Are you done with your Christmas shopping already?!

Are you done with your Christmas shopping already?!

If so…

done with christmas shoppingHaha…

But seriously though, well done you!! Impressive!

Personally, I’m just getting started on it all as my wife tends to take on the Gift Fairy role in our family, but wanted to chime in with some of our “rules” of gift giving over the years, as well as two *new* ones we’re trying out for the first time this season (and which I’m nerdily excited about!)

Here’s how we do gifts in our immediate family:

  • Those who get gifts: kids
  • Those who don’t get gifts: spouses. They only get stocking stuffers :)

BOOM – easy. Not a Grinch enough to hold back on the kids, but the wife and I already love and appreciate everything we have so we mainly just fill each other’s stockings with niceties to help brighten each other’s day a bit… Things like chocolate or books or maybe even a new shirt or gadget, so long as it’s under $10-$15/ea. No cheating and slipping in diamonds just because they’re small!

We’re onto year #3 of stocking stuffers only, and it’s been such a relief for both of us. Especially as our two birthdays are around Christmas which means double the shopping adventures! But of course we have rules around that too – specifically not being able to spend more than $50 on each other, and that the non-birthday spouse is in charge of dinner/dessert for the family :) It doesn’t take much to make us happy!! Haha…

Now to how we tackle extended family:

  • Those who get gifts: nieces, nephews, parents
  • Those who don’t get gifts: uncles, aunts, and now – siblings! Our first attempt at trying this!!

This is our first new rule of the season, and the one that has the most potential of getting weird because not all us siblings have kids :( So some will be passing out presents to a family without getting any gifts in return, while others are more fairly balanced since you’re just swapping kids toys to each other. Of course, us parental siblings could enact a caveat that those without kids will then get a gift from us to even it out more out, but then you run into the problem of them feeling bad for not *returning* the favor to us adults, and, well, you might as well just have stuck to the traditional plan in that case…

At any rate, we’re still optimistic it’ll all pan out okay and everyone seems to be on board, but we’ll see what happens in practice :)

And then lastly, here’s what we do with distant relatives:

  • Those who get gifts: godparents, godchildren, anyone who gives us a gift which of course then means we have to reciprocate whether we want to or not (and thus, why we always have backup gifts in our closet for last-minute exchanges!! We’re no amateurs here!)
  • Those who don’t get gifts: everyone else

I wish there was a universal button you could click that alerts everyone of your preferences, but until that’s created we just do the best we can and hope no one gets their feathers ruffled throughout ;) We’re all about our loved ones, but don’t think gift giving is the end all be all of showing love! I’d much rather get something thoughtful throughout the year than on a day when it’s more “expected”.

(Funny story on that, actually – apparently my brother had already bought my Xmas gifts months ago, so he called me up and asked how he should handle it with the new rules in place ;) Asked if he should just randomly surprise me throughout the year or if I would be mad getting them on Christmas, and I told him 100% SURPRISE ME throughout the year as that’s awesome!! haha… Who doesn’t like random gifts?!)

Anyways, that’s how we do gift giving in our household… And just realized I don’t have “friends” listed up there actually – I guess ‘cuz us guys never get gifts for each other? Is that weird?! Trying to think what my wife does with her besties, and don’t think they swap many gifts either. Outside of a nice holiday card or phone call.

At any rate, I think we’ll end up spending around $300 on gifts when all is said and done, which is ironically less than we did before even having kids :) Interesting how things change over time…

One last note before we go here:

Haha… just because it’s tradition doesn’t mean you have to keep doing it!

What is your budget looking like for this holiday season? Are you happy with it?

PS: If anyone has cracked the code on how to get less toys but more stocks/bonds/529 contribution gifts to your kids, please let me know!! It’s the one area I still can’t figure out despite many hints! :)

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  1. Louise December 16, 2019 at 6:26 AM

    My partner and I usually exchange stockings and order a beer/cider advent calendar to enjoy throughout December. This year we treated ourselves to a quick trip away and it has been the best present: quality time, fresh air and beautiful scenery.

    This year we’re trying a new giftgiving rule: just kids and parents. So my partner’s three nieces and his parents plus my mum, sister and our furbaby. It sure beats receiving bath mats, soaps and giftcards to stores we don’t go to.

    1. J. Money December 16, 2019 at 7:10 AM

      Beer advent calendar!! That sounds fun!!

  2. Stephanie December 16, 2019 at 7:02 AM

    None of us “kids” have kids, so we usually gift to each other and the parents. I also do something for my boss(es) and I have one coworker, so maybe for her as well. As for friends, we choose to do an “experience” like spa days or dinner out, etc. The problem I’m having is that, since we don’t have children, all of us tend to just get what we want on our own, so we seem to be swapping gift cards. I don’t see the point, but find it hard to tell my small family how I feel. Any suggestions?

    Best part of Christmas this year? My folks finally adopted a dog, so they now know what celebrating with the fur kids is all about.

    1. Kate December 16, 2019 at 8:49 AM

      Hello! I wonder if you brought this up to your family they might all say, “Oh my gosh! I feel the same! I didn’t want to hurt your feelings!” What about you all do Secret Santa? Then you only have to give, and receive, one really great gift.

      1. J. Money December 16, 2019 at 3:15 PM

        I like the Secret Santa route :) A lot of families do that and every one I know seems to love it!

  3. Slackerjo December 16, 2019 at 7:25 AM

    Wealthy family means no gifts. Give to charity and I certainly don’t need anything (I’m not wealthy I just live in a very small apartment) so give a gift to charity in my name. My nephew is 17 so he gets a $50 bill cause I don’t know what the young folks are into. As he ages, he’ll get less money and more charitable things donated in his name. So about 20 mins of clicking on the inter webby thing, and bang, shopping is done.

    As someone who works for a gadget company, please, please, pleeeeeeaaaaaase provide the recipient of the gift with a receipt/gift receipt for warranty purposes. It makes everyone’s life easier and there won’t be any gadget temper tantrums and I won’t have to consider drinking at work.

    1. J. Money December 16, 2019 at 3:16 PM

      Ahh good pt w/ the warranty!!

      And I would have LOVED you if I got a $50 bill at that age, haha… It’s cool enough on its own to stash away and even just save (*gasp*) than spend!

  4. Paul December 16, 2019 at 8:07 AM

    We do the same thing. Only Kids get gifts, otherwise it just becomes too much… and lets be honest, adults don’t want the garbage under $20 gifts you would give them anyway. I would guess 75% don’t even leave the package.

    Really all I want for Christmas is for my extended family to leave me alone. My wife said we would host this year and for some reason that means her dad has to invite all their cousins, second cousins, third aunts twice removed, etc… People I don’t even know their names. Guess I will have to come to terms with people breaking my shit and not saying anything and me finding out days later…

    1. J. Money December 16, 2019 at 3:17 PM

      Ouch, haha… I take it at least it’s not an annual tradition? Hosting there? :)

  5. Kate December 16, 2019 at 8:43 AM

    I have not one blood relative in the same hemisphere and can’t be bothered queuing in the post office so this year I’m getting presents for my husband and dog only! Dog is getting a metre long comical turkey without stuffing (it’s a thing now: so dogs can’t rip it open and eat toxic stuffing I guess) and a red toweling bathrobe. I got my husband a few things in the Black Friday sales and couldn’t wait until Christmas so he has them already. Two work sweaters, a passport holder, some socks, and some skiing sunscreen. My friends all have kids but I’m not getting them any presents. Their houses are already filled with crap. I find gift giving all a bit much to be honest. I do like that “Something you Want, Something you Need, Something to Wear, Something to Read” idea.

    1. J. Money December 16, 2019 at 3:18 PM

      That is a good one :)

    2. Jess December 17, 2019 at 7:26 AM

      I always found it hard to pick the right “something to wear” for my kids so we changed it. They now get “Something to eat”. Your very own favorite snack that nobody else can touch? Priceless!

  6. Christine December 16, 2019 at 9:23 AM

    I’m done with mine, except for the car detailing gift certificate I want to buy for my brother. We have always overdone Christmas in our family. I think because both of my parents had very little growing up, and when I was growing up, they struggled, but it was the one time of the year we indulged. Now, we are all better off, but the tradition continues. It’s gotten better since we could channel the Christmas energy to my niece and nephew but I still budget a ridiculous amount for the holiday. This was a banner year after a constrained one last year. I can’t say the dollar amount without blushing. That’s my family. I get gifts for the kids, my brother and sister in law, my parents, my husband…nothing now for cousins, aunts or uncles, which is good because I have a huge family. I get one of my uncle’s a gift because he has continued to give me money every year. I get my best friend a gift and for a few other friends, I usually do a uniform little token gift for them. I do donate a lot of cash to charity and also buy toys for an adopt a family. I definitely stopped buying gifts for some people. One of my friends and I did the “truce” thing one year. This year, as I was shopping, I saw something I thought she’d like so I sent it to her. She was so surprised, and I know she was a little like “crap, does this mean we have to get gifts now?” I said I’d rather have the gifts be if we see something that screams the other person and feel inspired, not as a task on our list. I get joy out of things like that.

    1. J. Money December 16, 2019 at 3:20 PM

      I bet she appreciated that :) And is a true friend for already agreeing to a “truce”! Haha…

  7. Christine December 16, 2019 at 9:31 AM

    For those swapping gift cards or for people who want to get out of Everyone buying gifts…I suggest a gift swap. Either drawing names or doing it “yankee gift swap” style. And make it a dollar limit and/or theme…this is actually a fun way to do it and it’s more of a game than getting something you need. My cousins and I did this one year to stop my aunts from all trying to buy us stuff we didn’t need. They couldn’t afford it, they were all generic gifts, some of us had to haul all those candles and things home, and we were doing ok for ourselves so it was silly. We said no one buys for each other—instead, here is what we are doing. It was open to whoever wanted to participate, and if you didn’t, that was fine too. It took the pressure off. after awhile, we stopped doing that too…but it served its purpose of weaning people off of that gift rollercoaster.

    1. J. Money December 16, 2019 at 3:20 PM

      I like it. And you usually get some pretty wild and funny ones in there too from the jokesters to liven it up a bit ;)

  8. Nita December 16, 2019 at 9:58 AM

    We just started traveling Christmas to New Years instead and the kids preferred it over presents. Cruising cover a lot.

    1. J. Money December 16, 2019 at 3:21 PM

      Ooh there you go!! I’d much rather go on a trip or cruise than get gifts – you’re right!

  9. Joe December 16, 2019 at 10:06 AM

    I like the new rules. Kids should get some presents. Adults don’t really need them anymore.
    My wife’s present is a nice salon haircut in Thailand. She really enjoyed the experience and it only cost $20! :)

    1. J. Money December 16, 2019 at 3:22 PM

      HAH! And let me guess – the tickets were free from cashing in points? :)

  10. Kathy Kristof December 16, 2019 at 12:22 PM

    Several years ago, my family started drawing names. So you’re just getting one gift for one extended family member. You are limited to spending $100 and that’s roughly what each person spends. But that’s dramatically less than we spent buying gifts for 15 extended family members…and each person gets one really nice gift. The giant thing was how much less stress there was around Christmas and that you felt you could manage something thoughtful with these limits.

    1. J. Money December 16, 2019 at 3:23 PM

      Totally! That’s an excellent idea, I’m glad it worked out :)

      (And nice to see you here too! Been a while, ol’ friend!)

  11. Working Mom December 16, 2019 at 4:22 PM

    My spouse and I do gifts for:
    -our 3 kids (mostly practical this year–PJ’s, clothes, photo book of the previous year, ornament, sheets, socks, art supplies, etc.- leave the toys to the grandparents)
    -both our parents (all our grandparents have now passed)
    -nieces/nephews BIL/SIL only on 1 side (limited to $25 each gift and we all have Amazon wish lists so it’s something they want. Other side we don’t do siblings/nieces/nephews)
    -each child’s home room teacher and FT helpers
    -head teacher and helpers in child’s daycare room
    -child’s piano teacher, after-school-care coordinators
    -several local and national charities including toy drives (so more shopping)
    -some years it’s been employees/boss/church education teachers/daycare front desk workers/pastor, etc. but it just doesn’t always happen

    Gift-giving and list-making for all the people who want to know what my family wants (no one in either family will buy things if they aren’t on an Amazon list) seems like a part-time job from Oct-Dec. I am almost finished and wrapped and did 98% of it online. I use a Google spreadsheet to keep track and after all the additional church/school/work activities of the season, could about die of exhaustion by the time Christmas comes around. If you are not the “Gift-Fairy” in the household…please thank the one who is. You have no idea how much work it is.

    1. J. Money December 17, 2019 at 6:44 AM

      Wow that does sound exhausting! Forgot about kids teachers/daycare providers too – we do something small there too (or rather, my beautiful Gift Fairy who I now appreciate even more does this!) Also like the idea of leaving the toys to the grandparents and then parents getting them other things… Good way to keep it balanced more :)

  12. BC | FrugalWheels December 16, 2019 at 5:04 PM

    I’m super impressed that you are able to set rules. I have tried to go hard in the paint on de-escalating Christmas spending in my family and every time my ball of frugality is stuffed in my face before I get anywhere near the hoop. I tried to convince my sister to forgo the whole gift giving thing between us at least, to make things easier on both of us, and it was a hard nope.

    The best I seem to do is request gifts that are sourced locally and try to source them locally myself, wrap using reusable bags or other eco-friendly wrappings, etc. And I rode my bike to a makers market and bought a mushroom grow kit from a local seller. My best holiday win.

    And I didn’t even do that well this year. I shopped online for a bunch of things. The only line in the sand I seem to be able to hold steady to is not doing any shopping on Thanksgiving or Black Friday. I just won’t contribute to the madness and encroaching on workers’ family time.

    1. J. Money December 17, 2019 at 6:45 AM

      Yup, with you on that one here as well. Mushroom kit sounds pretty cool – and I don’t even eat mushrooms! :) Why did your sister not want to stop trading gifts? Kills the Christmas joy?

      1. BC | FrugalWheels December 17, 2019 at 12:34 PM

        I don’t know, when I mentioned it she looked as if I’d suggested we stop being brother and sister, and that was that. To me the cool part is about spending time together, and now having time off (since I no longer have a job in which I need to work holidays like Christmas). But I guess the spending part is inevitable. Sigh.

        Also my dad this year. He puts on his list an out of print CD and an out of print book. I take back my father’s day guest post! (ok, I’m kidding lol)

        The nice thing is I have a lot of time off this year, since we’re not publishing for two weeks. Roadtrip here I come! (Maybe with niece in tow, which will be interesting.)

        1. J. Money December 17, 2019 at 2:12 PM

          Yayyyyy! Super fun!!! Make sure to go on it without your sister! ;)

  13. Rachael December 16, 2019 at 5:04 PM

    I remember being at a 1st bday party for my cousin’s son and seeing all the toys he and his brother already had in living room while watching him get a bunch of new toys. That convinced me to take it easy on toy buying for presents on the future. I have a nephew now who just turned 1 and I did get a toy for his first bday but am planning on only giving a couple books, maybe an outfit and money for Christmas. I figure when they are that young they wont even realize they aren’t getting that much stuff anyway.

    1. J. Money December 17, 2019 at 6:47 AM

      YES!! An even better time for money/college savings for sure :) All the parents’ money at that point is going right out the door in raising them so they’re not thinking about future kids savings! :)

  14. philip December 17, 2019 at 1:12 PM

    Ok, so have a new niece and thinking about trying to convince them to setup a 529. Or should I set one up myself for them? Or just send stocks?

    You suggest wanting this, do you have suggestions on actually implementing this?

    One brother I had offered for years to contribute if he opened one, now his kids are about to head to college and never got around to opening one.

    1. J. Money December 17, 2019 at 2:18 PM

      Uncle of The Year right there!!!!

      I’m 99% sure you CAN set one up for yourself and then direct where you want the money to go, so I’d just double check it online and then go for it since you KNOW it would get done in that case. And you can always open up more accounts under your main one too for future nieces and nephews that may come along!

      (Some places will let you print out a “gift certificate” type thing too to hand to people, as well as direct links for parents who want to solicit funds from others…. They do their best to make it as simple as possible, but it’s just one of those things that seems complicated on the outside and thus people just move right on to the next gift idea :()

  15. CJ December 18, 2019 at 7:07 PM

    Christmas gift giving has really changed over the years
    First… Siblings and parents
    Second…. Spouse and parents and siblings
    Third……all of the above, plus our kids and nieces and nephews
    Fourth…… drop siblings, only gift exchanges with nieces and nephews for the number of kids
    you have… as in, you have three kids, you only have to buy three gifts, if no kids, you don’t have to buy…..once they reach 16, they were off the list. And still parents and Spouse of course
    Fifth…..drop nieces and nephews…. this was all agreed to with other parents…..only now there are grandkids, so everyone else was happy for us to buy for only them….Spouse picks out their own gifts, because we have all we need……so Christmas is super easy. Parents of grandkids give us a very short list….order on-line….delivered to our porch…..everyone is happy :)

    So much less stress….and everyone is happier to enjoy getting together instead.

    1. J. Money December 31, 2019 at 3:26 PM

      It is funny how things change over the years, haha…

      I much prefer that last method as well :)

  16. Kathy December 31, 2019 at 7:13 AM

    I am late to the party…. A friend and her family gift each other things that are really needed as they don’t want clutter. Their kids who are still growing, are given clothes while her husband takes my friend to a shop and points out what he wants. Interestingly, her husband doesn’t ask what my friend wants – he just buys her lingerie every year. She doesn’t complain because she never buys her own so hubby takes care of that and he also has better taste.

    1. J. Money December 31, 2019 at 3:27 PM

      HAH! He def. knows what he wants there ;)


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