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No presents at Christmas
Has anyone done it?

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#1 credence

Posted 08 November 2012 - 12:47 PM

Each year at Christmas I end up spending a lot of money on gifts for the children in my extended family. Conversely my kids get gifts in return.

With gifts, I've always thought "It's the thought that counts", but at Christmas time, it's so overwhelming spending so much money at once, I feel as though not a lot of "thought" is behind the gifts given and received.

It's kind of like you buy a present for people because it's expected, because they'll undoubtedly buy a gift for you and/or your children. It's an obligation, not a joy.

Ultimately what ends up happening is because I've spent so much money on other people, I barely spend any on my own kids. When my oldest was a baby, I don't think I bought him anything! Also we end up with a whole bunch of toys that my kids don't like or need.

The whole thing feels like such a waste and it really gets me down.

This year, I'd like to somehow let people know that I do not want any gifts for my children and in turn I will not be buying anything for theirs. With the money that I save, I'd like to buy my kids a few awesome presents.

Has anyone done something similar? How have your family members reacted?

#2 Broxie

Posted 08 November 2012 - 12:49 PM

I'd suggest organizing a secret Santa with your extended family so there are still gifts, but not ridiculous amounts. You could put a spending limit on it too.

#3 credence

Posted 08 November 2012 - 12:53 PM

I've thought about secret santa, but it's not really doable as there are so many separate sections of family that do not cross paths.

#4 Blueblue

Posted 08 November 2012 - 12:57 PM

For the last four years I have not been buying gifts for my children (hey they're little and dont care) and they have just gotten gifts from extended family. ph34r.gif  Cant do that anymore as they are more aware and will expect something.

#5 Rosie R

Posted 08 November 2012 - 12:57 PM

I'm hearing you Credence, I dread christmas shopping and gift giving has become expensive and mostly is a chore.

What ever happened to spending the day with those you love and appreciating that?

I'll be following this threat for some tips myself! original.gif

#6 niggles

Posted 08 November 2012 - 01:04 PM

When we got together with extended family at Christmas time one of the uncles would hand out gifts dressed as Santa, from 'all the family'. In reality, each parent would bring a wrapped present for their own kids and pop it on the pile.

It was a good way of making the shopping easier whilst maintaining the spirit or exchanging gifts with the people in our lives who we love but don't see often.

I wouldn't like to lose the exchange alltogether in order to just buy more gifts for my kids. They get gifts from us already.

#7 credence

Posted 08 November 2012 - 01:05 PM

QUOTE (Blueblue @ 08/11/2012, 01:57 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
For the last four years I have not been buying gifts for my children (hey they're little and dont care) and they have just gotten gifts from extended family. ph34r.gif  Cant do that anymore as they are more aware and will expect something.

My kids still all believe in Santa and I would love it if they thought that Santa brought them something that they really appreciated, rather than a whole lot of toys from family that get tossed aside by boxing day.

#8 FeralLIfeHacker

Posted 08 November 2012 - 01:06 PM

Yep, about 5 years ago I told sister and brother no more presents. It's so much easier for everyone and honestly we were all just creating stress, spending money we didn't have and giving each other stuff we didn't want/need - it was so stupid!

I don't give Mum and Dad presents anymore - I put together a small hamper of homemade baked stuff.

We send a card with a family photo in it to the inlaws (interstate).

Dh and I are giving each other ceiling fans this year (we were buying them anyway).

I have just made a note to get dh to tell our friends (the only ones were were still buying for) that we wont be buying this year and we would like them not to buy for us/our kids.

We buy for teachers(they are awesome!) and our kids - that's it.

#9 tle

Posted 08 November 2012 - 01:09 PM

We stopped the gifts for neices and nephews last year and it has made Christmas so less stressful and affordable.

For us it got so unmanagable I just didn't have a choice but to say it needed to stop. My brother has 9 kids which is hard enough to buy for my SIL insisted that we also start buying for the kids boyfriends/girlfriends as well as she considered them part of the family. While I agree it's fine for them to buy thoses gifts we were talking about people that I may never have even met so I didn't want to do it. She also stipulated that we spend $30 on each gift but they couldn't afford that so my mum was having to buy the presents that brother and SIL gave my kids. In the end I just said "no more". It caused a few dramas at the time but now we all find Christmas so much more relaxed.

#10 prettypenny

Posted 08 November 2012 - 01:10 PM

I'm going through the same emotions here. I'm floating the idea of a Kris Kringle for the kids (we already do it for the adults). I currently buy for 6 nieces/nephews and KK would bring down to 2. It's not so much the expense but the wanton consumerism. The kids end up mindlessly opening presents only to quickly discard them after a cursory glance for the next.

So sorry OP, I can't help you either but I'll be watching this thread.

#11 tres

Posted 08 November 2012 - 01:11 PM

I think the secret santa thing is half the problem - cheap gifts that satisfy the $ limit but are not often useful or even good. Usually bought under pressure during Christmas shopping.

I love buying for people/gift giving but this year I think we're opting our of the extended families secret santa things and I'm buying a gift each for my children so that they get something on the day. I'd rather concentrate on the specific gifts bought for immediate family.

If you were my friend I'd be very happy to do the deal you're suggesting and have done so in the past with other friends.

One thing you can do is a lucky dip for children only - which is easy if the children are all bunched around the same ages and more difficult if there is a big range.

#12 credence

Posted 08 November 2012 - 01:17 PM

QUOTE (prettypenny @ 08/11/2012, 02:10 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
It's not so much the expense but the wanton consumerism. The kids end up mindlessly opening presents only to quickly discard them after a cursory glance for the next.

Yes - this is what bothers me more than anything. I feel like we are bombarded with all this "stuff" all at once. It's overwhelming.

I'm sure that all the people buying presents for my kids feel the same pressure that I do buying for theirs. And yet the consumerism continues.

Tie - your family situation sounds worse than mine, perhaps I should count myself lucky!

I think the secret santa thing is half the problem - cheap gifts that satisfy the $ limit but are not often useful or even good. Usually bought under pressure during Christmas shopping.

I'd agree with that. What's the point of buying something crappy just because you have to? It will be thrown away before you know it.

Edited by credence, 08 November 2012 - 01:17 PM.

#13 adl

Posted 08 November 2012 - 01:27 PM

I am moving into charitable ideas.... as my family is limited now...

As my niece and nephew are older,  they will get Kiva loans,  oxfam and vaccinations - they have enough and actually they are quite pleased to do this.  ( 10 and 8)

Sister & BIl - I think we will all agree to cut

my kids... 2 and one to come - we do Santa and presents

Inlaws - 5... is getting to be less each year...but they dont like the charity idea ;(

Friends, postman, cleaner , carer , neighbour  etc - we do make Christmas cards and I do cookies, rocky road or whatever else I like from the BHG Christmas treats....

#14 Feral Grey Mare

Posted 08 November 2012 - 01:33 PM

As we only have a smallish family we still all buy presents for each other. My children are the only kids in our family. We tend not to buy expensive gifts but concentrate on things that will make the recipient laugh. My sister and I try to out-crap each other every year. She won last year by giving me a beige Snuggie so I have my thinking cap on this year - maybe tickets to a bagpipe concert?

#15 strawberrycakes

Posted 08 November 2012 - 01:43 PM

About 5 years ago DH & I informed all our family members that we will no longer be buying gifts for anyone who is not a child.

TBH at first the inlaws were a bit upset with us & made a comment about how really it doesn't take much to spend $50 on each person Well it did on one wage & counting all family members it would cost us around $600!.   DH's siblings never bought us anything anyway because they couldn't afford to on their just out of school part time job earnings & they welcomed the idea.

My brother & SIL also think it is a great idea, they always end up giving us something anyway which is embarassing but their choice, we tell them not to.

Besides our DD we only have 3 other children to buy for so by stopping our Christmas present buying it has reduced our spending heaps.

I still give DD's grandparents a framed photo of DD taken at daycare but that is more for her to give iykwim.

This year we are going to make some yummy homemade Christmas treats to bring along with us at Christmas lunch for everyone to share but that is it.

Edited by strawberrycakes, 08 November 2012 - 01:45 PM.

#16 Guest_Maybelle_*

Posted 08 November 2012 - 01:55 PM


Edited by Maybelle, 21 December 2012 - 01:37 PM.

#17 jobo77

Posted 08 November 2012 - 01:57 PM

On my dads side there are 12 adults and 7 kids and a bump growing. We do kris kringle now so buy for 1 adult each and each child "buys" for 1 other, not brother or sister. $50 max adult limit and $10-$15 kids.
My mums side we have just the 4 kids and all older adults and we dont really buy for each other anymore. The kids still tend to get a few little things but nothing major. Pre kids we did a charity donation instead - everyone agreed to put some money in an envelope (whatever you could afford) and then on xmas day we all wrote our favourite charity on a piece of paper and pulled one out of the hat. Whoever got picked, got all the cash.
DH side is a little harder - his brother has 5 kids which makes kris kringle impossible with us only having 2 so we just tend to go with it and buy for everyone. I put my own limit of about $10 per child on them though as we couldn't afford it otherwise!

#18 Feralmummacat

Posted 08 November 2012 - 02:02 PM

QUOTE (niggles @ 08/11/2012, 01:34 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
When we got together with extended family at Christmas time one of the uncles would hand out gifts dressed as Santa, from 'all the family'. In reality, each parent would bring a wrapped present for their own kids and pop it on the pile.

It was a good way of making the shopping easier whilst maintaining the spirit or exchanging gifts with the people in our lives who we love but don't see often.

I wouldn't like to lose the exchange alltogether in order to just buy more gifts for my kids. They get gifts from us already.


My Mum was 1 of 10 kids and there was over 30 of us Grand kids. They decided that adults would not get presents and each parent would buy a "family" present worth in the order of $30. They would also put in $20 each family and get Grandma a nice Christmas present. This worked really well for an extended family as we all still had a present to open and it was something that we really wanted. I loved it as a kid.

Now our immediate family is smaller and I only have 3 adults and 2 kids on my side and DH has 3 adults so we still do the present to everyone.

#19 SMforshort

Posted 08 November 2012 - 02:18 PM

I have 13 nieces and nephews.

I spoke with my sisters and sisters-in-law and we agreed to buy books as gifts.

So I need to buy 13 books.  It works for me.  I can keep this budget to $150 and I get my kids involved in choosing the books for their cousins.  This also means that my kids will each receive 4 books which I think is great.

#20 Shooz

Posted 08 November 2012 - 02:21 PM

It's such a minefield! I only buy for the nieces and nephews on my side. The adults all agree we don't need to buy for each other. But DH family is small and they like to buy for each other so we buy for the ILs and BIL. Last year I suggested we gave it a miss for the one year as I was due to give birth few weeks before Xmas and didn't want the extra stress of shopping. Well you would think I had suggested never buying gifts again! Faces were pulled a little tantrums thrown!!!! roll2.gif

#21 Gembac8019

Posted 08 November 2012 - 02:23 PM

we still buy for neices/nephews and god children, but this year I have concentrated on buying on my own kids first, and then whatever the budget allows - for everyone elses kids. I'm sick of my two getting less than what i wanted to give them because i have spent on other kids and so on.. so this year and from now on, our kids first and then everyone elses kids last.

#22 ~Fuzjuz~

Posted 08 November 2012 - 02:28 PM

We give nephews & nieces $20 each & a small gift for my Mum.

#23 #tootired

Posted 08 November 2012 - 02:52 PM

Each year I have been making a determined effort to minimise present buying at Christmas.

My 5 girlfriends and I have 16 kids between us and we were buying for them, so we cut that out and take the kids to a water park in the school holidays instead.

My family of plenty have now cut down to a $30 Kris kringle, so that's 5 presents instead of 25+

Now just to work on the Inlaws.

Not much help, but I think everybody is on the same boat and would probably thank you for any minimising suggestions!

#24 baddmammajamma

Posted 08 November 2012 - 03:15 PM

Hi there:

As I've mentioned on EB several times, we are a "gift free" family. We don't give anything to our extended family members, and we encourage them not to give to us. It was getting ridiculous and expensive -- our siblings, like us, all have kids, and the gift giving was just one more "thing" to squeeze into our already hectic lives. It felt so obligatory, and as a result, not very meaningful.

My husband & I took the first step. I guess we had a bit of an "out" because our early intervention costs were (and continue to be) so staggering. We used them as one of the reasons why we wanted to scale back our gift giving.

We emphasized that our LOVE for our family hadn't changed and that, frankly, gift giving was such a small part of what makes the season joyous.

My side of the family jumped right in -- they are all in the U.S. and it is crazily expensive to ship things between American & Australia.

My husband's family -- including one of my SILs who is a Christmas tragic (bless her) -- took a little longer to warm up to the idea, but we remained steady in our wishes. We didn't muddy the waters by saying "Well, we'll just do kids..." or "We'll just do a Kris Kringle." My advice is: if you are going to go gift free, go gift free.

It is liberating!

We adore and cherish our family members -- nothing has deteroriated since we introduced the gift free holiday. If anything, they are relieved that they don't need to run around, trying to remember if our son is a size 5 or size 4, wondering & worrying about my daughter's latest obsession or trying to find a book that my husband hasn't read. Our time and our love is a better gift than anything we could wrap up!

PS: With something like this, you might want to give your more sensitive relatives a lot of "advanced notice." We started laying the groundwork for a gift free Christmas several months before Christmas.

Good luck!

#25 bjk76

Posted 08 November 2012 - 03:22 PM

On my mum's side of the family, which had 9 children, there are about 23 grandchildren. When we were little and there weren't so many of us, us children would get a small present from each aunt/uncle, but as the numbers grew (there are also now about 19 great grandchildren), it became too much, so they changed things. There is now a roster where the family of each of the original 9 children gives a gift to another family. It's usually just a hamper, but there may be something very small for a young child, if there is a great grandchild in that family.

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