Author Topic: S/O "OK not to buy gift" Carolyn Hax column  (Read 9761 times)

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Peregrine

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Re: S/O "OK not to buy gift" Carolyn Hax column
« Reply #60 on: December 19, 2013, 06:01:16 PM »
It's rather interesting seeing how many people hate the "lets just buy for the kids thing."  We just instituted this with my hubby's side of the family this year.  We have always done gift cards and family pictures by agreement for ease of mailing, since we are all far away from each other.  But when we all traded $50 REI gift cards amongst the adults last year, we decided to just quit exchanging among the grown ups with kids.  The single sister still gets a gift in her own right since she generously gifts the kids.  However, the other childfree sibling and spouse got dropped completely last year, after 12 years of no acknowledgement or reciprocation whatsoever of gifts....not even a Christmas card or call most years.

So while agree that in many families it can cause trouble, there is also a point where it becomes a bit ridiculous to keep gifting among the adults.  In both sides of our family we are at a very similar professional income level to each other, and for the most part if we see something we need or want, we just buy it when it's needed.  At this point in our lives, we are saving for a new couch and a new heat pump....not exactly something that someone else will want to or even be able to gift us with, to boot, I wouldn't want someone spending that kind of  money on me!

JeanFromBNA

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Re: S/O "OK not to buy gift" Carolyn Hax column
« Reply #61 on: December 19, 2013, 06:57:08 PM »
The exchange of gift cards between adults has become pointless to me, too.  We give gifts to kids only (we don't live near family).  But I do like to be remembered with a card with a personal message or a phone call.

MommyPenguin

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Re: S/O "OK not to buy gift" Carolyn Hax column
« Reply #62 on: December 20, 2013, 10:12:10 AM »
We dropped gifts with adults because it's just a lot harder to buy for adults.  Especially adults who are very different with very different tastes and don't know each other super well.  I mean, I enjoy the company of my BIL and SIL, but I would have no idea what to buy them for presents.  I think that's when you get into the gift card exchange.

The kids just seem easier to buy for.  LEGOs!  Hee hee.  Well, actually, we tend to buy their boys a lot of LEGOs, sometimes other building toys, etc.  They (mostly my SIL) love to buy our girls pink frilly clothes and girly toys because, well, they don't have any girls and my SIL is a girly girl.  I think that we honestly enjoy exchanging kid gifts.

So sometimes it's not so much "it's all about the kids," but just that kids are easier to buy for.  Although, my husband and I would be perfectly happy if anybody wanted to buy us LEGOs.  I think I might be getting a K'Nex roller coaster for Christmas, as my in-laws asked me which one I want.  :)  Of course I'm a grown-up, why do you ask?

Peregrine

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Re: S/O "OK not to buy gift" Carolyn Hax column
« Reply #63 on: December 20, 2013, 11:39:23 AM »
Although, my husband and I would be perfectly happy if anybody wanted to buy us LEGOs.  I think I might be getting a K'Nex roller coaster for Christmas, as my in-laws asked me which one I want.  :)  Of course I'm a grown-up, why do you ask?

I love Legos!  This year, my little guy is turning 3 and graduating to "Big Boy" Legos....with adult supervision of course.  We started his Lego collection when he was in utero :)   Of course, I have been eyeballing the model of the Sydney Opera House....I don't even want to speculate on the price of that!

VorFemme

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Re: S/O "OK not to buy gift" Carolyn Hax column
« Reply #64 on: December 20, 2013, 12:17:01 PM »
My husband and I are childfree.  I have two sisters with children (husband is an only child).

My sister with two kids still does the gift exchange.  Her family exchanges with my family.  So she buys for the two of us, and I buy for the four of them.  I am totally happy with this because it's still an exchange.  Same applies to birthdays.

My sister with four kids asked to bow out of the gift exchange for the adults, but somehow, the kids got left in.  So I buy for her four kids, yet we receive nothing.  Same for birthdays.  So in total, I am on the hook for 8 gifts each year, while we receive nothing.  And it hurts.  I can give you a dozen rational reasons why this shouldn't matter at all (I love my nieces and nephews, my husband and I can afford the gifts, we really don't need more stuff, etc etc etc)... but it still hurts.  And I haven't figured out how to explain this to her.
She's not thinking about YOU at all - but still expects YOU to think about her family - at least to the extent of getting 8 gifts a year for her kids while she apparently doesn't even send birthday cards.....or phone you to meet for lunch once in a while.
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Figgie

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Re: S/O "OK not to buy gift" Carolyn Hax column
« Reply #65 on: December 20, 2013, 01:18:38 PM »
"Ted" posts in the Caroline Hax's online chat today.  It's about halfway down the chat which is located here:

http://live.washingtonpost.com/carolyn-hax-live-131220.html

MindsEye

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Re: S/O "OK not to buy gift" Carolyn Hax column
« Reply #66 on: December 20, 2013, 01:30:33 PM »
My husband and I are childfree.  I have two sisters with children (husband is an only child).

My sister with two kids still does the gift exchange.  Her family exchanges with my family.  So she buys for the two of us, and I buy for the four of them.  I am totally happy with this because it's still an exchange.  Same applies to birthdays.

My sister with four kids asked to bow out of the gift exchange for the adults, but somehow, the kids got left in.  So I buy for her four kids, yet we receive nothing.  Same for birthdays.  So in total, I am on the hook for 8 gifts each year, while we receive nothing.  And it hurts.  I can give you a dozen rational reasons why this shouldn't matter at all (I love my nieces and nephews, my husband and I can afford the gifts, we really don't need more stuff, etc etc etc)... but it still hurts.  And I haven't figured out how to explain this to her.

What would happen if you just... stopped buying presents for the kids?  Or at least stopped buying the birthday presents?  Would your sistes call you up and demand to know where they were?

Have you tried saying something like "When I buy birthday and holiday gifts for your kids, and you don't get me anything for the holidays or acknowledge my birthday at all, I feel used and undervalued.  So since you are obviously not interested in any kind of exchange, I am going to cut way back on (or stop entirely) getting presents for your kids."

TootsNYC

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Re: S/O "OK not to buy gift" Carolyn Hax column
« Reply #67 on: December 20, 2013, 01:36:51 PM »
But when we all traded $50 REI gift cards amongst the adults last year
.....

there is also a point where it becomes a bit ridiculous to keep gifting among the adults.

Well, it is if you do it like that!

The point of gifts is the thought--"it's the thought that counts."

And so thinking of the other person is a huge part of the exercise. That's what supposed to be the "thought," not just the "I thought I'd get you a present."

You can draw names among the adults, and then spent a whole year eavesdropping or picking other people's brains to find out something they'd like--a want, not a need. Set a low-ish limit, so people are willing to take a flyer on a gift because they won't feel like they're wasting a lot of money.

or decide that it has to be an "experience" gift, or edible/use-up-able.

But you do have to be willing to invest some energy and thought.

"Ted" posts in the Caroline Hax's online chat today.  It's about halfway down the chat which is located here:

http://live.washingtonpost.com/carolyn-hax-live-131220.html
Oooh, I'm so happy! Thanks, Figgie. Off to read.

MindsEye

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Re: S/O "OK not to buy gift" Carolyn Hax column
« Reply #68 on: December 20, 2013, 01:45:22 PM »
"Ted" posts in the Caroline Hax's online chat today.  It's about halfway down the chat which is located here:

http://live.washingtonpost.com/carolyn-hax-live-131220.html

Thanks!

I love "Ted"'s response.  :)

Frankly, I have always thought that Christmas was for everyone (not just the kids!) and that the present exchange is exactly that... an exchange

I just don't see how it would be at all selfish to say that because the exchange has become completely one-sided (where you are expected to give, but don't get anything) you will not participate at all anymore.

Can I also say that I was amused - in a sad way - that the outraged sibling in the original letter's reaction to "Ted"''s decision to pull the present train to a halt was NOT to try to figure out how to make sure that "Ted" and his wife felt included (maybe by getting them some presents??) but instead was to try to figure out how to force "Ted" and his wife to continue to shell out presents for the kids?

I sure hope that "Ted" has a happy Christmas this year!

TootsNYC

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Re: S/O "OK not to buy gift" Carolyn Hax column
« Reply #69 on: December 20, 2013, 01:54:59 PM »
I like that point about it being an exchange. And if you've got a biggish family, put everybody's name into the pot and everybody draw one out. Even the little kids.

So 6yo Susie has to buy a present for 57-year-old Uncle Joe. It'll be a great experience for her! And--bonus points!!--she'll feel a lot closer to Uncle Joe. Draw names in July, and give yourself time to stalk the other person's Facebook page, listen carefully to conversations at Thanksgiving, and ask Aunt Mary for ideas.
  Of course, Susie has to do the thinking, choosing, and buying. And so what if her idea is to get him a box of the big aluminum foil because she heard him saying "That big aluminum foil is really handy!" at Thanksgiving.
   That's the point--it's Susie's thoughts about Uncle Joe. And if Uncle Joe is in the right mindset, he'll love that aluminum foil for the 6years it takes him to use it up, because Susie got it for him.

I think if it's "all about the kids," the kids need to go some -giving- as well! That's the fun part.

GlitterIsMyDrug

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Re: S/O "OK not to buy gift" Carolyn Hax column
« Reply #70 on: December 20, 2013, 04:16:26 PM »
  Of course, Susie has to do the thinking, choosing, and buying. And so what if her idea is to get him a box of the big aluminum foil because she heard him saying "That big aluminum foil is really handy!" at Thanksgiving.
   That's the point--it's Susie's thoughts about Uncle Joe. And if Uncle Joe is in the right mindset, he'll love that aluminum foil for the 6years it takes him to use it up, because Susie got it for him.

I think if it's "all about the kids," the kids need to go some -giving- as well! That's the fun part.

I loved giving gifts to my adults (mom and grandparents mostly) as a kid. One year I decided to buy my grandma two big cans of hairspray because she wore a ton of hairspray (seriously, I think she went through more in one week then entire cast of Designing Women in a month), so of course she liked hairspray and could always use it so I bought her two big cans.

I was 7 or 8. So it's been about 2 decades, she still talks about the year I gave her hairspray and how it was one of the best gifts ever.

I always felt very grown up picking out gifts for the adults in my life. After all, I was buying grown up things for grown ups!

AnnaJ

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Re: S/O "OK not to buy gift" Carolyn Hax column
« Reply #71 on: December 20, 2013, 07:33:31 PM »
   I think if it's "all about the kids," the kids need to go some -giving- as well! That's the fun part.

This ^^.

Giving gifts can be as fun as getting gifts, and that's something kids should have the chance to experience.  Giving only to kids works if everyone has kids - if not, then it doesn't.


MommyPenguin

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Re: S/O "OK not to buy gift" Carolyn Hax column
« Reply #72 on: December 20, 2013, 08:57:45 PM »
I agree.  I think it's so much fun to see what they come up with.  One of mine is getting "Grandpa," who loves M&Ms, a little bag of M&Ms.  :)  The other is giving him an invisible miniature baby elephant, because who wouldn't want one of those?  She has a box with a half-eaten cashew in it, because she had to put a "peanut" in there with the elephant while he waited to be opened, and he ate half of it.  Sometimes their presents are adorable, sometimes they're like... WHAT?  But it gives you an interesting glimpse into how they see you by what presents they choose for you.  They know I'm practical, so they get me dish towels and notepads and things like that.  Ha.

Outdoor Girl

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Re: S/O "OK not to buy gift" Carolyn Hax column
« Reply #73 on: December 20, 2013, 10:22:50 PM »
My best friends now live a long way away from me.  We decided long ago not to exchange gifts for birthday and Christmas because we wouldn't always see each other.  So we got away from it and only exchange if we see each other near Christmas.

My one friend had a daughter so I started buying for her and then give a family gift of homemade cookies and some other edibles.

She buys me something for Christmas, in exchange.

It works for us.
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Ontario

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Re: S/O "OK not to buy gift" Carolyn Hax column
« Reply #74 on: December 20, 2013, 11:55:02 PM »
I agree.  I think it's so much fun to see what they come up with.  One of mine is getting "Grandpa," who loves M&Ms, a little bag of M&Ms.  :)  The other is giving him an invisible miniature baby elephant, because who wouldn't want one of those?  She has a box with a half-eaten cashew in it, because she had to put a "peanut" in there with the elephant while he waited to be opened, and he ate half of it.  Sometimes their presents are adorable, sometimes they're like... WHAT?  But it gives you an interesting glimpse into how they see you by what presents they choose for you.  They know I'm practical, so they get me dish towels and notepads and things like that.  Ha.

I want an invisible miniature elephant! And I think my brother-in-law would be absolutely delighted by one: he collects elephants and has an elephant tattoo.
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