Author Topic: Family holiday gift-giving worries  (Read 2523 times)

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MarieX

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Family holiday gift-giving worries
« on: September 30, 2013, 12:33:15 PM »
So my brother has two young kids, from his previous marriage.  His second wife has two teenage stepsons and an adult son who has two toddler-age daughters.  So my brother has quite the stepfamily!

His wife's previous husband was an abuser and so her sons don't have a relationship with him or with their paternal grandparents.  They are very fond of OUR parents, who treat them as grandkids just as much as my brother's bio-kids.  They live far away from me.  I have only seen my niece and nephew a handful of times, and I've only met one of the stepsons.  But I want them to feel like part of the family, so I include them in the holiday gift-giving.

I send a holiday package to them every year.  Last year my niece and nephew got a couple of things each (games, craft kits, books, nothing extravagant).  Since I don't really know the teenage stepsons, they each got an iTunes gift card.  The adult stepson and his wife got a Target gift card, and I sent little plushies for the toddlers.  Everyone was very appreciative - the stepkids always seem kind of amazed and touched that our family has made an effort to adopt them.

I'm starting this year's gift-giving planning and I'm worried a bit that it'll be clear, as I'm sure it was last year, that my niece and nephew got a better gift haul than the stepkids.  Nobody expressed any offense at this, but I'm a little concerned.  I guess there's no way to get around the fact that the stepkids' gifts are token gifts - can there be any other kind from someone you don't know? - so my options are no gift or a token gift.  I"ll take the latter.

I did have a thought to also send one gift addressed to ALL the kids, something they can all enjoy, like a game or some fun candy.

Thoughts?

Peregrine

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Re: Family holiday gift-giving worries
« Reply #1 on: September 30, 2013, 12:41:56 PM »
It's always hard when you have such a mixed age group of close kiddo's to get gifts for.  I don't think the teenage step sons would have been thrilled with plushies or craft kits, so I think you probably hit closer to the mark than you think.  I ran into this with my own nieces and nephews....it's so much easier to buy tangible stuff for littlies than it is for the teenagers.  At about 11, I pretty much default to giving them I-tunes cards, cash, or gift cards.  They just don't want or have any use for the little games and toys that younger kids do.

cheyne

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Re: Family holiday gift-giving worries
« Reply #2 on: September 30, 2013, 12:49:27 PM »
I am not seeing the problem here.  You gifted everyone in the family.  The gifts were not too disparate, you stated that your niece and nephew got crafts, books etc...and the steps got gift cards.  If you don't personally know the steps-gift cards are the way to go, they can choose something they'd like.

If you had sent niece and nephew each an XBox or something along those lines I could see your concern.  As it is I believe you are doing a great job with the gifts.

cwm

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Re: Family holiday gift-giving worries
« Reply #3 on: September 30, 2013, 12:54:30 PM »
Personally, as a teenager, I loved gift cards. I would have loved an iTunes gift card, had it been around back then.

If you're really worried about it, call your brother and bring up what you told us, that you're worried about it seeming like you're playing favorites. Ask him what he'd suggest as gifts for the teens/older children, and for the toddlers to make everything seem fair. He presumably lives with at least the teenagers, so he would probably be a good person to ask. And ask now so you've still got plenty of time to get an answer and shopping done.

TootsNYC

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Re: Family holiday gift-giving worries
« Reply #4 on: September 30, 2013, 12:59:50 PM »
I'm not so sure they *did* get a better haul.

And also, little kids in general get better hauls than older kids--not necessarily in terms of money spent, but in splashiness.

My own kids got better hauls when they were little. There are just more thing, and more *fun* things, to give little kids.

I like the idea of sounding out your brother. I wouldn't say that you are worried about it looking like you are playing favorites, though. Just don't even bring that into the conversation.
    I'd just say, "I want some gift ideas. The gift cards were nice, but I want to be sure I'm not passing up a chance to get them something more specific to them."

But you can also do the gift-card thing again with no worries.

If you want, you can throw in some sort of token toy--my personal favorite for this sort of add-on is the Nerf Jolt. It's about $6, but you can sometimes find it for less. And if you give one to both teenagers, they can shoot at each other.

http://www.toysrus.com/buy/outdoor-play/toy-blasters-foam-play/nerf-n-strike-jolt-ex-1-blaster-33688-12210988

MindsEye

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Re: Family holiday gift-giving worries
« Reply #5 on: September 30, 2013, 01:08:49 PM »
Books for everyone maybe?  You can ask your brother about favorite authors, genres, etc....

Lynn2000

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Re: Family holiday gift-giving worries
« Reply #6 on: September 30, 2013, 01:38:12 PM »
I think it sounds like you did great last year. Maybe the gifts to the kids you didn't know felt generic to you, but I think it's exactly the kind of thing one would recommend for that age.

I think asking your brother for gift ideas would be a good start--it would show you're interested in all the kids at least. Could you contact the adult stepson on your own and ask about his kids, or would that be weird for your family? Maybe ask your brother if the teenagers have wish lists on Amazon or something like that. Otherwise I think gift cards are great for kids that age, and adults too when you don't know them well.
~Lynn2000

MommyPenguin

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Re: Family holiday gift-giving worries
« Reply #7 on: September 30, 2013, 01:57:36 PM »
As long as the iTunes gift card isn't for, like, $5, while the craft kits and such add up to $40, I think it's fine.  What I would do, though, is to add a card or note to each of the teens along with the gift card.  Say something like, "I didn't know what kind of things you were into and I didn't want to guess wrong.  So I got you this gift card so that you can pick out something that you really love.  I hope you enjoy it!  Thinking about you this Christmas!"  Or something like that.

sevenday

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Re: Family holiday gift-giving worries
« Reply #8 on: September 30, 2013, 02:17:15 PM »
I often do end up giving disparate gifts each year.  This is because I'm on a bit of a rotating schedule - every year one person gets picked as a special target for a handmade gift.  Two years ago it was my sister who got a handmade family themed ornament set in my sister's favorite theme.  Last year, it was my mother, who got a handmade scarf.  This year, it will be my brother.  I also often do smaller scale things - last year my two nephews who love Minecraft got a homemade Minecraft magnetic tile set.  My brother in law has always been hardest to shop for, so he often ends up with something that APPEARS to be less thought-out as, say, a handmade scarf.  Also aggravating the situation is that my sister waits until 2 weeks before Christmas to finally get me a list of things she thinks BIL and nephews might want.  2 weeks is really not enough time, especially for things that you can't get locally.  Which is why they got the minecraft tiles - could not get my hands on the things she thought they actually wanted.  The boys were delighted, for the record, and promptly ran off to play with them... and had to be dragged back to continue opening presents.  (Ages 8 and 10)

My nephews also get far more presents than any of the other people there, but we've kind of accepted that will happen, even if it feels slightly unfair.  I try to remind myself that it's about the spirit, not the $$ haul at the end of the day.  That's why when I do end up getting gift cards, I tell them what another poster said: "I wasn't sure what you already had or what you particularly wanted this year, but I know you like (books, music, movies, etc) so I got this for you in the hopes that you would be able to find something that you enjoy, on me!"

kckgirl

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Re: Family holiday gift-giving worries
« Reply #9 on: September 30, 2013, 02:23:34 PM »
I would choose a price range for the kids (all of them) and the adults (all of them) in your family and buy gifts accordingly. That way you really aren't playing favorites between the bio kids and the step kids. Still, the little kids' stuff will look like more, simply because there may be several things of various sizes, but don't worry about that.
Maryland

amandaelizabeth

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Re: Family holiday gift-giving worries
« Reply #10 on: September 30, 2013, 10:35:47 PM »
My teenage nephews and Nieces beg me to remember itune cards or amazon vouchers when I am out shopping for them.

sammycat

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Re: Family holiday gift-giving worries
« Reply #11 on: September 30, 2013, 10:48:23 PM »
As long as the iTunes gift card isn't for, like, $5, while the craft kits and such add up to $40, I think it's fine.

I agree with MommyPenguin. Most teenagers love getting iTunes/gift cards (or cash), so I think you are on the right track. All the gifts sound very age appropriate. If it would make you feel more comfortable about the situation perhaps you could attach the giftcard to some other small item such as a book, Lego (some teens are still into it, others aren't), card game (UNO? etc), but it's not particularly necessary.

CakeEater

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Re: Family holiday gift-giving worries
« Reply #12 on: September 30, 2013, 11:14:07 PM »
I think what you did last year was completely fine and not 'token' at all. The first year we gave our nephew cash for his birthday when he tunred 11, he was completely over the moon about it. Birthdays and Christmas are one of your major sources of income when you're that age!

fountainof

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Re: Family holiday gift-giving worries
« Reply #13 on: October 01, 2013, 12:35:00 PM »
As other posters have said, unless the GCs were very small amounts the disparity probably wasn't noticed.  For the teenagers, I do ask why they wouldn't just get a similar valued gift to the biological kids?  I mean they would be your brother's kids now no?  I could see the adult child getting less or just for his kids as he is an adult already.  I would take what I would spend on brother's family and divide it by the number of kids so for the under 18 kids if I were spending $100, I would gift each $25 and then maybe give $25 gift to the children of the adult nephew.

If you are close to your brother you could ask about what he prefers.  I know for me, if I was raising kids it would be hurtful if family didn't consider my step kids the same as my biological kids.  In this case, it seems like the wife's children are just grateful to be considered but it is a bit sad they even have to think that at all as they shouldn't even have to think about that they are step kids vs the biological kids.  I do understand the OP hasn't met all the kids but that is more a product of distance than anything else.  And while the teenagers are older and they could try to create their own relationship with the OP, it can be scary and often adults need to make the first attempt to build the relationship.