In this house, we buy for our kids. The kids are not to buy for us. We want them to save for things they truly want or need AND COLLEGE. We are truly satisfied with a handmade card, drawing etc... I have things like this displayed year round and they are a nice chronicle of their talents as they age. When I had my daughter K, it was agreed with my Mom and Brothers, as well as some other friends and family, that they would adopt the practice of just buying for her and as I had other kids, them too. (Yes, this practice is also done in the reverse for us as the givers.) My brothers and I rarely swapped gifts, unless there was an element of trick playing on each other. It was just not necessary. When we were younger we did the requisite handmade stuff and when we got older we often pooled our resources to get parents a little something nice. The key thing is, it helps with the holiday budget and therefore gives me more to work with for my kids.
Maybe I am just different, but to me gifts should only be for your kids, no matter their age. I prefer kids get stuff. It is much more satisfying and fun to watch a kid open a gift than an adult. I hate getting gifts to be truthful. I hate when I have to pretend to like something. Worse than that is knowing that when the gift is not really something I want or like, it makes me feel that the giver really does not know me or care to. Sometimes I feel like others ideas of what they think I should need/have/like are being foisted upon me. That really irks me.
My Hubster and I do not swap gifts. If we know we want/need something and it coincides with a birthday or holiday, we might get it and wrap it for the coming event. We sometimes get silly things for fun but they are inexpensive and meant for the sole purpose of giving and receiving a giggle. For me, the gift of having a Hubster who loves me and treats me well is more than I have a right to ask for.
I have asked many people repeatedly over the years to refrain from buying me things, but for some reason they just don't listen. In my mind, it is a matter of respect. If you do not honor my preference, you do not respect my feelings on the matter - which extrapolates out to not having respect for me. I have also told people that they are to keep gifts to my kids to a certain dollar limit. It is a matter of balance and helps keep things sane, yet here again many people do not feel compelled to honor that either. I have been caught in unbalanced gift spending wars before and it really SUCKS!
An incident from a few years back:
My 1/2 brother is 16 years younger and my 1/2 sister is 20 years younger than I am. We never lived in the same home -- or town for that matter -- and honestly, we do not really know each other. Except for a couple family gatherings each year, we've spent nearly no time together. Imagine my surprise when my Dad told me (via e-mail I think it was) that he and his wife thought that I should be giving their kids gifts for birthdays holidays and that my sister in particular was bothered by the fact that I did not. I mean really, how selfish does that sound to you, and can I just tell you I was PISSED?? He even used the leverage that they gave me, Hubster and our kids gifts. I basically said that if they did not want to give me and/or Hubster gifts that was fine. If they were going to qualify ANY of the gifts they were giving, then we could put an end to that right away. I was dumbfounded. I finally wrote my dad and re-laid out the ground rules that we had been working within for years. After all how much was enough for my youngest brother? for my sister? What could I expect to get from her? from my brother? I mean to do things the way they wanted would not only have cost me significantly more, unless I gave my own kids less, but also would have cost them more. I mean really... who was going to ultimately pay for the gifts he/she were going to give me in return? DUH!!! At the next holiday I played their game and gave brother and sister a gift card each. I got nothing from either of them-- not even an thank you note, no additional monies were spent by their parents on me and I got my usual gift check and jar of delicious imported English Orange Marmalade from them. So that was the end of that! I never brought it up again and neither did they -- I guess I made my point!
One cause of this rant is that someone that has been told to stop doing so gave me some gifts, yet again. Gifts that I am not really interested in and one of which I already own. Better still, I cannot return them or exchange them, so the money spent is totally wasted, unless you are the happy retailer. Another cause is that someone has taken liberties with an on-going inside joke between my Hubster and me, by using the topic of our joke as a gift giving opportunity. Who does that? I do not even know how to approach that, and now our joke is not funny anymore, so it is no longer a joke inside or out.