Family Gift Ideas

I was chatting with my brother the other day about Christmas. Historically, our family…well…kind of goes overboard a bit and we tend to spend a lot of money on gifts. This was fun, of course, during our teenage years, and into our twenties. But, now that we’re older, have decent jobs, have our own tastes and such, this kind of extreme gift-giving just isn’t necessary anymore.

Add that to the fact that DH and I have to fork out a large amount of cash each year to fly back home for the holidays, we have decided to get the whole family to scale back this year. I talked to the parental-unit about this and they seemed happy to oblige; after all, why do they want to spend that kind of money on Christmas gifts for their 30+ year old children?

My mom and I were trying to figure out what we could do instead: decide on a spending limit? Do something as a family instead of gifts (dinner?, some sort of activity?). Donate money to charity as a family? My brother also suggested we could all travel together (love this idea), but that’s out for this year since we have our flights home booked already.

DH and I like this whole “scaling back” idea as well, so we’ve decided on a spending limit, half of which will go to a charity of our choice (or two). Even though it’s nice to get (and give) gifts, I think it will be even nicer to do that.

What does your family do for Christmas? Do you pool your money together for something (activity, travel, charity)? Any ideas for what we can do as a family this year?


Comments on: "Family Gift Ideas" (9)

  1. We feel the same way. We do kids' gifts only with the extended family and give each other something very practical that we need anyway (Ryan gave me a camera last year to replace mine that broke, extravagent but important, and I gave him some hoists to hang his bike on the garage ceiling and a new jacket). I love the idea of travelling together too!


  2. We give more “pracitcal” presents or a night at the theater or something that is both time and money. I tend to look for “interesting/odd things over here” and they tend to look for “things that she might not find there”…. not very fancy, but thoughtful.

    we had a talk a few years back since I felt it hard to give everyone expensive presents being a graduate student and then really, pressies are fun – but not when they are JUST expensive or impersonal šŸ˜‰

    Enjoy Christmas! I realise that I should've bought more pressies already….


  3. Thanks ladies! Actually, that is very much what we usually do: get practical and even thoughtful gifts for each other. That's not really the problem…it's more the amount of gifts we give/or what we spend.

    Perhaps making a rule where we only give 1 gift per person, and not one big gift, some medium ones, and a bunch of small ones?


  4. I come from a very large family, so we've traditionally done 2 things for Christmas.

    1) For the (still large) immediate family we draw names out of a hat at Thanksgiving and each person then buys one nicer gift (usually a $50 limit) for the person they drew (spouses aren't allowed to draw each other).

    2) For the extended family we play an upscale version of white elephant. Everyone is to bring 3 gifts (with a total spending limit set) – these are supposed to be useful gifts that everyone would like (i.e. coffee & travel mug or kitchen gadgets, etc.). We then all sit around in a circle and play the game. This has multiple advantages such as not having to buy lots of gifts for everyone, and it's fun for Christmas afternoon.

    I should note that we all do buy gifts for the young children who aren't allowed to play the game.

    With Mr. Chemist we usually do nice practical gifts – last year Mr. Chemist gave “me” a Blue-Ray player since our DVD player was dying, that kind of thing.


  5. The same thing happens in my family. But my extended Dutch family do it like Mrs Chemist mentioned – draw names and each person gets someone to get a gift for (and this happens on Sinterklaas, i.e. Dec 5th!). It's also kept secret who you're getting a gift for. I'll try it for the first time this year. In my own family, except for my mom's obsessive gift-giving, the rest of us get one thing for each person. However, my brother forgot to get some stuff last year. Solution: He cut a chocolate box into 3 equal parts. I'll never forget that gift or the joy that came out of it! Noone cared it was cheap – we felt special, because he made sure everyone got something, and made the effort to do that, even though his own cheapness might be revealed.. šŸ™‚ People tend to cherish the stuff you make yourself as well. My parents love the personal music compilations I have made a few times, and especially the custom-made cover to the cd. The same goes for me. Those are the awesomest cd's in the shelf. So, your knitting might come in very handy!


  6. Mrs Chemist – I love the white elephant idea. I have done it with groups of friends, but not family before. Could be good for the extended family (although ours is quite small, so not sure how it would go).

    Thanks Theresa – I was thinking of the knitting thing too!


  7. My family is too small to have had this problem but one of my friends has a really nice family tradition that helps them get around this. Every year, they draw a name and each person has to make a gift for the person whose name they drew. I don't know how far in advance they do this but I've seen some of their homemade projects and I suspect they get a lot of lead time to do it. They don't have to be elaborate gifts but this way, everyone gets something that is thoughtful and meaningful. Last year or the year before, her brother made her a photo collage that he had mounted (you know that plak-it thing that Costco does? Like that) and it looks amazing on her wall. She's into needlework so she tends to make something involving that for her gifts.


  8. This started when my brother and I were both broke university students, but we set a limit of $20/person for gifts for immediate family (it's gone up to $25 now, although I don't think that even covers inflation). It makes you a lot more imaginative, and I've gotten some really neat presents for $20. We've kept the limit even though brother and I both have jobs now and make a lot more money. DH's family is weird. You have to make a detailed (and I mean detailed) list of what you might want for Christmas and then it's distributed and you get something from it. It's not official, but most things tend to be under $40. DH and I try and find something we'd like and save it for Christmas. Typically it's something we'd get anyways like some video games that we just wait a little while longer for. This year we'll be getting a camcorder to be able to video the baby we're expecting in May.


  9. My family is small, so everyone gives everyone else one big and a couple of small presents. I try to buy things like concert tickets etc. rather than material things – less postage!

    Mr E Man's family is much bigger, and has lots of kids in it. Every couple buys something for every kid, and the adults do a cheap-ish Secret Santa. There's supposed to be a $20 limit, but most people go over that!

    When Mr E Man came to my parents' place for Christmas for the first time, my Mum didn't really know what to get him and got generic things like socks and a scarf and a book and a CD voucher… he was completely overwhelmed and said he'd never had so many Christmas presents in his whole life! It was so cute!

    For the last few years, Mr E Man and I have “bought each other” ski gear as we gradually replace all our old stuff. I got a jacket last year, pants the year before, and some spiffy goggles the year before that. This year I think I might ask him for snow shoes. We go shopping together for each other's presents, and then wrap them up and open them on Xmas day, even though we picked them out ourselves! We do stockings as well with lots of silly stuff.


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