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I want to stop exchanging gifts with adult family members.


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I get so tired of buying buying buying for adults who in my opinion have too much stuff anyway. I want to bow out of gift giving with my adult sisters. Or if they really feel strongly about it, I would love just giving to Heifer Intl. or some other charity. The problem is that I know one sister in particular will have a fit.

How can I do this gently but firmly. I am so tired of all this stuff!

Alexandra

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Good luck with that.

 

;)

 

Seriously, I was...well, let's just say that I was unsuccessful in my attempts to do just what you suggest. I agree with you, though, that it seems senseless at best to just pass stuff around when we're all drowning in clutter anyway. Do you live near your sisters? Could you suggest swapping dinners out? We do this with a couple we know: We take them out to a surprise restaurant, and then later in the year they take us. It's GREAT! And no gifts! Hurrah!

 

Why can't family work that way??

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Guest janainaz

I don't exchange with any adult family members. In my opinion, we can all just buy our own "stuff". I do only kids - which includes my nieces and adopted brother and sister-in-laws. As for parents and my sister, etc. - they get a "merry Christmas" and a hug. I can't afford to buy for everyone and my kids. We still have family that buys us stuff and I have zero pride.

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:lurk5:

 

I would like to do this too! I have been somewhat successful with my family, but I don't know how to do suggest it to dh's family.

 

With my family I send my sisters and brother's a family gift. This year I sent them a game that we really enjoyed playing as a family. One year I sent a geosafari globe, one year a set of books by a children's author that I had just discovered. My siblings liked the idea and recipricated in kind. We enjoy it because we are not just giving a gift, but are sharing something that we have enjoyed and although all of our kids are being raised far apart when they get together they have shared experiences. I hope that makes sense! It works because we have kids near the same ages and we have similiar values and interests. I sure hope somebody comes up with a diplomatic way for me to introduce this idea or some other way of cutting back to the in-laws...

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my SIL asked to not do adult gifts years ago with us and I was relieved!!!

 

either send a letter stating you no longer want to exchange adult gifts or call if you are ok with it.

 

or take the advice of this group who when I asked about no longer doing cousin's gifts to just stop sending them....eventually they will stop ;-)

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We did that this year for the first time - it was GREAT!

 

We just DID it. We only bought for kids (and together gifts, at that!) When planning to get together, I would mention, "oh and btw, we have a little gift for the kids..." or "that would be a great time to get together b/c I have a little gift for the kids". This set the stage to say that that's all we had and it worked great. And those that didn't get the picture I think do for next year! Like someone else said, you just have to stop.

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A several years ago I stopping buying individual gifts for my siblings (I have 3) and their spouses. For me it just made the holidays too stressful. Trying to figure out what to buy and then worrying about the money. Instead, I now send a food gift to each of my siblings.

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Start now....

 

Send out a lovely email saying something along the lines that you love them all. Everyone has what they need and can get what they want. Tell them that instead of buying gifts for adults next year, you propose that everyone make a donation to their favorite charity and help someone else have a wonderful Christmas.

 

My mother does this with her friends. She'll bake a loaf of bread or something and put a card that says that she's made a donation to the local Food Pantry in their name.

 

Hope this helps.

 

Val

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We do not exchange gifts with adults in our family except my parents and they have asked that next year no adult gifts at all be exchanged. It is just too much and all of us buy what we want during the year anyway.

 

You could always blame it on the economy.

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We only buy for the kids, but this was the first Christmas where all my sibs had kids, so it was the first all kid Christmas. Till this year, we did a secret santa for the grown-ups, that way we all got one thing, under twenty-five dollars, and no one had to spend a ton of cash on the grown-ups alone.

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3 years ago I suggested we stop exchanging gifts......My SIL had a fit, my sis wasn't to thrilled either......we exchanged gifts.

 

2 years ago.........I suggested not exchanging gifts with the adults just doing kids...........we exchanged gifts with just kids.

 

1 year ago..........nothing was said............we exchanged gifts with just kids.

 

this year..........my sis said "Let's not exchange gifts this year", my SIL "complained", I said "Ok , no gifts sounds good to me"..........My SIL was out voted............we didn't exchange gifts.

 

 

I would put ideas in sister's ears that would be more willing to change. It may take a few years but hopefully you will get more people on your side and then you can stop the gift exchange.

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I get so tired of buying buying buying for adults who in my opinion have too much stuff anyway. I want to bow out of gift giving with my adult sisters. Or if they really feel strongly about it, I would love just giving to Heifer Intl. or some other charity. The problem is that I know one sister in particular will have a fit.

How can I do this gently but firmly. I am so tired of all this stuff!

Alexandra

 

My birthday and my brother's birthday are only 9 days apart. He always asks what I want and I say, "Why don't you buy a gift for you from me and I'll do the same?":D I tell him to make it a nice expensive gift! :lol:

 

I'm very blessed that my SIL & brother feel the same and we didn't exchange with them except for the kiddos, it was a real blessing to us all. The boys and I did make them decoupage clipboards which they really seemed to enjoy. Even my brother commented on how much he liked our homemade gifts.

 

I guess I don't have much advice. I just said, "Since finances are tight, it would work best for us to just exchange for the kids and maybe make something homemade for the grown-ups."

 

Blessings,

Angela

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I have one sister who doesn't want to exchange gifts and one who does. The one who doesn't has made a really strong case not to, and since I agree with her, we don't. The other sister really really wants to exchange gifts. I would say that "gift" is her love language. So we do exchange gifts, and I try to remember that even though it's sort of a pain, it's an important part of showing love for her.

 

Could you make a really strong case for not doing it, and see who bites?

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We finally just did this with dw's family after several years of broad hints and direct requests for no gifts. We made charitable donations in the names of the various adults and dw baked bread for them. That was it. We're hoping that they take the hint and don't get us anything next year! They still got each other heaps of carp, but we figure that's their business.

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My husband has four sibs. Years ago we proposed that we draw names among the sibs and their spouses. In fact, my husband wrote a computer program which generates a random name, insuring that one does not get one's spouse or the person to whom you gave a gift the year before. Works great.

 

My sister is another matter. She is extravagant. Last year I asked if we could "simplify". She said that she would not and was hurt by the suggestion. This year's economic difficulties have cast things in a different light, I think. She cut back on her gifts and I did on mine to the family so that I could give to those in need. Her daughter (a childless professional who is married to another professional) asked me what I wanted. I asked that she just donate to her local food pantry which she did, although she did give us a token gift that was simple (a small, local purchase) and thoughtful. I was pleased as punch.

 

For my part, I made a number of gifts this year or bought things from local artisans. I may not totally convert to a "Handmade Holiday" but the concept resonated well with my nieces and nephews to whom I continue to give gifts.

 

There is no one way to do Christmas. Finding what pleases you may not please the rest of the gang. It really is a challenge!

 

Best regards,

Jane

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We quit buying Christmas gifts for our siblings, parents and grandparents a few years ago and went instead to generic, inexpensive gifts, like family calendars. I think it means a lot more to put more thought (and money) into their birthdays rather than obligatory gifts at Christmas. Not to mention it's easier on the pocketbook to spread it throughout the year.

 

This has been great, except that dh who was raised with a healthy upbringing of guilt, always gets the last minute materialistic regrets, knowing that my parents or his brother are going to get us something great and expensive. I've always got to leash him in the few days before Christmas to get him to stick to the gift plan.

 

The first year, we did explain to the relatives that in an attempt to reduce the financial expense of Christmas, we had gone to simpler gifts for the extended family. No one had a problem with it (or at least didn't voice it) and if they still want to lavish us at Christmas time, that's their decision to make, but they can feel sure that we don't expect it of them and they certainly don't owe it to us. The tricky part is to remember to lavish them on their birthdays throughout the year.

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I get so tired of buying buying buying for adults who in my opinion have too much stuff anyway. I want to bow out of gift giving with my adult sisters. Or if they really feel strongly about it, I would love just giving to Heifer Intl. or some other charity. The problem is that I know one sister in particular will have a fit.

How can I do this gently but firmly. I am so tired of all this stuff!

Alexandra

I wouldn't complain if this were suggested, and I would go along with it...but gifts are my "love language". It would make me really sad not to exchange gifts with my family. If she really can't handle it could you suggest exchanging very small gifts or practical gifts instead?

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We finally just did this with dw's family after several years of broad hints and direct requests for no gifts. We made charitable donations in the names of the various adults and dw baked bread for them. That was it. We're hoping that they take the hint and don't get us anything next year! They still got each other heaps of carp, but we figure that's their business.

Did they want you to donate in their names? I don't mind receiving simple gifts (homemade bread is awesome) but I don't usually like things donated in my name. It would drive me nuts. Did you make sure that where you donated matched with each person's beliefs? Ask them if they wanted something donated in their name, or if they would prefer nothing at all?

 

We do exceptionally simple gifts to adult members in our family...I print a photo off my computer for each family. My sil and bil each get a very small gift. This works for us...and I would go along with no gifts if that's what people wanted (although I love gifts, so it wouldn't be enjoyable for me).

 

Did you ask whether they would rather just receive the homemade gift (the bread)?

 

While these questions are raised because of your post, it's just something I've though of in general over the years, as I hear of more and more people donating in other people's names. I only donate anonymously, so it would be really frustrating for me to have my name out there on a donation, and I probably wouldn't appreciate it.

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Did they want you to donate in their names?

 

I generally only donate to charity in someone's name if they have either asked me to (and named a charity) or if I am very sure they would be pleased by the gesture. We carefully chose a non-political, non-sectarian charity that we were pretty sure no one would object to. Really, who is going to say, "Hey, I don't want any part of helping these desperate people work their way out of poverty"? :D

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I only donate anonymously, so it would be really frustrating for me to have my name out there on a donation, and I probably wouldn't appreciate it.

 

I should clarify: We made the donation and then gave cards (provided by the charity) to the family members informing them of the specific gifts made in their honor. The charity does not have their names or contact information.

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I should clarify: We made the donation and then gave cards (provided by the charity) to the family members informing them of the specific gifts made in their honor. The charity does not have their names or contact information.

Ahh...that explains it much better then. I would have absolutely no problem with that whatsoever.

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I finally told my side of the family no more adult gifts a few years ago. My sister has four kids. I have three. It was really getting expensive. This year, my sister asked me if we could do no gifts for the kids and have a white elephant exchange for the entire family. We set a $10 limit, but you could spend less than that so this saved us all a ton of money. The kids thought it was a great idea, too, since they have plenty of toys. My parents still bought the kids something, but wanted to join in on the white elephant exchanged. It looks like we have a new tradition!

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In previous years I have done some homemade gifts and some bought. As far as extended family, we gift to dh's mom and step-father, his sister, and her 2 kids.

 

This year I did a home-canned gift basket for my stepFIL. He was so excited it was all for him and that he didn't have to share (MIL has diabetes).

 

For my MIL, who had been hoping to get a housekeeper in once and a while because of health issues but found it was too expensive, I found a neat template online for gift certificates and made them for me to do four housecleaning days for her. I wrapped it up with a bottle of windex and 409 - she was so thankful and was crying!

 

I also crocheted some kitchen washcloths for my SIL and my MIL. My SIL has had a lukewarm reaction to some of my handmade gifts in previous years, so I did buy her a Mary Englebreit desk calendar which I knew she'd like. I will spend some more time this year to find something I can make that she will like.

 

So, I guess my point is that if skipping exchanging gifts doesn't go over well with the family, you can come up with creative ideas for time spent with them, to do something for them, or a date night for a movie, etc. . . and it will be inexpensive and the thought, which IS the point, will touch their hearts.

 

Kimm in WA

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I've been cringing as I've read the comments about family members "pitching fits" when dropping a gift exchange is mentioned. Please remember that for some of us gifts is our primary love language. Just imagine how you'd feel if, oh let's say, words of encouragement is your primary love language and your sister said, "How about let's stop saying nice and encouraging words to each other. I'm tired of thinking of nice things to say and I spend all my time and energy saying nice and encouraging things to my kids, and besides, you're an adult...you can think nice and encouraging things about yourself." Sounds silly, I know, but that's how it would sound to me if my family stopped exchanging gifts with the adults and I might be accused of making a big stink when I objected. :001_smile:

 

Seriously, though, most of us gifts people don't even need big, expensive gifts to make us feel loved...just something that says, "I thought of you."

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I've been cringing as I've read the comments about family members "pitching fits" when dropping a gift exchange is mentioned. Please remember that for some of us gifts is our primary love language. Just imagine how you'd feel if, oh let's say, words of encouragement is your primary love language and your sister said, "How about let's stop saying nice and encouraging words to each other. I'm tired of thinking of nice things to say and I spend all my time and energy saying nice and encouraging things to my kids, and besides, you're an adult...you can think nice and encouraging things about yourself." Sounds silly, I know, but that's how it would sound to me if my family stopped exchanging gifts with the adults and I might be accused of making a big stink when I objected. :001_smile:

 

Seriously, though, most of us gifts people don't even need big, expensive gifts to make us feel loved...just something that says, "I thought of you."

 

 

Well I hadn't thought of it that way. The big difference is that words of encouragement are free, and gifts aren't always. :D

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Please remember that for some of us gifts is our primary love language.

 

 

 

A question for those who feel that gifting is their "love language". Suppose that the gifter purchases things that are of no use or interest to the giftee. Is the recipient obligated to keep these unwanted objects because of the intentions of the giver?

 

I am having trouble with a family member who spends money on things that I just do not want and I cannot necessarily return. I would rather that her money go to a food bank where the cash is needed. Because she insists on giving gifts, I asked for a consumable but she was not happy with that idea. You see, her idea of a gift is something that she has purchased on sale. She likes to give big stacks of her bargain gifts. When I was first starting out, I appreciated all of the kitchen items that she gave us, but we rarely need things these days. My solution has been not to replace kitchen things like muffin tins or tea towels but suggest them to her when she asks. But there are times when I just cannot think of anything I "need" or want.

 

It seems that giving may be the "love language", but the vocabulary does not include all things (like charitable donations in the gift recipient's honor). In the aforementioned family member's case, I think that she has a need to have a huge stack of presents in front of her on Christmas morning and thinks not to have this is deprivation.

 

Ultimately it is sad that too many material things or too few bring about such stress and turmoil.

 

Jane

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A question for those who feel that gifting is their "love language". Suppose that the gifter purchases things that are of no use or interest to the giftee.

 

As a gift giver I try *really* hard to make the gift one the person wants or would enjoy, even if it is a charitable contribution. That's part of the love language--a gift says "I thought of you." Sounds like your relative's gifts say, "I found a deal." :D She seems to be doing it more for herself than the recipient.

 

Also, I do make charitable contributions in other's names *if that's what they want*. I understand that not everyone wants a tangible reminder of my love for them and I honor and respect that even though that may not be the gift I'd prefer for myself.

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Well I hadn't thought of it that way. The big difference is that words of encouragement are free, and gifts aren't always. :D

They can be!:001_smile: Seriously, though...I understand her post...my love language is gifts, too. So it would hurt me not to receive them. A token gift is fine...it doesn't have to be something expensive...it can be something handmade; hey, you can buy me a really cool pen and I'll be pleased. But gifts mean a lot to me, they show that the person cares and was thinking of me.

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I feel the exact same way. People have too much stuff. Take my father for instance: He buys buys buys all the time. He owns more clothes than my husband and I put together. This is pathetic.

 

This Christmas I made donations in some people's honor to the Humane Society, and also gave people a very small gift, like an ornament. I only did this with people like Sunday School teachers, my dh's coworkers, etc. But I would love to do it with everyone next year and I do not mind if people who normally give me gifts would do that for me/in my honor.

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We decided this year not to do adult gifts with my siblings and their spouses. (As a gift-giver, it nearly killed me, but dh was stressed about money so it was easier for me to go along this time.) DH was supposed to inform his brother of this plan also, but he didn't so we did exchange with them (although it was pretty obvious that we would have been perfectly happy not to do so, given what we all gave each other). Next year I hope to get a better handle on that.

 

I think it would be good to bring up the idea in the next few months, before anyone really starts to think about shopping for Christmas. Then they will have time to get used to the idea and it will seem like a great plan by the time the holidays come around.

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I made a sort of compromise. I give either inexpensive or home-made consumable gifts.

 

This year was "Gifts in a Jar" meals... families got dinner, dessert, and a beverage tied up in a reuseable grocery bag. ;-) This is fun because the kids get a kick out of helping. I took one day to do the shopping for ingredients, and one day to assemble the jars. Not too much of a time investment, and got all my gifts done in a weekend.

 

Just a little "I am thinking of you" gift that doesn't have to be expensive or another piece of clutter. I let people know well ahead of time that I am only giving a small gift, or a home-made gift, or a family gift... lets them off the hook so they don't need to feel obligated to go shopping for me, and they aren't expecting anything fancy.

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3 years ago I suggested we stop exchanging gifts......My SIL had a fit, my sis wasn't to thrilled either......we exchanged gifts.

 

2 years ago.........I suggested not exchanging gifts with the adults just doing kids...........we exchanged gifts with just kids.

 

1 year ago..........nothing was said............we exchanged gifts with just kids.

 

this year..........my sis said "Let's not exchange gifts this year", my SIL "complained", I said "Ok , no gifts sounds good to me"..........My SIL was out voted............we didn't exchange gifts.

 

 

I would put ideas in sister's ears that would be more willing to change. It may take a few years but hopefully you will get more people on your side and then you can stop the gift exchange.

 

I did the same thing.

The first year, they threw a fit!

The 2nd year, less gifts for adults

The 3rd year children only,

The 4th year no gifts, christmas cards only,

The 5th year no cards, phone calls, emails only.

 

Don't give up. Keep at it and little by little people will join you. I told them that I hate shopping and don't have the money (which is the truth).

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My family switched to bringing white elephants--packaging up an item or items that we have or got free--to exchange. We draw numbers, with the 1st person picking and opening a gift, the 2nd stealing that gift or opening a gift, and so on. We have so much fun with this, and my nephew's couldn't wait for their chance to join in. Why we don't know, just usually it's not anything great anyway. We just share so much laughter while we do this. You might try this for a year or two anyway.

 

Or, just draw names for the adults. We've done that some years, too, but the white elephant gifts are an annual item. :)

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I'm another gift love language person and I would hate to stop exchanging gifts.....but we're also tight so I get the money aspect of it and the hassle of buying all these gifts and getting sometimes not good gifts.......what I did this year was buy Fair trade gifts - bunches of websites out there - and got all the girls gifts I thought they'd like - but didn't feel bad about spending the money b/c I was helping women in third world countries provide for themselves and earn a good living....so it ended up being the best of both worlds for me - I got to shop!! and 'give to a charity' and still give (and get) gifts.

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You could ask each person you normally buy for (is it just the two sisters we are talking about?) to make a list of several charities that are important to them and then choose one to make a donation to in their name.

 

You could give handmade gifts.

 

You could start a tradition of the three of you going out for a special Christmas Eve brunch/supper/whatever and take turns paying for it.

 

It sounds like giving gifts is important to one sister. If that is her love language she might be hurt to stop exchanging gifts altogether. I would really give that some consideration before I just stopped gifting.

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My brother asked this year if we would mind not exchanging gifts among the adults in the future and I have to say it was a huge relief to me. There is just nothing we can afford to get him and his wife that he can't go get for himself if he wants or needs it. Shopping for them is just stressful to me. Trying to find something they will use and enjoy, and the money factor just take the enjoyment out of it for me. It also means I will be able to spend just a little more for my niece and nephews who I do enjoy choosing gifts for.

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Just imagine how you'd feel if, oh let's say, words of encouragement is your primary love language and your sister said, "How about let's stop saying nice and encouraging words to each other. I'm tired of thinking of nice things to say and I spend all my time and energy saying nice and encouraging things to my kids, and besides, you're an adult...you can think nice and encouraging things about yourself." Sounds silly, I know, but that's how it would sound to me if my family stopped exchanging gifts with the adults and I might be accused of making a big stink when I objected.

 

Well, for me the primary difference in these two scenarios is that words of encouragement, I would hope, can be given freely and spontaneously all year long, whille Christmas gifts have become mandatory and often get associated with pressure and oblgation to "perform" at a specific time.

 

Personally, I have no problem at all with giving gifts in general. I love finding or making something I think a loved one will enjoy and surprising that person with the item. What I dislike--so much it just about ruins the whole holiday experience for me--is being expected to come up with a great gift on command.

 

And, for what it's worth, I do genuinely appreciate (as in store up to think over when I can't sleep at night) words of encouragement. I find them much more warming than gifts. And I rarely get any, because I don't happen to have family members or loved ones who offer them freely. (Instead, I tend to get lots of gifts of things I don't need or want and often don't like much.) I try not to let it get to me, though, because I understand it's just not their nature.

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My brother asked this year if we would mind not exchanging gifts among the adults in the future and I have to say it was a huge relief to me. There is just nothing we can afford to get him and his wife that he can't go get for himself if he wants or needs it. Shopping for them is just stressful to me. Trying to find something they will use and enjoy, and the money factor just take the enjoyment out of it for me. It also means I will be able to spend just a little more for my niece and nephews who I do enjoy choosing gifts for.

This is interesting to me...I ask for lists from each person of what they want. They're usually nice enough to put items of varying costs on the list, so it took the stress out of shopping for me. I would be stressed if I had to choose with no input though!!

I'm glad that you got to stop if wasn't working out for you, though.

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  • 13 years later...

To all those who say "stop exchanging gifts" are likely ignoring the person in the group that shows love through giving gifts.  Gift giving out of love, is very difficult for the person in the family that expresses love through giving to just "stop doing."  Whether that's a MIL, SIL, parent.  Understand that their choice to still give without expectation of gifts in return. Respecting each other's choice must be OK, or there will be hurt and emptiness left behind for the loving gift giver.   Giving for them is not out of obligation for a holiday.  

 

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