Author Topic: Can the family gift exchange be salvaged?  (Read 1204 times)

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edgypeanuts

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Can the family gift exchange be salvaged?
« on: December 06, 2011, 08:16:39 PM »
 
I am the youngest of 7 siblings and we have always exchanged names (the siblings and their spouses) so that everyone could get something at Christmas but we weren't buying so many gifts.  This worked great when we all returned home for Christmas and everyone exchanged gifts.

Over the years we no longer all go home anymore.  We have lost Dad and a sister and everyone has older families of their own.  My mom and I usually go to 1 sister's house for the holidays and we usually see the other sister around Christmas but not on it.  My brothers it is more hit or miss.  One brother in particular is very slow about the presents and getting together- often we do not get the exchange gift from him until February.  Another brother has a problem with some of the people in the drawing and whines repeatedly about it (He says he gets them every year and that he thinks the drawing is fixed against him)   Last year he had the brother he didn't want (the one who is not good about meeting up with us) so he left the gift at my sister's house for her to get it to the brother. 

My sister and I are usually the ones who make sure names get drawn and distribute the list of who has who etc to everyone.  This year we didn't.  We just didn't do anything, effectively stopping the drawing.  Brother 1 emailed to ask about it stating "who do I have?  I'm sure I got *blank* again."   But the 2 quieter siblings who never really caused any trouble have stated that they miss the drawing and are not happy to see it end. 

It isn't going to happen this year, but for next year- any ideas?
Part of me just wants to declare that if we restart the drawing 1) ANY complaints about who you have and we will assume you want out of the drawing and remove your name 2) if you are not attending the family get together on Christmas, you need to make plans to get your gift to its recipient within 7-10 days, even if it means you have to mail it.

Those of us who host are tired of having the wrapped presents for other people drag around our houses for weeks and months on end and Brother1 is relentless about not having 2 peoples name (or them having his name.)  Yet we don't want to be bah-humbug about the whole thing.  Ideas?

Bob Ducca

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Re: Can the family gift exchange be salvaged?
« Reply #1 on: December 06, 2011, 08:20:09 PM »
Let the ones who miss it run it and deal with the craziness and set ground rules.  Maybe with other organizers, the troublemakers will be more willing to listen and adapt to a new way of doing things.

In other words, step back and say, "If you guys want to do it next year, have at it!  I'll participate, but I don't want to be in charge anymore."

edgypeanuts

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Re: Can the family gift exchange be salvaged?
« Reply #2 on: December 06, 2011, 08:33:21 PM »
Let the ones who miss it run it and deal with the craziness and set ground rules.  Maybe with other organizers, the troublemakers will be more willing to listen and adapt to a new way of doing things.

In other words, step back and say, "If you guys want to do it next year, have at it!  I'll participate, but I don't want to be in charge anymore."

Part of the problem is no one is really seen as "in charge" - if you asked brother1, he'd tell you I am not in charge I am just a loudmouth!  The reason it annoys the sister and I is because we are the one who live in the town where Christmas occurs and we are the ones who the outlying siblings contact.  The quieter siblings don't get together a lot and therefore don't have to deal with the problems.  We have told them they could draw (even this year) but I suspect we are still the 2 who will get all the complaints.  We are also the 2 who find after everyone has left town that they left their undeliverable gifts at our houses!

rigs32

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Re: Can the family gift exchange be salvaged?
« Reply #3 on: December 06, 2011, 09:08:56 PM »
Why not switch to a gift swap game?  In my family we play twice.  Each person brings a nice gifty item (limit of $15) and a gag white elephant type item.  Only those present play the game so you get the fun of interacting and opening presents with people and most of our gift items are food and wine - easy to find something new to try that you may not have bought yourself.  The white elephant round is just a big laugh.

JoyinVirginia

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Re: Can the family gift exchange be salvaged?
« Reply #4 on: December 06, 2011, 09:26:13 PM »
A few years after we got married, DH & his sibs decided to stop the name drawing. It was great! If we want to give anyone a gift of cookies or homemade treats, we do it, and do not expect anything back. Let it drop, you will get used to no name drawing quickly!

edgypeanuts

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Re: Can the family gift exchange be salvaged?
« Reply #5 on: December 06, 2011, 10:11:32 PM »
I feel like I am shooting down ideas, and I don't mean to, I really appreciate them! 

We tried a White Elephant gift one year (in addition to the regular exchange) and it did not go over well.  Most of us already have to do one at work and some of us with in-laws as well and it was just too much of it.

A general swap type gift doesn't really work well for us as we are very very different, most of the things I would love, my sister-in-law and brother would HATE with a passion and food/drink type gift would be hard as we have several alcoholics (some in recovery, some notsomuch) and the non-alcoholics love weird beers etc.  Most are very good cooks, plus 1 doesn't eat meat and another is constantly concerned about the calories in everything.

The bigger reason why a general gift would not work is the same reason I feel guilty that it is not happening this year:  for the quiet 2, this is one of the very few gifts they get for the holidays.  While many of us have spouses and other family members who buy for us, for some this is their "big" gift for Christmas and I like to make it something very nice and personal (the exchange gift was usually ~$40).  I am buying for them this year as well just because, but because there is no exchange they feel guilty about it.  I just love to search for the perfect item for people, and the best solution may very well be for me to just suck it up and ignore the frustrating parts of the exchange.   

I just wish I could get brother1 to understand that with 10 people in the exchange, 2 he cannot have (himself and his wife) and 3 others he doesn't want, it IS going to happen every other year or so!!  Maybe my gift to the family is to tolarate his complaining.

Bijou

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Re: Can the family gift exchange be salvaged?
« Reply #6 on: December 06, 2011, 10:59:35 PM »
Drawing names, although sensible and a whole lot less expensive, can be a real trial for the organizers (raises hand).  We don't do it any more.
I've never knitted anything I could recognize when it was finished.  Actually, I've never finished anything, much to my family's relief.