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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Background: DH comes from a good sized family - 8 children. When you tally in three spouses, one long time girlfriend, 8 nieces and nephews and a partridge in a pear tree, Christmas gifts were beginning to get ridiculously expensive. We collectively decided that the adults would all put their names in a hat and we would do a gift exchange among the grown ups and still buy gifts for all the children. Gift prices seem to top out around $75 depending on each person's circumstances. We exchange names each Christmas day for the following year so we have a whole year to procrastinate on buying gifts.

Fast forward to the present (no pun intended).

The oldest of the nieces and nephews are 27 and 25 and have been involved in the adult gift exchange for a few years now. The next oldest is out of the country and will probably be away for next Christmas as well. The next four are all out of high school with one being married, two in college (those are mine) and one working full time. The last one is still in high school.

Last year my DS was in his first year in college and my DD was in her last year of high school. When we were getting ready to exchange names, I encouraged them to participate since they would both be out of high school the following year. My reasoning was that they shouldn't have too much trouble saving that amount for a gift and it was becoming a bit much to expect all the aunts and uncles to continue to buy gifts for all the children when most of them are already out of school and heading into adulthood. Without my knowing until it was too late, they conferred with their cousins and opted not to participate.

So they weren't given a choice this year. Before we went to my in-laws' house (where we exchange gifts), I sat them down and explained that things are getting financially harder and harder for everyone these days and, aside from that, it's time they take on the adult responsibility. They were fine with it and joined in picking a name this past Christmas.

Today DD asked me if I was going to get gifts for the other cousins this year. I told her that I would still get a gift for the youngest who is still in high school but I thought the others all joined in the name exchange. DD informed that none of the others opted to participate. When we were doing the name exchange this year she asked her one cousin - who is the same age as her - if she was joining in and was told "No way - I like getting gifts from everyone. If I go in the gift exchange, I'm not going to get as many presents." None of her older siblings are participating either.

Alright, am I wrong in thinking that a) these young adults should be involved in the name exchange and b) should have known enough to take the hint from their cousins of the same age and get involved, or one of their parents or grandparents (the MIL is the one who orchestrates the whole thing) should have stepped in?

Aside from that, both the mother of these children as well as their grandmother (my MIL) are normally the personification of propriety. I mean, they are the types who could find something wrong with the behavoir of Miss Manners. While I am kind of like the bull in the China shop when it comes to social grace. I need to get the point across that I am only giving a gift to the child still in school but I have to do it in a way that isn't going to ruffle feathers or cause hard feelings. I just can't afford it and, even if I could, I don't think it is fair to the other cousins who have gotten involved with the adult exchange.

Suggestions? I have almost a year to build up the courage...
 

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Play by the rules. Buy for your name picked person and for those still in high school. Buy nothing for the rest. If they ask "where's my gift?", give them the bad news.
"Honey, Custom is to buy for only those in school, You should have joined the adult gift swap already."
Then I would leave it at that and say no more.
 

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Play by the rules. Buy for your name picked person and for those still in high school. Buy nothing for the rest. If they ask "where's my gift?", give them the bad news.
"Honey, Custom is to buy for only those in school, You should have joined the adult gift swap already."
Then I would leave it at that and say no more.
What a great solution!
Angie
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
frugalbunny, Oh if it were only that easy. The unfortunate thing is that there was never and hard and set rule about when one was expected to join in. The other children just kind of realized it was time to be a grown up. We are breaking new ground with this situation.
 

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Maybe in conversation about the economy or finances etc. just mention how nice it will be next Christmas to only have one child to buy for now that all the others are adults now.
 

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Don't even think about it. Give the one in HS the gift you would normally do, give the older ones who still think they are 12 yo the box of stationary or $10 gift baggie of soap products and forget about it. Frankly, they won't be doing it much longer and it's just not worth getting in a snit over. I wouldn't get them anything expensive at all, though. Time for them to grow up.

Good for you DD, btw. :)
 

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I agree, those "kids" are too old to be expecting presents from everyone, especially with a big family. I wouldn't even bother with tact, I would just flat out tell MIL that you cannot afford to keep giving presents to all the kids and agree on an age limit (tact didn't seem to work this year). What are all the other adults thinking? If you ask them about it, you might find some allies.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Jennifer, I joked to DD that I should just donate to a charity in their name as a gift. (See, there's my bull-in-China-shop coming out.) Although I wouldn't feel right doing it just to be spiteful.

beccachow, I thought about consulting the other adults but not many of them have their own children to worry about. Out of the 8 siblings, only 3 have children so the others aren't quite dealing with the same type of financial issues. Actually, I'm sure I could find some allies but I don't know if anyone else is going to be brave enough to confront MIL or SIL.
 

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Would these overgrown twits have the nerve to say, "Hey, where's all my presents?"

I would just go with the assumption they are adults like your kids and you didn't draw any of their names.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Laura, no, they wouldn't outright say anything like that. It would just be more of an awkward kind of moment when everyone in the room realizes that I'm not giving them anything and then the subsequent ice age that is bound to follow. Which is why I'm trying to find a way to deal with this before the actual day arrives so as not to cause any unhappy surprises.
 

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send the family each an updated family letter. In it mention the economy and either come right out and say what you are going to do, or act dumb and mention the one name that your child drew as to present for next year.

And why can't you just say, I'm not doing that any more?
My parents don't give even cards any more, (retired, SS income)
My brother and I care but don't exchange presents.


But, if you set expectations now, or soon - they'll have a year to adjust.

Angie
 

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With that many people I don't think it would even be noticed that you didn't give to the older ones.
 

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If I understand the ages correctly, your two children and the last child in high school are the youngest? If that's correct, then the parents of the older cousins should have spoken to their children long ago.

You have asked your children to accept adult responsiblity. To your credit, they have. Plese don't demean their choice by allowing the cousins to shirk theirs.

Buy for the youngest and the name you picked. If anything is said about not getting gifts for the others, reply that since they didn't enter the drawing, you assumed they had opted out because of the economy.
 

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In our family all the adults, high school age and older bring a Ladies or Mens gift, depending on their sex and we have a grab bag. $10.-- limit. Parents of children younger than high school age bring a gift for each of their own child. That way if a family does not show up it doesn't matter since it is a grab bag.
 

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Drop the adults from your shopping list. Buy for the ones still in school, and the person who's name you picked. Years ago when hubby's family & ours started getting larger (13 total incl kids) it was the single folks who suggested the one gift exchange ($100.00 limit). They took the fun out by all making requests, some hard to find stuff. It became old quick as there was no point in even wrapping the presents. Now we just buy for the kids, and spend quality time with the adults.
HF
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Thank you all for the ideas and suggestions. Family can be so wonderful and yet so diffucult to deal with sometimes. I'm actually quite surprised that the cousins didn't opt to go in on the exchange and I'm really shocked that so far their mom has not told them they have to. She just has always been one of those folks who knows and does what is proper. This just seemed so obvious as the right thing to do that I was starting to wonder if I'm out of line. At least I know other folks think I am doing the right thing.

AngieM2, I guess I could say I'm just not doing it anymore, although I'm trying to find the gentlest way to do it. Who knows? I might be surprised and find out that they all agree with me.

Minelson, it does get to be quite a hectic thing when we are all there exchanging gifts, so it is possible that it wouldn't be obvious. But...just in case it would be, I'd like to head that off at the pass so to speak. I think the earlier I can get this out of the way, the better.

Aohtee, other than the one in still in high school, my DS and DD are two of the youngest along with one cousin the same age as my DD. My DS and DD knew going into this that they would be expected to step up to the plate and participate. They also know how the family dynaimics work and how their cousins are. DD has since filled me in on some other things about the cousin that made the remark to her. DD said "It's not like she's stupid - it's that she just doesn't care about anything beyond right now." Very perceptive. At any rate, they know that you don't presume to tell this particular SIL anything, let alone how to parent.

Thanks again for the ideas. I am filtering them all through my brain, trying to come up with a good plan.
 

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If I'm understanding correctly, your daughter had talked to her cousin (your niece) who told her that she wasn't participating in the "adult" gift exchange as she wanted to continue receiving gifts - and her even older silbings are doing the same.

If I'm correct, (and I'm assuming you are buying their youngest sibling (the one in high school) a gift? I'd contact her parents and say that you were trying to shop early for the one still in high school and do they have any ideas so you can watch throughout the year for something for the youngest. And if the parent mentions about the older one, let the parents break the news to their "kids" that Aunt so-and-so isn't buying any gifts for you this year.

If the youngest you are buying for isn't a sibling of the "not grown up kids", surely you will run into the parents - at a get together, reunion, something - and mention to them that it will be so nice this year to only buy for the drawn name and the youngest one still in high school.

My wife's family had continued buying for my wife's niece and nephew until several years ago when it got to be too much for them to reciprocate with all the Aunts & Uncles. It's so nice not having to buy - just because you are expected to!

Good luck!
 

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I would assume that the age of 18 is the cut off point for receiving gifts as a child. And that would be my answer when asked about a gift for anyone that is older than 18, along with the fact that you did not draw that persons name, therefore are not expected to get them a gift.
 
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