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To find the demands for detailed Christmas lists annoying and exhausting?

(80 Posts)
AnachronisticCorpse Tue 21-Nov-17 07:05:09

I have three dc and five nieces and nephews, as well as several adults to buy for. With my family and dc I have asked and been asked for vague suggestions and ideas for gifts, and I have chosen and bought things I think they will like as well as a few specific things they’ve asked for or mentioned throughout the year.

DH’s family do things very differently, they ask for and give very specific lists, I’m talking right down to catalogue numbers and Amazon links.

This year I have really struggled to buy for my kids, they all have everything they want or need really, but I’ve managed to cobble together enough.

But I now have to have the same conversations with MIL and SIL several times for the next few weeks. ‘What do you all want for Christmas?’ ‘Can we have your lists please?’. I’ve given them a few ideas but then they come back to me asking for specifics. Then they call DH and ask him the same. And of course the trouble with lists is then you have to ring round and find out who’s buying what. It’s all so complicated and it bugs me every single year.

I leave Dh’s family buying to him now because I find it a bit joyless, it’s just going through Amazon with a list. But I’ve done all my thinking for my kids and family and I don’t want to have to do MORE thinking for DH’s family. They know what the kids like and I’d much prefer it if they would just choose something lovely for them without me having to tell them the item, price and availability. And I don’t want to choose my own presents either! If I want specific things I tend to buy them, I want to be surprised at Christmas (or not get anything).

I know this is a bit grinchy of me. Also, I fell into the trap in the early years and gave them completed lists, and they bought EVERYTHING on them, which meant I had to do another round of thinking of things that we could get the kids.

I’m just exhausted by it all. AIBU?

seastargirl Tue 21-Nov-17 07:12:02

I'm with you on this. My MIL asked me what I wanted and I said a nice a5 day to a page diary and said a particular shop that had some good ones in, she still asked me to send a link, I just would like a tiny bit of a surprise!

I've given up with the kids and just find out their budget, buy the presents for them and drop them off for them to wrap, it's so much easier and frustrates me far less!

Nettletheelf Tue 21-Nov-17 07:13:54

They are making you do the work so that they don’t have to. How festive!

Somebody will be along any minute to tell you that you are ungrateful and they only ever got a satsuma for Christmas.

Collaborate Tue 21-Nov-17 07:16:26

YANBU. I feel your pain.

We struggle to think of things to get the kids (especially so when they were younger, and got more but cheaper presents). Then, we'd end up with relatives asking us for ideas, and the only ones we had were what we were getting them.

LunasSpectreSpecs Tue 21-Nov-17 07:16:43

My inlaws are worse. They opt out of present buying totally and just transfer a set amount per person into our bank account. If we want the kids to have something to open from their grandparents, we have to then buy something.

It's a fucking joke and I hate it.

Cantshedmymuffintop Tue 21-Nov-17 07:19:35

Just say cash, cold hard cash. If they have everything they need, make them save it all up for a rainy day. Heaven knows with tuition fees and house prices spiralling one day they might thank you for making them save.

ImogenTubbs Tue 21-Nov-17 07:25:26

I totally understand! I find the whole list thing a bit offputting too and DH's family sound similar to your DH's. In fact last year FIL said to me, "why don't you just get yourself something you want and I'll give you the money". I actually said to MIL, "I don't expect a gift. If FIL would like to get me something then that would be wonderful, but I'm not going to choose and buy my own gift. If he doesn't want to then I'd rather just leave it." Fortunately she had a word and he got me a beautiful scarf! (There are reasons they don't buy joint gifts - I know it's weird)

I think that's it for me - I'm lucky to not exactly need a lot in the way of gifts, so the joy for me is in having had someone else think about you and choose something they think you'll like. Choosing everything I wanted would totally take the joy out of it for me.

PandasRock Tue 21-Nov-17 07:26:06

It is difficult.

I have to do this for a relative (thankfully only one!) and find it hard, but I can see his point of view (elderly, childless, not wanting to get the wrong thing - all my dc have disabilities).

What frustrates me enormously is that I am separated from dcs’ dad, and also get this from him. I mean, surely a parent is supposed to be able to come up with something their dc would like?!

zzzzz Tue 21-Nov-17 07:31:13

You could just NOT provide the list.

AnachronisticCorpse Tue 21-Nov-17 07:33:24

Zzzz, that’s the problem, I’ve already had three conversations with MIL this week where she’s asked me, and then she phoned DH yesterday to ask him. Then HE gets in my ear about it, so I tell him to sort it, which he can’t seem to do without loads of input from me and AAAAARGH the whole thing becomes this huge stressful thing that I can just do without.

dantdmistedious Tue 21-Nov-17 07:33:39

It drives me INSANE. Only close family but for my kids if they can’t figure it out we can always return it. I have enough to think about.

YellowMakesMeSmile Tue 21-Nov-17 07:35:11

Given the amount of threads on here after Christmas with people moaning that gifts weren't good enough, expensive enough, too big / small, not what they wanted etc it's little wonder people want to spend their money on what's actually wanted rather than waste.

Is it really that big a deal to send a few links or do you never do anything to make someone else's life a little simpler?

Lots don't like to give cash or vouchers, it seeks many parents every their seenit as free cash for them or tie it up in savings so the child doesn't get to pick a present with it.

oklookingahead Tue 21-Nov-17 07:36:05

I do see the point of asking - present buyers don't want to buy duplicates, or even something that the recipient doesn't want. It's very wasteful, unenvironmental etc, to be taking all those unwanted presents down to the charity shop! So yes, ok, it does all make absolute practical sense to ask, even down to the link.

But. When the giver chooses you do tend to get things the recipient (or its parents) would never have thought of, which are often huge successes! Particularly true with young dc - it's good to get outside influences rather than dparents choosing everything!

I think with adults the real answer is to keep presents so low priced and low key that you can't really get the wrong thing. If we all just get each other soap or a bottle of beer there's no need for lists. Though not so good for the economy, I suppose...

ShotsFired Tue 21-Nov-17 07:39:06

I am the same OP. I spend a fair bit of time thinking about the person I am buying for to try and find things that they'll like. I will do almost anything to avoid giving cash.

Yet inevitably I was asked for ideas for my birthday (by family who have obviously known me my entire life!), so I said "oh a new winter hat would be lovely, maybe we could go to the shops together?" (thinking it'll be a nice way to see my relative, ensure something that fits, I like and is not too £££).

Got a manky £20 note stuffed in a card. Ended up going to the shop alone one day and choosing something sad

MrsHathaway Tue 21-Nov-17 07:42:08

Lists prevent duplicates or howlingly unsuitable gifts. I remind myself of this when relatives are effectively stealing all my best inspiration grin

Some people are good at buying presents with the slightest hint (e.g. "a t-shirt with a funny picture on it") and some people find it really difficult. I guess it has to do with whether you think it's more loving to get exactly what they'd like, or to spend time and effort trying.

As so many "shit gifts" threads have shown us, gifts we don't want aren't neutral. Sometimes they're actively hurtful; sometimes they're just a waste. I'd far rather go through the hassle of providing lists (I use Amazon all year to make suggestions of small things that would enhance my life, or things the DC mention) than the post-event reshuffle.

I think if you've never had a hurtful gift then it's easy to say people should just smile and be grateful. But some gifts are worse than nothing, and some people really don't listen to "no really, no need to get me anything at all".

Iris65 Tue 21-Nov-17 07:44:32

I don’t like it either. I don’t like writing them either but do so because it makes it easier for others. My XH (who I am still very close to and now live with) insists on them. Although it makes present buying and giving very easy, it takes out the personal, thoughtful aspect. I deal with this be adding a couple of stocking fillers of stuff that I’ve seen and thought so and so would like that.

AtlanticWaves Tue 21-Nov-17 07:45:38


MIL always asks what the DC want - but she wants a precise toy (and also exactly which clothes to buy in the sales).

She has previously bought them unasked for toys - some were a huge success, some weren't. But I much prefer that. Especially as a couple of the hits were things I'd never thought of.

This year we've ended up actually buying the presents and she'll pay us back. I will also have to wrap and label them. Totally pointless in my eyes!

I've really struggled this year to think of enough ideas of things from us and from MIL. And then my DB asks us to do an amazon wishlist too (I've refused). I'm fed up of thinking for everybody!

Jasminedes Tue 21-Nov-17 07:46:35

Yes, dh family is like this, but I always somehow get it wrong. For instance I used to give mil a list of possibilities, but she thought i wanted her to buy them all and went way over her budget! And she is on a really tight budget. And then sometimes I realise. Have asked for things which i think of as a nice treat present (a stylish hairdryer each instead of having to borrow my old one) which I then realise seems boring and like something parents should buy. Its a minefield. I left it to DH this year, then realised the things the dds had chosen on Amazon were double the price they are in the actual shops (eg Hollister spray £22 instead of £11), so had to panic text him and say we would get them on her behalf on Saturday. More wifework, which I have really tried to leave to dh but totally failed.

oklookingahead Tue 21-Nov-17 07:46:48

I do particularly sympathise with dgps asking for lists, as there are so many cases where the parents are displeased because presents are duplicates, wrong size, wrong season, or one dc gets something good and well chosen and the other not, and so on. I think dgps realise that their present giving to dgc is particularly emotionally 'loaded' for the parents and worry about getting it wrong.

Once you get on to more distant relations of dc, and adults though, there is scope for things to be a bit more relaxed and less list based! As long as you get the gift receipt, of course...(Although even then people may complain about having to trek to the shop to take it back.)

ShotsFired Tue 21-Nov-17 07:47:31

It's the disparity that upsets me I think. Fuck all to do with monetary value, before I get accused of being ungrateful or (MN fave) "grabby" hmm

If they are close enough to me that I am buying gifts, I obviously know them pretty well. So I like to find things that the recipient will like, based on what I know of them; or what they like to do, eat, see, read, go etc. If they ask for a very particular thing, say for a specialist hobby, then I'll find a nice way to wrap or present it.

It's the thinking that takes the time and consideration, and that's the valuable part IMO. When you get something that clearly has had zero consideration shown beyond "shit it's Shots' birthday tomorrow", you kind of wish they didn't bother as the manky note stuffed in a card shows where in their priority list you are. I have spent pennies on gifts that have made the recipient tear up (in a good way) just because I put a little bit of mental effort in.

Crumbs1 Tue 21-Nov-17 07:49:16

I agree. We’ve never let children choose their presents and have always surprised them. You surely know your children well enough to understand what they’d want. My husband was always good at listening when we were out shopping, at making them send Father Christmas a letter which he faxed over to the North Pole in early December and at getting them to find out from each other. They might have had an idea but never knew for certain until the paper was ripped off.
The gifts from relatives are generally small things which person may or may not have thought about. Well give general ideas if asked - so might say three of them want something for their new houses/flats.

dingdongdigeridoo Tue 21-Nov-17 07:49:26

DHs family do the same. I think it takes the fun out of present buying, and gifts never feel as thoughtful if you’ve just sent the link yourself. You don’t even need to visit a shop now that it’s all online, so it makes me wonder why the adults in the family even bother.

I get so stuck with ideas for DS too. It’s actually time consuming and annoying to come up with more. DH should take on some of the mental load and do the lists if he’s so adamant. He shouldn’t be hounding you for them.

Butterymuffin Tue 21-Nov-17 07:50:09

Get your DH to do it for his family, and when he comes asking you say you've already done one round of this and it's his turn to deal with it now.

BumblebeeBum Tue 21-Nov-17 07:58:24

Do an Amazon wish list. Just add stuff when you see something the kids might like. Direct family to that. Sorted with no stress.

thecatsthecats Tue 21-Nov-17 08:07:52

It's definitely the mental aspect that gets me. I don't have the time or energy to think of my presents, my fiance's presents for my family, their presents for him, and my presents from.his family.

I suppose I have a reputation as a good gift finder, but all that is exhausting. I think I'm quite easy to buy for. Just buy me anything that isn't a scarf (Dec birthday, one year I got six over Christmas and birthday) or a physical copy of a book since I'm needing up my kindle collection.

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