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Christmas Gifts Already

Posted by Julie_MI_Z5 (My Page) on
Tue, Oct 18, 05 at 20:07

In an effort to try to finish my Christmas shopping early, I made up my Christmas Grid today.

I drew one inch squares on a blank sheet of paper, wrote everyone's name in a square, and stuffed it in my wallet. As I think of gift ideas, I'll write them down in the appropriate square.

This year (again) I'm going to rely on gift cards for the neices and nephews (9 of them). Last year I bought ornaments to go with the gift cards... I'm not sure about this year.

Haven't decided yet about the rest of the gift-giving list, but I'm hoping to be done before the first snow fall.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Christmas Gifts Already

I've been looking around the stores, trying to come up with ideas so I can get my shopping done early. We have a very short list & our families don't do tons of gift giving. We only have to buy for my dad, my sister, MIL, FIL, 2 BIL, & SIL. This year, youngest BIL is dating very seriously, so we might get something small for his girlfriend. I'd also like to get something small for my dad's girlfriend, but have no idea what to get.


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RE: Christmas Gifts Already

I like the grid idea.

I haven't figured out what to do about Christmas yet--I need to e-mail all the siblings.

we're ALL going to mom & dad's this year; their 50th anniv. is on the 27th of Dec., and we've been ordered to all show up at Christmas. Nicely, of course.

So for the first time in YEARS we are all going to be there.

I've thought about us all (aunts/uncles/nieces/nephews) drawing names so as to cut down on how much $ people have to spend. But it would also be fun to give presents to everyone (and to get them, too)

I'm hoping I can persuade DH to give fewer gifts to HIS extended family this year since we won't see them. Maybe not to some of the cousins--though I'm sure they'll get us something, so probably we can't skip them.

We skip MY family--well, no, we don't; we just don't spend as much, or buy for them INDIVIDUALLY. We get them a family present, usually.


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RE: Christmas Gifts Already

The best gift my SIL ever gave me was permission to stop exchanging gifts!

I don't think I could ever go back to buying for extended family again. Just too stressful for me.

Now, if I just knew what to get the DH. He's always my problem.

Gloria


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RE: Christmas Gifts Already

Gloria, you're very lucky!

My sister said exchanging names on my side of the family would ruin Christmas for her. I was surprised, since her husband's family is huge and they buy for all of them.

My sisters-in-law were quite nasty about the idea; called ME not-nice names, etc. I thought this was kind of funny since it wasn't a financial burden for us, but it *was* for them. I was shocked they didn't jump at the chance.


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RE: Christmas Gifts Already

My sisters-in-law were quite nasty about the idea; called ME not-nice names, etc. I thought this was kind of funny since it wasn't a financial burden for us, but it *was* for them. I was shocked they didn't jump at the chance.

I suspect they interpreted it as "Well, we know you're not that well off, so how about limiting gift-giving?" "Oh, no, we're not doing as poorly as you think we are; gift-giving is fine."

We recently gave up gift-giving at Christmas: it is a financial difficulty for some of us; we're pretty good about giving little gifts to each other as we see them during the year; and, frankly, all of us have enough "stuff" and it's hard to buy things that fit into specific hobbies and interests. We do get together and enjoy a Christmas brunch or lunch. And that's been fine.


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RE: Christmas Gifts Already

but you see, you're also asking them to give up gift GETTING.

And getting a gift is not just getting something of monetary value; it's also *getting* the thought--you know, the one the counts?

So you also said, by asking to draw names, that "the thought" (the effort of selecting a present) is a burden for you. Hard to hear, when you're the burden.

I know that my feelings are always a little hurt when DH's aunts give everyone the same present. I'd honestly rather not get anything than get something that says the giver couldn't be bothered to think about me.

I'll be honest--that's a part of why I'm hesitant to suggest drawing names. I *want* my nieces and nephews to try to think of something to give me (my nephew would probably give me a Pearson's Salted Nut Roll, bcs I got all excited about having one again on my last visit; they don't sell 'em here--I'd be thrilled!).

Not that I want an expensive present for monetary reasons. That candy bar would be great!

But I admit I am greedy for the *attention* that a present represents.

That's why I don't enjoy giving presents many times, bcs I feel like I'm failing at "the thought that counts", bcs I *don't* know what to buy them, and it just rubs my nose in the fact that I know so little about them anymore.

Bcs I would *like* to return that "attention" that I am craving so much.

And, as my family just grows and grows (what w/ cousins on my DH's side, etc.), it does become harder to spend that much attention on SO many people.


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RE: Christmas Gifts Already

I have already picked up three gifts for people.

DD is a December baby so getting anything done at the last minute is impossible. I have to do birthday, Christmas from mom and dad, and from you know who.

And I have to do DH's family's stuff, because well.....if it was left up to him, you know the drill.

My goals for October:
1) Address and fill out christmas cards. Then all I have to do later is put the holiday photo in and stamp it.
2) Reserve birthday party location for DD and buy all the birthday party 'stuff'. She's decided on a horse theme.
3) I would like to get the birthday party goody bags done also.
4) Continue to buy more Christmas presents. I LOVE the grid idea.

As far as family gift giving, a while back we talked and decided no more adult gift exchanges; we focus on the kids, and instead of buying each adult a gift, we have committed to buying OURSELVES a treat.

Last year it worked out great and we had so much fun showing off what we found for ourselves while we were out doing all our shopping.


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RE: Christmas Gifts Already

Great idea about the Christmas presents grid--I will be doing that this year.

When I suggested to my sister-in-law that we stop exchanging gifts with everyone, she didn't like the idea because she felt I was the only one that got her what she wanted! So---I also have the reputation in my family that if there is a kitchen gadget you want and can't find, I can. (We get our ego trips wherever we can!!)


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RE: Christmas Gifts Already

Glad to know that I am not the only one with freaky extended family. My SIL is STILL not speaking to me after 2 years since I suggested we give up gifts and just exchange ornaments.. we don't need stuff.. and lord knows THEY don't need stuff.. and the young couples in the family cannot afford to buy for everyone. Well I tellyou what.. I have never been reemed out so hard in my life.. it was a totaly verbal enema! But you know what.. I buy them ornaments and they continue to get us stuff we don't need ( think Bill Cosby style sweaters for husband and peweter relgious bread plate for me ( this one is a doubly whammy really... she knows I cannot eat bread and it's not even MY religion! ~eyeroll~

Maddiemom


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RE: Christmas Gifts Already

This discussion made me remember that when DH and I got married my in-laws had to seriously re-adjust! We got married late (37) and I had learned my lesson years earlier with the first DH.

His family is HIS responsibility and my family is MY responsibility. I had to inform his family that if their birthdays were forgotten it was because HE forgot them. I didn't expect him to keep track of my mom's birthday and I wasn't going to start remembering his mom's birthday for him. He had managed all those years doing it himself that I figured he could just keep doing it.

After they got over their initial shock they did pretty well and would call him up and chew him out for forgetting something. His aunt did throw his mom and dad an anniversary party a few years ago. She told us it was because his mom didn't have a DIL to do it. I just reminded her that my MIL has two grown sons perfectly capable of throwing a party. A female didn't have to do it.

Of course, living 4,000 miles from our families makes it easier to get out of family obligations, for sure.

Gloria


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RE: Christmas Gifts Already

Thanks, Maddiemom, for understanding EXACTLY what I was talking about with MY sister and the inlaws! And I was very tactful, never letting on that I thought it was stupid for them to go into debt to buy stupid presents, I just suggested that we should make new traditions to celebrate Christmas.


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RE: Christmas Gifts Already

The giving up gift thing can be very tricky. One of my sisters and I worked this out perfectly -- we just give to each other's kids, but not to the adults. Our mother was initially appalled, but it works for us. As someone said above, we (the adults) don't need any more STUFF, but we still have fun buying for the kids. This works out very well for both our families.

On the flip side, a number of years ago I asked a fairly close friend if we could stop exchanging gifts (I was in rather tight financial straits at the time) and though she agreed, the friendship turned rather chilly after that and we eventually drifted apart. In hindsight, I'm sure she was offended by the gift thing, but at the time it seemed OK. *sigh*

I also make up a Christmas grid each year to keep track of gift ideas and what's already been bought. This year I'm adding clothing sizes to my cheat sheet, as I cannot remember this stuff while shopping.


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RE: Christmas Gifts Already

When does one stop giving gifts to adult nieces and nephews? When they were younger or still in school full-time, it was a no-brainer. But I now have: two nephews in their 20's who work and live out-of-state apart from their parents, one nephew living at home and working part-time, and a neice living alone on welfare with a baby. My two daughters are still in high school so they will probably receive a number of gifts from aunts and uncles. How do I gracefully tell people I do not want to buy gifts for adults I never see, and that finances are tight, both my husband and I are unemployed, and my girls are talking about attending college?


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RE: Christmas Gifts Already

There is simply no graceful way to change a family tradition -- but timing surely helps -- let the folks know as early as possible. AND -- most important -- you (and your DH or partner etc.) MUST show a united front AND each person tackles or handles THEIR family. And no wishy-washy decisions -- and no backing down!

Explain your reasons or circumstances if you want (or need) to -- but keep things simple and straight forward.

We are the only part of our two families that have moved away -- and moved to different places. From the very first "away" Christmas -- DH and I decided to simply send checks within the Christmas cards. Of course we would also send a Christmas floral arrangement (think of a Christmas table centerpiece) to each of the Moms. (the Moms were really thrilled!!) Even we were surprised at just how well everything worked out!!

Now we just send along checks for the younger kids (we are both unemployed) -- and the floral arrangement. Works well -- and everyone is pleased.


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RE: Christmas Gifts Already

yes, but checks are still money spent. And at a certain point, if money is tight, you have to stop adding people on to your expenses list!

This would be a great year, Jannie--just say to all the aunt/uncle generation that, since you're both unemployed right now, you can't afford to give presents and so won't be doing it. Go cold turkey, and blame unemployment (hey, it ought to be good for SOMETHING!) Don't buy a present for anybody but your own kids and parents. No adult siblings, friends, anybody!

Then, later, you can pick back up and buy presents for those people you will see at present-opening time, or something.

I just e-mailed my sibs; we're all going to be at Christmas this year, and I'm a bit worried about all the $$ we'll have to spend ($1,300 for plane tickets; plus car rental--then presents?). I offered about 4 options--
-drawing names,
-kids buying kids presents; grownups buying grownups
-families buying families presents
-let the chips fall where they may, and promise not to get upset.

I'm guessing we'll go w/ the last one--and we'll either buy a family present or a cheap present, depending on our finances, inclination, ideas, etc. If we have no idea for my DH & his wife, we'll get 'em a record-store gift card; we have a great idea for my little brother, so we'll get him a more personalized present. And big bro will just have to not be insulted that we didn't spend more time & money on him.

THAT, my family can actually do--not get insulted, I mean. One year my sis gave everybody wallet-size school pics of the kids for Christmas; and since she was broke, we were glad. Or I'd spend more money on one person one year, a different person the next; we don't keep score.


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RE: Christmas Gifts Already

When gift giving is a financial burden, it should stop and shame on anyone who would make the person feel guilty.

We stopped when my niece and nephew were in their late teens. I didn't know anymore what they wanted or already had, so I was just sending gift cards from Musicland. My SIL was in the same position, since I had gotten remarried, moved and had more children, which meant my family didn't really know them, didn't have a clue what to buy, etc.

We have always been a small family, so I haven't had to deal with the large numbers of cousins and in-laws. Even when I was a single mom and broke, I didn't mind buying for my niece and nephew since I knew them so well and could always find something I knew they would love.

Once it moves past the point of really enjoying the gift giving and it becomes a burden, someone has to step up to the plate and call a halt.

I know we all focus on the kids, but they end up with so darn much stuff anyway. Maybe it's time for the adults to actually pay attention to each other. I acutally enjoyed buying gifts for my brother. I would find him CD's of bands we listened to in high school, but never got around to replacing those LP's with tapes. But I couldn't very well send him a gift and ignore the rest of his family. Oh, well.

Gloria


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RE: Christmas Gifts Already

I keep a list of ideas in a small journal and shop year round. Or I did until this year, lol. I have to get writing and get shopping right away.

A way to stop giving gifts is to write a promise into a Christmas card. Like IOU one babysitting night, weekend, or whatever. Then just get the kids something. It's a gift of time and doesn't take up space or money. That only works if you live close to one another. I've sent $10 calling cards to distant family and that's appreciated.

On years when things are tight we all tell everyone we won't be exchanging gifts and the reason. Some still send gifts anyway. Some don't. We have no problems in that department, but our family is small as I'm estranged from all but two of my DS's, so it's just my DH's non traditional sisters and their DHs.

Yeona


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RE: Christmas Gifts Already

Maybe it's time for the adults to actually pay attention to each other. I acutally enjoyed buying gifts for my brother.

I agree w/ you, Gloria! I kind of resent the idea that Christmas is about kids. (esp. as a Christian, the focus on only children's programs in Christmas Eve has always bugged me)

I'm not sure it's so bad to send a gift to your brother and ignore the rest of his family--or else, send it at a nonChristmas time. A gift out of the blue doesn't link it to any particular season. Another idea--send him a very personal gift like that, and send some other gift for the whole family--a video rental card from Blockbuster or something.

I end up having to buy present for cousins because we're all at my MIL's on Christmas. Of course, I do see these cousins throughout the year, and I like them, etc., but they my in-laws so I don't feel as close, and it just adds up so much!


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RE: Christmas Gifts Already

Amazing how many of us have gift giving/receiving "issues" in our extended families.

Jannie, you could always ease off the adult nephew gift giving by starting slowly; maybe a tin of homemade cookies? Or an ornament? Or one of those big popcorn tins with different flavors in it?


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RE: Christmas Gifts Already

My issue with gifts is that there is a philosophy I *like* to follow, and there is the reality of what usually ends up happening.

In my mind, the ideal gift means giving something the recipient would enjoy/use/cherish, but that has not been explicitly requested. Thus, the person receives something s/he really wants or needs, but didn't know was coming.

The reality in my family and I suspect in many others', is that gift giving can easily turn into simply filling orders. A says to B 'tell me what you want' and then A goes out and buys it, wraps it and presents it to B. Gift cards are even more problematic; it's just basically giving someone cash, only directed specifically to be spent at a particular place.

It saddens me not to be able to give gifts in the way I love to (as a delightful surprise) but I'm fully engaged in order filling and throwing targeted money for many on my list each year, so I am not being patronizing about that either. I find the order filling method mostly comes in to play with people who have 'everything' (what in the world do you get dad...etc), and the targeted money often goes to those teenagers or distant relatives that you really aren't familiar enough with to know their heart's desire.

Sigh. I wish every gift I give could be perfect.

Ann


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RE: Christmas Gifts Already

see, Ann--you're me.


I've had another thought, about those people you find hard to buy for.

Buy them something that tells them something about YOU. Surely, more than anything, they'd like to feel close to you, right?

So....give them a copy of a book you really enjoyed reading. Give them a duplicate of your favorite kitchen gadget--along w/ a note about how and why you love it. Give them a jar of your favorite jelly. Give them a CD you've been bopping to in the car.

You'll know it's a good read, useful, great tasting, or delightful to listen to. It's been pretested.

And they'll have a glimpse of what YOU are like.

(now, of course, if you know they hate country, you might hesitate to give them a George Young CD--though perhaps that would be appropriate--"here's a country album I think you might like after all")

Whattya think of this idea? I'm contemplating using it this year, with all those people at mom & dad's house.

(listen to me: "those people." My siblings)

I ALSO THINK (of course I do--I must be the most opinionated person on the board)

That those of us w/ gift-giving relatives should start dropping broad, blanket hints.

"I really like those plain-colored, classy T-shirts"
"I've been really enjoying choral music lately--I can't get enough"
"I love to find new singer-songwriters or rock-n-roll bands, esp. local ones"
"I wear a baseball cap every winter"
"Grace really likes models and stuff you can put together"
"Green--anything green--pajamas, toys, backpacks--that's Grant. If it's green, it must be his"

Then people can have a category so they sort of can't miss, but they can still do some original thinking--it's not quite such an "order filling" experience.

And if we're asked, we can avoid "placing an order" by giving those sort of "category" suggestions


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RE: Christmas Gifts Already

One of the nice things about my Christmas grid is I can make notes of things people say. Like if someone mentioned baseball caps, I could write that in their grid square as an idea of what to buy.

DH mentioned tonight that his longjohns were worn out; that idea went right on his square on the grid.


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RE: Christmas Gifts Already

THAT is Christmas organization!!!

I know that some planners have a section for "gift ideas"--that would be useful, too.

I have trouble buying for DH, so I've been trying to keep a list. My problem is that I don't want to be obvious, and I have trouble remembering it by the time I get to my notebook.


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RE: Christmas Gifts Already

Today I got a catalog from a charity where you can "buy" animals for needy people in other countries- the Heifer project, I think. It reminded me that giving to a charity or to someone's college would be a great idea - or at least one you could suggest for your own gift. Then you wouldn't get all that unwanted stuff. My DD "bought" me a hawk one year from the Audubon Society; they used the money for rehab, I think. And I really appreciated it.


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RE: Christmas Gifts Already

Our church does the Heifer Project and it's always exciting to see how many animals we can buy. In a big family (assuming everyone would agree) I think it would be fun to see how many animals you can "unwrap" on Christmas morning, like Aunt Sally got a goat, Uncle John got a pig, your sister got a flock of geese, Roger got a rabbit, and cousin Peggy's whole family got a cow. Something like that.


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RE: Christmas Gifts Already

"Buy them something that tells them something about YOU. Surely, more than anything, they'd like to feel close to you, right?"

I see the intent, TS, but to be honest I don't know that I can agree with the result...I think a successful gift really needs to be ALL about the recipient, not about the giver. Then too, the people I have the most trouble buying gifts for are usually folks whose tastes/likes are so different from mine. Either I don't know them very well or we are just not simpatico enough that I can get into their minds to understand what they would love. So, those aren't people who are close enough that I think they would appreciate a gift just because it makes me happy. Does that make sense?

Case in point-my sister in law. We're not enemies but we're not close either. I am simply clueless about gifts for this woman. For years I would rack my brain trying hard to figure out something she would like...and every single year whatever I painstakingly picked out would be opened, dismissed quickly and put aside. It was so disappointing. Frankly, if I bought her something on the basis of it being what *I* like, I fear the dismissal might actually take on a twinge of hostility!

I don't have an answer, really. I too try to do the catch-em-wishing thing and listen carefully when people mention something they like, or wish they had. I love the grid idea! Generally even if I try to make notes they end up scattered and gone by the time I'm actually shopping.

Another variation of order-filling I'm trying this year is, when A asks B (me:) what I want, to provide several gift ideas. That way it feels a bit less like just sending someone to the store to pick up an item and by the way pay for it and wrap it, it's a gift for me. So for my daughter's birthday this week (my baby is 14-where did the time go?!), I gave the grandparents a list of a few things she had mentioned she liked and they bought her something from that.

The most enjoyable gifts though are still the ones that hit the bulls eye, and weren't even expected. Last month for his birthday I surprised my husband with a new dive watch-which he needed-that had a little bonus feature he'd mentioned wanting a long time ago, which he thought couldn't be found on a watch. I found it and boy was he thrilled. Now, THAT was a good gift! And my almost-17 YO son is showing tremendous potential. He has several times given me gifts of things I've mentioned in the past I'd like, but not even asked for. I love that--I'm always aware I'm raising somebody's future husband and I keep thinking somewhere out there is a young future wife who will thank me someday :).

Ann


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RE: Christmas Gifts Already

Ann,
I agree. I have close friends who would enjoy (and laugh about) something obviously "me" as a gift, but these are people I'm closer to (and see more often) than family.

Your SIL should be EASY to shop for this year. You know she won't like what you get, so just get something NICE. Doesn't matter if she likes it; if she dared complain to someone else they would just tell her what a NICE ____ it is.


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RE: Christmas Gifts Already

I am at the other end of the spectrum .........family size seems to be getting smaller, and certainly the holiday list gets shorter. I think it is something I really never prepared for - no husband, no parents, no aunts/uncles .....whew, what happened here??? Well, LIFE is what happened - and with that, death is what happens, as well as all the other separating events - divorces and such.

It was, however, a glory ride - such fun, such events - and I am blessed to have the good memories.

grins

Vicki


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RE: Christmas Gifts Already

Vicki, I see what you mean. Our family is definitely opposite yours; with half the nieces and nephews getting to "marrying age" we can anticipate adding quite a few spouses and new babies in the upcoming years. The first family wedding in 21 years (that being my wedding) is coming up in 2006.


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RE: Christmas Gifts Already

I had the same problem with my SIL. She was the hardest person to buy for. She's single, working, middle aged, can buy herself anything she needs. Jewelry goes over luke-warmly. Anything handmade is deemed "tacky". And besides all that, she doesn't drive. She frequently will hand back the gift, saying "I already have one. Would you exchange it for me?" A couple of years ago, I had a brainstorm. I went to the closest expensive boutique-type place near her home, bought a blazer jacket (in my price range), then wrapped it up WITH THE TAGS AND RECEIPT. She was caught off-guard and couldn't possibly ask me to return it for her. This year I think I'll buy her a pocketbook.


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RE: Christmas Gifts Already

Even though I don't have too many people to buy for, I sat down and made one of Julie's grids to keep in my purse. It's one of the few places that off limits to the DH and kids. I've been worrying about forgetting one gift idea for the DH, so now, at least, I have it were I can remind myself.

Back to buying for others, I think my mom was in the mindset that if she loved something, everyone else should love it, too. She loves sweatshirts. She has every color and every style. I...hate...sweatshirts. I've told her that repeatedly. She always gave me...sweatshirts. It was a relief when I finally moved far enough away that she couldn't notice what I did with gifts. Her feelings were, that if she bought it, then I just automatically disliked the item. I felt like she paid no attention to my tastes and only purchased what she wanted me to wear. Sigh. Can you imagine the arguments we had when I was a teenager?

Gloria


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RE: Christmas Gifts Already

...only purchased what she wanted me to wear....

Gloria,

We might have the same mother. LOL

Julie


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RE: Christmas Gifts Already

One step in the right direction:

I ordered stamps by mail and stopped and bought Christmas cards yesterday. I'm hoping to get them addressed on Halloween between trick-or-treaters.

And I only bought one box of 15 and one box of 18. If you work with me, go to my church, or I will otherwise see you during the holidays, do NOT expect a Christmas card! LOL

Julie


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RE: Christmas Gifts Already

I visited Flylady dot net, she's got a Christmas organizer with a grid. I printed it out and am going to use it for my Christmas planning and shopping. I made some cast-in-stone rules on who gets gifts and how much I'll spend. The only ones who are exempt are my two teenage daughters. I want them to each have exactly ten gifts to open on Christmas. I also decided the ONLY decoration will be the tree. No more garlands or tchotkes throughout the house. I mean, will anyone notice if I don't put those two Christmas hand-towels in the bathroom?


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RE: Christmas Gifts Already

I have the same dilemma as Jannie. Nephews we rarely see who have now graduated from college, begun their careers and moved from their parents home. Rather than continuing the "little bit of green" Christmas check, I think Julie's idea of homemade Christmas cookies in a festive container is great. I enjoy baking and I think the thought will be appreciated. Hopefully, the gesture will also communicate to them that we aren't expecting them to add us to their Christmas shopping lists.


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RE: Christmas Gifts Already

every year, my husband's family promises 'token gifts only'

and every year we cheat. pitched in last year, and got mom a new stereo for the kitchen. the year before, we got dad the 'ultra white' light he had been qketching was too expensive, couldn't possibly work like that ;)

but I discovered patchwork this year, and in the process of making my first lap rugs, was left with some squares that gave me the bright idea to do pot holder sets for everyone who ought to get a gift, but whom we're not so connected with we know what old movie or oddity they would like (the drummer gets sticks, the artists get nice brushes or art 'rolls' to store them in)

so everyone's getting really cool, oversized potholders (a pair of 10" squares, and a larger 'trivet' that run 11x17 or so) in colors to match their kitchen, or their dishes, or their dining room, depending on how they usually cook ;)

and I only have two sets that I needed to BUY fabric for, everything else was stuff I had on hand (ok, I'm a fabric packrat)

:)


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RE: Christmas Gifts Already

I need to check my gift grid, but I'm pretty sure my Christmas shopping is all done except our 2 sons.

Hooray for me! LOL I've had 2 very expensive Christmas shopping days, but it was worth it.

Julie


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