Finances & Money

Christmas gifts for siblings?

Two weeks ago, we spoke to our two siblings (one for me, one for Stacie) and made the agreement that we wouldn’t exchange gifts this year so that we could focus more on the kids, parents and grandparents. With Stacie’s sister, we both suggested the idea together, but with mine, I had to suggest the idea and she accepted tentatively.

Obviously there are arguments for exchanging gifts with anyone, friend, family or stranger, but this year we wanted to try something new. We would be on the “losing end” as we don’t have kids, while our sisters’ kids would get more gifts than normal (we raised their budgets). We’re not doing it to be stingy; rather, it’s a way to reduce stress and focus on the people who are very deserving (parents/grandparents) or really get into the holiday (kids).

So how did it go?

Well, we haven’t hit Christmas yet, but I was just informed this morning by my mom that my sister broke the agreement and bought me something. I don’t want to look bad or stingy, so I had to go buy her something as well. That’s basically the reason why I verbally asked for an agreement, so we don’t feel obligated to buy. On Stacie’s side, we haven’t heard anything, and we think he sister and brother-in-law will stick to the agreement.

Again, we’re not trying this out to be cheap. We have enough money to spare for the season, but I’m not really into getting gifts, and we know that our sisters have limited time and funds with their existing or new families this season. You could say we did it for them, not for us.

For next year, we’re going to try out a Secret Santa type exchange format, at least with one family. I’m not sure either family will take to the idea as they’re both pretty traditional, but we’ll see. But maybe this year we’ll get it in writing!

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Clever Dude


  • I enjoy giving gifts, but I’m not into getting gifts very much either. Making a wish list for myself is the most difficult part about Christmas. I do it though because I realize how much many people enjoy giving gifts and telling them not to get me anything can end up hurting their feelings.

  • yeah as you have seen these things backfired. We agreed same in our family (drew names on who to buy for, 1 person each).

    Only SisterInLaws birthday is 2 days before xmas. Of course we all have to shell out for bday presents. (I can kinda understand but it still kinda po’s me) heh 🙂

    Just make some homemade hot chocolate+marshmallow mix in a jar and foist off on her 🙂

  • My vote is for the Secret Santa among the adults in the family. It’s really more fun that way any way…that way you’re not totally “bah humbug” and don’t feel guilty either.

    Another lowcost about making a little basket with things to eat and putting some “experiences” or gift cards in there? Pedicures, manicures, a trip to the barber with massage, steam, etc or even homemade coupons of things you can do (cutting the grass, baking something, dropping off a dinner)…can go far!

    I just blogged about some “other than ordinary” ideas for gifts on my blog, and I was pleasantly surprised that one visitor took one of my suggestions and bought her husband a flight with a WWI flying ace plane! I can’t wait to hear how it went!

  • Our family waited to do Secret Santa until the kids were grown up…BUT I think it’d also work nicely among the adults while everyone gives to the kids. As you say, they enjoy it more. 🙂

  • Some people will get you something no matter what you tell them. You then feel obligated to get something for them (even if they say you don’t need to). I wish more people could just agree not to buy useless items for each other and focus more on the time you get to spend together.

  • I’m not really that surprised that your sister probably got you something. It sounds like she wasn’t into it in the first place, and since there are only the two siblings, buying something for you wasn’t such a big deal.

    If it were me on the receiving end of a suggestion to only give to the kids, where I was the only one that had kids, I might feel like a bit of a charity case.

  • Hi,

    I do prefer giving gifts but mine is slightly different. I go the Kris Kringle way wherein I am able to make each of my friends and family member choose a paper from a hat and then buy a gift for the person who’s name is on the paper.

    I usually prefer savings come cash aside each month in my Christmas club account so that when it comes to spending money for gifting and giving a home-party to my friends, I don’t have to think twice. And, even then, I don’t go overboard. I guess that’s because I am to move on according to a budget and i do follow some tips that help me stay frugal during festive seasons.

    Merry Christmas in advance!

  • On my mom’s side of the family, we do a non-Secret Santa for everyone over 16, with a suggested value of $30 (draw a name out of a hat and buy that person a gift.) The younger children still receive gifts from everyone, but it certainly helps my parents out by not buying gifts for her 5 siblings. My father’s family (also a family of 6) has been doing a Yankee Swap for quite some time now, with a similar age limit to ‘graduate’ into the swap, which helps keep the gifts interesting for everyone. The problem with the swap, though, is that everyone has to be there… but it’s always a fun party.

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