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Tone down Christmas.....

How do you tell your parents/in laws to tone down the holidays without hurting their feelings? I grew up in a great family, we gave each other one gift each from each person, meaning everyone got about 5-6 presents, and it was always something each person thought you'd really like. Christmas was never "over the top," we'd take turns opening gifts so everyone can enjoy it alongside you, you can share in the delight of a thoughtful gift, etc. My DH's parents do SO MUCH Christmas that it makes me uncomfortable. As in, probably 5,000 of stuff per child (they have three), and they have two DILs. We would be so happy with like 2-3 gifts, and giving them a gift or two each. Then enjoying a nice dinner and hanging out around the house, catching up and watching movies. How to tell them? We're adults, with jobs and mortgages and pets, and we're all late 20s, early 30s, paying our own ways through life. They're recently divorced and we're 99% sure that Christmas puts them in annual credit card debt. How to tell them we'd be happier with a Christmas that's more focused on time together and less focused on material things?

Re: Tone down Christmas.....

  • Well as far as giving  gifts to them, I would do whatever is in your budget.  Now  regarding gifts from them,  I personally wouldn't feel comfortable saying anything.  Your "over the top " is someone else's just right. Just because that wasn't what you did in your family growing up, that doesn't make their holiday traditions wrong or focused on material things.  I know my family did Christmas gifts different than DH's family and to them our Christmas is probably over the top too.  But ya know, I think it is just right and wouldn't have it any other way.

     I also know some people show love by giving gifts and by saying no to them is equivalent to saying you don't want their love. That is just how they are and they genuinely get a lot of enjoyment out of giving.

    Ultimately though, this is their money and they can spend it how they please and it's simply not polite to tell people how to spend ( or not spend ) their money.  
  • I agree with PP, you can't stop them from celebrating the way they want to, but you can let them know what you're capable of doing. Tell them your limit for Christmas spending, and ask if they want to also set a spending limit for what they get you and your DH for Christmas. If they don't want to, let them go crazy, and you and your DH spend what you told them you would spend. That way you don't get caught in a trap of spending more than you can afford trying to keep up with them, and they can still go bananas. Don't feel guilty if that's what they choose to do!
  • Leftie22 said:
    I agree with PP, you can't stop them from celebrating the way they want to, but you can let them know what you're capable of doing. Tell them your limit for Christmas spending, and ask if they want to also set a spending limit for what they get you and your DH for Christmas. If they don't want to, let them go crazy, and you and your DH spend what you told them you would spend. That way you don't get caught in a trap of spending more than you can afford trying to keep up with them, and they can still go bananas. Don't feel guilty if that's what they choose to do!
    yup, all of this. you can only control you,
    Leftie22 said:
    I agree with PP, you can't stop them from celebrating the way they want to, but you can let them know what you're capable of doing. Tell them your limit for Christmas spending, and ask if they want to also set a spending limit for what they get you and your DH for Christmas. If they don't want to, let them go crazy, and you and your DH spend what you told them you would spend. That way you don't get caught in a trap of spending more than you can afford trying to keep up with them, and they can still go bananas. Don't feel guilty if that's what they choose to do!

  • What does your husband say?  They are his family -- has it always been like this?  Why does he think they do it?

    I might try a suggestion - Adopt a family at Christmas.  Instead of getting everybody tons of presents, set a money limit for one present each and then make a family pot for a family in difficult times.  Then your MIL can have her fun shopping for people, but all of you can feel good about the results!
  • edited February 2014
    I agree -- how much stuff does anybody or anyone need?

    They are better off taking the money for those gifts and presenting it to you and your H in the form of a savings bond for the kiddoes.

    We never had this kind of thing as kids; we'd ask for maybe a dozen things and we'd get 2 or 3 of those items. The rest were things like pajamas and robes, slippers and clothes for school. Even than it was maybe 8 gifts each and 6 of them were items like the clothes and robes..

    And aunts and uncles gave us one gift each. Usually something from our Santa lists.
  • I have the same problem, only it's my family - mainly my parents - that goes overboard during the holidays. My H's family does not, in fact, they make you feel guilty if you even spend $5 on a present for them, which drives me a bit crazy because it's the complete opposite of what I'm used to - don't make me feel bad or sad on Christmas because I gave you a little something - just smile and say thank you. I don't give gifts to people expecting anything in return, nor do I spend a ton of money, I just enjoy giving a little something to people that are in my life. And believe me, I do not spend a lot of money, in fact, sometimes I just bake a ton of cookies and put them in decorated tins to give to people.

    But back to my own family - they are already in serious debt and spend money they do not have, which also drives me crazy. It got to the point with me where I would get stressed out over the holidays because I started to feel like I had to keep up with everyone, and as a result got myself into quite a bit of debt (which I have since gotten out of). The first time my H ever spent Christmas with my family, he actually felt uncomfortable at the amount of gifts they gave to him and it's because he's not used to it at all. And as the years have gone on and he's gotten to know my family better and knows how much debt they are in, it makes him feel really bad. Every year, we try to tell them - don't spend a lot of money. It falls on deaf ears. So basically, we've resigned ourselves to the fact that this is how they are, this is how they are going to be, we cannot expect them to change their holiday tradition and we should just accept what they give us, smile and say thank you. Actually, this year wasn't so bad - they kept it small for us. It's not that I don't appreciate what my parents do either, I just hate seeing them go into crazy debt over it.

  • WOW - this post reminded me of the Carolyn Hax article about the Husband who didn't like his wife's propensity to "orchestrate big news"  ( Carolyn Hax)  

    How rude and self-centered to think that YOUR way is the ONLY way to do/celebrate something..  Something that was freely given to you.  

    For many, gift giving is their Love Language.  And while they may not be speaking in your language, a Holiday that is based upon gift giving is really not the time to try to force them to only use your language (especially since you are not reciprocating by speaking in their language). 


    Not to mention this is highly presumptuous to be 99% sure that they have CC debt because of it.  Even if they DO have CC debt, unless they are coming to you for financial support or even emotional support afterward, it does not matter what their financial outlook is. Something that was freely given to you.  

    How would YOU feel if your Inlaws or Parents told YOU how to manage YOUR gift giving because they are worried about YOUR financial aspect (again, as long as no one is asking for support after the fact)?  

    You do what works for YOU, and you graciously accept what is given with a smile on your face.  
    [IMG]http://i633.photobucket.com/albums/uu52/Iluminespics/IMG_4759.jpg[/IMG]
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