Author Topic: Picking My Own Gifts  (Read 1962 times)

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Adelaide

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Picking My Own Gifts
« on: December 04, 2011, 02:41:50 PM »
When I was younger, I never picked my own stuff out. I just got what I got, and I was fine with it. As I've grown older, I have literally started picking out every single gift that I get. At the risk of sounding ungrateful/spoiled, it's really become a pain. I am in college away from home. I'm in school 21 hours a week (that's including labs) and am pretty busy overall. When the holidays roll around I get even busier because my parents demand that I pick out what I want for Christmas from every relative. I can't say "just surprise me" because they won't. Usually I don't need or want anything much but my relatives insist on getting me something that I've picked out. The other day I had to drive down and get fitted for English riding boots and put off starting an essay until 8 at night. The odd part is that when I get said boots at Christmas I am expected to act surprised and enthusiastic, as if the boot fairy sneaked into my room to custom-fit me.

I have asked for gift cards several times and the answer is always "no". My aunt and uncle always get me a gift card, which I love and use throughout the year on things that I have time to pick out. The hard part is thinking of things for every relative that are fit to their specifications. My dad's mom refuses to get me anything under or above a certain price range. However, this "thing" has to be something tangible, not a gift card, and must be substantial-she doesn't like to get me jewelry or technology, as she thinks the former is too "little" and doesn't understand/can't get excited over the latter. My parents want to get me practical things like clothes which, again, I have to drive in and get fitted for. Often my mother (the messenger) will say "What do you want Relative A to get you for Christmas?" and I'll suggest something. Relative A will reject that idea and I will get another call from my mom a week later and the cycle continues. Often Christmas is a hassle because I'm so busy picking out my own stuff and trying to please people. Sometimes I literally don't want anything within the parameters of what I'm supposed to be picking out-I want something too cheap or a gift card and don't need anything else.

I recently found out that this is a trend in my family-everyone picks out their own stuff and everyone acts surprised. I've never heard of anyone else's family doing this so to me it seems strange. I can understand pretending to be surprised and wrapping all the gifts so children can have fun/won't be disillusioned, but my brother and I aren't kids anymore by any stretch. My main question is this: is it rude to just refuse to pick out my own gifts? Is there anything I can say? As I've gotten older it just gets more time-consuming and vexing. No one asks me in September or October, they all want to know from Thanksgiving onward when I'm preoccupied with things like finals. :S
« Last Edit: December 04, 2011, 02:51:12 PM by Adelaide »

MariaE

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Re: Picking My Own Gifts
« Reply #1 on: December 04, 2011, 02:48:59 PM »
If I were you, I would refuse to play their game.

Them: what would you like for Christmas?
You: Gift certificates for xyz or abc would be terrific.
Them: No, gift certificates won't do.
You: Sorry, that is all I can think of.
Them: Rant rant rave not good enough.
You: I'm sorry you feel that way. Gift certificates is all I can think of.

Lather, rinse, repeat.
 
Dane by birth, Kiwi by choice

SisJackson

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Re: Picking My Own Gifts
« Reply #2 on: December 04, 2011, 02:57:44 PM »
Why not say, "Since this is such a hassle, and I'm an adult, how about we stop exchanging gifts and focus on spending time together at the holidays?"

Things became ever so much easier for me when I stopped the process with my mother, who acted a lot like your relatives.  They seem to still be treating you like a child.  Proposing a stop to the gift exchange will also save you a bunch of time and money that you're spending choosing, buying and wrapping gifts for these same aunts and uncles and grandparents and such.

This may be easier said than done if the elder relatives are all still buying each other presents, but it would be interesting to know if, say, your mom and her mom have the same kind of rules and regulations when it comes to buying gifts for each other.  If they don't, then I'd say it's time to be accepted as one of the grown-ups and do as they do.

Adelaide

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Re: Picking My Own Gifts
« Reply #3 on: December 04, 2011, 03:34:18 PM »
SisJackson, I have tried this approach before and it didn't go over very well. I'm not saying my family is like the mob, but issues get suppressed faster than you can say "cement shoes". My idea of not buying gifts didn't get past my parents. They convinced me that my grandparents would literally have heart attacks and die if they couldn't get me anything at Christmas and that the whole idea was awful. We haven't spoken of it in five years.

And my mom and her mom typically buy their own gifts and swap them to be wrapped. It's just hard to change this whole thing because This is What Has Always Been Done.

AlwaysQuizzical

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Re: Picking My Own Gifts
« Reply #4 on: December 04, 2011, 03:40:21 PM »
Ok, generally I'm not a fan of X-mas lists, but in this case would it be possible for you to make a list of things you want and have your parents match the thing to the person? I know you can make a wishlist on Amazon that way you could have specific stuff, so you don't have to worry about telling them sizes and stuff later.

Adelaide

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Re: Picking My Own Gifts
« Reply #5 on: December 04, 2011, 03:51:52 PM »
I wish I could do the online thing but my family doesn't do Amazon or anything on the internet. :(

Wendy Moira Angela Pan

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Re: Picking My Own Gifts
« Reply #6 on: December 04, 2011, 05:10:09 PM »
What would happen if you just didn't play? Said you didn't need anything and didn't have time to shop for yourself, and just refused to help them choose things. Tell your family that you can't make room in your schedule to help a dozen people choose a gift for you and they can give you whatever they like. And then don't help.

Deetee

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Re: Picking My Own Gifts
« Reply #7 on: December 04, 2011, 06:05:11 PM »
Make a list of things you would like and give it to your parents. Then refuse to play along.
Make sure the list contains a range in price and type (techo to practical) and has more items than you need so you get an element of suprise. Then whenever they ask you just say
"Anything off the list would be just great!"

They can't force you to give more information and if they complain "I don't really need anything but anything off the list would be great"

Outdoor Girl

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Re: Picking My Own Gifts
« Reply #8 on: December 04, 2011, 06:15:09 PM »
My birthday is in June, almost exactly opposite Christmas.  What I do is keep a running wish list on a piece of paper.  After my birthday, anything I think of that I want, I put on the list.  If there is something on there that I suddenly need, I just buy it and cross it off the list.  When Christmas rolls around, I type up the list and give a copy to my Dad and to my brother.

Once Christmas is over, I start a new list.  Anything I didn't get for Christmas goes back on the list.  When my birthday rolls around, I hand the list over again.

I've even put gift certificates on my list, particularly for clothes, if it is something I have to pick up/out myself.

Could you try making lists like this and do as Deetee suggests?

(I also keep running lists for my Dad, brother, SIL and nephews.  If I hear them mention something they want, I write it down and then check with a different family member closer to the time I'd be buying the gift to make sure they didn't buy it for themselves.)
I have CDO.  It is like OCD but with the letters in alphabetical order, as they should be.
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ShadesOfGrey

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Re: Picking My Own Gifts
« Reply #9 on: December 04, 2011, 06:30:46 PM »
They don't have to do the amazon thing. *you* do the amazon thing, and print it and mail it. Then make them pick off that list. It's a great compromise.

Thing is -you're going to have to grow a backbone about this. You can't change them, you can only change you. Which means, you can only *not* give in if you wan things to change, because they will keep asking. And you will have to learn to hang up, not get fitted, and stick to"that's the list mum, they can pick off of it, or thRey can go on their own, but I'm not discussing it any longer.".
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apple

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Re: Picking My Own Gifts
« Reply #10 on: December 04, 2011, 06:39:19 PM »
They don't have to do the amazon thing. *you* do the amazon thing, and print it and mail it. Then make them pick off that list. It's a great compromise.

Thing is -you're going to have to grow a backbone about this. You can't change them, you can only change you. Which means, you can only *not* give in if you wan things to change, because they will keep asking. And you will have to learn to hang up, not get fitted, and stick to"that's the list mum, they can pick off of it, or thRey can go on their own, but I'm not discussing it any longer.".

POD

Have one list, distributed to everyone who is interested. They can use it or ignore it, but that's the limit of your participation. 

I would expect a lot of flack from the family the first year, but it will fade away over time. (At least, that's been my experience when I have been in similar situations.)


Bijou

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Re: Picking My Own Gifts
« Reply #11 on: December 04, 2011, 06:52:05 PM »
I don't like gift lists, generally, but since your family always wants to know what you want, and that is what a gift list provides, I would just have one ready the first time your mom asks what you want and hand it to her.  (I think it would be a little presumptuous to give it to her before she brings up the 'what do you want' conversation, though.)  You might include things that you do want, and that you think they would love to give to you, and a range of prices.  You might also make them items that can't have a follow up question, like 'what color'. 
I've never knitted anything I could recognize when it was finished.  Actually, I've never finished anything, much to my family's relief.

cicero

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Re: Picking My Own Gifts
« Reply #12 on: December 05, 2011, 05:12:41 AM »
Quote
"they convinced me that my grandparents would literally have heart attacks and die if they couldn't get me anything at Christmas and that the whole idea was awful. We haven't spoken of it in five years."

adelaide - you're a college student, sounds like you're studying something in the sciences. you *know* that your grandparents aren't going to get a heart attack and die because of this. stop letting your parents/family push you around - time to grow up a bit. hopefully your grandparents will live a long and healthy life.

if you *can't* spare the time to drive to whever to get fitted for boots --- then stop doing it.
the thing is - you *say* that you can't/don't want to do these things, but then ... you do them. if you *say* to your parents "i can't, stop pressuring me, get me whatever", and then you play along with their silly games (drive to get fitted for boots, using time that you don't have), then whatever you *say* becomes meaningless, because - after all - you *did* go to get the boots.

you need to say what you mean to say - and really mean it. so if you can't spare any more time for this - then don't. next time they call/email/sms/send a courier pigeon --- just ignore it. give a few blanket "sorry mom, this is lab/test/finals/paper time and i don't have a second to spare. every minute is accounted for between now and christmas so that i get all my work done and can spend time with the family. i really mean it when i say that they can get me gift cards to [bookstore], [music store] or [clothing store]. gotta go! my witch's potion is boiling over"


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Ceallach

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Re: Picking My Own Gifts
« Reply #13 on: December 05, 2011, 05:57:19 AM »
I personally find this kind of gift-giving a little pointless.  I do have a friend whose family buys this way, and I don't understand what is achieved where there's no surprise factor and the exchange of resources is basically identical. I would understand on occasion somebody purchasing a gift with the agreement of the other person "How about I get you X for Christmas?" but if the only way to buy is on command then it becomes more of a chore than gift-giving. It would be more efficient for everybody to just go buy what they want.  I hate it when people want me to specify a gift, because I can never think of anything - I WANT the surprise!  I just refuse to specify anything. I might suggest "gift card" or say "you really don't need to get me anything" depending on the situation.  If somebody wants to get me a gift then they should put the effort in - not force me to do so!
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wyliefool

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Re: Picking My Own Gifts
« Reply #14 on: December 05, 2011, 08:36:46 AM »
You know that saying about the irresistible force meeting the immovable object? Well, I'm here to tell you, the immovable object wins every. single. time. Just don't go running around picking out gifts. Give  a list and when they pester, say 'sorry, I can't, I'm busy. Either buy off the list or don't. I take cash too.'