October 31, 2011

Thinking Ahead to Stressful Gift Buying

I’ve been thinking about Christmas this week.  I always feel that once Halloween gets here, Thanksgiving flies by and then it is Christmas.  I can’t really explain it, but I don’t feel like doing Christmas.  I’m just not in the mood.  I could be in the mood come February though.  I am so pathetic.

Do you know what causes stress for me at Christmas time?  It’s not the cooking, baking, cleaning or decorating – it’s the gift buying.  I am at a loss as to what to get people for Christmas.   Homemade gifts aren’t appreciated by many people on my gift list.  I get so frustrated.  It’s the same thing every year. 

What do you buy extended family that have everything they could possibly want yet seem to demand a gift that is personalized to them and very thoughtful?    Some years I find the perfect gift but most of the time, I am at a total loss.  Does anyone else have this problem? 

Then I have to send my mother a gift (notice I said “have to”) when she hasn’t sent me or my husband a gift in probably 20 years.  One year she even called me to say that we had forgotten to renew her magazine subscription to a magazine that costs close to $90 per year.  We had decided that we couldn’t afford it and had told her so, but a couple of weeks after Christmas she called to say that she hadn’t received her magazine and we must have forgotten.  It was her way of manipulating us into caving and giving into her.   We didn’t.  We had given her something else. 

Honestly I just want it to stop.  I just want to give gifts to my husband and my children and daughter-in-law.  The rest of the family I would love to give a simple gift, a homemade gift would be wonderful.  But if I did, there would be a great deal of disappointment when the gift was opened and that prevents me from doing it. 

Perhaps I should just start making gifts and that could become my "tradition."  It is too late to make afghans or lengthy projects for this year, but I think I will begin this in 2012.  No, I definitely will do this.  There are many things I can sew or crochet that would make nice gifts and by planning ahead I could buy supplies when they are on sale. 

I've been wanting to make my own soap and my own beauty products such as lip balm.  Now I think I have my first goal for 2012 -- learn to make these items to give away as gifts.  I like it. 

I'm curious, if you have made your own gifts, what have you made?


Melissa said...

I make all kinds of gifts. This year I am making a few family tree projects. I also am making a few coffee cozies, coasters and baked goods. Most of my homemade gifts have been well received.

simplyaltered.com said...

Oh, I am SO with you on this one Martha. Honestly, gift giving, buying, stressing etc etc sucks the spirit right out of my Christmas!!! I also want it to just STOP, but no one is with me on it. I am at a complete loss for what to buy/give/make etc etc......I wish I could offer you advise, but instead, I am just not beginning the process of beating y head against a brick wall til January 1. Ugh!!!!

Out My window said...

I feel exactly the same way. Christmas is too much. I am sure some of it stems from the busy season. Nutcracker, and Christmas plays I am in charge of and have been in charge of for over 20 years. But the expense really gets to me. I love the food and the cookies and things but I hate, hate ,hate the money I feel I must spend on gifts. We really just do immediate family but even that is hard. Does everyone have what they want? Do all the kids have the same number of gifts? What if they are disappointed? Too much pressure. I am producing Scrooge this year, not a good influence on me.

Theresa said...

Maybe it is time to just start giving to those who mean the most. Really, in this economy people should understand and if they don't, well, that is their problem.

Gift giving should not be an obligation. It should be a heartfelt gesture.

HDNelson said...

One year I made pillowcases for my nieces and nephews. I thought they were pretty neat, but they were received with fairly neutral reactions.

But, then, here's my thought. If they didn't like what I gave or if they were disappointed, then that is their problem. Not mine - I did the giving.

I know it's easier said than done, especially when someone is manipulating you into feeling guilty. But, give what you want (or not) and let the others sort out their own feelings on the issue.

Elizabeth said...

I totally understand! With 7 brothers and sisters, parents, three kids, and a husband and many friends the gift giving has gotten out of hand. Last year it came to a halt when a week before Christmas Jacob was diagnosed with cancer and was in the hospital for 10 days (over Christmas!) after his surgery. All of a sudden it became all too clear - presents are NOTHING...family is everything! This year will be much different...the whole month will be magical with decorating, baking, music, and family but I'm not stressing over gifts. If I find the perfect gift, so be it. If I don't I'm not going to worry.

Rocky Mountain Homemaker said...

Martha, I too, got to the point a few years ago where I hated Christmas, well the icky commercialism and gift giving. So I told most of our relatives that I was done exchanging gifts with them (politely, but firmly). They didn't like it, but I stuck to my guns and after a number of years, they realize that I'm sticking with it. And they lived and they got used to it. Now we give simple gifts to our two children, something small to each other and I make something nice for a dear friend. Guess what? Christmas is fun again. The late Larry Burkett pointed about on his show about finances that Americans don't need to give each other gifts at Christmas to prove they love each other. Amen to that!
Blessings to you from the Big Sky Country........Denise

Juhli said...

I'm so sorry that you have this stress to deal with. However, you know you could stop giving gifts to those you don't want to gift. Send them a note right now saying that this year and going forward you are going to help those who are struggling to get buy instead of exchanging gifts. And then stick to you guns. "I'm sorry you feel that way but we are sticking with our decision" repeated in varying words could become your mantra. We stopped exchanging gifts with anyone but our kids and parents (who we want to gift) years ago. Since our parents don't need anything except our love (thankfully) we send my Mom flowers which she enjoys and my FIL gets a food basket of treats since that makes him happy. Please give yourself permission to change your approach and start this year. Hugs.

judy said...

My family cut out gifts a few years ago except for children under 18 and my mom. And usually the gifts for the kids are something we all chip in for and but a family gift.

As for other things I make afghans, hats, mittens,sweaters all year long. This year my kids are making a calender for my mom with pictures from the year in it. We just don't have the extra money and neither does most of my family. And anyone who doesnt like it I have just learned to let it go.

Christmas is about being happy with your family and friends not stressing over gifts and such.

Just say no...and enjoy your family


æble said...

I got fed up with the 'gift' thing a few years ago. It's a lot of time spent in malls and money. I decided to make something I would enjoy making that I thought everyone could use (a memory book) rather than spend the time in malls looking for gifts.

I had some really thick and fancy paper someone had given me (when their workplace was going to toss it) and I was able to use some scrap fabric I had from other projects. All it really cost me was a bit of my time, a bit of thread, and the glue for the glue gun).

Once I had them completed, I put a memory of the person I was giving the gift to. They were really well received by most. The person who didn't like it, I decided was too focused on 'stuff' and I took them off my list for the next year.

Rose said...

Giving is from the heart. It is what the recipient does with the gift that is their decision. They are either grateful, or disappointed. And I think that their reaction to any gift is an indicator of their values and understanding of of the true meaning of a gift.

Our society has become so materialized that the bigger picture has become lost. How do you think those living through the great depression dealt with gift giving and receiving? I am sure it was a 180 degree turn from today.

Martha, get back to our heart and give what you can and want to whomever you want. Make those simple gifts. If someone is a true friend, they will understand your heart and cherish the thought and effort you put into their gift.

tana50 said...

How long are you going to wait to do Christmas the way you want? Maybe when you are 85? DO IT THIS YEAR!!! You gave us such great advice about talking with the family. Do that, but don't make it a discussion. You have a plan and this ------ is what it is. And this is where we all cave in when everyone else says "No." Let all of them (mother included) do exactly what they want to do. And you do what you want. If they know you are not giving gifts I will bet you they won't give you gifts, and life will go on and everyone will live and be happy. And you won't feel manipulated.

Xa Lynn said...

For the last several years, I have given away a lot of home canned food - I like to can, and I like to experiment, so that included stuff like blueberry marmalade, thai pepper jam, various chutneys, kiwi jams, whatever struck my fancy that year, along with the normal cherry, raspberry, and grape jams. I usually bought some bags of scone mix to go along with it, in flavors I thought would go well with whatever jams I was giving.
I've also given quilts to nearly every member of the family. In fact, I have to finish my SILs quilt and then I WILL have given one to everyone, usually at the rate of one quilt finished per year over the last 15 years. So I could start the process all over again if I felt like it. Which I don't. So I am not. Except for my mom who knows exactly how much time and effort goes into one of those quilts. I find the large gatherings at the holidays stressful enough without adding any more worries about what people will think about their gifts to it.

Xa Lynn

Anonymous said...

Martha you really need to listen to Juhli and tana50. Great message.
Write a letter today, explain you are not doing the holidaze and stick to your guns.
When you stick to your guns the bullies back down. AND Christmas can be nice again. I know you can do this!

Paula said...

As young marrieds, we exchanged gifts with our whole extended families. As two of his siblings had children who married and had lots of children, it all just became too much, more than we could afford. The fact that the children weren't being taught to write thank you notes didn't help, either.

One year, we simply announced that we were scaling back and would only be exchanging gifts with our mothers and each other, and that any extra we could spend would be spent on charitable giving.

If we are invited to their homes, we take a dish if they want us to, and always take a hostess gift.

There is no way we could have afforded to keep doing that as the family grew. His brother pretty much did the same thing, as he had a hard time financially. The unmarried sister, who didn't want anything to ever change about the holidays, was really resentful and told his brother they could set a twenty dollar limit or something. He told her if he was lucky enough to have twenty after he got something for all his children, he would be spending it on his wife.

Many families scale things back. They may draw names, buy only for the children, or play games such as "Dirty Santa."