Advice Needed – Christmas Giving

*Family Drama post….you are forewarned!*

How do you buy for someone you don’t really want to buy for anymore, but feel obligated to do it? I’m looking for gift ideas that are not expensive, but still thoughtful and perhaps an easy way of transitioning into not giving gifts at all. Also, ones that ship well would be super since I spend almost as much on shipping as I do on presents.


Mr. Big and I have big families – three sets of parents, 9 siblings, 5 nieces/nephews, 8 sets of grandparents. Of those, more than half live far away. Buying for them all has become increasingly expensive – so much so that we have not given gifts to each other in almost 5 years during the holidays because our families are so big and expensive.

Of those families, we have very little contact with most of them. We are close with my family, and with Mr. Big’s dad, stepmom and younger brother  – but otherwise, we hardly see or hear from the others (I’ll call them the “Flakey Side”, which includes his Mom and her husband, and their children). Mr. Big and his Dad/Stepmom inform me that that is just how the Flakey side of the family is, but I just cannot understand or be OK with it. They don’t bother to call Mr. Big on his birthday (I’m not sure they even remember), even though he always calls them, and they are flakey about commitment (they constantly plan trips to visit us, and then cancel at the last minute and text a week or two later to say they’re going to Mexico for a week and will call when they get back (and then never call)…). I know some people are just like that, but I just cannot and won’t understand it. I have been very blessed in my family, and Mr. Big’s Dad and Stepmom (who raised him) are truly a blessing for him and probably the only reason he grew up to be such a great man.

Anyway…the one thing that the flakey side of Mr. Big’s family does is Christmas. They don’t do birthdays or anniversaries or weddings or babies – but they always do Christmas. They expect gifts to be bought, and then shipped (which costs as much as the presents), out to them each year – and they do send some things in return. But it’s so expensive and I can’t help but think we’re spending all this money on people who mostly pretend Mr. Big doesn’t exist (unless they need something from him). We used to comply because his brothers were teenagers, but now every one is in their 20s. I feel like it’s time to ease off on the Christmas spending.

In my family, we only give handmade presents to each other (baking, scarves, etc) and spend all our money on the little boys instead. We also go to a Christmas show every year together. I want to swing into that kind of giving with Mr. Big’s side, but it’s hard when they’re all mostly male. #1) they don’t appreciate handmade gifts, and #2) their wish list is always “Money, I need money”…

Any ideas for thoughtful but inexpensive ways to show we’re thinking of them, but not make us poor?? Am I being the cheapest person ever for wanting to cut back?

** I also want to point out – his one brother with two kids is not expected to give gifts (or call to say thank you for his gifts) because he has children and is therefore excused from life. Can’t wait until I am in THAT club!! **

One thought on “Advice Needed – Christmas Giving

  1. Beth December 13, 2016 / 5:18 pm

    Could you make a charitable donation in their name? You could include that message in a card so no shipping. You could feel good about where the money was going, it would be difficult for them to complain about a donation, and it would be a good transition into no more gifts. This is something we do in my family for my parents because they need nothing, but it all depends on how Mr Big’s family would react.


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