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Feeling anti-Christmas

I generally love Christmas, but I'm feeling very anti-holidays this year. I come from a small family (my mom and sister; my dad passed away years ago). DH has a larger family (mom, dad, stepmom and three siblings). In the past, we have bought gifts for every single person. For years though, I've suggested gift exchanges/Secret Santas with his dad/stepmom and siblings, or just the siblings as a way to lighten the load on the number of people we have to buy for, but every year my idea is turned down (often by just one or two people; some are okay with the idea). 

This year, I am feeling like just throwing up my arms and saying no altogether. With DH's family, we trade lists and buy items off each list, but more and more it's feeling impersonal. No thought is really required and it's become a chore. I don't want to spend all the money on thoughtless gifts, and frankly I don't want to receive something that is just ticked off my own list. 

I've thought of doing charity donations only (giving and requesting), but not sure how appropriate this is or how to go about it (do I tell everyone ahead of time or just go ahead and do it?). I've also considered (and DH is onboard) with just going away for the holidays and ignoring them completely. 

Thoughts? Am I being too Scrooge-y? I just hate spending all that money on impersonal gifts and receiving things I would rather have just bought myself so I can get exactly what I want/need. 

Re: Feeling anti-Christmas

  • Your husband's family sounds just like my inlaws!  They buy gifts for every. single. person. for both Christmas and birthdays.  It's insane, especially considering none of them are particularly good with money.  

    I wish I could help, but I've been trying to convince them or H to limit the gift giving for years now, to no avail.  I would however recommend you cross post this on the Money Matters board, which is far more active than this one and full of smart, helpful women.  Good luck!! 
    HeartlandHustle | Personal Finance and Betterment Blog  
  • I was coming here to talk about similar anti-gift sentiments!  For me, I don't think it's anti-Christmas at all, just anti-waste. 

    The last several years, my family has tried different gift variations - each drawing names, stocking stuffers only, handmade gifts, no gifts (adults only - for any gifting agreement we reached, we were always expected to buy presents for nieces/nephews), etc., but none of those options feel satisfying anymore.  When we drew names to each buy/get one gift, it felt like there was a lot of pressure/stress to "get it right."  For stocking stuffers only, it means we spent a lot of money on tiny crap, and we received tiny crap that we didn't really need, plus, I heard more complaints that year than any other.  Making something for everyone took way too much time that we just don't have available.  Even when we didn't do adult gifts, just buying for all the children (my husband and I have no children, but all of our siblings do on both sides of the family, and we have over twice as many nieces/nephews as anybody else) took a lot of time, energy, and money (and buying extra stuff for children who have bedrooms and dedicated playrooms overflowing didn't seem to make a lot of sense).  Last year we didn't set any rules or restrictions, and each just bought/made what we wanted, but that resulted in us bringing home things that went directly into the goodwill pile (things we can't use, don't use, or were already working on purging from our house). 

    We're desperately trying to downsize and purge things that aren't necessities, and I know many of our family members are doing exactly the same thing.  I don't want them to give me something unneeded, and I don't want to waste time/money buying something for them that's unneeded. 

    So this year, my husband and I declared that we're not doing gifts.  No consultation or discussion with the rest of our family, we just decided it for ourselves.  We're not giving gifts, and we're not receiving gifts.  We're not even buying gifts for children.  They can do whatever gift exchanging they want to do with each other, but we won't participate in that specific aspect of the holiday.  This year, we want to focus on spending time with each other, and with our family members without stress.  We want to eat meals together, see lights, go to church, and appreciate the holiday without the pressure of materialistic trappings.  We are using our "gift" money to send to charities.

    My husband's family hasn't really responded, but I think my family was a little offended.  The end agreement was "we'll give what we want to give, you give what you want to give." (meaning, it's okay if you don't give us gifts, but we might still give you something, and we expect you to take it).  We're fine with that.  As long as they realize their gifts won't be reciprocated, we'll accept anything they want to give us, and we'll accept it with a big smile and a "thank you!"  They don't have to know if it winds up in the Goodwill pile. 

    Just an extra note....I told them we were not doing gifts in the summer time, so I could catch them before any buying or crafting began.  If you feel it's too late to make your anti-gift declaration this year, then this year you can announce that next year you'll be going gift-free. 
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