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how do you handle gift giving? - would you find this rude?

I'm just wondering how different families handle gift giving for SO and in-laws?

My family has always taken the approach that no one is excluded, If you are under their roof for the holidays you are treated the same way the rest of the family is. They also don't give more gifts to those that have been in the family longer, you basically get similar things that they are giving to everyone else in the family.

My H's family has a different approach. They feel that families focus more on their own children, and not their SO. It's apparent that they have done things this way for a very long time, as my FIL still doesn't receive anything from the extended family. Only those that are, for lack of a better way of putting it, blood related to my MIL's side. So, when we have a gift opening at his parents', his sister's H and myself basically get to watch the two of them open gifts, while we might receive a small gift. It's the same at the extended family gift opening. Anyone that isn't of direct relation gets to watch those that are open gifts.

I have always made a point to give gifts to everyone that is my family, blood relation or not. I'm just wondering if most people do things this way or more like my IL's do?

I making this bold because it's a new question: 

I'm also wondering if you would find the way my ILs handle gift giving as rude or crass? I have always tried to give the benefit of the doubt, but recently have realized that it wasn't just me that found it odd. Just wondering, TIA!

Re: how do you handle gift giving? - would you find this rude?

  • It is just about the same on both sides of our family:

    • Anyone under 18 gets gifts from everyone
    • All parents and grand parents get gifts from their children/grandchildren
    • All the adults do an exchange.  We usually draw names and buy a present specifically for that person but this year my sis wants us all to buy a generic present and play a game to determine who gets what. 

    My friend's family does something interesting- they all throw in $10 each and one designated person buys one big gift for the whole family.  Once the designated person used the money (about $100) to research their family tree- then made framed copies for everyone.  Another time the designated person took the whole family out to the movies and dessert.  I thought that was a cute idea!

  • I'd have to take out a 2nd mortgage if I gave gifts to everyone in my family plus ILs. Not including my parents, sister and BIL, I have over 120 first, second and third cousins on my mom's side alone, plus an aunt and 2 widowed uncles, one with a GF (those are who is left, as my mom is the youngest of 9 children)....then about 40 first, second and third cousins on dad's side plus 2 aunts and an uncle. My H has 7 siblilngs, 6 in laws and 18 nieces and nephews. So needless to say, H and I buy for each other, his daughter, my parents, my sister & BIL, and my 2 cousins who I'm closest to (also the only ones that live locally). H's siblings all buy for their own spouses and children/grandchildren and MAYBE a niece or nephew depending on the closeness. The siblings and ILs on his side drew names 2 years ago but we haven't done that since. H has 2 godchildren; a 20 year old niece and a 2 year old great nephew. He buys for the baby and might give the niece $20 or something.
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  • Thanks ladies! I know it's different in every family, which is why I know it's not a personal issue with just me. I was just curious because being raised one way, and then seeing another family take a completely different approach was interesting.

    I have never went in with the mindset that I need to receive anything, as that is not what the holidays are for. I completely understand not being able to afford for everyone. I have 5 siblings and 13 nieces and nephews, so keeping up with everyone can be quite a bear!  I would love to buy for everyone, but there are only 2 siblings and 2 nephews and a niece, that live close enough to celebrate the holidays. So those are the only immediate family, besides parents and grandparents, that I buy for. If all of us were together I would not be able to afford everyone. My side will be drawing names this year, which is a cool idea. I also like the idea of everyone contributing $10 and a designated person buying a family gift!

  • My parents have a little more money than DH's parents, so they buy gifts for their kids and their kids' spouses.  But the focus of their giving is on their grandkids, who make out like bandits.  DH's parents will get something small for their kids (and their kids' spouses).

    As for other family, everyone gets gifts for the kids (college and under).  Everyone gets gifts for the parents.  As for my siblings/their spouses, we are assigned one person to give to (which changes every year).

  • My family has grandkids gifts and brother/sister gifts.  If you're a grandkid and haven't graduated from college, then you get presents from each of the families (my mom is one of 4 girls, so there are 4 families, not counting my Grandmother).  My H was included in this whenever we started dating.  Now, there are only 3 'grandkids' left.  The rest of us have moved up to brother/sister presents.  I'll try and explain it simply:  My mom will get small 'sister' presents that will go to her 3 sisters and me.  She will also get small 'brother' presents that will go to the brother-in-laws and my 2 older cousins and my husband.  Each family does this.  

    As for immediate family, my family has always included H in the presents and given him just as much as they give me and my sister.  It's not a whole lot by any means, but he's been a member of my family from the get go.  His first Christmas with me, my parents paid for his membership dues for his fraternity and he was absolutely blown away by their generosity.  But my dad is also the kind of person that absolutely won't let you pay for your meal if you go out to eat with us.  They like to take care of others and are much more about giving than receiving.

    That is probably so confusing.  Sorry. 

    <span style="color: #382110">my read shelf:</span>
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  • I have talked to his sister about the gift exchanges, because her husband has felt very much left out. She asked me if I felt the same, and I did admit that for me it was kind of odd as I have been raised with a different approach to gift giving. We recently talked about ways to rectify that so that others can feel included more, as it's not about the number of gifts you receive or by whom, just feeling that you are included in family. That's when I told her what my immediate family is doing this year, and when we are able to be with my entire extended family, we do the same, which is draw names. And yes, kids under 18 get gifts from those that can afford. If you buy for one kid then you have to buy for all.

    She thought that it was an absolutely great idea and wants to start a new tradition this year. It's just that the aunts, that aren't keen on change, are rather opposed to it at the moment. So we will see. I know they have done things this way for a rather long time, but there are not a lot of kids in their family. The youngest is 13, and the other is 17, everyone else is over 18. 

    Thanks for the input ladies! Definitely gives me some ideas for when my own family starts growing :)

  • I did want to mention that before we got to the grandkids and sister/brother presents thing, we did the draw a family and buy presents for all of them, which generally consisted of one present for mom and dad and a present for each of the kids.  I think that people just got too hard to buy for, and then the littlest grandkids came along and people wanted to buy them presents regardless of who they got, so we dissolved that.

    The brother/sister presents, now, have a $5-$10 limit on them because we didn't want people to have to spend $150 bucks on them.  My mom and aunts are all really creative, though, so they can come up with some cute stuff for that little amount of money. 

    <span style="color: #382110">my read shelf:</span>
    <a href="http://www.goodreads.com/review/list/3126867?shelf=read" title="Elizabeth Rowe's book recommendations, liked quotes, book clubs, book trivia, book lists (read shelf)"><img border="0" alt="Elizabeth Rowe's book recommendations, liked quotes, book clubs, book trivia, book lists (read shelf)" src="http://www.goodreads.com/images/badge/badge1.jpg"></a>



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  • H is Jewish and Christmas with my family is his favorite holiday.  My mom still gives us as many gifts as she did when we were young and lived at home. H is included equally.  He gets a stocking stuffed full and as many gifts as my brother and I.  He may have more fun at Christmas than any other Holiday.  My brother's girlfriend also receives equal gifts.  Only the "kids" who are all in our 20s/30s are given gifts in my family.  Baked goods are given between the adults.

    H's family gives less gifts, about one each, but I'm included equally-they just do it on a much smaller scale.  (and yes, his Jewish family exchanges Christmas gifts).

  • IL's give to everyone.  usually for the kids we spend around $25 each.   and the adults $35 (though i can't recall if we give the gifts as a couple gift or individual) DH knows, he takes care of his family.  Though i like to get something nice for my MIL since i usually spend a lot on my mom. 

    My family-I get gifts for my parents and my brother's kids. 

    rarely are we home in Nebraska to have X-mas with my family...though there were times i would fly out there by myself.  This year we will be with my family and not his for the holidays. 

  • I have 12 people in my immediate family (including bros-in-law & a nephew). We started drawing names a few years ago so we don't go broke since none of us are particularly well off. We also draw names for my dad's extended family. My mom's extended family stopped exchanging gifts about the time I hit middle school.

    My H's family is pretty low key about holidays in general. The only people that get presents are the kids... and not that many to each kid. (Again with the not well off.)

  • Regardless of the overall tradition, I do have to say that I find it a bit crass to have a ton of gifts for a couple people and then 1 or 2 gifts for others and they ahve to sit there through all the gift opening.

    My parents, son and DH and I have a bigger gift exchange w/ each other than we do anyone else (adn everyone comes to my parents house for Christmas dinner) - so we do our own exchange in the morning.  We feel it would be rude to be doing all these gifts among each other while everyone else just sits there adn watches.

    "Beer is living proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy."
    ~Benjamin Franklin

    Lilypie Third Birthday tickers
    DS dx with celiac disease 5/28/10

  • image angeldncr:

    I would love to buy for everyone, but there are only 2 siblings and 2 nephews and a niece, that live close enough to celebrate the holidays. So those are the only immediate family, besides parents and grandparents, that I buy for. If all of us were together I would not be able to afford everyone. My side will be drawing names this year, which is a cool idea.

    That's how we are. There's no way I could afford to buy for all my cousins - hell even the ones I'm closest to. But they are all out of state anyhow and if weather permits I try to attend the annual family christmas party but no one exchanges gifts - everyone sticks to their own immediate group. My mom grew up in PA with 8 siblings and all the cousins are still there or some moved to FL.  She only has one niece that lives here in MI and she & her family are local.  Her girls have been huge parts of my life since they were born.  They're in their 20s now, both stood up in my wedding and we're real close so I've bought for them every year since they were little and we still exchange with each other.  Now my H goes in on their gifts with me, and they also buy my SD something every year.

    H's parents are deceased so we only have mine, and because he has so many siblings they just all stick to their own children. I only have one sister & BIL so we still exchange with each other.

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  • My ILs don't give gifts at all - they're a greeting card family. I'm not nuts about it, 'cause it feels so minimizing, but that's JMO.

    My family has always done the gift thing, and it's been hard for H to get into it. I love giving and receiving gifts, so I told him that I'd like to make that our "family tradition" and he's okay with it (as long as I give him hints about what I want) but it feels weird when my dad gives us a "together" gift (a vacation or whatever) and his parents give us a card.

  • image EastCoastBride:

    Regardless of the overall tradition, I do have to say that I find it a bit crass to have a ton of gifts for a couple people and then 1 or 2 gifts for others and they ahve to sit there through all the gift opening.

    My parents, son and DH and I have a bigger gift exchange w/ each other than we do anyone else (adn everyone comes to my parents house for Christmas dinner) - so we do our own exchange in the morning.  We feel it would be rude to be doing all these gifts among each other while everyone else just sits there adn watches.

     I hear you. That's actually part of why this had come up in the first place. Last year, my H and his sister both received 13 gifts from their parents, and his sister's H and myself only received 2. In years prior it has never been that completely lop sided, but I will tell you it was not fun. Especially when I'm used to "you treat everyone like family" Meaning, you treat everyone else the same. If you are giving gifts that year, then you give to everyone and you don't make it lop sided, but as equal as you can. Our gifts were also really simple in comparison to what my H and his sister received. Like I got a towel set from them, yes it was on our gift registry for our wedding, but that was it. My H and his sister received, sweaters, jewelry, little trinkets for things that they collect, very little of it was something that would be an "us" gift, as mine was more of an "us" So was my H sister's H's gift, it was more of a "them" gift, while she received more of a "just her" gift.

    It's the same way with the entire extended family. His mother and her sister's like to give gifts to the "women" in the family. Which are those of blood relation; my MIL, SIL, my H's one cousin, and the aunts. My FIL has admitted that he hates attending the holidays because he himself never feels included. Which is why, when this originally came up, my FIL felt bad that they were doing the same. He admitted that he never really thought about it, and that my MIL does all of the shopping for the holidays. So we will see what changes are in place this year. I know my SIL really wants to start a name drawing for the extended family, as it will make it easier all around. Financially, as well as including everyone that generally are not included.

    My thought has been, I'm not going to ever be blood related to these people, but I am family, so I have felt to a point that I should be treated the same as they treat everyone else.

  • For DH's family, they gave all of the girls the same gift - perfume (favorite scent of each), and the men the same gift  - usually a fleece or sweater.  That was the same whether you were an DIL/SIL or child.

    Then the real children got envelopes with cash - around $200.  It really didn't bother me that I didn't get my own envelope - - presumably, DH could split his $$ with me if he wanted to. 

    My family gave gifts to each side, including ILS, for the longest time.  Then we started picking names for a gift exchange, which made the holidays a lot easier!

    I do think it's wrong to make someone feel excluded.  To me, that's just not right.  I hope YOU are not the one picking out the gifts for the ILS!  If that were the case, I'd tell you to hand that job to your ILS.

    I do think it's a little silly for aunts and uncles to give their full grown nieces and nephews gifts.  You guys are adults now, you don't need a present from your aunts and uncles!

    image "Before you diagnose yourself with depression or low self esteem, first make sure you are not, in fact, just surrounded by assholes.
  • We've spent more Christmases with my family cause MIL spends it with her sister usually. My mom has gotten DH a gift since we first started dating. My parents get gifts for DH and SIL that are in the same league as our gifts. Hell, when DHs BSC sister came up to live with him when we were dating, my parents got her gifts too, she cried when she realized we got her something. If you spend Christmas with my family, you're treated like one of us. MIL gets me a gift and I'm treated like family when we do have Christmas with them. That's just weird that your ILs are like that!
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  • I am going to say that I dont' see anything wrong w/ them spending more money on their own kids.  I really don't.  I don't think it being "Christmas" means they have to spend the same amount on spouses too.

    Christmas can get expensive enough as it is, and if they want to splurge a little on their kids, they are allowed to do that. 

    On that aspect, I don't entirely agree with you. 

    However, again, I do think there are better ways of going about it.  Get two or three more expensive gifts for your DH to "go" with the two or three gifts they give you.  Or, as I think Wahoo said, they could just give him some cash to go along w/ a few gifts.

    My parents actually still do a stocking for me every year (it was one of my favorite aspects of X-mas as a child). They dont' do one for my brother.  So, on Christmas, my stocking basically goes in our "pile" of stuff to take home, and I open everything in it at home.  So that my brother won't feel left out. 

    Years ago, my stepmother, her sisters, and her mom would do a big gift exchange among themselves and I was you.  I got one gift while they all were exchanging a ton.  I didn't care from the perspective that they are just all erally close and I didn't care that I didnt' get as much.

    BUT - I was bored out of my mind watching them go on and on and on w/ opening gifts. 

    "Beer is living proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy."
    ~Benjamin Franklin

    Lilypie Third Birthday tickers
    DS dx with celiac disease 5/28/10

  • I sort of agree with east coast bride, but not entirely. I agree that there is nothing wrong with them spending more on their "children", but you are all adults. If the emphasis is being put on gifts, and not the bond as a family, there is something wrong there. I would find it rude if I am a part of the family, and they make a point to exclude me that way, it would be rather offensive. If part of the way they show you are family is by giving gifts, and they are continually excluding you, it is rude.

    I would be rather bored, and almost offended if I was sitting with my H's family, and just watching everyone else. I say almost, because there is always more to the story. Do you have a strong relationship with his family? Or have you always been kind of on the outskirts of things? Do you show them that you consider they are family? There's just too many other aspects as to why they might be handling things this way.

  • I have a pretty small family so up until about 5 years ago we used to buy everyone gifts. Now we all draw  names and just give to one person but since I am the only child and only grandchild I still usually get a little something from everyone.
    image BNOTB Awards
  • FIL and MIL give each sibling and spouse a card with a $500 check in it.  (Believe me, we're grateful.)  In addition, all the munchkins get a fairly equivalent amount of toys (step-munchkins too, which I seriously appreciate, not that I have any children from previous relationships).  Plus, everyone gets a stocking stuffed with about the same stuff; and everyone above the age of 21 gets a set of pajamas.  (Munchkins get dress clothes.)

    My parents are a bit funnier.  My siblings and I each get a box of grapefruit, and anyone who doesn't visit them in Florida gets a check.  If you show up in Florida, you get, essentially, an all-expense paid trip to Tampa (less airfare), plus a shopping trip to the outlet mall.  (Yay!). 

  • I think that is a bit rude. You're married, you're part of the family now. My parents have a spending limit for each person, and his limit is exactly the same as both my sister and I. His parents don't get either of us anything, ever, so no favoring there. ha.
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