Another Belated Christmas Story…

Here is one more belated Christmas story I caught in Berkeley Parents Network. At what age is it appropriate to stop giving gifts to extended family like nieces and nephews? The consensus seemed to be 18, or when the kids finish high school.

I’d say once they’re out of high school (or possibly earlier) you can stop giving individual gifts without hard feelings, especially if you’re not particularly close to them.  My nieces and nephews are all college age or older now, and lately I’ve only given gifts when they graduated high school, when they got married or when they had babies.  If you’re worried about offending, you could mention to the kid’s mom that you’re phasing out gifts, but I bet they’ll be fine with it.  By the time I was that age, I never wanted gifts from my older relatives, anyway, because they were so out of touch!
Big Family

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I would say age 18, which sounds like in your family would add a few people to the ”adult” group, so it wouldn’t only be the older generation and one young adult. If you are all physically together for the gift-giving you could try the white elephant game (google) for the over 18 set–young adults find this lots of fun.
best wishes

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We have a very big family, and my attitude toward gifts is that they are for ”children”, not just a generation of ”kids”, so I stop the gift-giving to my siblings’ kids once they start college. With the economy in the dumps, you now have the perfect excuse to stop too. Even if your own budget is not noticeably suffering, you can announce that you’ll give a gift to charity instead of gifting individually. Maybe you can give a charitable gift in their names, if you so choose. You keep the tax deduction, set a great example, and get to do some real good with your gift instead of just feeling obligated!

The other example, which I have seen play out and I like the idea, is to draw names for gifts. Once the children are 18, their names also go in the lottery. Of course, parents continue to give their own children gifts, but they need only buy one other present — the name they draw from the lottery. To me this makes sense, especially as everyone marries and has children of their own.

The other piece of advice in the column was to set price limits on presents. What do you all think? Do you buy gifts for extended family? At what age, if ever, do you stop giving to the children of extended family?

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26 thoughts on “Another Belated Christmas Story…

  1. It depends on how close you are

    I have nieces who are like daughters to me, I give them gifts because I love to. But my in-laws have nieces and nephews they never see or talk to or even get thank you cards from and they have been struggling over the last few years about wether to continue giving them gifts.

  2. It depends on how close you are

    I have nieces who are like daughters to me, I give them gifts because I love to. But my in-laws have nieces and nephews they never see or talk to or even get thank you cards from and they have been struggling over the last few years about wether to continue giving them gifts.

  3. I think it depends

    on how close you are, and how big your family is. My husband has no living siblings [and never had any nieces or nephews on his side] and I have one brother (and SIL), one niece and one nephew.

    My niece and nephew are in college and we still give them gifts. For my brother and SIL, I give them something like a Christmas ornament, Williams-Sonoma candy, or a new framed photo of our family — nothing big.

    At this point, with just the one niece and nephew, I don’t anticipate stopping with the gifts anytime soon. I can imagine when they marry or have a significant long term live in relationship, buying them a “couple” gift, like something for their home or a restaurant gift card. I guess at the point that they have their own kids, we’d reevaluate.

    • We still get them

      The gifts have skewed to my kids now, but my aunts and uncles send us a little something. Gift cards usually, but those are more than welcome!

  4. I think it depends

    on how close you are, and how big your family is. My husband has no living siblings [and never had any nieces or nephews on his side] and I have one brother (and SIL), one niece and one nephew.

    My niece and nephew are in college and we still give them gifts. For my brother and SIL, I give them something like a Christmas ornament, Williams-Sonoma candy, or a new framed photo of our family — nothing big.

    At this point, with just the one niece and nephew, I don’t anticipate stopping with the gifts anytime soon. I can imagine when they marry or have a significant long term live in relationship, buying them a “couple” gift, like something for their home or a restaurant gift card. I guess at the point that they have their own kids, we’d reevaluate.

    • We still get them

      The gifts have skewed to my kids now, but my aunts and uncles send us a little something. Gift cards usually, but those are more than welcome!

  5. gift exchange

    We have it where each nephew/niece buys one other nephew/niece a present now, because there are so many of them.

    I think it’s stupid at this point, because the kids don’t even buy the gifts. To make it worse, it’s just sunk to the mothers and fathers asking what the kids would like, and turns into more of a transaction than a gift. Oh yeah, and there is a price limit. I’d rather just call it off since it’s lost all meaning of gift-giving at this point.

    I also don’t think these kids need any more gifts. These particular children want for naught. They are already overloaded from their parents/Santa/grandparents. It’s just one more gift on top and they hardly notice it.

    I really soured on the gifts this year. When you’re trying to rack your brain thinking of stuff to buy your kids, your kids don’t need anything. But it’s this feeling that there must be a heap of gifts under the tree or its not Christmas. My husband is worse than me. I’ll buy, let’s say 5-7 things for each child to open, and he goes out and buys ten more on top.

    • I’m with you on the “mountain”

      My kids didn’t really want anything specific so we asked for general things for them, books, etc. – and there were like three gifts from each family member. We did not need that much extra stuff in the house.  And my sister told me she does keep track of the piles, to have the piles roughly equal in size and value – which is hard b/c her kids are 5, 10, and 15 – the oldest actually complained that she doesn’t get as much stuff! AAAgggh!!! (Is that a NJ thing?)

      • Maybe

        Hmm, not sure if it’s an NJ thing. Could be. Although I think a 15 year old should understand that a small electronic gadget or something is worth just as much or even more as a pile of plastic crap for a 5 year old.

        I actually think it’s an American thing, at least between me and my DH. My parents were immigrants and they would seriously give me about two or three toys at Xmas.

        My husband’s family, even though they were quite poor, really liked having a big pile of crap, I mean gifts, to open up on Christmas Day. So if there aren’t 20 gifts for each kid, he thinks it’s not Christmas.

  6. gift exchange

    We have it where each nephew/niece buys one other nephew/niece a present now, because there are so many of them.

    I think it’s stupid at this point, because the kids don’t even buy the gifts. To make it worse, it’s just sunk to the mothers and fathers asking what the kids would like, and turns into more of a transaction than a gift. Oh yeah, and there is a price limit. I’d rather just call it off since it’s lost all meaning of gift-giving at this point.

    I also don’t think these kids need any more gifts. These particular children want for naught. They are already overloaded from their parents/Santa/grandparents. It’s just one more gift on top and they hardly notice it.

    I really soured on the gifts this year. When you’re trying to rack your brain thinking of stuff to buy your kids, your kids don’t need anything. But it’s this feeling that there must be a heap of gifts under the tree or its not Christmas. My husband is worse than me. I’ll buy, let’s say 5-7 things for each child to open, and he goes out and buys ten more on top.

    • I’m with you on the “mountain”

      My kids didn’t really want anything specific so we asked for general things for them, books, etc. – and there were like three gifts from each family member. We did not need that much extra stuff in the house.  And my sister told me she does keep track of the piles, to have the piles roughly equal in size and value – which is hard b/c her kids are 5, 10, and 15 – the oldest actually complained that she doesn’t get as much stuff! AAAgggh!!! (Is that a NJ thing?)

      • Maybe

        Hmm, not sure if it’s an NJ thing. Could be. Although I think a 15 year old should understand that a small electronic gadget or something is worth just as much or even more as a pile of plastic crap for a 5 year old.

        I actually think it’s an American thing, at least between me and my DH. My parents were immigrants and they would seriously give me about two or three toys at Xmas.

        My husband’s family, even though they were quite poor, really liked having a big pile of crap, I mean gifts, to open up on Christmas Day. So if there aren’t 20 gifts for each kid, he thinks it’s not Christmas.

  7. depends on family size

    I have just two brothers, and so far just two nephews – Only my DD is in college and I think she’d be hurt if the three younger ones got gifts and she didn’t (even though, at the same time, she’d know it was silly to be hurt).   I don’t see us stopping gift exchange any time soon.

    And, since there’s just me and two bros (and my hubby is an only child), we still give among the sibs too – nothing huge but something to enjoy.

  8. depends on family size

    I have just two brothers, and so far just two nephews – Only my DD is in college and I think she’d be hurt if the three younger ones got gifts and she didn’t (even though, at the same time, she’d know it was silly to be hurt).   I don’t see us stopping gift exchange any time soon.

    And, since there’s just me and two bros (and my hubby is an only child), we still give among the sibs too – nothing huge but something to enjoy.

  9. Different ways for each side of the family

    I have two married sisters and one nephew on my side.  So, we all exchange and we all buy for the kids (my 2 and sister’s 1).  But, no one spends much. For example, one sister and BIL got my kids each a used Wii game.  My other sister and BIL gave them $15 Best Buy cards.  Everyone somehow “knew” the Wii was coming. :-)

    My DH is one of 5 kids.  Everyone is married and there are 11 kids.  We do an adult name exchange ($50) and a kid one ($25).  When you graduate from HS, you get moved to the adults.  

  10. Different ways for each side of the family

    I have two married sisters and one nephew on my side.  So, we all exchange and we all buy for the kids (my 2 and sister’s 1).  But, no one spends much. For example, one sister and BIL got my kids each a used Wii game.  My other sister and BIL gave them $15 Best Buy cards.  Everyone somehow “knew” the Wii was coming. :-)

    My DH is one of 5 kids.  Everyone is married and there are 11 kids.  We do an adult name exchange ($50) and a kid one ($25).  When you graduate from HS, you get moved to the adults.  

  11. My oldest nephew turns 18 this April

    But since he is on dh’s side, we will probably be giving him Christmas gifts for the rest of our lives.  Why?  Because dh’s aunts still give HIM gifts, and we (or rather, I) reciprocate.  One aunt even gets our KIDS gifts!  We are not close to his aunts at all, and haven’t seen them in years.  sigh

    On my side, we give gifts to adult extended family if we are celebrating Christmas together in the same house (rare), but otherwise not.

  12. My oldest nephew turns 18 this April

    But since he is on dh’s side, we will probably be giving him Christmas gifts for the rest of our lives.  Why?  Because dh’s aunts still give HIM gifts, and we (or rather, I) reciprocate.  One aunt even gets our KIDS gifts!  We are not close to his aunts at all, and haven’t seen them in years.  sigh

    On my side, we give gifts to adult extended family if we are celebrating Christmas together in the same house (rare), but otherwise not.

  13. joining on board the “it depends” train

    at the moment, there are only two nephews in the immediate family – my SIL’s kids. They’re 23 and 19, but we give them presents every Christmas and birthday, usually something like a shirt or a DVD or whatever and some cash along with. I presume we’ll stop giving them cash when they graduate college and get their first jobs, but I actually like the present+cash combo, mainly because I remember being a broke college student. Being slipped a $20 or (whoopie) a $50 was just the awesomest thing in the world because it meant I could have some fun and not worry about being able to pay the phone bill at the end of the month!

    I’m pretty sure we’ll keep giving them regular, token presents even after they graduate – it’s just the two of them, but even so, we’re close to them.

  14. joining on board the “it depends” train

    at the moment, there are only two nephews in the immediate family – my SIL’s kids. They’re 23 and 19, but we give them presents every Christmas and birthday, usually something like a shirt or a DVD or whatever and some cash along with. I presume we’ll stop giving them cash when they graduate college and get their first jobs, but I actually like the present+cash combo, mainly because I remember being a broke college student. Being slipped a $20 or (whoopie) a $50 was just the awesomest thing in the world because it meant I could have some fun and not worry about being able to pay the phone bill at the end of the month!

    I’m pretty sure we’ll keep giving them regular, token presents even after they graduate – it’s just the two of them, but even so, we’re close to them.

  15. can I just say

    that me no likey the White Elephant gift exchange?

    DH worked at a company, and every year the Xmas party was largely dominated by this goofy, overly long white elephant exchange. I think each individual gift could be “swiped” up to 3 times. OMG, it was sofa king lame.

    Or maybe they were just doing it wrong? Can anyone enlighten me?

    • yeah, me no likey either

      I did one white elephant exchange and it was horrific. DH’s boss and wife when we were in America invited us to their family Xmas celebration, which was very kind. But it was total anarchy and we ended up with a really nasty, itchy lap blanket because we got stuck on trades. Nice offer, nice gesture, but now how I’d run it.

  16. can I just say

    that me no likey the White Elephant gift exchange?

    DH worked at a company, and every year the Xmas party was largely dominated by this goofy, overly long white elephant exchange. I think each individual gift could be “swiped” up to 3 times. OMG, it was sofa king lame.

    Or maybe they were just doing it wrong? Can anyone enlighten me?

    • yeah, me no likey either

      I did one white elephant exchange and it was horrific. DH’s boss and wife when we were in America invited us to their family Xmas celebration, which was very kind. But it was total anarchy and we ended up with a really nasty, itchy lap blanket because we got stuck on trades. Nice offer, nice gesture, but now how I’d run it.

  17. political..

    that’s how i view christmas and gift exchanges. i fought for last few years for my sibs and me to stop exchanging gifts.  for God’s sakes i am 55 and one of my brothers is 60!  we have more crap than we know what to do with.   finally won and now we don’t exchange with my parents either.  my dd is 19 and my nephew same age…so i think it’s time perhaps to stop giving to the older kids.

    on my dh’s side, with so many sibs, it would be all consuming. we only give the little kids gifts.  

    our view?  we simply stopped giving gifts to his sibs and if someone gives to us, we thank them but don’t feel the obligation to give following year.  our gift is hosting 35 for christmas dinner every year :)

  18. political..

    that’s how i view christmas and gift exchanges. i fought for last few years for my sibs and me to stop exchanging gifts.  for God’s sakes i am 55 and one of my brothers is 60!  we have more crap than we know what to do with.   finally won and now we don’t exchange with my parents either.  my dd is 19 and my nephew same age…so i think it’s time perhaps to stop giving to the older kids.

    on my dh’s side, with so many sibs, it would be all consuming. we only give the little kids gifts.  

    our view?  we simply stopped giving gifts to his sibs and if someone gives to us, we thank them but don’t feel the obligation to give following year.  our gift is hosting 35 for christmas dinner every year :)

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