Holiday gift-giving angst

by Ginger on December 3, 2008

in Celebrations, I'm a Disaster

Well, yesterday’s post was depressing–sorry bout that–so we’ll move on to holiday cheer. Or at least, normal holiday angst.

I’m talking about the gift giving issue.

Anna over at abdpbt has a great post about trying to make the holidays cheaper and easier. God do I wish I could pull that one off. Every time we’ve suggested to family that we take a chill pill this year, we either get met with silence, or folks agree and then go ahead and spend ridonkulous amounts of money anyway.

Here’s the problem in my family:

5 parents/step-parents (yes it is an odd number, there were multiple divorces).
2 in-laws
3 grandparents
2 sisters
1 husband

And a partridge in a pear tree. Ok, maybe not, but sometimes it feels like it. This doesn’t leave room for aunts/uncles/cousins/friends/coworkers most years, and particularly this one.

Of course the biggest problem isn’t the size of this group, it’s the…how can I put this?…complete cluelessness about what some of these folks would like. Some are easy peasy: the hubs is the easiest person to shop for, like, ever and there are a few on the list that give me lists (bless you folks!). But there are a few on the list that I haven’t seen in over two years, and who I talk to maybe every six months–what the hell do I get those people? I don’t know what they like or don’t like. I don’t know what their current hobbies are. I don’t know what things might ruffle their feathers (and I will say, this cuts both ways–I’ve gotten some crazy gifts from those same folks). And with some? I’m not allowed to even ask the question. Instead it has to be hinted around and dug out like I’m on some super spy mission and can’t say certain trigger words, including “what would you like for Christmas?” and “what things are you really into right now?”.

I get a lot of angst around gift giving time.  So you add the stress of oh crap what do I get them, to the quantity of gifts needed, plus oh let’s not forget the need to mail EVERYTHING so shopping must be done early enough that I don’t spend a fortune on shipping, and sprinkle in some by the way the economy is crap and we’re broke and what do you get? Ginger curled in a ball rocking back and forth repeating “It’s only a gift!” over and over.

Yeah, stressful.

Look, I love Christmas. I play Santa on Christmas morning, and have always loved watching people open my gifts to them, that anticipation of “will they love it as much as I hope?”. There’s nothing like seeing someone who is surprised and in love with something you got them, big or small. I adore gift giving–but only when it means something. Not when it’s this obligation, just a name to be checked off a list. That’s where it loses its luster.

Does anyone else have problems like these? They seem to happen a lot with divorced families, but surely I’m not alone in this stress. How do you deal with the gift-giving conundrum?

Belle December 3, 2008 at 2:55 pm

We usually draw names at my in-laws, and some people just cannot stop themselves from going overboard and buying for everyone. It drives me crazy because we look like cheapskates for playing by the rules. However, money is so tight this year, we’ve all agreed to not exchange gifts among the adults which is just fine with me.

Elizabeth December 3, 2008 at 3:26 pm

It is SO stressful! I never know who I am supposed to buy an individual gift for vs a family gift, etc. I resolved to do everything on Etsy and bake whatever else because money is tight. My parents are the exception–my siblings and I split the cost of a couple nights at a Hill Country bed and breakfast which comes out to about $40 each per parent per sibling. Not too bad.

Good luck getting it all straight!

Elizabeth´s last blog post..Eric posts on the dog blog!

anna December 3, 2008 at 4:52 pm

I have a similar situation, though it has improved since one side is doing no gifts. We have:
2 parents
2 step parents
3 siblings/siblings in laws
3 nieces
4 step-siblings
1 step-nephew

It’s insane! My brother and I used to split the cost of our gifts, which helped. But my mom was one of those people who didn’t want to let go of all the tradition–it sucks. Having an employee discount one year helped–but yeah, it’s terrible. You know, I think if you buy gift cards at Vons/Pavillions right now it counts towards their free gas thing–I just got a card from them the other day, it’s a few dollars per hundred you spend, which isn’t a lot, but it’s something.

anna´s last blog post..Gonzo Journalism at Spin Class

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: