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Christmas without presents? Telling family and friends?

(18 Posts)
frgr Tue 12-Oct-10 09:14:15

after a string of bad luck with the car (plus a few other things) in the last 2 or 3 months, H and I sat down last weekend to chat over our finances. we're not in any debt, but basically until January we're JUST able to cover our outgoings... like, as in X is coming into the house and X is going out

the problem is that, although the kids are sorted with presents due to buying bits and bobs in the year - this leaves LITERALLY NO MONEY for presents for each other, families, etc

we're ok with this - sometimes you're up, sometimes you're down, but i'm not going to put Christmas on a credit card just because that's what's easier

the problem is how to deal with family and friends expectations. both sides of the family have set views on what is an is not expected of offspring, so it's not as simple as saying "we're struggling this year, here's a home made card, happy xmas" - sad to say, there would be little understanding there (partly because due to our jobs they all think we're loaded - i've lost count of the number of times this has been referred to because we both went to uni, both the first in the family to do so).

so...
- how to word this politely in a way that people with traditional (or, SET) expectations of gifts at xmas?
- any ideas of cheap gifts that i could maybe make? i thought about baking and stuff?

frgr Tue 12-Oct-10 09:18:55

oh and to make it worse we have 3 birthdays in that time too! hmm and normally we'd just spend about £20 on each person (card + box of chocs or some pampering things usually, or books) but there isn't any money for that this year sad i have no idea how we're going to deal with that one!

cocolepew Tue 12-Oct-10 09:22:45

Actually it is as simple as saying, sorry we're skint, please don't buy for us either. If the others are so self centered and insensitive to other peoples circumstances then it's tough shit to them.
smile

frazzled74 Tue 12-Oct-10 22:44:57

you could turn it into "christmas is getting so commercialised, lets have a nice oldfashioned family christmas and do homemade
presents this year."

Mooos Wed 13-Oct-10 06:35:45

+1 to what frazzled74 said. Great idea and if only more people would do this instead of indebting themselves for ONE BLOODY DAY.

I always think it's much nicer anyway to give someone a present when they don't expect it - I'd LOVE someone to give me a home-made cake.

I think it is important to give a birthday card - but that can be home made too. Maybe after you do that you'll get into a habit of sending cards only.

We've just stopped giving our neices bday presents because to be honest they just didn't appreciate them and didn't even say thank you.

TheProfiteroleThief Wed 13-Oct-10 06:40:48

We did a Xmas challenge where we had to find a gift for £1. finding something jokey, or a favourite sweet or something. It was good fun as pressure was off. Or even a £5 secret Santa to soften ghe blow?

PaulineCampbellJones Wed 13-Oct-10 06:47:40

My DD was due last Christmas and we discussed, due to the fact we would be a bit busy and I would be on mat leave that we wouldn't do presents.
People might react differently to your expectations. MIL said "that's the best news I've heard all year, can we always do it?". We bought small things for nieces, godchildren but it was no hassle.

PavlovtheCat Wed 13-Oct-10 06:52:46

we buy no presents for adults. only children. we say 'christmas is about the children not the adults' grin.

piscesmoon Wed 13-Oct-10 06:59:25

We cut out presents for adults years ago-it all gets out of hand. (we buy for the very elderly, but that is a bit like buying for children)

Goblinchild Wed 13-Oct-10 07:11:29

We only buy for the children in our families, DD still counts at 19.
The rest of us have get togethers and gossip, occasional biscuit and cake swaps.
That's Christmas and birthdays.
Works for us all, but we've never been that fussed about stuff. And yes, the wealthiest of us is in the £150,000+ bracket and the poorest around 20,000. So some of us are indeed loaded,

stressedHEmum Wed 13-Oct-10 11:31:17

I would just say something like:

"Sorry, but we are skint so we won't be buying presents this year. PLease don't buy for us." If anyone is offended then it's their lookout.

We can't really afford to buy for extended family, either, so over the years I have developed a way of keeping everyone happy. Any children involved (nieces and nephews) usually get books from the Book People or a little craft set from Little Crafty Bugs or somewhere. Then I make each family a Pannetone and make up a little box of stuff from the jam and chutney that I make through the year. I make a couple of batches of fudge or tablet or something and divide that up as well. So they get a loaf/cake, a jar of jam, a jar of chutney and some sweeties. Everyone is happy and it doesn't cost much, particularly as I spread the cost over a few months buy doing things like making a batch of jam/marmalade every month and setting some aside.

For adult birthdays, I make a loaf of nice milk bread or some such and give that with a jar of jam or pickle or I make a tray of shortbread and the children make a card. Children's birthdays are usually something small like a Book People book and some sweeties or I make something like a chocolate cake or a box of tablet. Again everyone is happy. Most people are delighted to get homemade stuff like that.

hisgirlfriday Wed 13-Oct-10 22:55:55

We cut out adult presents in our family a long time ago - it just turned into a pointless merry go round of giving each other money and everyone was quite happy to get off. Parents still get me a stocking full of the usual silly xmas things - satsuma and chocolate orange etc.

DH's family are more problematic and buy tons of expensive things we dont need and expect the same in return. The thing as well is that they never ask what we might need so last year PIL bought me a set of wine glasses (we already have a set I really like so these will sit at the back of the cupboard and never get used), a casserole dish (ditto), a silk necktie scarf thing (will look great on me when I'm 70) and some perfume (miss dior, which I really don't like). I realise that I sound like a really spoiled whingy brat but at the time we were pushed for cash putting a new bathroom in and it would have been great to swap it all for a sink or 6 boxes of tiles!

Things are tight again this year so we are going to try the tactic of 'presents are lovely but we never see enough of you so this year lets all go out for a meal together instead'. Not exactly cost saving but maybe you could suggest a big family meal and everyone bring a course or something?

bacon Wed 13-Oct-10 23:46:05

Great idea, all this tat you get, pathetic no thought gifts. My mum is the worst for no thought. I'd rather a nice few pairs of socks than the rubbish I get to throw out.

I remember the 70's - so so happy christmas' simple gifts, slippers, fun, Val Dunican!

I really dont get why people buy for so many, how this has got out of hand. SPend endless money with stupid budgets.

Christmas to me is the lovely dinner prepared for weeks before, children happy with a box, smells, and relaxation.

Be honest, give family notice that this is yr intension. Perhaps even bake a few cakes or make some candles if you can stretch. For the oldies a nice photo in a cheapish frame.

julia53 Tue 19-Oct-10 16:45:12

Hi everyone...why not use this ASDA offer to get free xmas presents for the kids: xmas money saver FREE money off family games vouchers are being handed out at my local ASDA supermarket If you show the greeter who stands at the front of the supermarket that you have bought a tin of Quality Street, they will give you a free voucher that can be used on family board games. You peel open the voucher to find out how much you have got off the board games - I got £5 so got a game for free Chose Funny Face as my 4 year old will love it as an xmas present! And I'll love the sweets wink The free vouchers are being handed out all week at all ASDA supermarkets across the country so take advantage ASAP!

penny09 Thu 18-Nov-10 15:00:57

Money is tight for us too and there's going to be 13 members of the family (5 kids and 8 adults) at the Christmas lunch this year. We just can't afford presents for everyone. Even capping £10 per person is more than we can afford to spare. Buying presents for 1 person from secret santa wouldn't work either because we are 4 separate families. We have told everyone not to buy us anything and we won't be buying anyone anything but it didn't go down very well. I fear the Christmas lunch will very embarrassing this year.

dotnet Thu 18-Nov-10 18:33:08

Accept that there's nothing wrong with being a bit scuzzy! Do regular forays round charity shops - a lot of the stuff which is donated has actually never been used and is in its shop wrapping. You'll probably find a few things which will do for some of your friends/relatives.
Same applies with very cheapo shops. Poundland and similar shops are good for lots of stuff - you can even find good, new books in those kinds of shops if you hit the right time to look.
And yes, I agree with what someone else has said - home made biscuits or cake or something would be nice to receive, and would 'bulk up' a bought present which might be 'smaller' than usual.
It's a bit labour-intensive, shopping in this way, but I think you can still 'do' Christmas and save yourself the embarrassment of having to say 'no money - sorry.'
p.s. There's also still a little time left to try and sell things on eBay to raise funds.

Bearcat Sat 27-Nov-10 21:32:19

We stopped buying presents for brothers, sisters, BIL's, SIL's 2 years ago. DH has 5 siblings and I have 2. it started to be just exchanging gift vouchers, cheques with each other rather than buying tat that they probably didn't even want.Approx £15 per head.
Then me and my SIL had a talk and she spread it amongst the family.
At the time we made the decision to stop buying for nephews and nieces who were over 21. By then her daughter was 23 (so she did better than all her younger cousins will do) and my son and her brother were just about to be 21.
We realised it was expensive enough to buy for this extended family, let alone when some may start getting engaged, married, having kids.
It is such a relief to just buy a handful of vouchers for the younger nephews and nieces and the January credit card bill is not so depressing.

Merlotmonster Thu 02-Dec-10 13:50:42

Although it wont help for this year, try saving from January...Xmas is hardly a surprise and this way you can enjoy the month (as its not just the pressies but all the going out, buying food etc that add up)

Also, I agree re not buying for kids over the age of 16 or parents if they have lots of kids!!

good luck tho, no one should really mind as long asyouve given them lots of notice and they havent brought loads of stuff

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