(Closed) In-Laws and Gift Giving

posted 13 years ago in Gifts and Registries
Post # 17
236 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: June 2009

I guess I am the minority, or the voice of the other majority that has not been represented yet on this thread. My family loves to pitch in all together to get each other one "nice" (read:expensive) gift rather than multiple small ones, and my FI’s family gets each other small gifts, or none at all.

When we first started dating this really surprised me because gift giving has always been such a huge thing for my family. we don’t get each other expensive "crap" but things that we feel the person really wanted but wouldn’t spend the money to go out and buy for themselves. even though it might be something you can really use or need! These include Wii’s, laptops, brand-name purses or jewelry, etc. 

For my Fiance, my family got him a new stereo system and speakers for his new car on his birthday. It ends up being each of us pitching in about $100. For my birthday, his mom got me Christmas towels. I can’t lie and say that I wasn’t disappointed. Not surprised, because we have been dating a long time, but still, disappointed. She followed the gift wth the comment that "small gifts are better" i couldn’t help but feel slapped in the face, as if my family’s present to him was too out there and not "thoughtful" for the mere reason that it cost a lot of money. Whereas we did a lot of research and drove over an hour to get him the system that I know he wanted. Plus, he spends so much time in traffic that it helps!

I guess I just kind of take offense when people say that gifts that cost a lot are not personal. I am a student and definitely am not made of money, but I feel like gift giving is different and people/families shouldn’t be judged as ridiculous if they want to spend a lot of money on each other or cheap if they don’t feel that spending a lot of money is necessary. I spend the same amount of money on gifts for my family as I do formy FI’s family.It’s not about what i receive in return, it’s about what I want to give.

On that note: for Christmas, we have so many family members that we do a secret santa gift exchange with a $100 limit. This way, everyone still gets something "nice" but it doesn’t force anyone to go into debt by spending $100 on EACH family member. Most of us still do a small ($5-10 gift) for others in the family just so that we all have lots of presents to open on Christmas morning… and many times these smaller gifts are even "nicer"! πŸ™‚ Maybe this is a traditions some others can suggest to their over-spending families during the holidays?

Post # 18
236 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: June 2009

haha. after writing my post, I just read niinjaa’s and have to say that i agree! also, i apologize for my extra long post πŸ™‚

Post # 20
236 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: June 2009

Chrissie – I completely understand and wasn’t trying to point you out πŸ™‚ I also sympathize with your situation and think it unfair to be forced to spend money on certain gifts that people may not need/want or be asked to request gifts that you may not need/want. I guess I was just posting for my own venting as well. πŸ™‚

I was mostly responding to those who were making comments that seem to say less expensive gifts are just automatically more thoughtful or personal or in the spirit of true gift-giving.  As you point out, I think nice expensive gifts (like smartl’s FILs) and less-expensive gifts (like my christmas towels) all have the ability to seem not-so-thoughtful. haha.


Post # 21
39 posts
  • Wedding: November 2007

This seems to me to be an opportunity for you and your new husband to figure out how you’re new little family (you and your husband) will approach gift giving.  As long as you agree that your respective extended families are different and that neither is better than the other you should be able to discuss the merits and the bad points to each approach and perhaps fashion a new approach to gift giving all your own.  Also, once you have your family approach be confident about it.  If his family insists on getting bigger gifts than what is in your plan for them, so be it.  That’s their choice!

 Anyway, I hope you seize the opportunity to create your own holiday customs with your new husband and have a wonderful holiday this year!

Post # 22
337 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: August 2008

Pancy – I just wanted to chime in to say that I’m also not against expensive gifts on principle, if it’s something that the person really wants and will use and that the gift-giver can afford.  "Expensive" is a relative term anyway; something that is cheap for me is expensive for my sister who’s still in school with no job, and something expensive for me is cheap for someone with triple my income.  It’s not about the dollar value.  And I should clarify because it seems like I’ve been hard on my FIL’s… they have gotten us some pretty awesome gifts that we love – a fantastic quality set of frying pans and baking trays, and a deep freezer.

The difficult part is when expectations don’t match up.  If my FIL’s want to spend upwards of $500 on us every Christmas, fine.  But it’s not fine if we are then expected to spend $500 on them to "return the favor."  It’s also difficult to bridge the gap, as many have illustrated, of spending different amounts on the different sets of families.  In my case, there is also a lot of judgment between our two sets of parents.  My parents think his parents are irresponsible spenders, and his parents think mine must are cheap jerks.  This is where the price tags attached to gift giving make relationships a little dicey.

Princesskitty – I also have a tip for you on how to stop your Mother-In-Law from constantly showering you with gifts you don’t need.  It only works in some situations but it’s fairly effective for me.  I have this problem with my mother – she likes to buy me things throughout the year and frequently gives the same type of thing several times over (like she’s bought me probably 5 scarves over the years in different colours and lots of different scented hand soaps, for example).  So when I get repeat gifts like that, I tend to say something like, "Wow thank you, this is so pretty!  I love it.  You’ve stocked me up so well on scarves, I think I have one in every color now.  Thanks so much for helping me make the most of my wardrobe.  I won’t need any more scarves now, I have all the colors and fabrics I need!"  It does curb it to an extent and doesn’t hurt her feelings.  Always try to find some way to compliment the gift and then tactfully slip in some comment about how you won’t be needing more now.

Post # 23
291 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: May 2007

Julieulie — Hee-hee, you’re totally channeling me!  But, I have to say, don’t knock the hand crank flashlight/radio deal…we had a massive blackout this year, and now we’re swearing we need both of those things.   

Spruce08 — I wish that would work…but these are things she just randomly sees in stores or wherever, and gets.  So a list wouldn’t really help.  And I just don’t NEED any more "stuff."  Like I said, I love that she thinks of me, but I just don’t need it, and feel that I have to keep it around, even if we don’t have room/it doesn’t fit in.

Smartl — Likewise w/ Spruce’s suggestion, I fear I am still going to have to just accept gracefully.  She doesn’t give the same thing over and over again…it’s all totally random.  My latest tactic is to ooh-ahh over the things that really are nice/useful/not too cluttery, and say, oh how nice and thoughtful of you on the rest. 

Post # 24
638 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: April 2007

Good topic.  Interesting – one of our worksheets in premarital counseling had us discuss and agree on gift giving amounts.  To each other and to family & friends.  We are pretty much on the same page with what to give and I thought it a somewhat silly project – but I guess it’s not so silly!

Our families are somewhat similar in how we give presents – the only difference is that my mom is out of control!  She doesn’t expect it in return though.  So it’s not really an issue, and she has gotten better – but she still shops way to much.  I warned my hubby last year,  (since that was our first Christmas together) but I still think he was in shock on Christmas morning.  It’s not that everything is super expensive – there’s just a lot of it.

I agree that part of the joy of Christmas is ‘giving’.  Giving what you can afford.  Giving what you thing are thoughtful gifts.  No where is ‘expectations’ part of the Chrsitmas spirit!!  I’m assuming most parents (not all) have higher disposible incomes than newly married couples.  If they can afford nice expensive gifts and would like to give them great.  But for them to expect that in return is inconsiderate!  At the same token every family has their own financial ideals and their own incomes – for siblings and other family members to expect you to give the same amount they give is inconsiderate.  Really – if you get a gift – you should be happy πŸ™‚

A – It’s important for you and your husband (SO) decide together what is the right amount for you guys to give.

B – If you think this will cause family issues – sit down with your respective families and have a chat well before the holidays.  Kinda of a warning – this is where we’re at with Christmas.  If they care about fairness – then they know not to spend too much on you guys.  If they don’t care about fairness – they can spend whatever they’d like.  But you guys don’t have to feel guilty about it – and can accept the gifts graciously.

C – Secret Santas is a great idea.  We are doing this for the first time this year with my husbands two sisters and their husbands.  It’s easier for us to buy for one person than all four!  We also set a gift limit.  Of course we’re still picking up little things for everyone’s stockings.  I think next year were even going to include their step-dad in the drawing.  Really – you get to an age where there’s only so much on your list anyways πŸ™‚  My friend is one of five girls and they do this with their parents, the siblings, and the SO’s.  They even exchanged names for stockings this year.

D – For those who families like to spend extravegantly and you don’t feel comfortable accepting the gifts.  Why not ask them to get you something small from your list – and spend the rest of the money towards charity in your name?  Or to sponsor and angel from an angel tree in your name??  Redirect their extravegance to a good cause.  Then everyone will be happy.  http://www.makeitrightnola.org  – you can sponsor parts of houses they are rebuilding in New Orleans.

As far as parents buying crap you don’t need.  I am right there with you.  My moms drives a minivan and every time she comes to visit it is full of JUNK.  I swear she keeps TJ Maxx in business.  Sometimes she does get me pretty awesome stuff…. but a lot of times it’s really stuff I can live without.  Granted it’s my mom – and she’s my best friend – so it’s a little bit easier for me to be straight with her.  When I used to live in an apartment I finally started saying ‘Ok Mom, find a place for me to put it and I’ll keep it – or else it’s going back!’  I’m mean comeon – she bought me a rooster umbrella stand – what am I going to do with that!  Now sometimes I just say "mom it’s really cute – but I don’t really need it.  Thanks though."  I know ths won’t work for everyone.  But for princesskittyHI I would seriously have you or your man sit down with his mom and say "It is so thoughtful of you to pick up things for me – I really appreciate it – our home is quickly filling up and I don’t know what to do with it all."  If you think she’d still like to buy stuff maybe you could suggest to her things you guys could use and use up – like bath salts and or food stuff.

That was long – sorry –  Have a wonderful, hopefully stressfree, holiday with your family and friends!!

The topic ‘In-Laws and Gift Giving’ is closed to new replies.

Find Amazing Vendors