Etiquette Hell

General Etiquette => Life...in general => Holidays => Topic started by: chappy on December 04, 2012, 01:27:05 PM

Title: Is "equal" gifting important?
Post by: chappy on December 04, 2012, 01:27:05 PM
Growing up my mother kept a spreadsheet for gifts such that every child got the same total $$ spent AND the same total # of gifts.  Personally I think this is a little on the nuts/ over the top side, but wanted to state the bias of my FOO traditions.  Gifting is important in my FOO.

My husband's parents (of whom MIL does all the gifting work) do not share the same philosophy in practice anyway.  During our first few holidays together I was hurt by the inequality by MIL towards her sons and in a separate bucket her DILs; I understand some people do not treat ILs the same as children they raised, so my comparison was between the same "type" people.  DH was quick to point out that "some years are good gift years, some years not, it isn't the important part of the holiday."  And for the most part I have gotten better about not comparing.

In fact, so much so that I didn't take offense when MIL told me her plan for this coming Xmas for the granddaughters.  Oldest granddaughter (5) will get [expensive name brand doll] and three of the other gdaughters (4,3,3 yo) will get similar faux dolls since "only some of them will know the difference".  Her plan is name brand doll will be given at age 5 to all.  Is this rude?  I didn't take offense, but DH did.  he compared it to giving one oreos and the other hydrox.  We both thought giving the younger ones something entirely different would be better.  But is it rude to not gift somewhat equally? 

Although the situation is real, the question is just for discussion between DH and myself since we don't intend to alter MIL's plan.  My daughter is in the half that won't notice the difference.
Title: Re: Is "equal" gifting important?
Post by: Judah on December 04, 2012, 01:32:30 PM
I don't think it's important to give equally for any one gift giving occasion as long as the gift giving is equal over time.  There have been years that one of my kids got something very expensive and the other did not, because one of them wanting something expensive, but the other one very much wanted something very inexpensive. The next year it might be the other way around.
Title: Re: Is "equal" gifting important?
Post by: NyaChan on December 04, 2012, 01:35:49 PM
I think that MIL's problem is that she is gifting things of different value, in a deliberate sense all at the same time.  That said, I can understand her logic - Every Granddaughter will receive a special doll to commemorate  her 5th birthday.  So that IS equal.  It just feels off because in the same year, she is giving lesser dolls to everyone else.  I don't think that in this case it is rude and if a child does notice, I hope MIL explains that the special doll is saved for when they turn 5. 
Title: Re: Is "equal" gifting important?
Post by: Outdoor Girl on December 04, 2012, 01:36:03 PM
I don't see anything wrong with MIL choosing age 5 for when they would get the expensive doll but I do think it would be better to choose something entirely different for the ones not yet 5, rather than a faux version of the expensive doll.

My mother was determined to spend an almost identical amount on my brother and I growing up.  She didn't worry about numbers of presents but if my presents cost $100 and my brother's $110, she'd be out looking for a $10 item to even it up.

Now, my Dad worries about spending similar amounts on both of us.  He decided recently to give my brother some money to buy something he needed so he 'had' to give me the same amount of money to make it even.  (I put it towards getting my car detailed.   :D)  We are all careful to buy gifts in approximately the same price range for my nephews and I did the same for my brother and SIL, although I don't have to worry about that anymore.  Now that my nephews are adults, I try to spend about the same for each of them and my brother.  I'll spend more on my Dad but then, he spends more on me.
Title: Re: Is "equal" gifting important?
Post by: Sharnita on December 04, 2012, 01:38:14 PM
I would say if they all get a nice doll at 5 it is equal, unless the oldest gets a nice one every year.
Title: Re: Is "equal" gifting important?
Post by: JenJay on December 04, 2012, 01:44:55 PM
It sounds like her plan is to gift each of the girls the expensive doll when they are 5, and I think that's a neat tradition. If she consistently gifted oldest GD the name-brand thing while giving the younger girls the generic version I'd think that was a big problem, but it doesn't sound like that's where this is headed.

With my kids it was important when they were younger that they each had the same number of gifts, regardless of price. Now they are 9, 10 and 12 and we make sure we've spent the same amount per kiddo and if someone ends up with an extra gift we wrap two similar things together if possible (For example my oldest and youngest each have two gifts whereas middle child has three but two are video games so I wrapped them together - every kiddo has two to open!). I imagine when they are teens I'll be able to focus on gifting amount and not worry about the number. We'll see. lol
Title: Re: Is "equal" gifting important?
Post by: LazyDaisy on December 04, 2012, 01:46:22 PM
To me equal does not mean same. As long as each person receives a thoughtful gift that takes into account the recipient's interests and needs they are equal. The example you gave of the dolls is an unequal gift because it doesn't in any way take into consideration what each of the granddaughters interests are. Do all of them actually want the more expensive doll? What happens when one of the girls is really into Legos instead of dolls? They kinda get cheated out of a thoughtful individual gift so it winds up being unequal after all. One gets a gift they love and another gets the same gift but hates it.
Title: Re: Is "equal" gifting important?
Post by: Yvaine on December 04, 2012, 01:47:41 PM
I'm all for equalish for the same "type" of people. I've talked here before about a relative who gave lavish gifts to boys and super cheap gifts to girls of the same relationship. It was hurtful in a way that it wouldn't have been if all us kids had gotten something cheap--please note this is not a slam on inexpensive gifts! Just on obvious disparities based on things like favoritism or gender, especially if the recipients will all be opening them together too.

But I don't think it needs to be taken as far as a spreadsheet and having the numbers come out exactly equal. I wouldn't fret about getting Lucy a $20 gift and Timmy a $25 gift. It's when you get Lucy a $5 gift and Timmy a $50 gift, and you have an obvious quality gap, that it gets sticky.
Title: Re: Is "equal" gifting important?
Post by: Jules1980 on December 04, 2012, 01:50:41 PM
I don't think this is unfair.  Your DD will get a nice doll when she's 5 and since that year MIL will be buying 2 expensive dolls, more than like 5 year old niece will receive lesser gifts.  It seems more like MIL think 5 year old will appreciate very expensive doll more than the others who don't know what they are yet.  Since she does plan on giving the other granddaughters the very expensive doll at 5, I wouldn't worry about it this year.  ALl the 3 years olds are going to see is that 'cool.  we all got dollies.'  These dolls wouldn't happen to cost upwards of 100 dollars and have cool book sets to go with them do they?
Title: Re: Is "equal" gifting important?
Post by: Yvaine on December 04, 2012, 01:52:09 PM
I don't think this is unfair.  Your DD will get a nice doll when she's 5 and since that year MIL will be buying 2 expensive dolls, more than like 5 year old niece will receive lesser gifts.  It seems more like MIL think 5 year old will appreciate very expensive doll more than the others who don't know what they are yet.  Since she does plan on giving the other granddaughters the very expensive doll at 5, I wouldn't worry about it this year.  ALl the 3 years olds are going to see is that 'cool.  we all got dollies.'  These dolls wouldn't happen to cost upwards of 100 dollars and have cool book sets to go with them do they?

Yeah, the possible catch in this situation is that the two 3-year-olds may end up with three dolls apiece, when all is said and done, while the older girl still only has one!  :D Unless she gets the cheaper dolls in the years following her rite of passage doll.
Title: Re: Is "equal" gifting important?
Post by: SPuck on December 04, 2012, 01:56:34 PM
I think since your MIL is open to discussion about the gift giving plan you should probably talk to her about getting other gifts for the other girls. Besides the less dolls eventually aspect it is also a ticking time bomb if any of the other girls don't end up with the doll because it is announced.
Title: Re: Is "equal" gifting important?
Post by: Jules1980 on December 04, 2012, 02:00:23 PM
Also, my parents never tried to make it equal, just equalish.  For instance, every year my brother got a pair of very expensive footwear, but that was the footwear he chose to wear all year long so it was worth it to our parents.  However, he only got those and one or two more small gifts.  One year my sister got a high tech expensive calculator for Christmas.  She only got that and some clothing she needed that year.  I never really wanted anything extremely expensive so I always had a lot of little things.  Then it changed and I wanted big stuff and they were almost grown so they just wanted little stuff.  It always worked out.
Title: Re: Is "equal" gifting important?
Post by: Drawberry on December 04, 2012, 05:01:53 PM
To me 'equal' does not mean someone get's the same amount of gifts as another, nor the same things. But that equal thought and consideration is put into purchasing or making something for the receiver as an individual person. Quantity isn't really what I believe in and I find it a little absurd to keep track of such a thing. How much X spent on Y and how many gifts Y got sounds more like a catalog then gift giving. The point isn't to receive exactly what we want however we want it, the point is that someone took time from their lives to consider us.

As for the doll idea, it sounds to me like she's waiting until each child is of an age she feels they would be able to appreciate the more expensive doll. I personally don't see anything wrong with this but others may feel differently. 
Title: Re: Is "equal" gifting important?
Post by: Hmmmmm on December 04, 2012, 08:52:03 PM
If MIL plans to gift special doll to all GDs at age 5 I think it is fine to give the other GDs a doll that is not as special as long as the dolla given are age appropriate.  A 5 year old is probably ready to care for a soecial doll while 3 yr olds may want to play too hard. 

next year one GD will get  a special doll and maybe the current 5 year old will get a Barbie and the younger two get  tea set.  Then the following year the youngest get their special doll and the older 2 get a collection if books.  It all works out as long as MIL sticks with her plan and isn't always elevating the older GDs gift.
Title: Re: Is "equal" gifting important?
Post by: CakeEater on December 04, 2012, 10:12:06 PM
I think equalish gifting among children is more important than among adults. In this case, I'd definitely be buying something different for the younger girls, rather than a cheaper doll of the same kind. In fact, if it was me, I'd be doing the special gift at a certain age thing on their birthdays, and get them something similar for Christmas.
Title: Re: Is "equal" gifting important?
Post by: blarg314 on December 05, 2012, 02:48:31 AM

In the specific example here, I don't see a problem. I'm not sure an under 5 would notice that one doll was brand name and the other wasn't, or know that one doll cost more than the other, and the MIL plans to give the same kind of doll to the other girls at the same age.

Deciding to make it all dolls is a bit odd, admittedly.

In the general sense - I do think gifting in a family (like to all the kids, or all the grandkids) needs to be kept reasonably fair. That doesn't mean exactly fair - like the same number of gifts, or identical dollar amounts, but rather that it shouldn't be obvious that one child is getting much better gifts than another.

The idea that things balance out over time works if it really does balance over time (ie, not being used as an excuse), and, importantly, that the recipients are able to understand this.  Adults can should be able to adapt to year to year variations. Kids, on the other hand, are a lot less able to process "Last year you got lots of presents and your sister didn't get many, so this year she gets lots and you don't get much", (a year is a long time for a kid), and they aren't as good at hiding hurt feelings at the time.
Title: Re: Is "equal" gifting important?
Post by: kherbert05 on December 05, 2012, 04:59:11 AM
My Mom was like your mom. She grew up in rural Canada during the depression and WWII. Her youngest 5 siblings grew up in the post war boom. Brothers were allowed to have railroad train sets. She didn't have one till the year before she died. Sis and I heard the story from an Aunt and bought her one.

I think what your MIL is doing is fair. Many families have a "year" were you get a special gift. 5 for an American Girl or similar doll makes sense. The younger girls getting other dolls more age appropriate.

Now the rules
1. She has to keep up with this rule. THere is a poster here that had a mom or grandmother declare a similar rules about some special gifts/trips. Except the poster was always skipped over. There wasn't enough money that year but the sisters/cousins older and younger got the special gifts. I think they even gaslighted claiming she got the gift, when she called them on it.

2. Do the girls want dolls. For years Sis and I would go home from family gift exchanges and a good 1/3 to 1/2 of my gifts would go into Sis's room (when mom wasn't looking) because I had no interest in them. The three of us are close in age (Cousin C, me, and Sis) because the other two were girlly girls who loved clothes and make up. We all got that stuff. We would get make up kits. Expensive kits that I wasn't allergic to - but I hate make up. I let my ears heal from the piercings as soon as my parents stopped checking them. I hid the clothes until they fitted Sis (I itch if I wear anything that isn't cotton) One year Sis and Cousin C asked the relatives why they didn't care about what I liked and it stopped. (It was kind of a weird blip. Because they were aware of my different interests at other times of the year, and would go out of their way to make sure I got to do what I thought was fun on family trips and such.)
Title: Re: Is "equal" gifting important?
Post by: mamakinz on December 05, 2012, 05:36:50 AM
With my kids and my niece and nephews I try to be equal-ish. It's hard cuz my niece also celebrates her birthday on Christmas Day.

But my brother, sister and I have find memories of my grandmother growing up -- she took "equal" to an amusing degree!! And we laugh about it now, it's one of our fond memories of her!!!  She had a budget for Christmas -- say she had $100 for each of us -- if she didn't spend the complete $100 we got the remaining money in an envelope!! And not just a large amount -- if she spent $92.50 on my gifts; I got $7.50 in an envelope!!! 

I don't know if part of that came from being a middle child and feeling like her sister "got more" when they were growing up or if she was just that obsessive about being fair. But it carried over to other big occasions like high school graduation -- when my sister was getting ready to graduate (3 years afte I did) she actually asked me how much she had given me so she could make sure to give my sister the same amount!!

We loved her dearly with all her little "quirks" and miss her lots!!!
Title: Re: Is "equal" gifting important?
Post by: Outdoor Girl on December 05, 2012, 08:27:38 AM
But my brother, sister and I have find memories of my grandmother growing up -- she took "equal" to an amusing degree!! And we laugh about it now, it's one of our fond memories of her!!!  She had a budget for Christmas -- say she had $100 for each of us -- if she didn't spend the complete $100 we got the remaining money in an envelope!! And not just a large amount -- if she spent $92.50 on my gifts; I got $7.50 in an envelope!!! 

Love it!   :D
Title: Re: Is "equal" gifting important?
Post by: O'Dell on December 05, 2012, 10:12:21 AM
My gut reaction is that it's off to have the special 5yo gift given at an event where all the kids are getting presents. I think "equal/ish" gifting is important in situations like that. If it were on the kid's b-day where he/she is the only one getting a gift seems much better. You might suggest to MIL that it would be more special that way if you find that more acceptable than her current plan.

Title: Re: Is "equal" gifting important?
Post by: Zilla on December 05, 2012, 10:25:52 AM


In fact, so much so that I didn't take offense when MIL told me her plan for this coming Xmas for the granddaughters.  Oldest granddaughter (5) will get [expensive name brand doll] and three of the other gdaughters (4,3,3 yo) will get similar faux dolls since "only some of them will know the difference".  Her plan is name brand doll will be given at age 5 to all.  Is this rude?  I didn't take offense, but DH did.  he compared it to giving one oreos and the other hydrox.  We both thought giving the younger ones something entirely different would be better.  But is it rude to not gift somewhat equally? 

Although the situation is real, the question is just for discussion between DH and myself since we don't intend to alter MIL's plan.  My daughter is in the half that won't notice the difference.
Not sure what the gifting of the dils have to do with it but I see nothing wrong with what mil is doing.  She specifically is telling you that your daughter will get the "real" doll at age 5 but instead for appearances she will gift her with a faux doll that is similar.  That tells me she is trying to make sure the kids won't notice and making an effort.  I also like how she told you ahead of time as well to ward off any ill feeling.  If she was truly not caring in gifting equally, she would have not said anything and simply gift the kids whatever.  Instead I see thoughtfulness and kindness.
Title: Re: Is "equal" gifting important?
Post by: bopper on December 05, 2012, 02:49:04 PM
My MIL took the older cousins to see the Lion King on Broadway.  She did not take the little cousins because they were too little.  But when they were 5, they were taken as well. 

I don't think it is rude to give age appropriate gifts as long as you follow through on actually doing that. So if each girl gets an American Doll when she is 5, then that is fair. Saying you will but then not doing it isn't so cool.
Title: Re: Is "equal" gifting important?
Post by: Lynn2000 on December 06, 2012, 07:58:01 PM
My gut reaction is that it's off to have the special 5yo gift given at an event where all the kids are getting presents. I think "equal/ish" gifting is important in situations like that. If it were on the kid's b-day where he/she is the only one getting a gift seems much better. You might suggest to MIL that it would be more special that way if you find that more acceptable than her current plan.

I like the birthday idea better, too. I don't think the Christmas idea is terrible, but it seems a little weird to me. Why not get the five-year-old the special doll, and the other kids something totally different but of roughly equal value? Does MIL especially like giving dolls and/or want to be known for it? Like, how do you assure one kid her present is extra-special, while assuring the other kids that they all got something just as good as the first kid?
Title: Re: Is "equal" gifting important?
Post by: chappy on December 07, 2012, 11:11:48 AM
I think since your MIL is open to discussion about the gift giving plan you should probably talk to her about getting other gifts for the other girls. Besides the less dolls eventually aspect it is also a ticking time bomb if any of the other girls don't end up with the doll because it is announced.

If I am going to have an uncomfortable conversation with my MIL, this isn't the one!  There are much greater inequities from my perspective, but this one was interesting enough for Ehell to me.

Quote
Posted by: CakeEater
on: December 04, 2012, 11:12:06 PM Insert Quote

I think equalish gifting among children is more important than among adults. In this case, I'd definitely be buying something different for the younger girls, rather than a cheaper doll of the same kind. In fact, if it was me, I'd be doing the special gift at a certain age thing on their birthdays, and get them something similar for Christmas.

I like the idea of special things at birthdays - if nothing else it reduces the comparison.

Quote
Do the girls want dolls

My daughter is starting to play with her dolls.  She really won't notice the difference between brand and not.  For the other two that will get the faux dolls, my MIL said they would know the difference because one is sisters with the 5 yo and the other "just knows these things".  I honestly took more offense (although irrationally) that my daughter is the one "that doesn't know the difference" in a negative connotation.  One of the other two definitely likes dolls, I don't know about the 5yo's sister, but my MIL spends a fair amount of time with her so in theory she knows what she likes.

Quote
Not sure what the gifting of the dils have to do with it but I see nothing wrong with what mil is doing.  She specifically is telling you that your daughter will get the "real" doll at age 5 but instead for appearances she will gift her with a faux doll that is similar.  That tells me she is trying to make sure the kids won't notice and making an effort.  I also like how she told you ahead of time as well to ward off any ill feeling.  If she was truly not caring in gifting equally, she would have not said anything and simply gift the kids whatever.  Instead I see thoughtfulness and kindness.

Thank you.  this may have been her intent and I missed it.  Personally the "equal for appearances" feels off to me, but I can see the other side of it as trying to be equal too.   

To answer a couple of posters, I have no idea if MIL will remember to gift a "real" doll at age 5, this is the first "tradition" that I know of.  Honestly, her memory isn't great these days, but it also doesn't really matter to me/my daughter, it might to the other younger girls.  My mother is still with us and dotes on my kids - my kids are not going without -- if anything I wish the grandparents would do more "activity/event" gifts than toys, but I am not comfortable suggesting that to my MIL. 

One fun part of being married - you see how similar traditions can be so different from one family to the next.  To the poster that got $7.50 in an envelope, from my parents for the adults all but one person gets a check to even up to the highest amount, however, she rounds to the $5 level -- it is nice to here some people are even more precise!
Title: Re: Is "equal" gifting important?
Post by: SPuck on December 07, 2012, 11:47:35 AM
To answer a couple of posters, I have no idea if MIL will remember to gift a "real" doll at age 5, this is the first "tradition" that I know of.

This right here. You might want to tell your MIL not to start this tradition unless she really intends to give all the granddaughters a gift because now that it is specified and out n the open, it is going to become a thing if it doesn't happen because it already has your husband miffed even though it hasn't happened yet.

I myself don't think extreme equal gifting is important, but if at communal get togethers one child gets a transformers while other children get socks something has to be said.
Title: Re: Is "equal" gifting important?
Post by: Redneck Gravy on December 07, 2012, 12:58:50 PM
To answer a couple of posters, I have no idea if MIL will remember to gift a "real" doll at age 5, this is the first "tradition" that I know of.

This right here. You might want to tell your MIL not to start this tradition unless she really intends to give all the granddaughters a gift because now that it is specified and out n the open, it is going to become a thing if it doesn't happen because it already has your husband miffed even though it hasn't happened yet.

I myself don't think extreme equal gifting is important, but if at communal get togethers one child gets a transformers while other children get socks something has to be said.

POD

I could spend pages and pages writing about how unfair my mother was to my baby sister and her kids and then my brother could chime in also... mother has now been dead over 20 years and the hurt is still with us.  And she did no favors to my sister either - she has been given the cut direct by both my brother and myself over her SS behavior. 

So yes in my opinion "equal" gifting is very important!
Title: Re: Is "equal" gifting important?
Post by: KenveeB on December 07, 2012, 01:10:09 PM
2. Do the girls want dolls. For years Sis and I would go home from family gift exchanges and a good 1/3 to 1/2 of my gifts would go into Sis's room (when mom wasn't looking) because I had no interest in them. The three of us are close in age (Cousin C, me, and Sis) because the other two were girlly girls who loved clothes and make up. We all got that stuff. We would get make up kits. Expensive kits that I wasn't allergic to - but I hate make up. I let my ears heal from the piercings as soon as my parents stopped checking them. I hid the clothes until they fitted Sis (I itch if I wear anything that isn't cotton) One year Sis and Cousin C asked the relatives why they didn't care about what I liked and it stopped. (It was kind of a weird blip. Because they were aware of my different interests at other times of the year, and would go out of their way to make sure I got to do what I thought was fun on family trips and such.)

Ohhh yes, I feel you. I have a cousin exactly the same age. She was the more typical girly girl, while I was a bookworm and didn't care about fashion or makeup or anything like that. But every year we'd both get the same thing, and it would be what she wanted. Sigh.

My mom is big on being equal between my brother and me, but it's in amount spent rather than number of gifts. I make sure to spend roughly the same amount on the same class of gifts -- like I'll spend, say, around $25 on all my nieces and nephews. But if one ends up being $20 or $30, I don't pay that much attention. But I won't get one that's $10 or $50. It has to be the same "category" of price range.
Title: Re: Is "equal" gifting important?
Post by: LazyDaisy on December 07, 2012, 01:17:08 PM
A bit off topic question for the board -- what do you do when equal amounts doesn't really add up to an equally cool gift? I have nieces and nephews that range in age from 5 to 19. $20.00 buys a pretty good present for the 5-year-old but almost nothing that a 19-year-old would find really cool (unless it's another itunes GC). I end up feeling that it's not really equal in the "thought" department.
Title: Re: Is "equal" gifting important?
Post by: Yvaine on December 07, 2012, 01:39:45 PM
A bit off topic question for the board -- what do you do when equal amounts doesn't really add up to an equally cool gift? I have nieces and nephews that range in age from 5 to 19. $20.00 buys a pretty good present for the 5-year-old but almost nothing that a 19-year-old would find really cool (unless it's another itunes GC). I end up feeling that it's not really equal in the "thought" department.

I don't think the bolded is necessarily true, actually. I can think of several gifts I got when I was that age that were probably about $20 and that I really loved. One was a warm set of PJs (I'd asked for them specifically; I had a roommate who was hot-natured and liked to throw the window open in mid-December). I'm pretty sure they were from Walmart. I loved bath sets if the giver actually took note of the scent I liked, which I made terribly obvious. I liked makeup and perfume, books and CDs. And if iTunes had existed back then, when dinosaurs walked the earth, I probably would have been tickled by the gift card too. ;)

But that aside, I think you could either add something to the younger kid's gift or maybe just pick something that the younger kid wouldn't know the value of. For example, while a small child might be able to tell the difference between (for example) Barbie and Knock-off Barbie, the 19yo's not getting Barbies anyway so you could probably find something that the little kids wouldn't know was "better." Does that make any sense? I don't think a 5yo would know, for example, how nice a piece of jewelry was.
Title: Re: Is "equal" gifting important?
Post by: AngelBarchild on December 10, 2012, 05:12:25 PM
I think it's way more important to take in to account how much the person will enjoy/wants the gift rather than how much it cost or how many gifts they get. My two nephews are each getting books they want ($10 per kid)  but my niece wanted a very specific Barbie, that I managed to score for $2 on black Friday. I'm not going to try to make up the difference, any they are all going to be very happy.

The year my brother got his hunting rifle I got a pair of roller skates, he was happy with his gift, and it cost a lot more than mine. I'm pretty sure I squeed for almost half an hour  ;D
Title: Re: Is "equal" gifting important?
Post by: rm247 on December 11, 2012, 03:17:03 PM
I have a Grandma who is always very insistent on presents being equal between grandkids. I can see the logic of trying to keep all the peoplein the same "pool" as the OP put it at around the same figure, but many years we would have to help Grandma buy something extra for us that we want for 1-3  (we had to help choose it so it'd be something we want) because otherwise it'd be unfair.

God help if she bought something on sale, she'd then panic over whether she needs to buy more to make it even financially or buy the other grandkids more to make it even value-wise.

Title: Re: Is "equal" gifting important?
Post by: CakeEater on December 11, 2012, 04:01:18 PM
I think the appearance of equality is more important than complete monetary equality. If you buy Johnny an awesome present on sale and Judy an awesome present not on sale, the value to them is the same. If you buy Johnny another present so you've spent the same amount, that becomes unfair. Sales are about saving you money - if you found something worth a lot on sale for a little, that's a bonus for you and Johnny and Judy don't need to know about it.
Title: Re: Is "equal" gifting important?
Post by: Dindrane on December 11, 2012, 11:14:47 PM
I think that monetary equality can be one good way to gauge overall equality, but it's not the only measure. Neither is quantity of gifts, or really anything else. It's important to take into account other factors (like how much the person wants a particular gift, what their interests are, how much effort it takes to give the gift, etc.).

I personally very much appreciate that my parents have always been aware of how much they are spending on one child, and do consciously try to keep things even with the others. But I have no idea if that translates into actual monetary equality. As others have said, it was the appearance of fairness more than anything else. Fair isn't always equal, but it's nice when the starting assumption is that fairness demands equality until proven otherwise.

I also think that how a gift is presented matters a lot. These weren't Christmas gifts, but there was one year when my brother, sister, and I all wanted to do things that were pretty large in scope, and not cheap. My family was going on a super awesome vacation, and my now-SIL (she and my brother were not yet married) was invited if my parents paid her way. My sister wanted to attend a multi-week program in another country. I wanted to move to another state to be with my now-husband.

So they paid for my SIL to go on the trip, paid for my sister to attend the program, and gave me seed money to move to the new state. I know how much money they gave me, but I haven't the foggiest idea how much the other two things cost. The reason why I think of them as equivalent in scope now is because my parents presented them that way. They told each of us what the other siblings were getting, and specifically said they had decided to pay for these three things because it was a way of being fair to each of us. It meant that none of us took away the idea that one or both of our siblings got "more" than we did, because my parents explicitly told us that we all got a Super Expensive Thing We Wanted.

I also think that when it comes to people who are different ages (like nieces and nephews), consistency is as important as equality. To give another example -- one of my uncles was very good about remembering birthdays. He'd send each of us a card and a little bit of money. He gave us the same amount of money as our age (so when I was 11, I got $11), sometimes with a bonus dollar or two for a milestone birthday. It meant that my brother always got more money than me, and I always got more than my sister, but it never felt unfair.

So if and when I have nieces and nephews that are far apart in age (which I probably will someday, as my older brother already has kids, and my younger sister isn't even dating anyone seriously), I won't have any problem spending different amounts of money on children who are very different ages, as long as I follow the same general trend for each one. So if I gradually increase the amount of money I spend on gifts as they age, I'd just make sure to gradually increase the amount of money I spent on younger children at the same pace as I did the older ones.

I think part of that will be based on interest, because the interests of a toddler are much more variable than the interests of a teenage. I'm spending about $10 on my niece and nephew for Christmas this year, because my niece is not yet two, and my nephew is a newborn. My nephew won't care, and my niece will be totally happy with the $10 gift I picked out for her. When $10 no longer packs the same punch, or when their interests become more long-lived (such that I'm willing to spend more money on the things they are interested in), I'll probably spend more.
Title: Re: Is "equal" gifting important?
Post by: DavidH on December 13, 2012, 02:11:23 PM
I think equal gifting is important, but it can be taken unnecessarily far.  The example of returning the difference in cash between presents seems unnecessary to me, not bad or wrong, but unnecessary.  You could, have a different level for different types of relatives, cousins get one level, grandchildren another, etc. 

I'm not sure how to handle age though.  I think as the recipient gets older, a more expensive give becomes an option and maybe even something they want.  For example, you might want to get an older child an IPad (like the other thread), but for a toddler think it over the top (again, like the other thread).  I don't necessarily think it would be wrong to get a teenager an IPad and their younger sibling who is a toddler, something much less expensive like a doll or toy car.   
 
Title: Re: Is "equal" gifting important?
Post by: Isisnin on December 14, 2012, 11:58:28 AM
Since the young ones are so young now, it doesn't matter.  And it sounds like MIL knows she will have to "equalize" as the girls get older.  EG, when oldest granddaughter is 13 so she won't gets real, expensive jewelry for Xmas, while the 12 and 11 year olds get costume jewelry. Then, the girls would definitely know the difference and that'd be a problem. 
Title: Re: Is "equal" gifting important?
Post by: Piratelvr1121 on December 14, 2012, 12:07:20 PM
I don't think it's important to give equally for any one gift giving occasion as long as the gift giving is equal over time.  There have been years that one of my kids got something very expensive and the other did not, because one of them wanting something expensive, but the other one very much wanted something very inexpensive. The next year it might be the other way around.

That's how we are in our house.  This year my oldest asked for a guitar and several other rather expensive gifts like hand held game systems and such.  I did get him a guitar though one that wasn't nearly as much as the one he had picked out for himself.  (He's 11 and only just learned in music class which lasted 6 weeks) I got him a 'First Act" guitar which was inexpensive and would teach him various chords. I also got him some books and pj's.

My middle child only asked for 2 things, an etch-a sketch and a Furby.  I spent a lot more on the Furby than I was expecting and only after I bought it did he say "I don't want you to spend too much on me."

And I know DH spent more on me than I was able to on him so he's getting 3 presents to my one and even still mine won't add up, but he'll like them.
Title: Re: Is "equal" gifting important?
Post by: MommyPenguin on December 14, 2012, 06:56:17 PM
Personally, I think that it's okay for the budget to be larger for an older child or teenager than a younger child.  An older child will be better able to take care of his/her belongings, to appreciate a more expensive present, and to reciprocate in turn.  So I'd have no objection to the teenager, who saves some of his own money to buy presents, if inexpensive ones, for his parents and grandparents, to receive an $80 iPod from the grandparents, while his 4-year-old sister gets a $20 Play-Doh ice cream factory.  She's thrilled, he's thrilled, they both got a "nice" present... so what if hers cost 1/4 of his?  Spending $80 on a 4-year-old would get you a nice dollhouse, or a basic dollhouse with an entire set of dolls and furniture.  Compared to the iPod, that seems excessive.  Stuff for older people just costs more.  So I have no problem with an age disparity... assuming that it really *is* an age disparity.  I would expect the 4-year-old to get her own iPod, or whatever, when she was 16.  If she's 16 and getting a nail polish kit valued at $10 while her brother is still being gifted at $80, then yes, there's a problem--unless she asked for just the polish and nothing else because she was trying to "keep it real" or something.
Title: Re: Is "equal" gifting important?
Post by: Roses on December 14, 2012, 07:55:59 PM
I think it's fine to not be equal in all aspects.  We always are sure that each of our neices/nephews get the same number of boxes/gifts to open.  This year it's 3 each.  We also got the oldest a suitcase and sleeping bag for sleep-overs the Christmas he was 3.  His sister who is three now is getting that this year.  Not all toys are age appropriate so I don't see an issue getting different kids different toys.   
Title: Re: Is "equal" gifting important?
Post by: Sunbeem on December 21, 2012, 12:40:30 PM
I think the most important aspect to keep in mind is to make sure the recipients don't know of a difference in value.  Doesn't have to be the same item, as long as it the gift selection shows some sort of care and attention in its selection (i.e. a monster truck for a boy, and a nice Barbie for a girl, rather than identical gifts for two different children). 

When I was little, I thought that my grandma didn't like me.  A major reason was because of the gifts she gave me and my siblings.  One year, she gave me and my brother each a coloring/activity book for Christmas.  The one my brother received looked brand new.  The one I received had been mostly filled in already.  My mom saw me crying about it later (after I opened it and realized it was already used up) was upset on my behalf and talked to her about it; turns out she had seen them at a garage sale and bought them for us, not thinking to check that both of them were worth buying. 

A few years later, she gave me and my sister identical (well, different colored outfits) fairy dolls.  She ALSO gave my sister a magnet of her name and a beautiful golden necklace with her name.  Now, I have an unusual name that is never found on those "personalized" doohickies, so of course Grandma wouldn't have been able to find matching ones for ME, but she didn't give me anything else as a substitute, and since the dolls were identical it was very obvious that my little sister was getting a better gift.  Now that I'm an adult, I of course realize that that is just how Grandma is (bought the extras on a whim and didn't occur that it would make the gifts unequal) and she just doesn't realize how children think.  All the same, from my perspective as a child, it seemed very obvious that Grandma liked all the other kids better.  It also served to rub in the fact that I have a "weird" name. :(  (Which I am quite proud of now, but those things weigh heavier on kids...)

Another note- kids are a lot more perceptive than adults usually give them credit for.  If the dolls in question are Barbies vs. the cheap generic ones with the hollow legs and made of lighter plastic, it is very obvious that they are different, and even a child of 4 or 5 might notice and feel hurt.
Title: Re: Is "equal" gifting important?
Post by: kherbert05 on December 24, 2012, 01:45:22 PM
Personally, I think that it's okay for the budget to be larger for an older child or teenager than a younger child.  An older child will be better able to take care of his/her belongings, to appreciate a more expensive present, and to reciprocate in turn.  So I'd have no objection to the teenager, who saves some of his own money to buy presents, if inexpensive ones, for his parents and grandparents, to receive an $80 iPod from the grandparents, while his 4-year-old sister gets a $20 Play-Doh ice cream factory.  She's thrilled, he's thrilled, they both got a "nice" present... so what if hers cost 1/4 of his?  Spending $80 on a 4-year-old would get you a nice dollhouse, or a basic dollhouse with an entire set of dolls and furniture.  Compared to the iPod, that seems excessive.  Stuff for older people just costs more.  So I have no problem with an age disparity... assuming that it really *is* an age disparity.  I would expect the 4-year-old to get her own iPod, or whatever, when she was 16.  If she's 16 and getting a nail polish kit valued at $10 while her brother is still being gifted at $80, then yes, there's a problem--unless she asked for just the polish and nothing else because she was trying to "keep it real" or something.
A friend confronted her MIL about unequal treatment of her daughters and the only grandson. The grandson was the one being slighted, but friend couldn't sit by and let her daughters be showered with gifts and the boy pushed to the side. The next Christmas the grandson and friend's youngest daughter received almost identical presents. Their rooms redone in pottery barn - the boy's stuff had cars on it. The girl's stuff had dolls. None of it fit with the decor in either house.

Since then friend had a son. This year the 4 younger grandkids all got the same ride on toy for their birthdays. (Friend's oldest is in her 20's the other kids are all in elementary school.)
Title: Re: Is "equal" gifting important?
Post by: bopper on January 02, 2013, 12:29:39 PM
I think you have to know your audience.  Last year my oldest got less presents than her sister and boy theerewas a little sad face there. This time I made sure it was more even in quantity even if prices were more or less.
Title: Re: Is "equal" gifting important?
Post by: Ambrosia Hino on January 07, 2013, 12:20:25 PM
I think it really depends on the gift. If you were buying one child something expensive (video game system & one or two games for example), then obviously they wouldn't be expected to have the same number of gifts as another child who was getting dolls and doll clothes, or legos. But there should be an overall feel of fairness.

But getting a special gift for a particular year, and the other girls get the same when they reach that year, is still fair. Although I do agree that maybe they should get something other than cheap dolls when the expensive gift is a doll. That would feel more appropriate for a birthday to me anyway, because then there isn't a side-by-side comparison. But that could just be me.
Title: Re: Is "equal" gifting important?
Post by: JeseC on January 11, 2013, 09:38:34 PM
A bit off topic question for the board -- what do you do when equal amounts doesn't really add up to an equally cool gift? I have nieces and nephews that range in age from 5 to 19. $20.00 buys a pretty good present for the 5-year-old but almost nothing that a 19-year-old would find really cool (unless it's another itunes GC). I end up feeling that it's not really equal in the "thought" department.

I almost always get more than the other grandkids in the family for this reason - I'm out living on the own and supporting myself, while the next oldest is still in high school.  I haven't seen any problems from it so far, though I could be wrong...