005
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Posted: 11/15/2012 9:43:04 AM
We only have about seven people on our list, so it's really no biggie. My family doesn't celebrate Xmas, so it's just dh's family and our dear friends.

Everyone else gets a card and some almond roca.

Lost and Found in Pea-land

PeaNut 138,098
March 2004
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Loc: NC but wishing I was somewhere else

Posted: 11/15/2012 9:48:46 AM
We only buy gifts for our family. All of our other relatives live hundreds/thousands of miles away. That being said, I still find Christmas chaotic (we still have 4 kids at home).


PeaNut 452,927
January 2010
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Posted: 11/15/2012 10:13:47 AM
I only buy for DH and 3 kids. and for Godmother of one of my children..and I stress out every year.. mainly because of time constraints, money.. and I'm not very good at picking out good gifts.

Mother of Benedict Cumberbatch's love child

PeaNut 279,995
October 2006
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Posted: 11/15/2012 10:14:34 AM
We do my kids (2), something for each other, my parents, my nephews (2, my friends kids (3) and dh's niece and nephew. Most of the other kids get gift cards. That's it.

Miss Lerins Momma
Ancient Ancestor of Pea

PeaNut 151,660
June 2004
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Posted: 11/15/2012 10:56:06 AM
We are downscaling bigtime this year. Our big focus is our girls, and then whatever we have left after buying for them we'll use for others (inlaws, neice, nephews, grandparents, etc.) I doubt we'll do a lot, but we just don't have it and no matter what, we're buying for our kids first and foremost.

Trolls *heart* me!!

. cheeky cousin .

PeaNut 158,945
July 2004
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Posted: 11/15/2012 11:15:14 AM
I would like to downscale a bit. Just counted up
about 25 total.

Most are gift cards or items we know the people want--
not random shopping, thankfully, because I am horrible
at that

We end up doing a LOT of price matching in December,
and although it is worth it dollar-wise (or I wouldn't bother)
it takes time.

I purposely didn't sign up to help at school in December
to free up some time as well.

boring + nerdy

PeaNut 52,817
October 2002
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Posted: 11/15/2012 11:24:07 AM
Our family (well, my side of it) did this years ago and we love it. The kids get gifts (but we don't do big piles and encourage "experience" gifts over just more toys), but amongst the adults, we make charitable contributions in honor of each other (each adult picks a charity each year, so it's always to a charity the recipient supports). I know the peas hate that, but we all decided on it together. We revisit it every couple years to see if it's still working for everyone, and no one has wanted to change.

We're all grown adults who live in different states and it was difficult to know what to buy each other, because we didn't know what everyone already had. This works so much better for us.

Every family has different dynamics that have to be taken into account, but for families that are open to the idea of not exchanging gifts, it absolutely can be very freeing.

Our list is just DS, niece, nephew, MIL, FIL, SIL and her husband.


PeaNut 522,402
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Posted: 11/15/2012 1:25:37 PM

One of the best things I ever did was to quit buying gifts just because it was a certain date. I do buy for my 5 grandkids but that is it. I hate getting obligatory gifts too. I can only shake my head at and wonder about all the billions of $$$$ that are spent because you 'have' to get someone a gift they neither want or need. Seems we could feed a lot of hungry people with the money that gets wasted on things to shove in a drawer or closet.

Totally agree.

The only person outside our immediate family that we buy for is my dad.

I'm the only one of my siblings with kids, and it's likely going to stay that way. I don't ever expect them to buy for my kids. We stopped exchanging sibling gifts because it became a gift card exchange, and what's the point of that?

The year we moved to 3 gifts for each of the kids was fantastic and we had a great Christmas that year. This year, we're going a step further and just doing stockings for them (although, as the stockings usually go, they're pretty stuffed) and then they are opening "experience gifts" to be used over the course of the year. Things like bowling night, paint-your-own-pottery and dinner out, a random Tuesday night trip to Chuck E. Cheese, etc. That stuff gets expensive now that we have three kids, and I'd rather we be able to have a really good time together than buy my kids plastic stuff that they already have too much of. DH and I read "It's All Too Much" this year and decided then that we'd default to experience gifts from now on.


PeaNut 572,442
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Posted: 11/16/2012 12:24:09 AM
May be this site will help you find the best gift for support him/her . Have a nice day.


PeaNut 203,642
May 2005
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Posted: 11/16/2012 7:37:00 AM
We stopped exchanging gifts with anyone other than our immediate family when grandkids started arriving. My parents still bought for each of us kids and the grandkids, and my siblings and I still bought for my parents. Of course EVERYONE bought stuff for my oldest DD b/c she was the first grandkid.

But when my sister had her son, she and I stopped exchanging with our kids b/c we just didn't want to go there. The unmarried aunts and uncles still buy for nieces and nephews b/c they like to do it, but the nieces and nephews don't buy gifts for them other than a few small sentimental things.

We stopped doing big extended family gift exchanges at my paternal grandparents in the 80s. We all bought gifts for Grandma (Grandpa died in 1984), but she stopped buying for us. Of course, that didn't stop us from getting together on Christmas Day for a HUGE feast (over 50 people when you counted all the cousins/spouses). My favorite memories are from the times spent together and seeing folks you didn't see any other time of year. I barely remember the gift exchanges.

On the maternal grandparents side, we went to a "drawing" with a $20 limit after my grandpa died (he also died in 1984). That was okay for a while until we had to start worrying about shipping a gift b/c someone wasn't going to be there (the grandkids started getting married and having other family obligations, too). The final straw was the year that almost everyone got a gift card LOL! Why not just exchange $20 bills?

So we started doing the exchange where you draw numbers and everybody gets to steal other people's gifts (dirty Santa? or something like that?) with a gift limit of $5. It eventually evolved to a "white elephant" exchange where you had to bring something from your house, no purchases allowed. Instead of spending $5 on a gift, you were to bring $5 worth of food that the hostess could take to her food pantry. Those exchanges were a hoot!

There were a few years when my mom and her sisters did a fun exchange where they drew names but the gifts had to cost less than fifty cents! They were all big bargain hunters (coupons and yard sales LOL), and oh my did they get creative!

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