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Exchanging presents with adult children

(25 Posts)
Pumpkin82 Sun 23-Jan-22 15:11:04

I am an adult child with a small child and not a grandparent, in case that’s helpful to know.

Please can you share what present exchanges are like with your adult DCs, in terms of:

1) do you spend a similar amount on each other, or does one spend more than the other?

2) do you surprise them, or ask them what they want?

3) do you skip birthdays/presents at all now they are adults?

It’s mixed in terms of how it is with my family compared to DH’s, but I’d like to get a sense of what others do before looking at changing how things are with our families.

Grandmabatty Sun 23-Jan-22 15:23:43

I spend approximately the same amount on my dd, sil and ds. I ask them what they would like and try to buy a few extra surprises too. That's for birthday and Christmas. I give gifts to them at birthdays and always have. Since I've retired, I've decreased the amount I spend plus I have two grandsons now. Hope that is useful.

janeainsworth Sun 23-Jan-22 15:27:30

Our AC and Ac-in-law all get the same amount of money for their birthdays and Christmas, paid into their bank accounts. Plus they get something to open on the day like a book or a bottle of whisky or a large bouquet.
Occasionally they might ask for something specific & that’s fine & the amount of cash they get is then reduced accordingly.

They are all generous to us but I like to think that the net flow of money is in the right direction ie from us to them.

Hope that helps!

Floradora9 Sun 23-Jan-22 16:05:57

Oh joy we decided as a family no presents for adults for Christmas birthdays etc.. We still get and give nice wine etc when visiting but I love not having to think about the presents. For my birthday or Christmas I get nothing and am perfectly happy about that.

Pumpkin82 Sun 23-Jan-22 16:31:00

Thanks everyone, it is helpful to know what others do.

Floradora, I can imagine it is nice not to have to think about it!

Everyone seems to come to me to ask what to get DH, DC and I. This year I said I really couldn’t think of anything for DH about four weeks before Xmas (five until his birthday). As a result, he didn’t get anything for his birthday! It’s hard enough thinking what to get DH for Christmas and birthday from me as they are close together, but I am getting sick of having to think up present ideas for others too. I understand if people are a bit choosy with what they like, but DH isn’t like that.

Another family member tends to go a bit overboard, and I think it might be an idea to have a suggested spend of X, because it might rein it in a bit. They don’t get many presents from others as they isolate themselves so I end up feeling like I should get them more so they have things to open, but Christmas really breaks the bank with so many people to buy for nowadays.

Enid101 Sun 23-Jan-22 17:34:23

We do secret Santa for all the adults in our family. Maximum spend is £30 and you can put in our group chat if there is something specific you’d like. I tend to spend more on birthdays as I think they are more important.

Nonogran Sun 23-Jan-22 17:47:49

We stopped Christmas gifts to adult children two years ago. Birthdays are something small, book, something scenty, something culinary or pay for a meal out maybe.
I take my partner away for his December birthday he having taken me away for my earlier in year birthday. Nice hotel by the sea usually. No Christmas gifts to one another either.
Works for us & lifts a massive gift giving issue for all of us. Takes pressure off big time & we’re all happy with the arrangement.

SueDonim Sun 23-Jan-22 18:00:24

We all give gifts to each other - it’s what we’ve chosen to do but every family is different. We spend more on our dc than they spend on us, which is how I want it to be.

We spend more on our youngest dd than the older ones as she doesn’t have a partner and doesn’t earn as much.

downnotout Sun 23-Jan-22 18:00:36

My ex had several siblings. We all gave each other birthday and Christmas presents. Every time one of them had a baby we would buy a present. That set a precedent and we continued to buy presents for each child that came along and continued to do so at every birthday and Christmas for every child. I wish I had nipped that in the bud sooner because eventually it seemed we were buying presents every week for some child's birthday and a mountain of presents for all the nieces and nephews at Christmas. I say we, it was me of course that had to do all the present shopping. It was draining - mentally and financially! It only stopped when my ex and I separated but I wish I had said something sooner to my SILs and BILs before it got completely out of hand!

Oopsadaisy1 Sun 23-Jan-22 18:03:34

We spend the same on ACs and their partners, they do a list and we select what to get them from it.
We don’t buy gifts for each other.

Jaxjacky Sun 23-Jan-22 18:04:06

We all do Christmas lists, adults and GC’s, small things, some larger, we’ve always done that and it works well. We spend roughly the same on AC, a bit more on GC, but it depends what they’ve asked for, ditto birthdays. We’ve never given money.

Kim19 Sun 23-Jan-22 18:07:04

If I spot something suitable for family or friend, I buy it. I may have forgotten how much I paid for said item before I purchase for another relative therefore don't do price comparison. I do have a demarkation line but that's by item not person.

Soozikinzi Sun 23-Jan-22 18:12:57

We also do a secret santa for them adults like Enid101 but ours is £100 so we all just get one good present .We can put suggestions on the group whatsapp or we ask their partners which makes it nice kind of secretly working together to get the right present. I do ask what amount they want to set it at every year . There's even a website called elfster that will shuffle the names for you !'

maddyone Sun 23-Jan-22 20:03:25


Our AC and Ac-in-law all get the same amount of money for their birthdays and Christmas, paid into their bank accounts. Plus they get something to open on the day like a book or a bottle of whisky or a large bouquet.
Occasionally they might ask for something specific & that’s fine & the amount of cash they get is then reduced accordingly.

They are all generous to us but I like to think that the net flow of money is in the right direction ie from us to them.

Hope that helps!

We do something very similar Jane. At Christmas we give each couple an amount of money, and pay it into their bank by bank transfer. We then also give each one a small personal gift, spending around £20 for each of them on that. Birthdays are similar, we pay an amount into their bank and give them a gift to open, still spending around £20 for the gift.

Hetty58 Sun 23-Jan-22 20:08:00

We just buy for children - not other adults (except for a small secret Santa, just for fun). After all, we can buy things for ourselves and get exactly what we want!

geekesse Sun 23-Jan-22 20:10:04

It’s always a bit hit and miss, and there’s no big deal either way. We all have very demanding careers and often forget. My daughter usually remembers the big birthdays and rings round to remind everyone. Everyone is appropriately thankful to receive a card or a bunch of flowers or such like, or we may go out for a meal, but if some of us forget, no-one takes offence.

M0nica Sun 23-Jan-22 20:25:30

We just love the present giving process.

We spend roughly the same amount on everyone and we buy people what they want, unless we are very sure we know what the other would love to have (my Kindle was an example of that).

At Christmas I ask for wish lists several months in advance. For birthdays we consult with parents (DGC) or spouse (DS and DDiL). DD has no spouse so we ask her direct.

Georgesgran Mon 24-Jan-22 00:17:47

I buy for both DDs and their husbands - I’ve done joint gifts for DD1 for the past couple of years - a new tv and last year (still here because of Covid) a fancy food mixer thing. She doesn’t ask, but I ‘note’ what she says during the year. DD2’s husband is a book fiend, so he gives her a long list, she orders and I select which I want to pay for and gift and she buys the rest. She’s due a new car in March (Motability) so I’m paying the advance payment in lieu of her Christmas gift.
I’m very strict that they don’t go overboard buying for me - a bottle of perfume and some fizz between them is perfect.

Purplepixie Mon 24-Jan-22 00:51:55

I spend exactly the same on each and everyone of them. It’s save arguments.

chocolatepudding Mon 24-Jan-22 10:05:22

Well everyone is being very generous and are treating all family members equally. I have a different story which I have posted before. I am going back to the 1990s,2000s. MIL had 2 sons my DH was DS1 and DS2 was the favourite.

Once FILs estate was settled MIL was reasonably well off but she always said she only had her pension to live off ( plus £150K in the bank)

For Christmas and birthdays DH and me received a gift say a book or CD or DVD plus a cheque for £20. Thank you very much Mum. We did not know how much BIL got. Fast forward 15 years and our DD celebrated her 18th birthday receiving a cheque for £1000 from GM, wow thank you very much GM. A few weeks later DH was chatting to his DM and he thanked her for the cheque. DMs reply was "Well I normally give that amount to DS2 for Christmas and birthdays so I checked with him and he was happy for DGD to have it". When DH told me I was gobsmacked!
This continued for a further 5 years. I never said anything - good manners drummed into me when I was a child.
I'm sure you can do the sums.

I just hope everyone else is treated fairly

crazyH Mon 24-Jan-22 10:39:10

I am very, very fair to my 3 children, daughter and 2 sons BUT in my Will, I have left most of my jewellery to my daughter, for the simple reason that my ds -in-law are the only girls of their parents and will inherit all/most of their mum’s jewellery. I have told my sons and I think they understand. Besides, my daughter is divorced and I’m sure won’t be left anything from her ex m.i.l.😂

Cabbie21 Mon 24-Jan-22 11:23:20

I find this really difficult. My adult children and spouses are all in good jobs. They lead expensive lifestyles and, like me, do not need or want “stuff” just for the sake of it. A couple of years ago my son told me not to buy him any clothes( though I am sure the item was to his taste) and I accept that. They have had some substantial handouts from me these past few years, and I have made sure to treat my son and my daughter equally. For my son’s last birthday I gave him a garden token, and had a text saying “ got it, thanks” so I feel like giving up altogether. I need nothing, but flowers are always lovely to receive. I wish we could stop gifts altogether.

aonk Mon 24-Jan-22 13:12:37

We always give presents for birthday and Christmas to our ACs spending approximately the same amount on each one. Sometimes we ask them for ideas but not always. We’re not last minute shoppers and they can be very slow in giving us their ideas! We will always buy them presents because they are our children and always will be. We spend more on them than on the GC for that very reason. We never give money. A couple of years ago I had a spell in hospital and was unable to buy anything for the 2 DDs whose birthdays are in August. I got gift cards for them and also ordered flowers. I suppose we would go down this route in the future if it all gets too much but I really hope not. My friends mother is 95 and recently widowed and she managed to buy and wrap presents for 3 DDs and their partner, 4 GCs and 4 GGCs! She did need a couple of lifts to the shops!

janeainsworth Mon 24-Jan-22 13:54:32

I gave him a garden token, and had a text saying “ got it, thanks”

Cabbie that’s the sort of text I get from DS, though he’d probably add an exclamation mark. DD’s tend to send more fulsome messages lavishly adorned with suitable emoticons.
I think it’s fairly normal male behaviour grin

M0nica Mon 24-Jan-22 18:27:00

For birthdays presents often come in the form of 'experiences', we have had concert and theatre tickets, days out on shared events.

I am another fortunaate one who can get most things I would like, but, for Christmas, from about June onwards, I delay getting small items I would like and put them on my Christmas list. Things like books, and things like that.