Ask the Readers: Does your family do gift-giving for adults?

Hi there, Mrs. 1500 today. We are back from our epic, Midwest trip, where we hit 5 states in 10 days. We were fortunate to be able to meet up with Kraig from Create My Independence and Eric from No Nonsense Landlord. (Of course, on the day we were to meet up, the older little 1500 took an unprecedented 2-1/2 hour nap, causing me to miss about half of the meeting. Sigh.)

We had a great conversation. Thanks for meeting with us, guys. We will see you at FinCon 15!

So today I want to ask about gift giving for the adults in your family, but first I want to recap our answers from the question two weeks ago about favorite holiday recipes.

Reader Danny has a potato chip cookie recipe that sounds really good. Kind of a butter cookie recipe with potato chip bits, then dust with powdered sugar. I would love the actual recipe, Danny…

Reader Frankie’s Girl shared a link to a skillet toffee that looks fabulous! Thanks for sharing, FG!

Reader Nancy has a Raspberry Ribbon Pie that I hope she shares the recipe for. some sort of jello and whipped cream/cream cheese thing. Sounds delicious!

Mom from Three is Plenty shared a Chocolate Covered Carmelized Matzoh Crunch that looks amazing. I’ll let you know how it tastes in a few weeks. (Pro tip: Don’t use margarine – go for the gold with real butter.)

Thanks for all the amazing recipes. They all sound really really good. BTW, I made that chocolate pie for Thanksgiving this year…it never disappoints!

So on to today’s question about gift giving. Every year, my family gets together for Christmas, and every year, the question comes up: Are we giving gifts this year? I feel like it falls on my shoulders because I am the one who doesn’t want to give gifts. This year, I have an even better reason than most for not wanting to buy gifts. My brother and his wife are trying to move. You may remember that they are hoarders – not the TV Show kind, but well on their way.

Since they have so much stuff, they don’t really need any more. (My opinion, I know but pretty much everyone on the planet would agree with me if they could see the house…) My parents live in an RV and travel around and build churches. They don’t have any room for any more stuff, either.

My sister lives the most spartan life of anyone I have ever met, ever. She doesn’t have anything in her house she can’t use, her cupboards are practically bare. I couldn’t live like that, but she wouldn’t have it any other way. She is particular in what she wants, and I learned a long time ago that you shouldn’t buy her anything without asking first, because she probably doesn’t want it, and will just end up throwing it away.

We don’t want or need anything – in fact, we are trying to purge like crazy. The garage looks way better than when we first moved in, but we still have boxes that need to be gone through. The girls have more clothes, shoes and toys than they will ever need.

This year, we have decided to just give gifts to the children in the family. Better than everyone, but still too much stuff. I don’t want my girls to think of Christmas as a reason to accumulate more things, but I also don’t want them to wonder why everyone else gets presents and they don’t. So we compromised.

How about you? What does your family do for adult gift giving?

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30 Responses to Ask the Readers: Does your family do gift-giving for adults?

  1. Mrs. Maroon says:

    A question after my own heart… Also a topic of great debate in the Maroon household over the last several weeks. We would much prefer to eliminate gifts for the adults. The problem is that we have the only kiddos on either side of the family. My sister is fairly upset that she has not yet settled down. My sister-in-law married late in life and will never have children. So, we are pretty much hog-tied to continuing adult gifts. We both agree that insisting on kids only would be pretty heartless to our sisters. So despite all of our efforts to scale back, I fear this year will be yet another Christmas Day where the adults are still treated as the children we were years ago to our parents, topped off by more from our siblings.
    Mrs. Maroon recently posted…Weekly Goals: November 30, 2014My Profile

    • Beth says:

      I’m that single sister 😉 But I would love to do kids only or at least draw names out of a hat for the adults. We all have everything we need (except for the things that money can’t buy).

      But I get shot down every time I try to suggest change. I’m painted as cheap, ungrateful and not having any holiday spirit. Holiday guilt, anyone?

      • Mrs. 1500 says:

        Oh, Mrs. Maroon and Beth.
        Beth, it seems that the decision always rests with me, when it is crystal clear that everyone else wants to give gifts. We even had one Christmas where we were the only ones who didn’t give or receive. Boy was THAT uncomfortable. And weird.
        Mrs. Maroon, I feel your pain. My sister purposely has no kids, but I feel like it is rubbing it in her face to not get her anything…

  2. Mrs SSC says:

    One thing that my family has done in the past is draw names. We currently do this with Christmas stockings. So I give a friend of mine all the names and emails of the adults in my family, and she acts as our ‘elf’ and randomly assigns names to everyone. We have an argeed upon dollar limit – which keeps the stocking gifts even across the family. I think this could easily be done with presents also.
    Mrs SSC recently posted…The ‘lightbulb’ emailsMy Profile

    • Mrs. 1500 says:

      I wouldn’t mind this solution, either. That way, everyone has a gift to open, but not a ton. And not a ton of stuff comes into my house.

    • We do this every Thanksgiving – $25 limits, everyone writes their name and a list of three things they want that fall under the limit – and one *has* to not be a gift card (yes, we’ve run into that problem…) We just draw names from a hat.

  3. The Roamer says:

    That’s a bummer Mrs. Maroon for a long time we were the only one with kids as well but I became an aunt this year so Yay!

    Presents. For adults I decided I don’t want anything. It takes the fun out of it when you have to dictate to other people what to get you plus like you Mrs 1500 we are trying to purge the bins of stuff in our house. So I say no gifts for grown ups my husband does not agree, he likes to give gifts so we still need to figure it out. Actually in his family they play this game with dice which I think is a great way to avoid gifts but still gives everyone a chance to unwrap stuff. Pretty much there are some useful and others are just gag gifts and it is totally random who gets what.

    So you could play a game like that or I would say try to introduce service gifts like help you paint and you cook them awesome food. I wrote a post about it in more detail.

    Good luck and wish me luck on trying to change the tradition.
    The Roamer recently posted…Lets give thanksMy Profile

    • Mrs. 1500 says:

      I wish you luck getting your tradition changed. I have gone back and forth on this idea of gag gifts. In the end, I just don’t want more stuff in the house. Although I can certainly think of things to give others…

  4. I would be 100% okay within any kind of gift giving this Christmas, but I’ll never escape the 20 year Yankee Swap tradition. Haha. My boyfriend and I are using my Southwest Companion Pass one last time to spend the week before Christmas in Jamaica, so I doubt we’ll be exchanging anything more this year.
    Kate @ Cashville Skyline recently posted…Falling Short on Goals: An Exercise in Self-LoveMy Profile

  5. greg weatherford says:

    We only do children, with a 21 year max limit. I think we are down to only 3 left before the limit…yay!

  6. Even Steven says:

    Previously in my family we drew names for the adults(those who were confirmed, so after 8th grade) and then everyone bought small gifts for kids because Christmas is about the kids right?
    Even Steven recently posted…An Extremely Brilliant Way To Pay Off DebtMy Profile

    • Mrs. 1500 says:

      Christmas is about the kids, but even more about spending time with the people you love. We have a friend who was talking about Thanksgiving, saying he likes it because you still get the family togetherness, without the gift-giving obligation. Perfect!

  7. Sadly, yes…..and we can’t talk them out of it. While not as spartan as your sister, we hate clutter. Oh well. This year I’m trying a new tac, by proposing they just buy clothes for our son. We’ll see how it goes.
    Income Surfer recently posted…Update and a Few ProspectsMy Profile

  8. Still give to our parents (gift cards for crying out loud!) but not siblings anymore. My parents still buy us gifts – and way too many! Like 25 too many. I kid you not. We did do gift exchanges for a few years – but my parents kept buying anyway so we gave up.
    I have even tried to get people to stop buying gifts for my kids but that didn’t go over very well (with the adults – I didn’t tell the kids LOL)
    May @MessyMoney recently posted…Net Worth Update December 1, 2014My Profile

    • Mrs. 1500 says:

      Wow, are you me? We have the exact same life!
      Seriously, I feel silly going to the store to buy gift cards to exchange with someone else who bought me a gift card. For the same dollar amount. Sometimes to the exact same store…

  9. We’re down to only doing gift exchanges with Mr PoP’s folks . I’d prefer it if we could get rid of those, but gifts are a big thing to them, so we keep it up, but we all have to specify exactly what we want otherwise it can get pretty dicey.
    There aren’t really kids in the family, but we do give Mr PoP’s cat a cat toy (or treats) every year from Kitty PoP, and of course their cat reciprocates. Call me a crazy cat lady but watching Kitty PoP open his gift is freaking hilarious if it smells tasty or has a nice sound to him. Well worth the $1 or so we spend on this ridiculousness every year.
    Mrs. Pop @ Planting Our Pennies recently posted…PoP Income Statement – November 2014My Profile

    • Mrs. 1500 says:

      See, now that is an example of “only a dollar” spending that isn’t so bad. The cat gets a small treat. That is the kind of gift-giving tradition I could get in to. Here is a treat for the pet. A small one.

  10. Kara @ The Daily Whisk says:

    Over the years, especially as children came along, the adults in my life (family and friends) have started to exchange less and less presents. Instead we focus on fun family get togethers with food and wine!
    Kara @ The Daily Whisk recently posted…November Goals Recap + Side Hustle IncomeMy Profile

    • Mrs. 1500 says:

      I want to join your family. I would love the fun family get togethers. With or without wine. Probably with. I just want to enjoy family time. The gift thing really weighs heavy on me.
      Thanks for reading.

  11. Tawcan says:

    We do give gifts to adults in our family. Nothing too expensive though. It’s more important to enjoy the quality time spent together over meals and other activities.
    Tawcan recently posted…On the road again – December dividend stock considerationsMy Profile

  12. VDB says:

    We don’t give gifts to adults for Christmas anymore in our family. I am also trying to convince to cut out the gift-giving on birthdays, as pretty much each and every one of us can get what they like, when they desire it, especially in the price range in which we would be giving gifts (say up to 100 euros).

    I have recently purged a massive amount of stuff from my house, many of which were gifts that I had never used. If I have to think really hard as to what gifts from others I would sincerely appreciate as opposed to something that may or may not fill a minor want later down the road, then I would rather not get a gift at all and that they sensibly save that money. The same goes the other way around – if I do think of a genuinly awesome gift for someone that I know they will use and appreciate, then I will consider giving it, but don’t want to get into the consumerist type of gifting.

    The thought itself doesn’t stick to Christmas – it is just more obvious this time of the year. As for children – I don’t have any – but I think I would like to get them one or two gifts at most, and apply the same principles. I dislike the gift-unwrapping-frenzy that children’s birthdays have become, with kids hardly paying attention to what they get, only to open a next present that will end up on the toy heap for adults to break their necks over.

    • The Roamer says:

      I couldn’t agree with you more VDB
      Especially about how kids just rush through the pile 1 or 2 gifts for each kid sounds fantastic.

      Plus I did like the stocking idea but its the little toys that are the biggest pain in the butt in my family.

      Also I have to ask everyone are you all together with these other family members on Christmas morning?

      Asking because all my extended family lived else where and I did not grow up with this issue. So to me logically out of site out of presents. I was very surprised when mother in law sent us presents all the way from Michigan. We only ever gifted inside our immediate family.

      If you are not together when does all this gift exchanging take place?
      The Roamer recently posted…Extra Income Challenge Wrap UpMy Profile

  13. We’re living in a temporary situation where we don’t have any space to keep the stuff we “need”, much less extraneous things we want. I’ve successfully argued that we need gift cards this year for the new house – and I won only because I used my “poor mom” and “all our stuff” as an excuse.
    Normally, we have a rule that at least one item on our “wish list” of three has to not be a gift card. We write our names, and our three wishes (under $25) on a piece of paper, and draw names from a hat at Thanksgiving dinner – proxies write and draw for those that couldn’t attend.
    Daughter Person just gets a lost of (mostly) junk which we’ll have to find space for until we move. We’re not exactly innocent here – we bought her one of those huge standup doll houses – on sale! But I’m dreading what else we’ll have to find homes for. I’ve been pushing the idea that she needs crafts or coloring books, or other “disposable” things that she can use, then get rid of, but we’ll see whether folks listened or not.
    Mom @ Three is Plenty recently posted…November 2014 Early Retirement ProgressMy Profile

  14. Cindy @ DIYist says:

    We still exchange gifts, but most of the things I’ll give this year will be homemade food, including fruits cakes, cookies and canned goods. It stills allows me to have the joy of giving, but it’s not clutter and I’m sure it will be appreciated.
    Cindy @ DIYist recently posted…Cooking is dead? Long live cooking!My Profile

  15. Great question!

    We’ve started to go down the secret santa route with family more recently, so there is a group of 5, let’s call them “adult siblings”, where we all have to buy only 1 present each instead of 4, which works pretty well. It is (going to be) harder to get the no or minimal gifts mindset over to our parents (I predict), and so far I haven’t really bought it up with them, so it’s business as usual with them for now.

    We are buying a few small gifts for close friends as well, but it’s not a tradition or set in stone or anything like that, just if we see something that suits, we’ll get it, and vice versa. Sometimes we’ll end up buying a present and only receiving a card, and sometimes it’s the other way round, but everyone seems pretty easy going about it, which is great. You don’t want to get into the whole “If I buy you something you have to buy me something” otherwise everyone ends up with far too much crap they don’t want every January! 🙂

    I would say this year is the least amount of “stuff” type presents we’ve bought for a while, which I am quite happy about.

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