We’re getting dangerously close to a dangerous time of year for my family. The period between October 16th and February 16th contains all of my family’s birthdays except those of my husband and youngest son, as well as my wedding anniversary, Thanksgiving, and two small, relatively minor gift-giving occasions, what were they again? Oh yeah: Hanukkah and Christmas*. So you’ll have to forgive me if it’s August when I start talking about gift giving and my efforts to do so frugally.
After all, preparation is half the battle. It’s a lot harder to buy presents, good presents, inexpensively if you are doing so last minute. During the year I try to think about ideas for birthday or holiday presents for people and then I write those ideas down. But even before I think about what I am going to buy, I think about for whom I am going to buy.
My husband and I buy presents for our children, a mix of the practical and the fun. We also buy presents for each other, although those presents tend to err on the practical side of things. Last year my husband received electric toothbrush heads as one of his Hanukkah gifts. He traditionally gets at least one pair of socks for his birthday, from his mother and from me.
I almost never buy presents for my mother, at least not presents for an occasion like her birthday or Hanukkah. If I see something I think she’ll like I’ll get it just because; she does the same for me. Nor do I buy presents for my brother; sometimes we send him a gift certificate to something like Amazon. I rarely buy presents for my father either, which is a problem in our relationship. I know that it hurts him when I don’t, and that’s a problem for me because I don’t want to hurt him, especially not over something like presents. We buy one present each for my in laws, because that’s the way they like to do gift-giving occasions.
It seems to me that giving gifts or not giving gifts or giving lots of gifts are all appropriate ways of celebrating occasions, as long as the gift-giving dynamic is accepted by both parties. It’s when it is not that problems arise.
Friday I’ll be talking about ideas for frugal gifts, and how to stretch your budget. You won’t want to miss it, so make sure to subscribe! But for now I’ll turn the floor over to you:
How do you choose to whom you give gifts? Does it stay in the family? Do you give gifts to friends? How many gifts do you give? Do you ever just give money or send a card?
*I’m Jewish but my husband and my father are not. So I was raised in a household that celebrated both Hannukah, which is a relatively minor Jewish holiday, and Christmas. We are doing the same with our family now.