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Christmas presents

(64 Posts)
UnconventionalGran Mon 01-Dec-14 18:36:17

Up to now we have always spent c. £50 each on the 4 younger grandchildren and c. £25 each on the 4 older ones, who are all working. We also bought presents for our own children and their partners (8), usually about £25 each. We have run up credit card debt every year and it now has to stop. My husband and I have both been married before. My family are OK with this but my step-daughter is not happy about the fact that she and her husband are not getting a present this year and she doesn't know yet that we are cutting down on the cost of presents for her two children (both under 5). This will now be £20 each. Last year she posted a photo on Facebook showing their presents under the tree and without exaggeration the pile of presents was so big she had to post more than one view to display them all. Over the last couple of weeks she has been advertising some of their toys for sale on Facebook including a gift that we bought! I think you can see where this is going! Does anyone have any advice as to whether we should try to explain further why we just cannot afford to go on like this or does "never apologise, never explain" apply in this case? My instinct is to go with the latter but I have to consider my husband in this. We don't live near and since he told her about the situation about a month ago, she hasn't phoned him.

grannyactivist Mon 01-Dec-14 18:57:16

Sorry, I'm probably not the best person to give advice about this because I feel very strongly that it's NOT a good idea to get into debt for Christmas gifts, so I think your approach is eminently sensible. As it's his daughter I think your husband should be the one to manage this situation - and maybe have a private chat with her about what he can afford. My initial response was to think the daughter is selfish, but on reflection Christmas is often emotionally tied up with our adult children's childhoods and perhaps for her it might still be the thought that counts.
In times past when money's been very tight at Christmas I've made 'vouchers' for afternoon tea or a special meal to be redeemed at a later date so that I can stretch my spending, but still have something to give on the day. I don't think I received a Christmas present from my parents after the age of fourteen and that's okay by me (I was a bit sad probably when I was younger), but I know my children would be upset not to receive anything. As for spending £20 on the grandchildren - you've cut your coat according to your cloth and rightly so. (Will step-daughter even know how much you spent?)

Elegran Mon 01-Dec-14 19:18:09

Does she know that you get into credit card debt each year buying for everyone? If she doesn't perhaps she needs an introduction to the financial facts of life (perhaps her father is the one to enlighten her)

Knowing that she is not the only one who will not be getting an expensive present ought to pacify her. she is not being specially selected. If she knows all this but is still not speaking to you because of it - well, there are a few more truths that it is time she faced up to as well.

janerowena Mon 01-Dec-14 19:26:44

I don't think you are unreasonable. Just tell them you are broke. I did that, when we were, and the world didn't come to an end and they are all still speaking to me! However we are now back to normal, but with a £10-15 limit for adults and £25-30 for children. Unlike some families, we spend more on our own older parents though, at around £50 each.

soontobe Mon 01-Dec-14 20:26:35

Good posts.
I personally, if I could, would get her some presents from a charity shop. Some that perhaps dont look like they are definitely from a charity shop.

Christmas [or the show of lots of presents], seems to be very importnant to her for some reason.
I dont think it is worth upsetting her about it.

I know that it is a bit like caving in, but that is what I would do if I could.

She will probably put your presents at the back of the tree or something, but she should realise that you did your best.

She is doing wrong behaviour about this, so you shouldnt feel at all bad about it.

granjura Mon 01-Dec-14 20:34:01

Just returned from 2 weeks grandchildren sitting in the UK- and we are both truly upset about the amount of advertising for toys on UK TV and discussed the pressure this puts parents and grand-parents under. Shameful and sickening really. We have no financial problems, so this is not the issue- but our beloved grandkids have so many toys and games the house is crawling with them... and we know they will get tons more again at Christmas. We both find it upsetting. Again, our children do not have financial problems, so again not the issue- but the pressure on those who are hard up must be dreadful, and push parents into debt that will in turn put the whole family under massive pressure. Very sad.

rosesarered Mon 01-Dec-14 20:52:37

Children have to realise that just because something is advertised doesn't mean they will get it as a present.My DGS understands this and he is only 9. We have never put ourselves under pressure, either as parents or grandparents.We buy them a few small presents each, and give the parents some money towards clothes etc.If we were very hard up, it would just be one present each.
Don't worry about this problem Unconventionalgran buy them what you think is appropriate and is within your budget.Your step-daughter may feel that her father doesn't want to spend money on her[and is spending it on you!] Step families have issues.

soontobe Mon 01-Dec-14 21:16:35

Has she got the idea that presents = love?
Therefore, no present from you and your husband, means that you dont love her?

granjura Mon 01-Dec-14 21:24:47

Absolutely rosesarered- our grandson is 8, and he gets it too. Little one at 5 hasn't quite got there yet ;)

I think a lot of the toy adverts should be sued under Trades Description Act- as inanimate plastic toys perform amazing stunts and activities on the ads which the toys are totally unable to perform in real life- leading to disappointment. Again, our grandson has come to that conclusion himself, thank goodness. I think if I still lived in the UK, I'd do this, perhaps with the help of WHICH magazine- as it is a real rip off- and aimed at a very influencable audience.

granjura Mon 01-Dec-14 21:26:44

BTW our grandchildren will only be getting one present from us- but still, with parents, grandparents, friends and relatives + Santa- it still adds up to a lot.

suzied Mon 01-Dec-14 21:53:59

We do Secret Santa for the adults so we only buy one present with a £50 price limit. Then just something small for the kids. It got a bit silly with everyone buying everyone else a present. It's made shopping so much easier. There's a website called which you can use which you can sent round emails to everyone and they can put a wish list for present suggestions, and it makes a random draw and sends you an email telling you who to buy for.

Mishap Mon 01-Dec-14 21:58:20

I always feel a bit uncomfortable about the present bonanza at Christmas - but on the other hand love to spoil my DGC.

But I do not spend large amounts - £50 each in my 3 children and about £15-£25 on each GC. As photography used to be my metier, each of my children will get an album of photos of their children taken this year and put together online. Cost was about £25 per album as I used a company that had 50% off. The GC have each got something fairly small that I know they will love. I sometimes buy them little things during the year if I see something that I know they will love.

"UnconventionalGran" - I do think that you must do what you can afford - the spirit of Christmas does not tally with feeling under pressure to get into debt. Personal presents that reflect the receiver are what matter rather than the cost. I think it is reasonable to say that you simply cannot afford to keep up the expensive present routine and leave it at that. I hate to think of you running up a credit card debt; and I know that my own children would be horrified if they thought we might do that.

One of my DDs has told me that we only have small presents this year as they had to set a tight budget - and my response was that we want for nothing and that seeing them all will be our present.

Perhaps your OH needs to deal with his DD - but you do need to stick to your guns. The giving and receiving of presents is meant to share joy, not anxiety about debt.

harrigran Tue 02-Dec-14 00:07:21

I think as an adult they should be able to accept that it is not always possible to buy gifts.
I do not buy gifts for DC or their spouses and they do not buy for me, the GC get several toys and something to wear. I don't think DC care any less for DH and I because of this.

grannyactivist Tue 02-Dec-14 01:21:10

If I couldn't afford to buy my children a gift for Christmas:

One of my children wouldn't mind. tchwink
One would think the world had come to an end. tchshock
One would prefer something handmade and personal anyway. tchsmile
One would worry about my finances. tchhmm

Pittcity Tue 02-Dec-14 11:45:25

DSiL's family have always done a Secret Santa and I am going to suggest it to my lot for next year. Thanks suzied for the website to help!!

J52 Tue 02-Dec-14 12:29:49

It is sad that Christmas equates to presents. If you are not religious, then it is a family time ( close friends, if no family) and showing appreciation of them as people, in whatever way is appropriate. Time to spend together, sharing some food perhaps. X

annodomini Tue 02-Dec-14 13:58:42

My policy is not about HOW MUCH I spend but what I spend it ON. My GC will all have around £20 spent on them but I'm not being precise about that because I will be giving them something that they really want and which I have agreed with their parents. My DiLs give me links to web sites where I can buy just what they want and will be appreciated long after Christmas. The adults will mostly have vouchers to spend as they will.

Nonnie Tue 02-Dec-14 15:57:20

I think you need to reassure her that both sides are being treated the same and then let her get on with it. You can't please everyone so do what is right for you.

I love Christmas and I love buying presents for people so often get told off for buying too much but then they know how much pleasure it has given me to choose the things and they forgive me. I think it is all about communication.

PRINTMISS Tue 02-Dec-14 16:21:33

Of course it is a pleasure to give to people we love and like, but there does for some people come a time when it is necessary to 'count the cost'. Everything continues to rise in price - except of course gift vouchers, but you can buy less with these this year than you did last. I think it is wise to cut back if money becomes a worry and you get into debt. Why do that when Christmas is supposed to be a happy event? We never started by giving our grandchildren expensive presents, and our children never received these either, so no-one expects anything very much from us. Which is just as well because as time has passed, less money has become available. They don't think any the less of us, and know that we will always give them what we can, and our love is always there which is the important thing.

annodomini Tue 02-Dec-14 17:22:46

Well said, PRINTMISS.

Lona Tue 02-Dec-14 17:25:17

I don't buy any gifts for my children and they don't buy for me. We all have enough and more besides.
My dgc get cash, which is what the three older ones want anyway. My little dgd is awash with toys and clothes, handed down from a pair of slightly older twin girls, who get everything from a doting granny!
So her cash is saved in a bank account.

For me,the spirit of Christmas is not about buying lots of presents, especially if you can't afford them.

UnconventionalGran, I think your dh should be the one to talk to his dd.

sparkygran Tue 02-Dec-14 18:02:37

We have a £25 limit on presents for all the family sometimes it can be challenging but we all manage to keep within our limits and it works well for us. DD and myself feel for youngest DS and brother who isn`t married and had no children but hey what can you do he seems happy enough to go along with above.

granjura Tue 02-Dec-14 18:14:33

so agree J52, and I am not religious at all. Must say I am glad Christmas here is so much less commercialised.

annodomini Wed 03-Dec-14 13:50:17

A good web site for unconventional and reasonably priced stocking fillers is

gillybob Wed 03-Dec-14 14:00:13

I spend quite a lot on my three DGC. I love to spoil them with love and attention all year round, aswell as nice Christmas gifts.

Yes I could clear my credit card debt.
I could look at a bank balance.
I could worry about how much interest said bank balance attracts.
I could pay off my mortgage.

There again I could be dead tomorrow !