The Christmas Gifts Philosophy Post

DH gives gifts to extended family (Parents, siblings and their children, but not his own cousins or aunts and uncles). He agonizes over it.  He has to get each person the perfect gift that shows he’s been thinking about them.  Last year he included notes about exactly why he bought each item, “Mom, I know you don’t put out the entire village anymore, but I bought this [small ceramic store] because it reminds me of Christmases growing up surrounded by love and family.”  That sort of thing.

It’s the way they show love in his family.  His parents love our kid a LOT.  (And they love all their grandkids equally.  They spend a TON on Christmas, but they can afford it and it makes them happy, so who are we to judge?  We just don’t let Santa come by ourselves and my parents give books instead of toys.)  They also do a lot of decorating– all of our decorations except the annual tree comes from them.  DH is a bit stunned that throughout the years they’ve never sent DC a stocking.  We need one this year.  (DH and I both have extravagantly embroidered ones with our names from our first Christmas).

My mom I usually get a $50 gift card to the local bookstore so she can buy stuff to read when she visits.  My dad is impossible to shop for… he likes small odd food items and gets upset if you spend too much money on him.  He’s a bad gift receiver.  Sometimes we don’t get him anything at all and that’s better than getting him something he doesn’t want.  Occasionally he’ll tell us exactly what he wants and that’s nice.  (Ex.  One bottle of benedictine brandy.  Done and done.)  My sister usually says what she wants and it’s always something pretty expensive.  In the years she doesn’t say we get her something she doesn’t know she needs for the kitchen.  This year it is going to be a French Press coffee maker and some coffee.  They all generally get me stuff off my amazon wishlist, which makes me happy.

Near the end of the shopping season, #2 and I go ahead and buy stuff off each other’s Amazon wish lists that we really wanted but the philistines who buy presents for us opted not to get us.  (Note:  They’re not really Philistines!)  Sure, we’re really just getting stuff for ourselves, but it feels better coming from someone else, right?

Our kid “got” Halloween for the first time this year.  It was very eye-opening to hir and opened a strong desire for candy.  I’m a little worried that Christmas will be the same way and unleash the need for new stuff.  (S)He’s been astonishingly resistant to consumerism up to this point despite having everything (the Elmo robot, a Wii, copious train sets etc.), but that was probably just because (s)he was still so young.

So, um, to sum:  DH’s family gives lots of gifts and puts lots of time, effort, and money into Christmas.  My family is more about the food and practical stuff.  I love putting all the things I want to buy throughout the year on my list and getting it all at Christmas and my birthday.  (Well, most of it.)  Having a gift exchange partner to get some of the things you really wanted for you seems silly but totally works.  Otherwise what’s to stop 12 months of frivolous spending?  Consumerism may be unavoidable… I’m guessing our luck will run out this year on that front.

This was going to be a way deeper and more organized post than it ended up (hence the title) about thinking carefully and showing love etc.  But seriously, the end of the semester is killing us.

What is your Christmas Gifts Philosophy (for those who celebrate holiday giving)?

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21 Responses to “The Christmas Gifts Philosophy Post”

  1. First Gen American Says:

    We keep it pretty simple. The hardest person to buy for is my MIL. Just as a preview, last year my son wanted every single thing that was on the TV commercials (except girl toys..ie anything pink), but this year he only wanted 2 things. I even offered to put more things to his letter to santa that he had originally said he wanted and he said, NAH, i change my mind. So don’t get too worried if your child seems to want everything, for us noticing commercials was a phase that lasted a year.

    Every year once wrapping time comes I always end up with more things than I remember buying. I thought my kids didn’t get much this year, but then I found the shorty wetsuits I bought them for the pool (cuz it’s freezing and my older one just outgrew his and the younger one I’d just let freeze til Xmas). I buy too much stuff this time of the year because I’m so cheap the rest of the year, so gifts end up being a combination of wants and needs.

  2. Everyday Tips Says:

    My philosophy is- hopefully I will think of what to buy for a bunch of people that already have everything. My brothers need nothing, I need nothing, etc. I think it is wonderful that your husband includes those notes, that is as meaningful as the gift.

    I do love Christmas shopping, especially when I know it will really make someone happy. However, for some of my relatives, it just feels like I am adding one more thing to their collection of ‘stuff’. Not because they are hoarders or anything, but because they already have all they could ever use.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      Yeah, we grown-ups do tend to have a lot of what we need. That’s one reason I like putting my wants on my amazon list throughout the year instead of just buying them. Even if it means people don’t get the opportunity to show that they know me so well they know what I want without a list. But that’s who I am.

      I also like giving my mom a gift certificate to a bookstore because she gets to buy what she wants without worrying about spending too much. Even if people think gift certificates are giving up… she gets so much happiness from book shopping (and generally needs to after a few days here on vacation) that I can’t really care what the etiquette people think.

  3. MutantSupermodel Says:

    LOL I just blogged about Christmas gifts the other day because I kept seeing Anti-Christmas Presents posts everywhere and it was getting my panties in a bunch.

    http://mutantsupermodel.wordpress.com/2010/12/06/fight-a-consumerist-christmas-with-gifts/

  4. Linda Says:

    Like your DH I want to give gifts that are appreciated and have meaning. I stress about gift giving because I just don’t know what to give my family members. I suppose it’s a reflection of the fact that none of us is close enough to understand we one really wants or needs. It sounds sad, but it’s true.

    Sister and her (now fully grown) children, mother, and stepfather have all agreed that we’re not exchanging gifts this year. (Phew!) The reasoning is that mother and stepfather really can’t afford to buy anything, so we will all pass on it. (Of course, this also happened a couple years ago and then the day before Christmas my sister breezily mentioned that she just couldn’t resist buying my mother a pair of boots she had admired on my neice, so I felt like I was going to be the “bad daughter” arriving empty handed. Grrrr!)

    For father and stepmother, I’m going to renew the magazine subscription I gave them last year. They’ve been giving me a magazine subscription for years, so it’s sort of a reciprocity thing.

    Now I just have to figure out what to get the guy…

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      DH stresses for about 10 months each year on what to get. Asking directly is giving up. He’s got to show that he’s thought hard about it. Me, I just want to get something they want or that I think they (really only my sister– it’s a sibling thing) need. If that’s just money in plastic form, then so be it.

      I don’t give DH anything for Christmas. He gets 10x his allowance to spend on whatever he wants. I have struck out so many times that I gave up years ago. He gets more pleasure from shopping (and picking out *exactly* what he wants) than from actually having anyway.

  5. frugalscholar Says:

    I usually don’t get Mr. FS anything. But this year, I got him a copy of a book his father read aloud to him: The Box of Delights by John Masefield. It’s been recently republished.

    Both my children will get IOUs–for plane tickets–one to Argentina, the other to Oxford.

  6. Comrade PhysioProf Says:

    I really dislike obligatory gift-giving. It stresses me out to find things that will please other people, and I genuinely have no desire for people to give me gifts.

  7. Jacq @ Single Mom Rich Mom Says:

    Is it ok to say that I’m in love with your DH?

    My oldest is a big reader. One year I got him a gift certificate to the local big box bookstore. He was very hurt. He’s like your DH, he has to know that there’s lots of feeling and thought behind what you buy. He always gets me the most wonderful, unique presents. So this year, I bought him a bottle of vodka (just for the uber-cool bottle – really). Hmm… he doesn’t even drink vodka, but mama does. Also a copy of Hitch-22 (which I’ve already taken out of the library on my kobo and read and figured he would like a hardcover keeper) and a couple of Sam Harris books. It’s great when we can read the same thing and discuss it. Uh oh, that really sounds like an atheist Christmas, doesn’t it? Oops.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      I think my DH is the one thing I’ve got that people are jealous about. I truly lucked out. He’s actually pretty good about accepting just cash… it’s just his gifts for others he has to put a lot of thought into. He doesn’t mind me being imperfect and just focuses on being the best person he can be. I really don’t deserve him… every day I thank my lucky stars I got to him first. Otherwise he’d be making some other girl incredibly happy.

  8. Meg Says:

    We buy for quite a few people. I try to be creative, but sometimes, I have to resort to gift cards. This year, I am getting only 3 gift cards. One for my step-mother who generally HATES shopping, one for my Uncle who always gives us way too much for Christmas, and my mom (to supplement other items I’m giving her : a canvas tote with her initials embroidered and some perfume she loves.)

    I come from a split family. So…I have the following to buy for: Mom, step-dad, dad, step-mom, 3 step-brothers, one step-sister, two nieces, grandma, uncle and coworker. We then have hubby’s parents and sometimes his half sister, his BIL, and three nieces (if we go over on Christmas Eve.)

    I try to keep an open mind throughout the year and keep and eye out for cool gifts for everyone. That resulted in “Learn how to dance” on DVD (samba, tango, ballroom, etc.) from a book store that was going out of business in January of this year. I get gift items at extreme discounts by keeping an open mind and thinking about gift-giving all year round.

  9. Thoughts on in-laws and Christmas presents for the kids « Grumpy rumblings of the half-tenured Says:

    […] mentioned before that we don’t buy Christmas presents for our children other than stocking stuffers.  This year is no exception– I still need to buy candy and I […]


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