What did we get people this year?

Shopping for DH’s family is sooo hard!

MIL:  This year we gave up and asked MIL what she wanted.  The answer?  The same luggage she got me for Christmas last year.  Not a problem!  We added a “Grandma” luggage tag because she seems to like things labeled Grandma.

FIL:  Another giving up year, a gift certificate to Cabela’s.  (Last year was an exception–we got him something he really wanted but he didn’t want to spend the money on that he still talks about.) This is probably still a good choice because he loves shopping at Cabela’s and MIL hates the way he spends so much of their money at Cabela’s.

BIL1:  games off his amazon wishlist

SIL1:  the first two books in the finishing school series.   She had the first on her list, but I know from experience that once you read the first you end up buying the second on kindle because you can’t wait for it to come in the mail.  So we got her that too.

Cousin 1:  Kid’s fun and healthy cookbook  Also one of the pigeon books from his wishlist, which seems kind of young to me, but whatever, it was on the wishlist.  And if we hadn’t had DC2 we might have gotten the entire set without the excuse of having a younger kid… (my sister loves those and she’s 30 years old!)

Cousin 2:  Three books off her wishlist, including a couple of elephant and piggie books and a knuffle bunny.  Maybe it’s mom who has the Mo Willems thing…  We were going to send her M R Nelson’s new book, but after looking at the heavily be-princessed wishlist (including 4 princess outfits), we decided that might get misconstrued.

SIL2: Her wishlist had been decimated, with only 3 things left on it (it had a tonne of stuff the week before, but we think MIL swept in and bought up the bulk).  Two books and a wish for “iTunes gift-card.”  We got her the two books, which were both kind of boring looking things about her job, one of which she’d put on recently, and the other something rated “low” that she’d put on a couple of years ago.  Oh well.

BIL2:  Was happiest the year we got him an Amazon giftcard, so an Amazon giftcard is what we got this year too.

Cousin 3:  A busload of pigeon books (it’s been a very Mo Willems year) and a couple of smaller books of hir wishlist.  Also we’ll be donating to the 529 plan.  We would do this for cousins 1 and 2 also, but BIL has never gotten around to setting them up, even though in his state they get a 20% tax credit(!) off their state income taxes.

Grandmother-in-law:  She’s now in a nursing home with early stage Alzheimer’s.  MIL didn’t have any suggestions.  She’s crunched for space, so no knick knacks.  MIL takes care of things like linens and clothing and so on.  She’s not really able to do her hobbies anymore.  Someone has already signed her up for fruit-of-the-month.  So we looked online for suggestions for people in nursing homes and people with Alzheimer’s and decided to make picture magnets, one for each of our little families (DH and his siblings and all our kids) with names underneath each person (the names part is the part suggested for Alzheimer’s patients).  Each family is color coded with a different color for the names.  We had an extra magnet leftover on the online thing and put a picture of DH’s mom and aunts on it.

My parents: I wanted to get them an air conditioner.  The two wall units they have are literally from the 1980s, inefficient, and ran out of freon before I left for college.  Every summer there’s a heatwave I worry about them dying like all those people in Chicago back when I was a kid.  Also I have to listen to my mom complain about how difficult it is to sleep in the heat.  Home Depot has a thing where they will install the a/c and take an old one away, so that’s what I want to do.  After much back and forth we decided to send them a giftcard to Home Depot for the amount we would have spent on a window unit, and they will replace one of their wall units in the summer.

My sister:  Well, for various reasons, I wanted to buy her that $369 automatic litter box, but the conversation kept going like, Her: “Why don’t you buy me a new washing machine for $369 instead?” Me:  “Because I don’t feel guilty about anything involving a washing machine.” “How about a stand mixer, I’d really like one of those fancy stand mixers”  “Would you ever USE a stand mixer?  Plus, I don’t feel guilty about anything involving a stand mixer!”  (Note:  earlier that evening she’d suggested we get her a vitamix, and I was like we got you an Oster hand blender a few years ago, and she was all, “You did?  Huh, I’ll have to check.  I know you got me that food processor that one year that I’ve never taken out of the box.  And that crockpot I never use.”  Note she’d asked for said food processor and crockpot.  She always wants cooking implements when she’s saving up money for something, but never actually uses them.)  So what did I get her instead?  $85 worth of cat toys and feliway.

DH’s relative with all the kids:  probably  money.  Daughter #2 is pregnant again…

As always, Target gift cards for teachers.

#2 says:  I have no income.  I am spending out of savings for Christmas, combined with not traveling, and not getting people extravagant gifts.   I’m buying used for people who are ok with that and looking for Kindle sales.  I also used the cashback on my Discover card to buy gifts.  I got my grandmother a box of pears.  There’s a group gift for the other grandmother, who doesn’t want a lot of Stuff.  But I’m trying to write her more letters and let her know I’m thinking of her.

I’m going in with my siblings on a lot of things.  Joint large gifts for mom, dad, stepmom (split between me and sis and our partners).  My brothers got stuff off their wishlists.  Stuff for my sister?  Well, I won’t say it here in case she ever finds this blog!

Did you get anything good or fun or interesting for folks on your holiday list this year?

49 Responses to “What did we get people this year?”

  1. Holly@ClubThrifty Says:

    We went on vacation overseas, and that made gift-giving pretty easy. We got our mothers some hand-blown glass ornaments and handmade glass spoon rests. Boring, but I think they liked them! Both of our fathers got clothes. Greg’s nieces and nephews all got really loud, annoying toys because that is what we like to but each other’s kids. All of the nieces and nephews on my side are getting money.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      My sister tends to pick up stuff from her travels for gifts, some of which are really nice, especially when she’s in a transitional economy kind of country (like wooden toys from Eastern Europe or hand woven items from Latin America).

  2. Liz Says:

    In the ridiculous gift category, I got my fiance a cutting board from Nick Offerman’s woodshop. (He LOVES Nick Offerman, so I’m really paying for the name. My dad could easily make one in his woodshop, but that’s not the point.)

    I’m trying to set up a 529 for my 11-mo nephew (well, it will be official that I’m his aunt as of this summer) with a seed of $300. His parents are not married, and are working the welfare system while the father (my future BIL) tries to finish his bachelor’s degree. I’ve decided on a Virginia inVest age-evolving plan, because that’s the state we’re all in and it gives tax advantages but is not tied exclusively to Virginia public schools. I’m thinking of taking the father aside on Christmas to get the necessary information for setting it up. (That’s the first I will see him; I live 2-3 hours away from everyone.) If there are any better suggestions for 529s or approaching the parents, please let me know!

    The hardest part about the nephew is that he has an older (2yo) sister by a different father. Because the parents fight a lot and are not married, I have had a hard time figuring out if I should open a 529 for her as well. This year I went with a coloring book and crayons by Melissa & Doug. Luckily the two kids are at exactly the age where she won’t care if she “just” gets something fun, and he doesn’t even understand the concept of gifts yet.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      I had no idea he was also a carpenter. Who knew?!?

    • The frugal ecologist Says:

      If it was me, I would def do 529 for both kids. I think it’s safer that way (less potential for hurt feelings).

      • Liz Says:

        That’s my thought, but I know I can’t afford to fund them both at the same level. I am not a drama person but I am sensitive, so I’m probably overthinking the Feels on this.

      • becca Says:

        Wait, so both kidlets are legally related to you (offspring of your sister)? I *think* either way it wouldn’t inherently matter at the end of the day which sibling you set it up for. Consult someone who has changed beneficiaries or a real financial advisor first, but definitely mention that part is flexible when approaching the parents.

      • Leah Says:

        Looks like the dad is the future for-sure in law. So, I imagine there’s a likelihood the girl might not stay in the picture. Not ideal to only fund one but perhaps realistic given that the only for-sure relationship is the nephew.

      • Liz Says:

        Neither kidlet is technically related to me, yet. I’ll marry the blood-uncle of the little boy in June next year. That’s a good point about the changing beneficiaries option. I’ll have to look that up… though it might seem like take-backsies if they split and Little Girl gets her college fund revoked because the adults couldn’t keep their *ish together. Happy to say this is the hardest thing I’ve had to think about for a while, drama-wise! (If only I were rich, I wouldn’t care and would fund both equally – because a mind is a terrible thing to waste, however the bloodlines go.)

  3. Alyssa Says:

    Wow – that’s quite a list!

    In both DH’s and my family we’ve all agreed that adults do not need to swap gifts, which is amazing and freeing (to be honest). So, the only people we get gifts for are each other, our boys and our niece.

    I’m getting DH a pair of ice skates because our oldest boy just learned to skate and wants to go with his daddy :D

    My parents are flying our family and my brother and his wife down to their winter place in Arizona, and thats MORE than enough of a gift for all of us! I haven’t spent Christmas with my brother in about 5 years, so that will be nice.

    For something fun to do, we’re all buying a pair of Christmas sock, then we all pick a pair out a bag and take a picture of all our silly feet (my Mom’s idea – she likes doing cutesy stuff like that).

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      I often think life would be a lot easier if adults didn’t have to swap gifts in DH’s family (in my family it’s a bit more difficult as we’re the only ones with kids… and we also use gifts kind of passive-aggressively to get each other things that we think the other person needs regardless of their wants– or really that’s just me because I’m a horrible person). But gifts seem to be the language of love in his family, so we start thinking about them the minute the previous years gifts have been bought.

      It would also make sense to not buy gifts for the in-laws and just have him and his sibs give to each other (instead of to me and the other non-blood relations), but I don’t think that would fly either.

      We do have kind of an asymmetric thing wherein we do birthday gifts for one set of our children’s cousins but not for the other set of cousins because DH’s sister always gets our kids stuff but DH’s brother doesn’t. Not for any good reason, just because that’s how things happened (DH’s sister is the last to have kids on that side, so she was a doting aunt for years, whereas DH’s brother was busy with his own kids).

      Flying the family down to a winter place in Arizona sounds like an amazing gift!

      • The frugal ecologist Says:

        My family only does “stockings” which means a few inexpensive but usually thoughtful gifts.

        How I wish wish wish DH’s family would either exchange names or switch to only gifts for the kids. Gift giving on that side is so lame. Here, I will give you a $50 gift card & you will give me a $50 gift card. Merry Christmas.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        I think that’s what my sister would want– us to exchange gift cards instead of buying things (except she also doesn’t want to buy things off my amazon list and doesn’t keep her own list updated)… we have an upcoming post on how I don’t understand my sister’s relationship with money, except that I sort of do. (There’s a reason we both make lots of money!)

  4. bogart Says:

    Wow. You give to a much broader list of extended family than do we, we are pretty much immediate family + grandparents (N=1 at this point) + kids & grandkid.

    I got my mom almost everything off her Amazon wishlist (it was modest, and she is very generous with us), plus YakTrax (which I stumbled across when looking for something for someone else), because who knows, we may have another slippy winter and she is prone to slippage and wrist breakage (but no so prone to staying inside, which — fair enough).

    We are getting our son a “real” (though child-sized and not, you know, WILDLY dangerous. But not the kind with suction-cup arrows.) bow-and-arrow, about which I think he will be totally gaga. It’s not on his list (everything on his list reads “Harry Potter [item] “) and I don’t think it would even occur to him to ask for one (or that we would allow him to have one, as we are pretty anti-weapon…), but I think he will love it. And obviously he will use it with supervision to shoot targets [note to self: check with horse friends re: getting some “yucky” haybales] and not otherwise. But we’re not, you know opposed to learning about appropriate use of useful tools and, anti-weapon proclivities notwithstanding, on some level this falls in that category, he may, at some age, want to hunt (I doubt it, but who knows, and while we don’t, we have friends who hunt and are happy to accept gifts of venison. He does already fish.), so this is a very early step down that possible path.

    Also, I recently had to drop a power tool off at a fancy tool repair shop and darned if they didn’t have a real, sturdy shovel that is a perfect length for him (about 4′?) and VERY affordable ($15). So he’s getting that — he has outgrown his sturdy little-kid shovel, and we are going camping at the beach after Christmas, and I am not into messing around with silly plastic shovels! We will have fun.

    Santa is bringing him a Kindle, the just-for-reading kind. That will come with a number of Minecraft-related ebooks on it.

    DH is mostly getting “list” stuff except that I found a nice men’s belt on sale and am getting him that, his are usually of Walmart quality and don’t last.

    Oh! Unfortunately he is pretty much past a point where he can enjoy even these, but I will note that I found my dad enjoyed what were basically picture books (coffee table books, though they had to be smallish because of coordination/strength issues) of familiar subjects (his hometown, his college) as he was declining into dementia. Not as useful as magnets-with-names, but he seemed to enjoy them.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      It’s all DH’s family. With me its just my parents and my sister.

      I guess it’s kind of weird that I didn’t list anything for our two kids. We don’t actually get them much because my in-laws get them so very much. (We did get a big lego set for DC1’s birthday– an especially impressive one since it has an equal number of female figs! Including in non-traditional jobs!)

      Those all sound like great gifts!

      DC1 actually got a bow and arrow set and protective gear for Christmas or hir birthday last year from FIL. We got a wooden box target at a sporting goods store.

      DC1 looooves minecraft books. No minecraft yet, but this year ze will get it.

      I think Santa is going to pick up some Pokemon cards for DC1’s stocking. I forgot to put that on there! No idea what to put in DC2’s stocking.

      Picture books are a really good idea. She actually gave us all of her genealogy and picture albums before she moved into assisted living.

      • bogart Says:

        Oh! I also ordered 24 pencils (these are not hard to find, Amazon and other places) with DS’s name on them as stocking stuffers. Silly, but affordable and he is at an age where that sort of thing is “cool.”

        DS already has Minecraft (on PC), as of fairly recently and I am trying to figure out what to do about the whole multi-player thing and also just generally limiting his access to the (bad parts of the) internet. So far: nothing (except that his computer time is limited and it is in a public part of the house — and it’s not, obviously, that at his age I expect him to be looking for “bad” stuff, but that doesn’t mean he won’t find it). Which statement is really a plea for advice/input, if you (or your commenters!) have started to figure this stuff out.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        No advice here– DC1 is now only allowed to use the computer on weekends after hir chores are done because weeknight playing meant ze started thinking ze had actually done hir homework when ze hadn’t. Hir computer is also in the casual dining room which is in view of the kitchen and both living rooms, so basically what you’re doing.

      • bogart Says:

        Oh darn (on the no advice). Right. We’re allowing up to an hour of Minecraft/day (or other screentime, but that’s the current choice…), which I think is too much (this is DH’s thing) but does offer the advantage that I now have something I can take away when behaviors I disapprove of occur. Such as dangling prepositions!

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        Hm, lately DC1 has been saying things like, “Me and her” or “Me and him” because ze knows it gets a rise out of me. I like the way you think.

    • chacha1 Says:

      someone gave my sister & me a bow & arrow (target type, not hunting type!) when we were kids. I shot a neighboring bully with it. :D

  5. becca Says:

    I am currently searching for some random child to gift “Waiting is Not Easy” to. I have drawn a line in the sand and am unlikely to be buying my kid anything more this year, except some stocking candy. He has an electronic chess set picked out by Dad, some books picked out by me from the book fair, and he won an enormous stocking in a candy cane hunt raffle.

    bogart- I haven’t figured out the solution to the internet thing, but I am so glad my kid was too young to understand “Mario is a furry” when that came up on a youtube video search.
    Actually, wholistically kiddo makes good media choices, with the exception of his inexplicable love of Scooby Doo. I think the worst thing is he is most likely to be watching too much TV when my emotional reserves are low, so if I catch him watching something marginally but not wholly inappropriate (Adventure Time?), I don’t want to fight it or distract him. I think setting the ground rules about programs ahead of time might be worth looking at.

  6. Rented life Says:

    My brother doesn’t get to see LO much so we made a poster of photos from the first year. Will also make one for SIL who lives on the other coast. My parents got things they asked for, nothing exciting. We bought LO a broom set for kids because he’s often trying to drag the broom around. We wanted to find a kitchen set–pots pans etc–but everything was 3 and up and choking hazards are a concern with him.

  7. Leah Says:

    That suitcase is awesome! Wondering if I should buy one for my husband or if he will say that we have too many suitcases . . .

    We don’t have a Target in town. The nearest one is 15-20 minutes away. Should I buy Walmart gift cards for my kid’s teachers or do grocery store cards instead?

    I got my in-laws picture luggage tags. I did a family pic for my MIL and a pic my FIL took when backpacking for his tag. I think they’ll love those. Also going to print some pics of my kid to put in frames and trying to figure out what nice thing my FIL might like. Maybe reflector lights for night running? Running gloves? He is hard to buy for.

    I am buying Ticket to Ride expansions for my brother. It’s a family favorite board game.

    Oh, my favorite thing I’ve gotten so far: I bought our little neighbor girl a really fun puzzle game. I bought it at Target but can’t find it online. It’s got various size blocks with an angle on one end, and you fit all the blocks into a tray. There’s a ton of patterns you can do, and these are shown on little cards. It’s basically a kids spatial awareness thing. It was pricy ($30) but so worth it — our 3 year old neighbor gal is entranced!

  8. chacha1 Says:

    Our cousin’s in-laws are hosting the family gathering on Xmas Eve. We are getting them a BevMo gift card because we know they drink :-)

    My folks have explicitly requested no gifts.

    My sisters have not requested no gifts, but I haven’t come up with anything yet. They had kind a banner year (sold their income property, and bio sis got a private grant to buy a pro-quality DSLR to kick the re-start of her photography career) and are doing some work on their house. So maybe I will send them a fat Lowe’s gift card.

    I got my husband a new groovy LED desk lamp for the home office. He has indicated to me that he’d like to get me a Kindle Paperwhite, I’ve told him to wait and see if his mother is willing to give up the one we got for his father that FIL never used and that MIL hasn’t touched since FIL died.

  9. Miser Mom Says:

    Ooh, I finally framed up our old family photos and mementos: Great Grandpa. Crazy Uncle Herman in a sombrero and ankle-length fur coat. Collage of baby pictures of my dad. My grandmother’s coat and cape, hand stitched by her mom.

    These have been languishing in my drawers for years. I spent real money to get them framed nicely, but now they’re going to get passed along to the next generation. Finally! I’m going to show pictures and do a post on this, I hope.

  10. hypatia cade Says:

    What’s the name of the cool angle game? My niece and nephew are into games and it would be fun to have something new/unusual to send them

  11. xykademiqz Says:

    I hate shopping… Christmas or otherwise. Except for stationery. Strolling through Office Max is therapeutic.
    Around Xmas, I am sooo happy we don’t have family on this continent. Our Xmas shopping is for the kids (thank you, DH, for doing all of it) and teachers (gift cards and cards).

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      Stationary is on my amazon wishlist, but nobody has gotten it for me!

      We actually don’t shop much at all for our kids– my in-laws buy so much that it crowds out all our shopping.

      • CG Says:

        Yep, us too. We buy one big “Santa” present for each kid, plus some books. Both my in-laws and my parents are big on Christmas, although they’ve toned it down some over the years after some hints from me (“Mom, every time we come home from Christmas, I feel a sense of despair because I don’t know where we’re going to put everything”). My mom is a former librarian and always finds awesome books for the kids. We are happy to get almost an infinite number of those!

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        My mom also sticks to books– they are awesome. (And so stackable! In shelves made for them!)

  12. Revanche Says:

    So it’s December 15th and we have purchased exactly nothing. I would have worried over this earlier in the month but have been totally miserable so I haven’t got the emotional space to care. Still, I really don’t want to be buying last minute whatever things just to buy them, which always means spending more, and more aggravation when I’m already aggro.

    I am, however, dropping hints that it’d be awesome if we all scaled back on gifts. It’s all PiC’s family though, so I don’t know that this suggestion from the in-law cheapskate and Grinch is going to go over well… :) I’d like this to be the year we just give the kids school money and leave it at that but maybe in say… 2017.

  13. MutantSupermodel Says:

    My mom asked me to get her some Trapp candles so I did. I got my dad a psych book from his Wishlist. I got my brother a floating cooler for his new super nifty pool and I got his wife a ribbon carousel she wanted plus a massage bar from Lush because she’s prego (I AM GOING TO BE AN AUNTIE!). I got the baby a onesie that says “Mommy’s favorite present”. For my other brother I got a cute Jon Snow set from Funko that comes with a t-shirt and a Funko figure. This is because the other day he texted me “You know nothing Jon Snow,” I got my BFFE the same set but of Daenerys. I got my grandma a box of fill in puzzle books because she is complaining she is 1) always bored and 2) she can never find the puzzle books she likes. I got Lush shower gels for the teachers. I got a really cute light up Hello Kitty calendar for my little cousin. I got a silly gym shirt for my goddaughter and Humans of New York for my cousin. I got boxes of chocolates for some of the seniors in the family. I am still missing gifts for the hippies in my family :)

    My family, from what I can tell, does NOT like Secret Santa or anything like that. I’ve brought it up and people look at me like I’m crazy and then they tell me there’s no pressure to buy gifts for everyone. And then they say something like, “Don’t worry, everyone understands you can’t afford to buy much at Christmas.” :/ And they’re right but I LIKE it I just wish I could do a better job of it. I mostly think it’s fun although this year there were a couple people I almost didn’t get anything for but then I did because I know their parents love me and the kids a lot and it would be noticeable if I didn’t get them anything.

    For the kids, I was sneaky and didn’t ask for letters to Santa this year. Instead I decided they would get the Wii U this year because they really do love playing on the Wii and they are dying to play the new games coming out. So I kinda led them down that path and that’s what I got them. And then the family asked me what to get them and I told them to go ahead and get them Wii U stuff. I did get a couple of side gifts for each kid like an MP3 player and a Snap Circuits set for my daughter (she was bummed her teacher didn’t let her use the one in their classroom even though she had finished all her work). The boys got more video game stuff they wanted. We got the boyfriend’s daughter a pair of tickets to a concert she wanted to go to.

    I think that I actually did a pretty good job with the budget this year. I was a bad ass with sales and deals and next year I’m going to be even better about it because I am definitely going to start shopping earlier for the extended family. I’M GOING TO BE AN AUNT!

  14. Susan Says:

    Thanks for the Etiquette link – that looks perfect for the 12yo on our list.

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