Post # 1
So after years of kind of muddling through it with my family, this year for some reason I have hit the wall on gifts. Maybe it was the post-wedding cleanup and the pre-Christmas cleanup, where I threw out SO much junk and realized that not only was a lot of it unwanted gifts, but that I was about to receive a whole other load this Christmas to replace what I just donated or threw away. Maybe it was my birthday, when my aunt kindly and thoughtfully gave me this very nice little Coach handbag that is totally not my taste, and said, “I got you this because you have so many big bags and not any small ones!” When the reason I have no small bags is that I need to carry a large one to fit all my things. Or perhaps it was when my husband asked for suggestions to send to his mother to get me for Christmas, so I emailed him a couple of links to things I’d very much welcome and use, and then he told me a few days later she said it was “too late” and that he didn’t think she knew how to order things off the internet anyway.
There has to be a better way. The last thing I want to do is hurt anyone’s feelings or snub anyone’s generosity, but there has to be a way to prevent our family from spending collectively hundreds of dollars on things we neither need, want, nor like. It is such a depressing waste of money and, for anything that’s not donation-friendly, a depressing influx into a landfill.
We have what we call “Handshake Christmas” going with my DH’s middle brother & wife… we get them nothing, they get us nothing, everybody wins. But his older brother and parents and my family are all opposed to gift cards on principle, yet have not really embraced the unromantic yet practical “tell me what you want” approach either.
What do other people do? Has anybody successfully pulled off charity donations? A family meal at a nice restaurant? Secret Santa? What works?
Post # 3
Q: “How to dodge bad gifts?”
Post # 4
I would like to find a way out of the minefield that is Xmas shopping too. A few people in my family set up wish lists at Amazon or Target (like a registry but can be set up indefinitely). Your Mother-In-Law could go to a store in person and buy the items right there. It’s a bit unromantic but worth it, when you can get someone something they really like.
Otherwise, ask for stuff you don’t have a strong prefernce on/will use and replace (tupperware, towels, socks) or anything that can be returned/sold on ebay.
Post # 5
@kerensa: the wish list might be a good tactic… I’d hesitated to do this lest it seem gimme-gimme, but I now have almost another year in which to figure out how to approach it…
Post # 6
We e-mailed all the relitives last year and said, “seeing as we are all finnacially independant people who have all the things we need, let’s all contribute to a charity of our choice instead of buying christmas presents this year”. Not only did it go down fabulously, but they have with no prompting adopted the same strategy this year.
Also, I just don’t buy presents for other people, so they rarely buy things for me.
Post # 7
@starbuck: My family adopted a family this year, instead of exchanging gifts to each other we are bought a family of four kids gifts. We had so much fun shopping for the little ones, and it really made me realize the true message of Christmas: giving back. 🙂
Post # 8
my husband’s family does a secret santa type thing. they write down their names and list 3 things they’d like, so that makes it a lot easier. they don’t even have to put specific items, just a general idea of the type of things they like or are interested in (my brother in law wrote down the sports teams he likes). seems to work well for them.
my husband is always talking about how much my father in law hates christmas, and never wants anything, so it makes it impossible to know what to buy for him. but he doesn’t hate christmas, just all the commercialism/greed that comes with it. so i suggested that maybe we can make a donation to a charity in his name and my husband didn’t think it was a good idea, so it’s like we’re screwed either way :/
Post # 9
These are great ideas… I think I will try one of these next year! Thank you!
Post # 10
@trixiesrockets: I really like that idea. 🙂
Post # 11
The problem with giving a charitable donation is when it’s not carefully thought about as to whether the charity really represents something the giftee is passionate about.
Donating to a charity that is not something the giftee specifically supports is irritating. Even if it’s a perfectly great charity to donate to, it’s pushy. It’s like, “here, I donated my money to a charity of my choice, and you should not only applaud me, but be appreciative of it.” It really rubs me wrong. I’m all for the donation, but this is not a good gift idea. I’d rather the person just donated it and left me right out of it, because…. well they pretty much have, except the part where I feel obligated to praise and thank them for their action that had nothing to do with me.
HOWEVER, this is a great idea IN PRINCIPLE, which is why it would be a great idea for family members or friends to exchange short lists of a handful of charities they each deeply care about and would greatly appreciate a donation toward instead of a gift. That would be fantastic!
Post # 12
In my family we just do secret Santa instead of everyone buying everyone gifts. Also, it’s understood that gift receipts must be included!