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Thread: Christmas with Adult Children

  1. #1
    Senior Member amelia0607's Avatar
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    Christmas with Adult Children

    How do you all handle gift giving in families with grown children? I have two grown daughters and their husbands and two grandchildren. That's it - not too many to shop for. Both my daughters are doctors and their husbands also make good money. The girls want to draw names this year in an effort to simplify things. I don't really see this as being complicated, especially since they both use my Amazon Prime account (no shipping fees) for their shopping. It's not like they are out battling crowds.

    Anyway, I told them they could draw names among themselves if they choose to but that I would give each of my children (including SILs) and grandchildren gifts. I also told them I would be happy to limit myself in the number of gifts purchased for each person. I usually give them about 5 presents each but only one of those presents per person costs over $20. The rest are usually very small kitchen or shop gadgets - just things that I think they would truly enjoy but probably wouldn't buy for themselves. I have never given my grandchildren more than 3 gifts for Christmas or Birthday as I feel that the majority of presents should come from their own parents.

    I also told them that they didn't have to purchase gifts for their father and I. We would be thrilled with their time helping to decorate or prepare for the meals or going to church with us the Sunday before Christmas. Or if they wanted, one of them could get their father a gift and one could get me something. And I pointed out to them that neither of us want anything expensive or physically large so wrapping and transporting shouldn't be a problem. I also told them if they want to put a $ limit or a # of packages limit on me that would probably be ok.

    One of my daughters thinks I am being totally unreasonable. I don't see what's wrong with parents giving their children (grown or not) a few Christmas presents, especially if it gives us joy to do so.

    So I'm curious, what does your family do about Christmas giving?

    Thanks in advance.

  2. #2
    Power Poster Prism99's Avatar
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    Yikes! Sounds like you really enjoy Christmas shopping whereas your next generation does not.

    Personally, I think giving 5 presents to each child and spouse (when both couples are obviously making lots of money) is too much, especially when 4 of the gifts are under $20. It makes for too much "stuff" after they are already able to purchase all the "stuff" they specifically want for themselves. It may make you feel good, but chances are it doesn't make them feel good. That's why I don't see the point of it. If it were me, I'd try to give each adult a meaningful gift that cost a bit more -- perhaps a handmade ornament or quilt for each adult.

    I also personally think that grandparents giving each child 3 Christmas gifts is fine.

    Our family eventually went the name-drawing route, which was a great relief to everyone. But, this was a much larger family than yours (3 brothers and sisters, about a dozen nieces and nephews -- you get the picture). After quite a few years of doing it this way, the big family get-together at Christmas died out. The family split up a bit, and parts of it get together, but I simply meet with two of my siblings and exchange gifts with them at Christmas time. My adult daughter is not married and does not have children; she and her boyfriend are of the belief that the more presents they get, the better! However, neither is a doctor and both live on very limited incomes (and are in college off and on). Totally different situation than yours.

    Maybe you could compromise. Gifts they give to you could need to be the things you want; in exchange, you give only one gift to each adult child. They can do the name drawing amongst themselves.

  3. #3
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    We stopped gift giving a few years back for the adults in my family. We take the money we would have spent and choose a different charity each year to donate to. We still all buy gifts for the children.

  4. #4
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    It could be that they have all the "stuff" they want and need - Maybe they think it's very difficult to get you anything meaningful -

    However, in our family - which isn't very big - everyone felt major relief when the gift EXCHANGE was stopped.

    Our kids had no idea of what to get for us - and everyone seemed too busy to contribute time/labor to anything.
    Our kids are all around 50 - and they have no "need" for anything we can afford - what daughter wants is child supervision once in a while - but her kids are so booked up that it's hard to find a few minutes when they are unscheduled.

    Perhaps your urge to give could be to transferred to adopt a needy family and dote on them. Maybe you could all go together and get someone "something special/needed" that he/she probably would not be able to get because they were poor. Like a new refrigerator or microwave oven -

    I kind of understand that you feel that your parade is being rained on. You could go even one farther, and say "Good idea - no Christmas gifts for any family this year - We will do something special for ourselves with that money." You could "make it up" for birthday presents if you had severe gift giving withdrawals.

    Do you (all) still get together during the winter holiday season? Maybe that's enough for the rest of the family?

  5. #5
    Power Poster Prism99's Avatar
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    I wanted to mention that one year my daughter's school "adopted" a very needy family for Christmas. My husband, daughter and I had a wonderful time shopping together for this family. It was actually more fun than usual because we didn't have to wrap all the gifts we bought (school volunteers took over that part).

  6. #6
    Super Member ekuw's Avatar
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    In my family I have for the most part stopped exchanging gifts with my brother and sister. Sometimes I get my parents a gift card, but if they want something they usually buy it for themselves. It's nice and simple. My husbands family however is all about exchanging gifts. The problem is most of these folks are pretty well off and the presents in my price range (about $20) just doesn't work here. They kind of frown on gift cards because it's not really thoughtful, but I don't really spend a lot of time with them to know what would be inexpensive and "meaningful". The reality is they have all the stuff they could possible ever need or want. I'm not sure what happens to the gifts we give them because over the course of 25 years I have RARELY seen something we have given any of them around or used. There are about 10 people to buy for and it just stresses me out trying to find the perfect thoughtful gift for these people who I really don't spend time with other than the holidays. We have tried drawing names, but they all hated it so it went by the wayside. Once again as the holidays approach, my stress level rises over this issue. Last year we opted out because we just didn't have the $$ to do it, but we still receive gifts from them which makes it awkward. I'm already getting stressed out about this and it's still October. BTW I have baked for them, but my MIL & SIL both make cookies so if I give them more it's kind of overkill and my MIL quilts and my SIL is an amazing seamstress so I can't really give them quilts either. UGH!

  7. #7
    Power Poster lynnie's Avatar
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    my husband and me get his nephews gifts or gift cards. their parents are a dr. and a lawyer. I have a son from a previous marriage. We just got a condo and are barely getting by. they on the other hand, complain bout alot of things costing too much like summer camp all summer and the cost of a second car. we have 2 cars. they never give to my son, which i think isn't right. wht do you all think. We buy their 2 sons b'day and christmas gifts. my son get nada. This year, we can't afford to buy each other a gift. I made a promise with GOd if my son didn't have a disease that the drs. thought I'd buy a bike for a poor kid, so a poor kid is getting a very nice bike and accessories this year.
    put off till tomorrow what you can do today, and if you procrastinate long enough, you may never have to do it.

  8. #8
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    I give my grandkids 3 gifts each -- one of the 3 is socks because in our family socks means love. I will buy gifts for my kids and their spouses because they rarely get anything for themselves and it is one time I can pamper them. I would rather that they not spend any money on us -- if we want something bad enough we will buy it.

  9. #9
    Super Member decky's Avatar
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    My kids decided that they wouldn't exchange names last year and that included the grandkids. We still give the kids money and the grandkids all get a Christmas ornament plus a small amount of money. We told the kids we didn't want anything as we can buy what we want and told them to spend the money on their kids.
    Pat in MN

  10. #10
    Super Member Neesie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lynnie View Post
    my husband and me get his nephews gifts or gift cards. their parents are a dr. and a lawyer. I have a son from a previous marriage. We just got a condo and are barely getting by. they on the other hand, complain bout alot of things costing too much like summer camp all summer and the cost of a second car. we have 2 cars. they never give to my son, which i think isn't right. wht do you all think. We buy their 2 sons b'day and christmas gifts. my son get nada. This year, we can't afford to buy each other a gift. I made a promise with GOd if my son didn't have a disease that the drs. thought I'd buy a bike for a poor kid, so a poor kid is getting a very nice bike and accessories this year.
    Lynnie, tell them your heart is urging you to give to needy children, instead of sending the usual Christmas/birthday gifts. Then let that be it. Many children get very little, if anything, and will appreciate even the smallest gifts. Use up some scraps and make small stuffed animals or dolls. Another option is to make and give small gifts to residents in a nursing home. Many of those older people are all but forgotten, around the holidays. These gifts don't have to cost you anything, if you use what you have on hand, along with your imagination.
    Neesie


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  11. #11
    Super Member Neesie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by amelia0607 View Post
    How do you all handle gift giving in families with grown children? I have two grown daughters and their husbands and two grandchildren. That's it - not too many to shop for. Both my daughters are doctors and their husbands also make good money. The girls want to draw names this year in an effort to simplify things. I don't really see this as being complicated, especially since they both use my Amazon Prime account (no shipping fees) for their shopping. It's not like they are out battling crowds.
    .....

    So I'm curious, what does your family do about Christmas giving?

    Thanks in advance.
    We used to exchange gifts with extended family but the holidays just got to be too stressful, with all the shopping. Now what I do is instead of giving holiday gifts, I give a gift when the mood hits me, 'for no reason' other than that I feel like giving someone something. To me, this is much more meaningful than giving a gift because it's expected. At the same time, the receiver isn't put into the position of feeling as he/she should give a gift in return. I just tell folks that if/when they want to give me something, to do it whenever. No pressure, no expectations. Each gift given and received, is a surprise and is extra special!

    We do exchange Christmas gifts with our grown kids but never feel the need to break the bank over it! No one keeps track of who spent what, for whom.
    Neesie


    By all means let's be open-minded, but not so open-minded that our brains drop out.
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  12. #12
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    All the grand kids want is gift cards! What fun is that?
    "Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming "WOO HOO what a ride!"
    Susan

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by amelia0607 View Post
    The girls want to draw names this year in an effort to simplify things. I don't really see this as being complicated, especially since they both use my Amazon Prime account (no shipping fees) for their shopping. It's not like they are out battling crowds.
    My take is they are busy and want to take time to enjoy family and friends. They don't want to reduce the time spend on finding/buying gifts and instead use this time on what really matters. (You did a great job in teaching them what is important in life.)

    If it was me in this situation, I would agree with their plan AND if I felt I needed to shop for more gifts, I would be buying gifts for someone that truly needs my gifts. After all, isn't that what Christmas is about?

  14. #14
    Super Member KarenK's Avatar
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    For the past two years, I have given my son and his family a yearly zoo membership and am planning to continue this year. I also give them each a couple of surprises to unwrap. We do our best to focus on "experiences", not "stuff".

    My DDIL is the youngest of 4 sisters and there are 22 people in their giving group. There are 2 drawings for names - one for the adults and one for the children. This system has worked well for them for years.

    My holiday traditions have gradually changed and simplified over the years. Thank goodness!!! Younger generations want to create their own traditions. Both of your daughters "want to draw names this year in an effort to simplify things." I think the core of the previous sentence is - "Both daughters want to simplify." Perhaps the best Christmas present you could give them this year is to go along with their request.
    “Be well, do good work, and keep in touch."
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  15. #15
    Super Member LindaM's Avatar
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    We used to exchange names for gifts but that was still not much fun. For the adults (anyone over 16!) we are now playing a 'CHRISTMAS' game - each year, everyone buys one gift, the gift starts with the current letter of the year (this year we're on 'T'). Limit for each gift is agreed upon prior - usually around $25. The gifts are wrapped as 'guy', 'gal' or 'anyone' gifts and placed in a pile. A deck of cards is shuffled and everyone gets a card - highest card picks first - gifts are opened as we go. Everyone, in turn, picks either from the pile or from someone who already has a gift (then that person gets a new gift). After everyone has something, another round of cards is passed out, and this time we either exchange or keep what we have (if exchange, the person you take the gift from can keep or exchange again - altho some years we skip that part). There are always interesting articles and lots of laughter. Makes it really easy - want to play, bring a gift!

    Younger children provide a list to aunts/uncles and we pick something from their list. No grandkids to spoil yet.

    At work, we eliminated 'Secret Santa' in favour of supporting families in need via the local social service agency - they provide us with age/sex of the child in need, and each child gets $100 in gifts. In the past, we've had some large families and have also gifted shopping/grocery cards to the parents. Some people just love shopping, and they volunteer to find the goodies for the kids. Some shop all year and find bargains throughout the year, keeping them for the next Christmas. Sure feels good to spread some Christmas cheer to local families we know appreciate it.
    Linda
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  16. #16
    Super Member joysewer's Avatar
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    We do the exact same thing Tartan does.....gifts for the children and the adults give to a charity.
    Gloria 

  17. #17
    Super Member Billi's Avatar
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    My husband has 5 sisters years ago when we all had small kids we each bought something for all of the kids. Then for the adults we agreed to give each other the same every year (1 gift for each set if parents) we gave a family picture, a favorite recipe and a Christmas ornament. I for one loved it and have all of the recipes in a book all the kids pictures and almost ll of the ornaments. (some have broken) it was a great way to share something and not burden others with the stress of shopping, or cost of a gift Then as some of the family's moved and we stopped sharing Christmas day that tradition died out and we started drawing names for the kids only , and only the ones that would be there on Christmas day. they got one gift from grandma and grampnda and one from the cousin that drew their name. That worked well for a few years till twice one of my daughter didn't get a gift...."oh we left it at home we'll send it". . Nope never happened so the following thanksgiving when we traditionally drew names I ended it.

    A few of us still get together on or around Christmas day, we just eat hang out and remember when all the kids were young and how much fun it was to have them all together.

    The only Christmas gifts we buy now is for our 2 daughters, their current boyfriend and my best friend and her husband and 2daughters. Easy peasy no fuss no muss and I never feel stressed or guilty over any of it.
    Billi
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  18. #18
    Super Member PenniF's Avatar
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    When we were younger and first married my husband and i didn't really have much cash at Christmas...but it WAS Christmas....and i think we all carry that Norman Rockwell vision of the tree and presents and Christmas Day. We just want our family (and friends) to feel the magic. And it's SO HARD to get there....and it can make us sad in ways that really cut deep when we don't.

    We created a tradition that we still do every year. We each get $55 (50 + 5 for tax) - in the afternoon after lunch on Christmas Eve we go to the mall. The rule is, no more than $10 can be spent on a gift...then we each go our separate ways in the mall.
    You would be surprised what you can get at the mall on Christmas Eve for $10 or less. Not "junk" either (my hubby always hits the Victoria Secrets sale and i get some new undies) We have a ball !!! - spend a couple of hours scouring the stores - leave the mall with lots of bags - then go out to dinner at TGI Friday's - then go home and wrap the gifts.

    When it comes to the kids and grand-kids --- they know what my budget is - everyone gets to ask for 1 gift that they would really like to have --- that one gift will be under the tree - that has been the "rule" since my kids first understood what Christmas was almost 40 years ago......and if there is money left over, there will be more under the tree or in their stocking.....and of course there are always things that i have made for them.

    One of my favorite things tho is the baking day i have with my 3 DGD every December. We bake dozens of cookies - i make the dough and do the hot oven stuff -- they make the cookies and decorate them. Last year they each did a gingerbread house too. What a HOOT those turned out to be. I treasure those days - and hope they will be a happy memory for the girls too when i'm not here any more.
    Of all the things i've lost, i miss my mind the most.

  19. #19
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    I have given my kids, grands and great grands the same thing each year: a Waterford ornament that they can use (I hope) forever. Started this when all the grands were first born and have continued it until now. Sometimes they fuss, but I really don't care....I will NOT give them junk gifts; clothes are out as I wouldn't know what to get! And I won't get candy for them, either unless it's just a small amount of a really good chocolate. They all seem to be happy with their ornaments, so as long s they are....
    If you feel like you're special...it's 'cause you are!
    Momto5

  20. #20
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    The daughter who thinks you are unreasonable is also telling you that the Christmas gifting is very stressful for her. Difficult as it may be, you might want to give her request more consideration.

    A solution for you - give them small 'because I love you' gifts throughout the year instead of all at once on Christmas.

    I come from a large family. We long ago decided that we, as siblings, would not give gifts to each other for Christmas or birthdays. Our nieces and nephews get small gifts, and now they like money so that is an easy wish to fill - Thank God! Once they were out on their own, we stopped gifting them at all, but we do gift their children. My own grandchildren get money, but I usually give them a small gift to open on Christmas day as well.
    A quilt is like a good life. It's full of mistakes, but, in the end, it looks pretty good.

  21. #21
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    Excellent solution!
    A quilt is like a good life. It's full of mistakes, but, in the end, it looks pretty good.

  22. #22
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    Enjoy Christmas! You are not being forced to give gifts. You are enjoying doing it.

    Maybe spread out the gifts throughout the year. A small gift on a down day can really brighten the day.

    I give my Christmas gifts anytime between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

  23. #23
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    Have you thought how many gifts your daughters are buying? Let's do some math (with some guesses) and just look at it from one daughter's viewpoint. As you stated a parent should give each child, 5 gifts each plus say 3 Santa gifts each. Now if your daughter wants to teach the importance of "giving", each child should be giving a gift to their sibling, and their parents. And she gives 2 gifts to her spouse. That is a total of 26 gifts to be given within their family unit.

    Each activity the kids are in, has a coach which needs a gift, 3 activities * 2 kids = 6 gifts. Each teacher needs a gift, 1 teacher * 2 kids = 2 gifts. Maybe the kids have friends that they want to send gifts to, 3 friends * 2 kids = 6 gifts. That's 14 more gifts.

    I am sure your daughter has some special girlfriends that she always exchanges gifts with, 3 friends = 3 gifts. And maybe these friends each have 2 children, = 6 gifts. That's 9 gifts to her girlfriends.

    Gifts within her family, 1 for you, 1 for your husband, 1 for sis, 1 for brother-in-law, and 3 gifts to each niece/nephew. That's 10 gifts for her family.

    Assuming, her husband comes from the same-sized family. Another 10 for his family.

    If I can add correctly, that's 69 gifts. This does not include any hostess gifts (if they are invited out), other gift exchange, or other unexpected gift-giving occasion.

    Sounds pretty crazy. I speak from experience, this is why daughters ask their mothers to "please draw names".

  24. #24
    Senior Member amelia0607's Avatar
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    I do give them gifts throughout the year - just because. It might be a manicure or a homecooked meal or an outfit (that they select) or a necklace or something like that. The small gifts at Christmas are things they will use for instance - one daughter scrapbooks extensively so I may give her some fun scrapbooking paper. The other daughter loves to cook so I do look for some fun small kitchen gadget. Both of their husbands do the repairs and maintenance on their cars so last year their small present was a magnet bowl for their shops. Their larger gifts are always something that they have each specifically asked for as I don't want to get them something they don't want or need. I am more than fine with them drawing names among themselves and I'm not asking or expecting them to get us anything I just want the option to give gifts to my children. Sort of like when my parents, siblings, in-laws started drawing names, I still get my parents something even if I drew my brother or someone else. I just can't imagine not giving my parents a Christmas gift. Oh and for many years I have sponsored a child for Christmas.
    Last edited by amelia0607; 10-17-2014 at 07:30 PM.

  25. #25
    Super Member Sandygirl's Avatar
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    We quit doing gifts years ago...except for the kids, of course. Adults can go out to buy their own stuff. Why torture yourself UNLESS that is your "joy". I would give from the heart BUT i also do not expect a return gift. I, frankly, enjoy the holidays much more, thanks to simplifying the celebration. Great food, the company of family and friends and participating in the worship services, which is the "reason for the season". I no longer identify with the mass histeria of shopping, mall hours, the rush, etc. Heck, i barely mail cards anymore since Facebook! Lol!

    i DO. Like to walk the malls to enjoy the decorations and window shop the merchandise . I does get me in the spirit of shopping but I don't stand in the lines or shop the crazy hours. Too many years working in retail cures that propaganda! No credit card balances that suck the joy out of the holidays in months to come, either.

    Yep, i am currently enjoying poking the Christmas aisles.

    sandy
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