In Tough Times Do We Need Or Want Christmas Gifts

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It’s that time of year that I know families are faced with the question Do We Need Or Want Christmas Gifts? So many people really need food on the table, shoes, and coats for their kids and a warm place to sleep. We see television commercials with every electronic device known to man and it appears that we all need one or more. There are 7-inch to 9-inch Ipads, Kindles, fancy smartphones, tablets and more. When I go to Costco I see televisions as big as a closet or the size of a small car. I have to laugh because I don’t have a car big enough to bring one of those babies home to install on the wall!

Everywhere we turn there are advertisements to buy this item or that item. How can we slow down the wants for Christmas gifts?

Christmas Stockings and Christmas Gifts

I remember years ago when my daughters were little and Christmas morning was so special. We would start the morning with the stockings on the mantle (filled with lots of oranges because it was so expensive to fill them otherwise). Then came opening the gifts under the tree. My mom usually gave them nightgowns she made. Do you love the memories of those special gifts given with love? We were never big on giving lots of gifts because we did not have the money, and I will not use a credit card to purchase gifts. If I can’t pay cash for gifts they are not getting them. Period.

Jake-Our First Grandchild

I remember when we had our first grandchild, Jake. There is something magical about having a toddler around the house during the holidays. Jake would look at the Christmas tree, the lights, and the ornaments. It was the little things that made him smile. We made sure his parents started the tradition of having them as his parents provide what they feel is appropriate and for us not to get too involved at that level since we are the grandparents. In other words, we stepped back and let the parents be the parents. We had money to buy more but we did not want Jake to want more and more each year. We didn’t want Jake to think that Santa had millions of dollars to spend on every kid in the universe. We would give one gift and it was a “need” because his parents were going to school at the time.

We did the same thing for every grandchild in terms of Christmas gifts each year thereafter. We now have 17 grandchildren. We did the same thing on birthdays. We never give more than the parents. We want the grandkids to learn that gifts are a privilege and not an entitlement. I am very proud of how our grandchildren have turned out. Yes, we will help during the year if there is a need, but there again, we are the grandparents, not the parents.

It really has been a bonus to see our grandchildren grow up and flourish. Most are very frugal and minimalistic. I am so proud of that approach to life that they’ve developed. I will admit that some of the grandkids live in neighborhoods where the other kids get very expensive gifts…I don’t have a problem with that as long as it is not ego driven. Please do not get me wrong, I have some very wealthy friends that shower their kids with lots of really nice Christmas gifts. They are millionaires. I get that. We are not millionaires. We also have millionaire friends who are very smart and do not let their kids think they are entitled to everything. I tip my hat to them.

We Stopped Giving Christmas Gifts

My husband and I gave family gifts eventually because it is way too much shopping and the cost of shipping gifts all over the US would be too much for our budget. When we semi-retired (does anyone ever really retire?) we decided we would stop giving Christmas gifts. The first year was tough. It seemed weird not to give something to our grandkids. We quickly learned that our grandkids realized  “we get it”. They know we love them tons…we don’t have to give gifts we can’t afford to give. They love hanging out with us. They don’t need gifts to know we love them to the moon and back.

I am happy to report that my grandkids all have goals and savings accounts. Yes, we taught them to save money and to think before they buy something. Is it a want or a need?

Thank You-But We Do Not Need Or Want Gifts

Let me also say about ten years ago we emailed all of our kids and said we no longer want gifts throughout the year. Yes, I am saying Christmas gifts, birthday gifts, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day gifts. Here’s the deal, we would rather have a hand written note or a love email than any purchased gift. It seems that hand written notes, letters or cards are extinct…really. We love emails written with thoughts and memories.

Families Are Stressed Out Buying Christmas Gifts

This time of year I know there are families struggling to feed their families, let alone buy Christmas gifts that are needed and not wants. Some children need new shoes, boots, gloves, and hats just to walk to school. Please share ideas you have that we can all use to during this holiday season to slow down on wants…..it really needs to start in the home. We all went through the 2008 economic disaster. Please be prepared for another economic disaster. I see food prices continuing to escalate and people struggling to make ends meet. We need to teach our children and grandchildren to not want so many things when they should be considering setting aside funds for their own school expenses, future children’s college, a home down payment, food storage, etc.

Teach Family To Be Self-Reliant

I am quite emotional writing this post because I have received emails from readers telling me they cannot even buy groceries let alone Christmas gifts. They are not posting on Facebook statements like “I don’t know what we are going to do for Christmas this year”. These readers are real people not wanting handouts. I understand when a job is lost. I get it. But we need to teach our families to try and plan ahead to be more self-reliant and better prepared for the unexpected.

Please trust me on this…please be prepared for the unexpected. It is our duty to take care of our families and not think the government or any other entity should step in and provide for us if we can handle things on our own.

Dinner rolls by Linda

Great gift can be used if you have charcoal stored: Lodge Dutch oven

18 thoughts on “In Tough Times Do We Need Or Want Christmas Gifts

  • December 8, 2014 at 7:41 am
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    I absolutely love this! Thanks for inspiring us! I love the no gift idea. You sound like such an amazing Grandma, can we adopt you 😉

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    • December 8, 2014 at 7:48 am
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      Hi Jamie, you are so cute! I really wanted to convey that its okay if we do not have the money to spend on gifts. We can share gifts of love..XOXO Linda

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    • December 8, 2014 at 10:10 am
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      Hi Tiffany, you are so cute! Thanks so much for stopping by! Linda

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  • December 8, 2014 at 11:00 am
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    I love this Linda… it is funny how some parents feel that they need to give their children everything that everyone else is getting… When really all children need is our time, love and support. I find it sad to see children as young as 2 walking around with iPhones in their hands watching videos, playing games or something else, being so preoccupied that they do not want to visit or spend time with their Families, including Grandparents who live to be close to them. We cannot compete with the addicting technology. I can only imagine what the future will be like in the hands of this generation…

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    • December 8, 2014 at 11:30 am
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      Hi Karen, I totally agree with all that you have written here. I am finding its harder and harder to communicate with certain age groups. They only know how to text…we need some social time girlfriend. Real time together, thanks for your awesome comment, Linda

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  • December 8, 2014 at 1:02 pm
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    We stopped going crazy with gifts at Christmas several years ago and concentrate instead on having a really nice feast with as many friends and relatives as we can cram in. We especially try to round up strays and singles to include. The kids get one special gift each (not from each person, sometimes with pooled funds). Then they get a bunch of smaller things that are often things they need anyway. Art and craft supplies, books, school bag, new thermos, that kind of thing. No adult gifts other than the food and drink. Sometimes people bring snacks or side dishes, almost always home made, often home grown. Some people like to make up huge platters of cookies and breads to pass around. All the grandparents and great grandma give one or two books and some chocolate treats, maybe something they sewed, grew, cooked or built.

    There’s always stories and music and lots of laughing and groaning and overeating and leftovers to share (if you bring your own container!)

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    • December 9, 2014 at 6:32 am
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      Hi Alice, oh my goodness I love your idea about the family feast with friends and family. Books are so wonderful for kids and adults. I love practical gifts like a new thermos or school bag, etc. Those are needs! Have a wonderful holiday! Linda

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  • December 8, 2014 at 3:53 pm
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    Oh Linda, just think what a better world this would b email if we could all think like rhis. No more children going hungry or sad because they are left out or even bullied because they don’t dress or have the things others do. If love truly was the gift
    Beautiful post.
    love you girlfriend,
    Wanda Ann

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    • December 9, 2014 at 6:35 am
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      Hi Wanda Ann, I do not know how families are able to feed their families. It is so expensive to go grocery shopping. I remember when I was little getting one gift for Christmas. I grew up very poor. It’s really too bad that sometimes ego gets into the scheme of things in gift giving. Time and love never stop giving…Happy Holiday my friend! XOXO Linda

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  • December 8, 2014 at 8:21 pm
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    Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Your spot on my friend. My first grandchild is on its way to arrive later in the spring. I’m sixty now. My son and daughter are in the middle 30’s and 20’s. Many families are in a bind through out this country today. Being prepared, having a dry and warm place to live in and good food each day to me far exceed all the glitter and trinkets. I’ll miss my children this season. Its to far to travel for them or myself.
    Merry Christmas to all

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    • December 9, 2014 at 6:38 am
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      Hi Kenneth, I got a little emotional reading your thoughts. Thank you for sharing. I would rather see my kids than have any gift. It’s too expensive to travel to see them for me as well. I am so excited for your first grandchild. What a gift that will be!!! You will have to tell me if the baby is a girl or boy! How wonderful! My Jake is 20 years old. Happy Holiday my friend! Linda

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  • December 10, 2014 at 11:20 pm
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    Oh how I want to adopt your way!! With 7 kids (all adults), 2 granddaughters, and 16 other family members that we exchange gifts with…life would be so much easier and saner! I have suggested to 1 DH’s 2 sisters that we all give homemade gifts and she was all for it, now to get the other sister on board! It is crazy that we still give Christmas gifts to all his nieces and nephews (7) when they are all adults…then they feel that they need to give us gifts too. Since we all meet for Christmas Eve, everyone kinda feels like we need to exchange gifts. We have too much stuff as it is and none of us has money to waste, especially these days!! I’ll suggest a cookie exchange for next year – I know I’d like that so much better than getting stuff I don’t need and giving stuff I don’t know if they want/need.

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    • December 12, 2014 at 7:19 am
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      Hi Susan, your comment makes me laugh in a good way! Oh my goodness there is no way I have money or time to shop for all my extended family. Plus I am like you I don’t need anymore stuff! It took a couple years for my in laws to understand we could not spend that kind of money every year. I love the cookie exchange idea. Happy Holidays! Linda

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  • December 18, 2014 at 12:03 pm
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    What a wonderful message! I am a housewife and my husband’s employer shuts down for 10 days over the Christmas/ New Year Holiday. For several years we have tried to explain to his family that we didn’t have the financial means to buy Christmas presents for everyone, We are all adults, no kids, so presents don’t seem as important as spending quality time together. But again this year we will be spending more than we should on gifts so no one will feel bad. Any suggestions?

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    • December 19, 2014 at 8:01 am
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      Hi Tricia, thank you so much for understanding the message I was trying to convey. I would rather have quality time with family than any gift in the world. Our world seems to be so fast paced with stuff and electronics. Even church groups have stopped the “social time” together in some cases. I would love to just hold someone’s hand and say to them “What have you been doing lately, please tell me all about it”…..Then move to another table and ask another the same question to someone else. My family is all spread out. One thing I will tell you about the gift situation. I have 17 grandchildren. The first Christmas several years ago I was quite emotional that I didn’t have the means to give presents to anyone in the family. Guess what? It was okay. I explained in an email to everyone with a love note to each and said we no longer need or want anything for Christmas. Please use the money you would have spent on us on your own family. I also mentioned we are no longer financially able to give gifts. I mentioned YOU know we love you and will shower you with love for the rest of our lives. Tricia, sorry this email is so long but Christmas gifts are not in my budget. The best Christmas I ever had was my Mom and Dad crying on the phone for the love note I had written to each of them as their gift. I also had all my girls write them a love note. Gifts do not have to cost and money. Merry Christmas to you and you family.

      Reply
  • October 26, 2017 at 10:38 am
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    Thank you for your thoughts on this.
    I totally agree… when we do give, it is
    Normally something to do with preparedness… a fire extinguisher 
    First aid kit etc… Then it’s, “Oh,,,,thank you for the first aid 
    Kit?”  Funny.

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    • October 26, 2017 at 4:40 pm
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      HI Dave, I gave all four daughters butane stoves with extra canisters of fuel one year for Christmas. One year I gave four of them a Volcano stove, I’m sure they are still in the unopened box. But, hey…. that’s how we roll, Dave, we give gifts that are for preparedness. Love it! Kepp it up, you rock! Linda

      Reply

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