Family life

Setting limits on gift-giving

Sandra is a big fan of agreeing to dollar-limits on holiday presents — but it only works if everyone sticks to the plan

By Sandra E. Martin
Setting limits on gift-giving

This Christmas will be the first in five that Matt and I are buying presents for each other. When we signed the purchase agreement on our "forever house" — this one — back in late 2007, and I decided to start this blog, we decided the house would be our Christmas gift to each other that year. So much of our available cash would be tied up in the house closing in January that we'd feel too guilty to spend on gifts, anyway.

We liked the way that felt so much that we've adhered to that rule every year. Well, until now. We've decided to buy each other presents, but with a dollar limit.

Meanwhile, we've made arrangements with our families on both sides that we'll buy gifts for all the kids, but not for all the adults. On my side, where my kids are the only grandchildren, we draw names and purchase one gift for one other adult. On Matt's side, where there are six grandchildren (two to buy for among Matt and each of his siblings), we buy only for the kids, and Grandma and Grandpa. The arrangement works for us — we can still enjoy the holidays, without worrying about spending more than we're comfortable with.

That said, it's taken a few years. The first Christmas we talked about not buying for everyone with Matt's family, we agreed to draw names, so that each adult (siblings and their spouses) only bought for one other adult. But then Matt's older brother and his wife went ahead and bought presents for everyone! It kind of (well, totally) made me feel like a cheapskate. So, the moral of the story is that any gift-giving arrangement only works, and feels good, if everyone follows the rules.

Still, I was curious about whether other couples have an arrangement similar to ours.

Do you and your partner buy presents for each other? And do you agree on a particular price ceiling?

Photo by via Flickr.

This article was originally published on Dec 05, 2011

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