Christmas: I don't feel comfortable doing the whole gift giving thing anymore.

I apologize if this comes across a pretentious.

Seriously, we’re all middle class income earners. If any of us “needs” something, we can just go buy it on our own. It brings me no joy to have my family members spend this money on me when I’m probably never gonna wear that thing they bought me or use whatever else.

I’d rather we just pool our money together and donate it to a charity or something.
I want to say something, but I know I’ll be a total Debbie Downer if I do. (Mom and sis like shopping).

So what’s the best move here?

Just suck it up and don’t say anything? Or politely ask them to leave me out of the gift giving? (Which I know they won’t like)

I am married with children. In my extended family, including my siblings and parents, we don’t exchange gifts any more. We only buy gifts for the nieces/nephews/grandchildren under the age of 18. My mother will occasionally (in some years) plan some sort of white elephant exchange. We decided this together as a family, where as adults, we can talk about such things.

Quite awhile back when my family members asked me what I wanted for Christmas, I told them (in a nice way): I want to not have to buy you guys anything, so why don’t we call a truce and just get presents for the kids, leaving the adults out of it. After all, we end up giving each other pretty much the same things anyway-- some article of clothing. They all seemed to think it was a fine idea, and we’ve been not exchanging gifts between the grown-ups for over a decade.

It’s kind of silly for 40, 50 or 60-year old siblings to be buying each other Christmas gifts. There are still plenty of kids to take care of, so we just concentrate our effort on that. It’s better to give than to receive anyway! :slight_smile:

I WISH I had the kids angle. But alas, all the kiddos are grown. :slight_smile:

I mean, you just talk about it. If you’re close enough to give gifts, you’re close enough to discuss how to do it one would think.

For our family, single adult siblings get presents and the kids of married sibs. I’m sure if we had a childless sibling that was married, they’d get a present, but that bridge is not yet here to be crossed. We have also done name drawing in the past, but my brother completely slacks on presents, so whomever he got would get gypped, so we stopped that. We also all get presents for Mom and she gets them for us.

My family made that decision years ago. Presents only are given to kids under 18 so.

I agree that the only thing to be done is to say how you feel, in the kindest, most lighthearted way you can find. If they ask you want you want / could use, just chuckle and say “Let’s not do that;I don’t need anything. I’d rather we just get together and have a meal / hang out or whatever.”. If you have to bring it up yourself, say something like, “hey, you’re not planning on getting me anything are you? I kind of feel like maybe we don’t need to do the whole gift exchange thing anymore”.

You’ve given perfectly valid reasons that most people here so far agree with. If you’re kind about it and they’re still miffed, that’s on them.

You can’t control their behavior. You can only control your own. With that in mind, here’s how I handled the situation in my family (also no kids):

I told them the best gift they could give me was to permit me to “drop out” of the whole holiday debacle, that although I appreciate their intentions, their gifts simply leave me with the dilemma of keeping something I don’t want or need, v. giving away something cherished solely on the basis that they gave it to me.

I told them that if they simply couldn’t resist giving me something, please make it a consumable: A nice candle, bottle of wine, cookies, preserves or candy, something like that. And that’s all I give them. Every year I send boxes of favored goodies that are homemade and consumable. Either given or received, if it’s something unwanted it can always be passed along to someone else.

Lastly, I told them that if they disregarded my wish, I would consider it a gesture of disrespect. Which frankly, it is. Don’t ask unless you want the honest answer!

It took them a couple years to accept I was completely serious, but now they do and have for years. In fact, they expressed appreciation that to no longer have to run around town trying to find something for the person who, like you, just goes and buys what she needs when she needs it.

I do try to do things for them during the holidays that contribute to special memories, even if it’s not something I would ordinarily do. I’ll go to Midnight Mass with my stepmom though I’m not religious, make a special pie for my dad even if I don’t eat it. And if I do happen across something I am certain is a gift they would love, I send it – at any time of year.

Good luck. These old family traditions are fraught with peril when we choose to change them.

I just push for only handmade items for gift giving–that or nothing. Almost everyone chooses nothing rather than putting even the most minimal effort into making gifts. Problem solved! Me, I crochet things for the ones who don’t opt out.

Preach on! My wife and I feel exactly the same. We’ve gone to children only on my side of the family but we cannot get my wife’s family to stop this goofy practice.

I’m totally in this same boat, with my in-laws. We wouldn’t have an issue with continuing to buy gifts for the kids (the nieces are 13, the nephew is 18), but when my wife and I have broached the idea of “no gifts between the adults,” my mother-in-law has gotten positively petulant about it.

Part of this, I’m sure, is that she does love shopping. But, I think, a bigger part is that she has always seemed to me to be still, in many ways, emotionally a kid, and for as long as I’ve known her, she’s demanded (to greater or lesser levels) demonstrations from her family members of their love for her, through actions, as well as through gifts, and making a big deal about events like her birthday.

It doesn’t help that, for most of the adults in the family, there’s a lot of “I really don’t need anything” and “I don’t know what I’d want for a gift,” so there’s way too much useless stuff that gets bought and given.


Yeah you’re just going to have to speak up and tell everyone how you feel. And let everyone know you’re not giving gifts to them (and stick to it).

It helps to offer an alternative - do a cookie exchange, for example. One year, instead of the stupid $10 white elephant game thing we were doing, I made everyone put $10 cash into a pot and whoever won the game we played got to donate the whole pot to their charity of choice.

My mom still insists on buying my brother and I something small, like pajamas or slippers. I give her that.

I also make sure I spend as much time as possible with everyone for the holidays, instead of blowing off presents AND people.

Perhaps you could reverse the shopping. Each person takes the money they would have spent on others and buys a gift for them self. Wrap it up and bring it to the family event, where you open it and thank your family for the gift, while they learn what “they” got for you.

If done correctly (i.e. set some ground rules) this could be a great way to learn about each other’s interests and could be a great conversation starter.

We did this with my mother-in-law in her later years. She would give us money which we would spend on our own gift and then bring it to show her at the family dinner. She would always ask questions like “tell me why you like Game of Thrones” or “is this your favorite author”, which would develop into a great discussion.

I stopped participating in gift exchanges of any kind more than 20 years ago.

I highly recommend it.

I just take people out to a decent dinner and call it a Christmas done. If they insist on buying me presents, I can’t stop them.

This year, it was that we paid for hockey tickets for the family to go to a game together. Go Pens!

Same. I have always felt that adults buying adults presents (with the exception of spouses/significant others, I guess) is sheer silliness for the reasons the OP outlined.

My wife and I don’t give gifts at Cmas and we’ve asked others not to. Her mom will still give us a small thing that I chuck up in the attic, she can’t help herself.

My wife and I stopped exchanging gifts on ALL occasions about 15 years ago. I send some smoked salmon to my kids at Christmas, but that’s it.

Part of the point of the gift is to show that you care. A gift doesn’t need to be expensive, just thoughtful and well-chosen. And maybe even useful.

For instance, one of my brother’s teachers had a set of rubber stamps with words like BULLSHIT and RUBBISH on them which helped immensely with his marking.

One year I was given some cufflinks in the shape of corkscrews, referring to my enjoyment of wine. I still have them and wear them. They were less than a tenner, but much appreciated.