Mailbag #2

Anonymous asks:

How do you tell your extended family that you do not want to celebrate with gifts this year?

Good question.

My immediate and extended family has scaled way back on the annual gift exchange over the last half dozen years.

Children still receive them (and my grandmother reserves the right to give presents to everyone 😉 ) but almost everyone else has mutually agreed to exchange either nothing or very inexpensive items.

If this is a change you want to make for the 2011 holidays, discuss it now. Some people start shopping fairly early in the season. It would be much more awkward to end this tradition if the other members of your family have already purchased gifts for you.

Keep the conversation simple. Something like this might be good:

“I’d like to stop exchanging gifts for [the holiday you’re observing].”

Depending on your relationship(s) it may or may not be a good idea to mention your reason for wanting this. If you’re embracing voluntary simplicity, for example, remember that some people are threatened by the idea of downsizing their lives and they may project those anxieties onto you.

Also remember that change can be pretty scary.

Is there another tradition – volunteering somewhere as a family, a fun activity you’d like to try, etc. – you’d like to do instead? Now would be a good time to mention it. You don’t have to have all of the details figured out. Just knowing how you might prefer to fill that time may help your relatives be more willing to try something new this year.

And you can always go back to exchanging gifts in 2012 0r 2013 if everyone hates the new tradition.

Good luck! I’d love to know how it all turns out if you’re willing to share that information.

Do you have a question for me? Submit it through the contact form or in the comment section of this post. 

2 Responses to Mailbag #2

  1. In my family (well, mostly in my husbands family) saying I didn’t want gifts would just mean I got crap I didn’t want because I didn’t tell them something I did want… not getting gifts would never fly.  So instead of asking for things (in an attempt to keep a simple lifestyle) the past few years I’ve been asking for experiences.  Things like concert tickets, season passes to museums or the zoo, a few years ago I asked for a plane ticket back home to surprise my little brother by showing up at a big show he was in.  Also every year I ask for a bunch of giftcards to restaurants which become me and David’s date nights for the year. 

    It’s not no gifts, but it does keep my house from filling up with more things I don’t need and still let’s old people do what they want.  It’s a nice compromise that works for us.

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