Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Saving on Gift Giving during the Holidays

According to today’s standards, I come from a big family. I have three younger sisters scattered throughout the country, each of them has a significant other, one sister has two children, and who can forget Mom and Dad. When you add it all up there are 15 of us in all. After celebrating Christmas at my parents’ house one year after Jolie was born, we decided that once everyone had children (probably 2-3 per couple), we were going to be forking out a ton of money on gifts throughout the year.

My sisters and I came up with a solution. We have decided to set financial limits and to divide up the gift giving. (Okay, so actually I’m the one who needed to create some parameters and everyone just agreed with my plan.)

For the holidays, we choose names to divide up the gift giving. Each sister chooses another sister and has a $50 gift limit; each guy chooses another guy and has a $25 gift limit, and we each choose a child (I get my sister’s kids because I have the most children…and I’m the oldest, I guess) and have a $25 gift limit. For Mom and Dad, some years we sisters all go together to purchase a larger gift and some years we each purchase an individual gift, it just depends.

Now, I understand that gift giving isn’t all about the cost, it’s about the thought. With each of us sisters in a different profession, making different salaries, it is just easier to set a limit and divide up the gifts so that no one sibling is overwhelmed with the cost that can be associated with the holidays. The kids will each have two gifts (one from an aunt and one from Grandma and Grandpa), which is more than enough in my opinion. We know that each holiday season we will average about $150 on the 3-5 gifts we’ll give to our extended family.

For the past few years we have been celebrating the Holidays during Thanksgiving, when we all gather at a cabin in the Smokey Mountains of North Carolina. We have been heading to the mountains for Thanksgiving since I was eight years old. There was a chunk of time in which my immediate family missed our annual trip to the mountains because we lived across the country. Now that we are back on the east coast, we are able to participate again. Because we are all in the same place at the same time, we have been decorating a small tree and opening gifts on Thanksgiving. It works out especially well for the kids and Grandma and Grandpa. Mom and Dad get the chance to see the smiles on the kids’ faces as they open their gifts…a win-win for everyone.

So how do you handle gift giving for your extended family during the holidays? I’d love to hear how other families make it through the holidays financially intact.


Libby said...

We only buy for each other's kiddos. 15 dollar limit, then we all exchange ornaments. We play the game where others can steal from each gets rowdy, and fun :)

Michelle Stille said...

We give the grandparents (and ourselves) a photo album every year from Shutterly, which gets kind of expensive but we don't buy anything else. I don't have any nieces or nephews yet so my little one is the center of our family's universe for now...although I beg people not to buy us toys, they add up so fast!