My exh left over a decade ago and not long after fell out with his whole family which has meant for years that his family send our children xmas presents directly to me to avoid my exh and I've bought them presents in return.
Two years ago i thought enough is enough and said i was a bit skint and could we not do the gift exchange as they all get so much stuff anyway (and it's not like we're close or even see them and really they should be sending the presents to my ex's house not me)
Great that was that year sorted.
Anyway last year they again sent money gifts but it was either xmas eve or the day before so i didn't have a chance to reciprocate and also thought well we did agree to stop.
This year now one of his family has already sent gifts and i feel i should reciprocate again and we're back to what i thought I'd put a stop to! If i send gifts to all the kids involved that's an extra £50 I'll need to find this year and I'm always really stretched as it is. If i send less than £10 a kid I'll probably get bitched about too so can't even do a token gift. WWYD?
I think you set yourself up to fail tbh, I dont get why you would buy them all presents back a card would have been fine. I would just send a card and if they bitch and moan well who cares they arent your family.
As you've already asked to not exchange gifts, I would just leave it up to them to decide to buy or not. Yours and exH's kids are still their family, but they are not yours, if that makes sense. I think it's fine to stop sending. Obviously send them cards, and maybe get the kids to craft something/paint a picture (depending on their ages, of course), and leave it at that
I'm sure they sent the presents because they want to do something nice for your kids and not because they want something back in return, especially considering you told them before that you can't afford it.
You should take it in the spirit it was meant and not be offended by someone trying to do a nice thing. Instead of gifts I'm sure they would appreciate more a handmade, heartfelt thank you card from your children to show that you appreciate them thinking of you all.
Maybe they just want to send gifts and don't expect anything back. Perhaps thats why they sent them so late last year, so you didn't feel obligated as you couldn't get a gift in time anyway. I wouldn't buy if you dont want to and just send thank you cards.
If you already stopped sending gifts last year don't start up again now.
I'd get the DC to write personal thank you cards and I'd send a card/letter to them myself thanking them very much and sending a bit of news and maybe a recent photo of the DC. I might even mention the gifts were a lovely surprise considering you'd agreed to not do gifts anymore.
Then you have acknowledged the gifts and stood firm on your 'no gift' agreement. If they then choose to continue or if they choose to get annoyed is not your problem.
My parents divorced when I was really young, my dads family always bought me a gift (no expectation of it being reciprocated by mum who had very little cash). They bought gifts because I am part of their family, they love me and wanted to show it. Simple. Send a thank you card.