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Is it possible to bow out of receiving family Christmas gifts gracefully?

(22 Posts)
wildstrawberryplace Tue 06-Nov-12 11:33:51

I don't want to receive any gifts this year. For a start, I'm one of those weird people who doesn't really like presents, and who especially doesn't like ceremonial gift giving/opening in front of 50 relatives. Also, I'm a bit fed up of the whole consumer side of it and would rather give money to charity or something.

My auntie said last year no presents for her please, and that she wouldn't be giving any either as it was all getting a bit much. Since she's nearly 90 everyone understands.

I just don't want any attention on me and feel very self conscious and anxious about it. In fact, I'd say it makes me dread family get togethers over Christmas. In fact, it has become embarrassing because people think I don't like their gifts because of the way I react, but it is just that I am self conscious and anxious.

Is there a polite and non fuss making way that I can get out of it?

And yes, I do partly think I should just get over it, I have tried, believe me.

EdsRedeemingQualities Tue 06-Nov-12 11:37:11

I understand.

I asked my parents not to buy me things any more, a couple of years ago. They found it a bit tricky to accept but they have complied. I stopped getting them things too though sometimes we do, from my children iyswim.

I found it such a relief not to have to worry about it any more. I never felt they liked the things I got for them, and I rarely liked their presents for me, so it saved some bother tbh, well emotionally at least.

It depends how well you get on with them. We're close so it was Ok to discuss honestly with mine. But yes certain people I wouldn't say it to as they would take offence (still get stuff for and from my granny...)

iloveholidays Tue 06-Nov-12 11:57:00

Just wanted to say good luck! I'd like to bow out of buying the adults anything and just spend on the kids. We've got 10 nieces and nephews, 3 DCs so would give us plenty still to buy for!!

My family are always a bit more practical/have less surprises - ask what people want. Its a bit of a free for all when it comes to opening them. DPs family tend to open one by one... I hated it first year as everyone is watching me open each of my presents and most of the time they are surprises so yes, like some not so keen on others!! I also am self conscience, hate being center of attention so this is a nightmare for me (god I sound ungrateful). It is hard, I know there is no way DPs family would agree to kids only so wouldn't even suggest it.

doglover Tue 06-Nov-12 13:22:58

We did this (with siblings) a few years ago. We buy for each others' children but not for adults. My mum does buy for me - but has strict instructions what to buy: it's normally from M&S so

stinkinseamonkey Tue 06-Nov-12 13:24:47

YANBU, but it doesn't work in my experience, people still get "just something small for you to open" but it ends up looking just like what they would have got you anyway

I HATE the stupid buying for every adult in the family, none of us love what we get!

CajaDeLaMemoria Tue 06-Nov-12 13:29:58

This is the first time I have ever heard anyone say they hate the gift-opening... And I feel so much less like a freak.

OH and his parents do present opening in a big way. Everything under the tree, pulling it out, cheering, speeches, big smiles. I'm not used to it. This will be my 7th Christmas there (it's also OH's birthday) and I can't do it. I just can't. I'm not used to getting presents. There's nothing I want. I didn't get them as a child, being a foster child, so I don't expect them and I hate the attention.

They can't understand it. They'll watch, and tut, and keep trying to get me to open things. I did suggest I'd buy them presents but get nothing back - that's normal for me - but they wouldn't have it. They wouldn't do no presents either, and wanting to open them on my own or with OH later isn't acceptable.

I dread Christmas for this. I hope you manage to work it out.

Pascha Tue 06-Nov-12 13:33:50

I am totally with you! I absolutely hate the whole present buying/giving/receiving ritual and certainly my family don't exchange anything at all except for kids presents. We all just arrange a nice meal/get together at some point instead.

DH's family, OTOH, insist on lists, and multiple packages to open. I find it really really hard.

Pascha Tue 06-Nov-12 13:35:31

Oh and the whole thing of you spending a tenner on stuff for them, they spend a tenner on stuff for you and it all inevitably ends up at the local hospice present amnesty or on ebay - what a pointless waste of money all round!

confuugled Tue 06-Nov-12 13:35:43

If you can't just say that this year you're not doing Christmas, sorry, could you get there in stages and say that you are just going to do it for the children?

Or propose a secret santa so that there's only one present to get and make sure there is a strict £5 or £10 limit (or maybe say it has to be a silly present or the most bad taste present or something else so it's not too competitive)? Then at least it's only one present to deal with!

whistlestopcafe Tue 06-Nov-12 13:40:34

Thankfully I only receive presents from dh and both sets of parents, we don't see anybody on Christmas day so don't have to open them in front of everyone.

I have always felt anxious opening presents and also don't like to see people opening the presents I have bought them (apart from my children of course).

I think it stems from getting a few presents as a child that were not exactly what I wanted, I smiled graciously and faked enthusiasm but felt really really guilty for some reason. I'm still the same now, I have a hideous paperweight on my desk that an old lady (now deceased) who was a friend of my mum gave to me because she heard I worked in a office, I have never met the women but feel obliged to keep it because she was thinking of me. I'm the type of person who would willingly wear the awful Christmas jumpers and legwarmers that my nan used to knit. [ hmm]

mirry2 Tue 06-Nov-12 13:45:15

oh bah humbug you all grin You'd hate to be at my house on Christmas Day.

fossil97 Tue 06-Nov-12 13:45:36

Good luck. I would love to bow out of buying presents for adults too but DH can't conceive of it. He has a traditional view of gift giving as an act of kindness and affection, which of course it is at it's best.

I read on MN once that the only good presents are ones you can either eat, drink, read or spend. Anything else is likely to be tat. I'd add "listen" to that list but that's the rule I go by now.

I also wonder whether the time to raise it is just after Christmas when you can say "thanks so much but.." rather than now, when your well organised IL's have probalby all shopped and wrappe.d

GummiberryJuice Tue 06-Nov-12 13:46:46

We did it, every year dhs brothers would ring me and ask what to buy us, we have 3 dcs and it was really hard trying to keep up buying for them so I just said "don't buy us any presents anymore its too much when you are so good to the dcs" Everyone accepted this. Although we still buy the adults a small gift from the dcs but it just doesn't feel like we are under any pressure anymore!

izzywizzyisbizzy Tue 06-Nov-12 13:51:57

I've done it - I buy for my children and also my neice and nephew.

That's it - we don't get presents for each other because of finances - I decided this the year I got my grandmother a fake faberge egg she didn't want or need.

Some family still buy for me - but id rather they didn't.

We just don't have the money to spend on crap people don't want.

lots33 Tue 06-Nov-12 13:58:25

My family discussed this issue about 10 years ago and stopped doing presents by mutual agreement.....tis fab! We do buy for the children in the family and for our DC. DP and I go all out for birthdays for each other and at Christmas, tend to buy new PJ's, something for the house, nice food and booze and presents for the DC. Works for us and I love not having to do all the stressful Christmas shopping!

Blu Tue 06-Nov-12 14:02:11

In our family we have stopped present giving between adults,except between spouses and adult parents and children. So I do not give my siblings / SILs /BILs / aunts and uncles presents, and get none back. I do give to my nieces and nephews, and to my Mum and Dad. I get a present from my M&D but not from my nieces and nephews.

We all find it SO much easier. And we siblings agreed it amongst ourselves.

Princessdivaaa Tue 06-Nov-12 14:22:04

We haven't given presents for about 10 years now.. By this I mean my parents and siblings.. It was such a relief when mentioned by my dad.. Everyone was in agreement.. We do give to charity instead.

My husband and I do give presents to each other and the kids. (My family also buy my kids presents too)

We also do Christmas presents to my husband brothers children (only 3) but not parents. It is soooo much better this way..

You will probably find others in agreement.

wildstrawberryplace Tue 06-Nov-12 16:30:02

It's difficult isn't because people seem so emotionally invested in it and varying ways so someone is always bound to get offended. I include myself in that, I guess. If I wasn't emotional about it I probably wouldn't care.

Mousefunk Tue 06-Nov-12 18:15:09

I also hate presents! Mainly because I hate opening them and having to have that fake clownish grin on my face whilst saying awh that's soo nice, thank you! (and thinking another thing to add to my clutter.. Wish you hadn't bothered ).

I asked last year to only give dcs presents and nobody listened, I still got presents.. I think most people think you're doing the cliche thing of 'oh don't get me anything' and then when they don't you're really upset.

housesalehelp Tue 06-Nov-12 21:32:21

I don't mind present but have got a lots fussier -but actually we have stopped for adults on my DH's side - there were loads of adult and there are loads of children as well - its cut down the stress and expense for everyone

housesalehelp Tue 06-Nov-12 21:33:56

also could you ask for vouchers for a company you like or one of those charity presents like a cow or something

Chrysanthemum5 Tue 06-Nov-12 22:00:09

My SIL and I reached a pretty amicable agreement a few years ago and now we don't buy for each other but we have a family day out together sometime over the Christmas break. I tried the same with my BIL and his family, however they got very upset at the suggestion. So we still get presents for them, and I still receive presents from them.

I have 4 sisters and they all love to receive gifts so the idea of not exchanging presents would really upset them.

So, I think it's quite a hard thing to do effectively, but if it really is difficult for you then I think you should try to arrange it. All you can do is ask. I'd emphasise that only buying for the children would be easier etc. rather than saying you don't like opening gifts in front of people.

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