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cook

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Christmas gifts / giving
« on: December 26, 2019, 04:16:43 am »
I wanted to think about this out loud - after Christmas as in not making it too hard for anyone.

The ponderings are in two groups: Church setting and family

Church setting:

I like to remember and thank people. Here there is kind of a tradition to give Christmas gifts to teachers in day care and school etc,  as a thank you for looking after my kid. Not everyone does it of course, but many do. When I had kids, I wanted to extend it to church as well, where people voluntarily look after my kids in Primary or youth organizations etc... Also I know the bishopric does a lot of work as well as Relief Society Presidency, so I like to thank them as well. This year though I had no energy nor time for it, so I didn't give out anything at church, to teachers in school and therapists I did though.

(We have a tradition in my family to remember neighbours and certain other people too)

I always like to remember and give a gift of bread or something to certain people in the Ward, who maybe seem lonely or who just mean a lot to me.  This year I only gave something to a single man in our Ward.

Now this is the thing: I want to do this. I don't have a problem not doing this when I simply can't. Here when people live quite far away from each other sometimes, church is the place to give these things out, not driving around to people's homes. It's not just me, others do it as well, and often we've gotten something from our hometeachers too, who don't have the time to come and visit... It's just handy to hand out things at church.

But does it add to the feeling of "no one cares about me" to some, who might not get anything from anyone. I'm not worried about people like me. But those who might be lonely and no one seems to notice. Usually the gifts I have are not named. Usually I have more than I "need" for teachers etc. So I keep my eyes open and look who might need one. But I'm sure many are still left out. Does something like this, giving little Christmas gifts/ things at church, more good than harm? What do you think?  (And practically, it's the option for me, church or nothing for these people. For ministering people I always go and visit them as well).

Home:
When the kids were little I liked having many presets under the tree. Nothing expensive usually, but something the kids liked. Like a bottle of soap with a character on it, which was more expensive than regular soap so not bought regularly. It was easy to give to family members a list of what the kids wish for or just like and the gifts were enjoyed. I have always hated the thought of getting gifts no one wants, thus asked always for a list for my kids cousins too.

There are 4 cousins from my side, one from my husbands. Their financial situations are very different, thus the amount spent for one has been about the same as spent for 4. Which has been actually rather ridiculous, you'd think spending less for the one who has more... Anyway, now all of the cousins are adults, 3 not living at home anymore.

I grew up with just my family. Not very close with cousins and definitely not buying presents for them, living far away too. Quite the same for my husband. So it is a new situation. Where do we stop giving Christmas gifts to nieces and nephews? I sent an email to the parents involved asking about this. Telling my kids, except the 11 year old don't need gifts. Didn't tell because a last few years they've been a miss. Extra things to store for a while. No one really replied, except for my brother, saying that isn't it for the giver to decide weather to give or not. My brain just would have liked to have an agreement so that each can do the same - and not so that some get gifts and others may feel bad about not giving gifts... (I did get something for every cousin, just in case).

How is it in your families? Have you discussed the matters? I know some families do a name draw, where everyone gets a name to give a gift to. That would require that actually the kids give out gifts too. So far it's been us parents doing it, to extended family.

For me one of the reasons are environmental. I don't like to get stuff that doesn't get used. If everyone would give gift cards, like to theater or different kinds of services and experiences, that would be great. The problem is, those are so much more expensive than stuff, so to give out those for 4 kids just cost too much. Except movie tickets. Also I'd like to move on from gifts as a big deal towards to what's the importance of Christmas. Though gifts haven't been a big deal to kids for a while now, though they like to get some of course.

I'm a bit disappointed that it could not be discussed and formed a common understanding/ agreement how we proceed from here on.

Any other thoughts/ experiences on giving (Christmas gifts) at Christmas?
 
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Roper

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Re: Christmas gifts / giving
« Reply #1 on: December 26, 2019, 08:57:23 am »
My wife and I give Christmas gifts to our children and our grandchildren. That's it. I take a family photo every year. Michelle likes to make cards. We send out about 100 homemade Christmas cards with a 3x5 family photo to extended family and friends.

In my extended family, we have big yearly reunions with an auction where people buy what others have made, and that money funds the next reunion, so it's kinda like giving gifts. I can remember one Christmas when I was about 10 years old. We exchanged gifts with cousins. But that was only once.

In my ward, we have a Christmas dinner every year. I know that some members exchange gifts with each other right after the dinner. It's usually people who don't have family close by.

I have to admit that I'm not very good at giving gifts. When I was in Japan, where there was a lot stronger cultural tradition and social etiquette regarding giving and receiving gifts. I never really got used to it.

I know that isn't much guidance. Overall, I'd say do what feels right for you. If giving gifts feels like an obligation that you don't really enjoy, then find another way to express your love and care.
All grown-ups were once children...but only few of them remember it. ― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, "The Little Prince."
 

libertygranny

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Re: Christmas gifts / giving
« Reply #2 on: December 26, 2019, 11:49:29 am »
Church:
For years we always did a secret 12 days of Christmas to a couple of families/members of the ward. We would ask the bishop for suggestions of members who he felt needed the 'lift'. Some years we did secret Santa, buying and wrapping Christmas gifts for families/members in the ward. The only time we did anything that we handed out at church was on Valentine or near it. When we home schooled the kids they would address a card to each family/member of the ward, we would buy the small boxes of conversation hearts candies, and the kids would hand them out at church. We always had a few extras for just in case. We also started having the kids write Thank you cards to one speaker each week. We then expanded that idea to them writing one thank you card to someone in the ward each week: the librarian, the ward clerk, members of the bishopric, their SS or Primary teacher, etc.

Family:
Growing up I never exchanged with cousins and neither did my husband, so when we got married we talked with his siblings and it was agreed that it was up to each individual family what they could afford to do. Some years we did try the name draw thing and set a limit, but one sister in law complained about it so we stopped.  Actually, us moving away while our kids were still young helped stop any gift exchanging.
 
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Iggy

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Re: Christmas gifts / giving
« Reply #3 on: December 26, 2019, 12:16:30 pm »
Church: My family weren't members until my oldest brother was 16, eldest sister was 14, next sister was 12, my-self 8 the three younger ones were 7, 2 and 1 month. Mom & Dad were not members. Hence no gifts of any kind were exchanged.

Home: We were poor. Not just middle class poor, but poor-poor. Starting around 1954, on Thanksgiving we drew names. One gift per child among the cousins and the gift could not cost more than $1.00. For the adults, they drew names for couples and the cost could not be more than $5.00. Why 1954? Because that is one year after we, Iggy's family, moved to Seattle to join Mom's two brothers and their young families.

My next younger sister passed away Thanksgiving 1963 and that ended the gift exchanges. Iggy's family had a funeral, burial lot, casket to pay for which took until 1970 to finally pay off. For all those Christmas's we drew names and bought ONE sibling a present and it was NOT to cost more than $2.50.

I bought material and made gifts for the two youngest ones. Finger puppets to match the story books Grandma bought them. PJ's the following year. I made I Will Do coupon books and gave them to the other members of my immediate family.

We even quit have all the Uncles-Wives-kids over for Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve dinners. There were 9 of us, and 17 of them. THAT is a lot of food for us to pay for, as the Uncles never paid for anything, or cooked anything to bring over.

To be brutally honest, I much preferred those Christmas's after my sister's death. We were closer as a family, those dinners were quieter with no drunken Uncles and Aunts and their screaming kids.

Fast forward to now - Two Christmas's ago I sent out cards to everyone in the Branch - active and in-active. Mailed them and delivered those whose mailing address I didn't have. Got maybe 4 thanks you's. Each Christmas Eve our HT brings us cookies baked by his wife. That is the only time we see him, and he won't come in and visit even for 10 minutes.

We have a gift tree, pick a card, buy the present, wrap it and put the card back on it. The year this started -5 years ago, all of the cards were for investigators and the gifts were dresses, suits, white shirts, dress shoes. The investigators brought the clothes back and never joined the church. Had those gift requests been toys & jammies, then I would have picked one, but they are still doing the dress's. white shirts, suits, etc.
 
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pnr

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Re: Christmas gifts / giving
« Reply #4 on: December 26, 2019, 05:31:10 pm »
Virtually all my presents these days are experiences,  or service (including warm bread/phone calls to those who are lonely, for whom any THING is less important than human contact).   Even for little people it's experiences through books.  (This year I got to thinking about how many years I'd been given/giving oranges in Christmas stockings, and how when it started it was likely the only time I'd see/eat an orange in a year.  I thought about how that parallelled to now and gave avocados in the stockings this year (the people who get them either attend our family Christmas Eve program or are homeless to whom we deliver them and merino wool warm sox each year, along with Christmas dinner when we are the ones making it.) 
Nauvoo 1270, Feb 2005
 
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Jen

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Re: Christmas gifts / giving
« Reply #5 on: December 27, 2019, 04:11:16 pm »
We give  treats to those to whom we're called to minister, to our neighbors around us, and to anyone we've felt especially connected to that year.

In family, mine decided a long time ago to relieve each other of giving gifts. There are 9 siblings and something like 45 nieces and nephews, many of whom are grown and married now. My husband's family used to have each of us draw a name and send a gift, but since we're all spread out that meant sending out as many as 7 packages to different places. Shipping alone made it a hardship for a few years until I finally announced that we wouldn't be participating anymore. I think a few were mad but most were relieved because almost everyone else said they didn't want to either so we don't anymore. There's one sister who loves to shop and give gifts so she still will once in awhile.
 
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Iggy

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Re: Christmas gifts / giving
« Reply #6 on: December 28, 2019, 12:51:37 am »
When the gift giving/exchanges stopped, Mom had us kids [by then there were six of us] make and send cards. We weren't just to write Merry Christmas, we were to write a little bit about what we had been doing during the year, passing/failing in school, church activities. A real letter inside the homemade card. We were not to seal the letter until Mom and or Dad read them. Then they put the stamps on and one of the older kids was sent to the Post Office to mail them.

The relatives we sent them to, increased each year to our far flung adult cousins and their children. When we had done this for about three years, I became Pen Pals with three second cousins in three different families. I loved writing to them. Sent out letters every week. I went around the neighborhood collecting beer and alcohol bottles to take to the local taverns and lounges for 2cents and 10 cents each. I also ironed the uniforms for my police officer uncle and a few of his co-workers to pay for the stationary & stamps.

Near the time I was a Junior in high school, I had saved up enough money to pass to the two little kids for their stationary & stamps. Mom used from it too for her letters.

Too bad my letter writing habit faded during my 1st marriage. Hubby couldn't control what I wrote, so he didn't mail the letters. When you don't get responses, you quit writing.
 
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AndrewR

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Re: Christmas gifts / giving
« Reply #7 on: December 30, 2019, 06:01:21 am »
We (my wife and I) give to our children, their spouses (where they have them) and our grandchildren. They each get a mixture of some of the things they asked for and little (useful) things they didn't. A lot of the presents for the children are clothing.

My wife gives to her parents, but generally not to her siblings or their children - though because one of her brothers came to our house on Christmas day she did give him something small.

I give presents to my parents. I try (but not always) to give to my sister, her husband and children. I generally do not give to my brothers, or their families. This is simply because my sister has done the reverse and the brothers do not.

Some of our children give to one another, others do not - though in some of those cases they do give to the children of their siblings. It is complicated and I have nothing to do with who does, and who does not, exchange presents.

Anyone who wants to come to ours for Christmas is welcome. The married children alternate being with us and in-laws each year. Though they will come as some time in the period between Christmas and New Year if they did not come on Christmas Day. This year all but my son and his wife were with us Christmas Day, together with my parents-in-law and (as mentioned) later in the day my BIL and one of his daughters. My son and his wife came Boxing Day (a quaint British holiday) by which time two daughters had left, one with husband and two children. So at no point were we all together.

It was fun. Total cost to us, presents, Christmas decorations and food - about £2,000 circa $2,600. Which, given the numbers is not too bad really - especially if you say it quickly.
Don't ask me, I only live here.
Nauvoodle since March 2005 #1412
 
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Redd

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Re: Christmas gifts / giving
« Reply #8 on: March 22, 2020, 09:48:36 pm »
Smiths, Kroger and their affiliates grocery stores give two sometimes three and four times gas points if you buy gift cards at their locations. This year I started to purchase $50 gift cards and I hold these in a special box for wedding reception gifts birthday presents Christmas gifts this year for my kids. If I buy even one gift card a pay check, I will have enough for Christmas gifts and birthday gifts for my kids (4 kids, one card for BD, one for Christmas) and still  have extras for weddings etc.
 
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pnr

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Re: Christmas gifts / giving
« Reply #9 on: March 23, 2020, 12:35:05 pm »
We do a Christmas Eve program with everyone taking parts and a whole lot of signing.  I tell my kids that their attendance is all the gift I need from them (and lately we've been holding it other than that day to accommodate other schedules.   We fill a "stocking" for that.

Otherwise, we only give experiences.   For instance, we usually pay for each grandchild to attend a week summer program.  We've taken then to concerts and cooking school and magic show, and camping and museums. 

We have given things like stamps and stationary, family photos or blankets that will last a lifetime, marked with our love and their name.
Nauvoo 1270, Feb 2005
 
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