Family Gift Exchanges

As the years pass and family members start coupling, breeding, uncoupling, recoupling, and step-breeding, we often find that the size of our families (and the need for less clutter) means that we step away from one-gift-from-each-person-to-each-person mold for the holidays.

So, how does your family do it?

I spent all my edit time making the poll. I should add that I assume here that children are always given gifts by just about everyone. This only applies to exchanges between and within the grown-up generations.

We all buy one gift that would be acceptable for anyone in our family. We then play a game for a couple hours where everytime someone rings a bell, we have to give the present to the person on our left. We have someone’s friend then text at a random time to signal the time to stop the game. Then we open the presents! It’s a fun little game.

I always buy my parents individual gifts, though, as well as my SO, of course.

To each his own of course, but it is unfathomable to me buying for each and every member after we (siblings) are all grown. I have a pretty close extended family, and there aren’t even that many of us (four couples, four kids total) and we always get together to “do” Christmas, but we long ago arrived at the unanimous decision not to do any gifts for each other, and even the kids don’t get really anything from their aunts and uncles, simply because (a) we want to keep it simple, (b) most of the in-law spouses have fairly traditional gift expectations on their side to deal with, © none of us need or want anything that we can’t buy for ourselves, (d) as corny as it sounds, we show our love and closeness in other ways, so none of us feels “unloved” if we don’t get a gift, (e) the expense seems unnecessary for something so silly as a material thing, (f) the kids get plenty of crap from their own parents and grandparents, so they’re not deprived or anything.

Instead, our Christmas get together basically consists of a lot of food, wine, and games.
We also exchange a round of emails and choose a charity, and we all donate to that charity on our own time and at an amount of our own choosing.

We all agree that we wouldn’t have it any other way. Removing the hassle and headaches of shopping and trying to figure out what to buy for someone who has pretty much everything makes the season blessedly peaceful.

My sibs and I quit exchanging years ago (I’m 55) and last year, we started the $10 Yankee gift swap, which was a big hit. The youngest in the family is now a college sophomore (or junior??) so there are no kids in the mix. Although my mom still gives everyone a check. Old habits die hard…

Everyone buys individual gifts for each other within their own section of the family - not just the nuclear family - parents buy gifts for each of their adult children, and grandchildren, the siblings buy for each other and for their parents.

What a great idea! I’m going to mention this to my sibs.

Adults in our family don’t do gift exchanging, for most of the same reasons drpepper gave. Hubby and I usually give each other something, but this year our budget won’t allow it.

My siblings and I used to do the ‘draw names’ thing until about 3 years ago. We put everyone’s name in the hat, including all the kids. That just got to be problematic, with choosing gifts and with the logistics of shipping, so we quit.

On my mother’s side we do something similar to drpepper. We put everyone’s name in a hat and whoever’s name is drawn gets to pick their favorite charity. Everyone donates whatever they feel comfortable with. The best part is hearing why people chose their specific charity. One year, we all gave money to a distant relative who had financial trouble instead.

On Dad’s side, there are only gifts for and from the grandparents. I can’t imagine not getting them something and my grandmother could not let Christmas pass without giving us all a box to open. But aunts, uncles and cousins don’t exchange.

I always get my parents something and they always give me something.

We take ours from my wife’s family’s tradition. Everybody buys for everybody, and each present is from everyone else. This works because the set of people exchanging presents is limited to very immediate family - now me and my wife our daughters, my son-in-law, and my father-in-law. Since presents come from everyone, there is much calling and texting between the person who knows what someone wants and the person must able to buy it. The money is settled after Christmas on an according to ability to pay basis. When I was just out of school my in-laws paid more, as time went on we kept understating our contribution and paid more, and now our kids more or less pay some small constant amount since they are both in school.

There are no competitions about best presents, we get one or two big things and whole bunches of little things, and used and thrift store presents are fine.

For the past few years we’ve done a white elephant type thing, but it isn’t as much fun as it could be, because nobody trades anything. Last Christmas I thought I could get things started by giving a Harley T shirt as my gift. I have two brothers and two sister in law who might have wanted it, so I thought they would want to trade it around a bit. Turns out the brother who I would have bet on for it picked it to open, first thing. So that was that.

We used to draw names among the four siblings, their spouses, and their kids. I’d still rather do that, but it’s probably getting complicated, with the next generation marrying and becoming parents. So maybe it’s just as well I got outvoted.

My mom never would do the name draw, though. She always did a gift for each one in the family, and was famous in the family for worrying about not having something for any unexpected guest. You could have picked up a hitchhiker on your way to the party and Mom would want to have a present for him. Of course, we always gave her a gift, too, so she went home from the Christmas party every year with lots of reminders of how much we loved her.

Voyager: do you mean that each person gets one present?

thirdwarning, your post reminded me of my second marriage. While we were still dating, his family gave me and my kids Christmas gifts one year when I hadn’t thought we were close enough yet to be in the ‘gift-giving circle’. It was very awkward and uncomfortable for me. I felt it was presumptuous of them, and it put me on the spot the way it was done.

I chose the* Who do you think you are, Rhymer or something? You forgot ____________!!!* option. We used to buy for each person, but my brother has 5 kids and really don’t need anymore toys, clothes, stuff, etc., so I buy family gifts now. 1 gift for the whole fam. Parents included. It’s much easier this way, and they don’t get any more toys that the kids play with for 10 minutes and then lose interest. I still buy individual gifts for my SO, mother and my young adult niece.

We used to give gifts to everyone in the family. Then, at some point when I was in high school, we switched to drawing names out of a hat. (The one year mom let my youngest brother write the names down on slips of paper, we discovered he’d put his name on each slip… thereafter, only mom was allowed to write the names down.) But we’re all adults now, and it’s less fun to give each other gifts. But my mom loves Christmas, and we love mom, and she’s been adamantly opposed to no gifts. Last year, however, she agreed to a white elephant, and it was an absolute blast! I was pleasantly surprised this year that there’s been no mention of gift-giving, but mom wants to do the white elephant again. So there’s been an evolution, and I kind of like where we are now.

My siblings and I have always brought people home for Christmas – friends, roommates, boyfriends/girlfriends – and my mom somehow always managed to have gifts for them, to make them feel welcome. I’m sorry it made you feel awkward, because I always thought it was sweet of my mom to do that.

We exchange names, with each person getting one other person’s name, plus a child’s name additionally.

Then the adults send out a list of which charity they would like donated to in their name. Also, what gift their child would like.

FOr the other adults, we donate money to their charity. Then we buy a present for the assigned child.

This year I asked for a donation to DTK International or the Central Asia Institute for me. My kids mostly want Legos.

We do a bit of everything, depending on the particular branch of the family. Within the parent/sibling circles, we get something for everybody, though sometimes it’s a couple/family gift rather than strictly individual ones. With my mom’s family, same thing–every household buys for everybody else. I floated the idea of drawing names, and everyone just stared at me for a silent minute before changing the subject.

Dad’s family draws names, has as long as I can remember. When we had multiple kids in the family, everybody went into one big pot. Now, there’s only the one little one, so it’s just adults drawing names.

DoctorJ’s extended family used to have a mishmash of some people buying for everybody and some people only buying for Mamaw, but the last couple years they’ve started drawing names and doing $5 dirty Santa.

My parents, siblings and I, as well as any spouses, do Secret Santa - draw names out of a hat, set a price limit, and make wish lists that are posted at my parents’ place, since everybody visits at least once a week. In theory, only the person we drew should get a gift. In practice, it ends up that the person we drew gets their big gift from us, and we end up getting smaller gifts for everyone else. So, for example, I draw my BIL. I get him the movie DVD he put on his wish list, plus he ends up gettting socks, Two-Buck Chuck, and various little gifts everyone else got him, plus whatever sis gave him. Now, imagine this multiplied times ten (we’re a big family), plus whatever the kids get from Santa. :eek:

That was very sweet of your mom.

In the case I mentioned, this had more to do with his pushy mom trying to insinuate that we needed to be “part of the family!” (i.e., “Son you need to get married”). I was totally unprepared for it; had I known that she would be getting gifts for me and my kids, I would have gotten a gift for her. I felt that she put me on the spot.

We do a White Elephant gift exchange. No buying, no picking names. We all just bring something random, weird and, preferably, unwanted. But it’s always funny.

I voted for the last option.

For the last few years we did the pick a name and buy for that person on my side, and buy for everyone in the immediate family on Jim’s side, but this year my side is just donating to a charity instead of buying gifts. That will work out well, I think, since my sister and brother-in-law still aren’t speaking to us and I wouldn’t be buying anything for them anyway because they’re jerks. Um, that isn’t quite the spirit of Christmas, is it? :smiley:

This, except we haven’t produced any grandkids for my parents yet.