Christmas Gift List Negotiation

Y’all know my preference for Halloween over most things, and that’s just my personality. Contrary to popular belief, I do genuinely enjoy the Christmas season. I do. I love the decorations and the fun, cheesy movies and I love Christmas carols even though I’m not religious. I love spending quality time with friends and family and the giving spirit.

What I do not like is how gift giving has morphed into a really robotic rat race in my family. I don’t entirely know how it got this way and I don’t know how to undo it. It irks me every year and this year it’s irking me even earlier.

What happens is this: in my family and extended family, it’s customary for each person to send out their Christmas list to everyone else. Excellent, nice. Then what happens is that some family members go out and buy up all (or almost all. or a good chunk.) of the items on said list immediately, leaving little else for others to get. What also happens is that there is this flurry of a million emails from various family members calling dibs on items or just informing us that items have already been bought for so-and-so. There is often another flurry of emails from folks asking if such-and-such was already bought for so-and-so? and if not, can I buy it? thaaaanks. This leaves me with an inbox full of emails from family and a whole hell of a lot of anxiety.

Once all of this happens in rapid succession, I have some choices to make. I have to decide if I want to try and open family members’ lists right away in an effort to beat other people to the “good gifts,” whatever that means. I have to decide if I want to send those emails asking if this gift has already been bought or not, and to do that I’d have to wait for responses before being able to just buy the damn thing. I have to decide if I want to then be the sender of the email saying hey I just bought such-and-such for so-and-so FYI ok byeeeee. And once I start getting those emails from others, I have to decide if I am going to go through them all so I can keep track of what has already been bought and what is still available.

Do you see how quickly the innocent sending out of Christmas lists has morphed into something so…yucky? It’s ridiculous and it stresses me the fuck out every. damn. year.

I struggle with it because I don’t see my extended family very often and I want to get them gifts that they want and will genuinely enjoy, and so we tend to rely on lists for those reasons. I, in turn, enjoy getting gifts from my list. Do they all need to be from my list? No. But some I’d really like.

I’ve experimented with opting out of different aspects of this Christmas gift list negotiation over the years. I’ve tried completely ignoring the flurries of emails and just bought from the lists what I wanted. That meant that some people got duplicate gifts and I included return info just in case. Less than ideal, but okay. There’s been a few years now where I’ve gone completely off the reservation and – gasp – got gifts for people that, gulp, weren’t on their lists! Did they enjoy them? I honestly don’t know. Was that Christmas season way less stressful for me? Hell yes. Were those gifts given from the heart with each recipient in mind? You bet they were.

A part of me would like to just do completely away with the gift giving. Just get rid of it. While that would definitely be easier, I do enjoy giving gifts and I’m not gonna lie, I like getting them as well. Just not this way. Not like this. Somehow the Christmas spirit got lost and I have no idea how to find it again. What’s the number for Hallmark?!

Soooooo here I find myself at the dawn of a new fa-la-la-ucking Christmas season and I have those same decisions to make. Maybe, for 2020, we can all agree that the adults get booze (their favorite kind of booze!) and the kids get candy (again, their favorite!). Or maybe we could all just take a fucking peppermint chill pill and settle down with the damn emails.


Day 16

10 responses

  1. So overwhelming. I wish there was an app I could recommend, but I don’t know if you have a digital-loving family– still, there’s got to be a better way! It’s lovely though that y’all are vying for providing everyone with their dream Christmas. :)

  2. Holy moly batman! I’m stressed out just reading about it. We don’t really do the gifts thing. I mean we did when the kids were small. We get our son a few things every year, the one that still lives with us. I like to send my brother and his wife something, and for each other we get what we need all year long so we really don’t worry about a holiday gift. When we can afford it, (not this year) we send some gifts to the grandchildren. That is a big catch 22 though, and I don’t have a solution, but I feel ya. :)

  3. Oh that sounds EXHAUSTING. I’m with Steven, buying presents for everyone is too much. In my dad’s extended family we have upwards of 20 people at this point, so we draw names and everyone buys for one person. We’re currently in the “bugging my person for their list” stage.

  4. I opted out of gift-giving at the holidays years ago, except for my nieces and nephew, because kids are different. When I first opted out, it was because I simply didn’t have the money. I realized pretty quickly though that I hate the whole “buying presents for everyone” thing. Having a list and then having to go hunt down all the things. And now that I’m in another state, it would be even more of a pain in the ass.

    Plus I don’t want them to get me anything, either. I’m a recovering packrat so I really don’t like to get more STUFF. I have too much STUFF as it is.

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