By: Revanche

Holiday gifts in 2016

December 19, 2016

2016 holidays: What we'd like to give and what we are givingI’m not big on Christmas gifts like I used to be. I used to overcompensate for loneliness and being poor by trying to give as many gifts as I could, wrapped and tied up with a nice bow.

These days, I have as healthy and happy a family life here in the Bay Area as I could hope for, and supportive friends all over.

I still love giving gifts but only when they’re truly meaningful, usually practical, and serve a purpose in the lives of the recipients rather than taking up room, gathering dust, or being regifted because who needs a fourth coffeemaker in their kitchen? I know some people have go-to gifts they give everyone for simplicity’s sake – I give books, for example, but can it please not be a huge, clunky, appliance that only one person in the family can actually use?

At this point in life, my money wants to go toward retirement investing, building our real estate empire, and helping people and animals.

Fantasy gifts: if money and space were no object

$290: Seamus would get the 93-inch plush bear from Costco. Currently on sale for $260. It’s a tossup whether he would sleep on it or tear it apart. Probably both.

$70: JuggerBaby would get this magnetic tiles set. But ze would have to donate or pass along at least three other toys.

$290: I would get this Kindle Oasis. Just kidding, I don’t need all that flash. I’d get the Paperwhite for a third of the price. (But the Oasis is so LIGHT.)

$5000: PiC would get that super fancy bike he admires from afar and we’d get a sitter twice a month so he could go on super long rides on the weekend.

$2000: We have five favorite daycare full time teachers, and five part time teachers or support staff, who have been amazing with JuggerBaby. They’re warm, caring, attentive, all things that make it possible for us to leave zir and work on the weekdays. We’d love to be able to give them each a substantial thanks.

$5000: There are several charities I’d like to support with more than just a small bit of cash.

Reality gifts: because money does matter

$250: Family gifts. I think all but $50 of this is frivolous and we should skip doing it altogether but we have yet to convince the family of this so here it is. The remaining $50 goes towards clothing for the kids so I don’t mind that, since we all pool the clothes we use and pass them along.

At least $100 of that $250 will be gift cards that I purchased at a 4% discount, using GiftCardGranny. The second $100 will mostly be covered by a gift card we received, and the last $50 was covered by gift cards that I earned through Swagbucks and the Carter’s Rewards from last year’s gift purchases. Most of these gifts won’t cost much out of pocket at all, I’ll just have to wrap them.

$75 + $100: The daycare organizes gifts for the center by way of contributions from parents, requesting $60-75 per child, per family. They pool it, then split it across all the teachers and staff at the center. We give the $75, which works out to about a dollar per person, but we’re also going to give some small token of appreciation to our favorites. A card, and perhaps a small gift card? I’m not sure yet but we have about a day to figure this out.

Making new traditions

While I work towards a gift-free holiday season, PiC and I splurged on our own Christmas tree for our home. We went with an artificial tree, to my inner sadness because I miss the smell of a fresh new tree, but the deal was good enough for what we were looking for. We found it at Target, originally $67, marked down to $42 which was covered with a gift card. Add a couple strings of lights and a few ornaments, and voila, 4 weeks of wintery, Christmassy cheer in our living room.

It feels very splurgey, we don’t typically spend money on decor, but it’s a long term happiness thing.

:: What are your favorite winter holiday traditions? Do you typically exchange holiday gifts? What’s your perfect gift to give or receive?

18 Responses to “Holiday gifts in 2016”

  1. I get missing the smell of pine in winter, but a couple of pine-scented candles generally takes care of the worst of the real tree envy.

    I just talked to my dad and there will be two more people (nephew-to-be and his wife) for our Christmas celebration than I expected. And since the two are flying in and out of NC from California, I don’t think I can do baked goods for them as I planned for the other adults. I’d really hoped to avoid gift cards, but I think this is a case where I need to provide one. (On the other hand, I’m pretty sure a pair of 21 year old marines will appreciate some free pizza.)
    Emily @ JohnJaneDoe recently posted…Desperately Seeking Christmas: 10 Ways to Find the Christmas SpiritMy Profile

    • Revanche says:

      I had actually considered getting just a single pine branch swag thing they were selling at Trader Joe’s to supplement the tree – it was just the perfect amount.

      Do you have a philosophical dislike of gift cards? I adore receiving them as a general rule, and tend to give them when the people in question have Very Expensive Tastes because nothing I can afford will ever come within shouting distance of a reasonable budget.

  2. My family has always had big, blow-out Christmases. They were fantastic when I was a child, but they’re overwhelming now. And they’re more overwhelming than fantastic for Baguette, too, but since I know it’s coming from a place of love, I bite my tongue. Mostly.

    I do wish people would give me books, though. Mr. Sandwich does, but everyone else seems to have forgotten how much they mean to me.

    We did finally get our tree last night, and it’s got lights on it. That may be as far as we get this year, but that’s okay. It looks great like that.

    • Revanche says:

      Did the big blowout Christmas include other branches of the family? I remember some holidays being overwhelming because everyone plus their families plus their in-laws would convene and it was just too much.

      Books are the best gifts! Which ones are you reading these days?

      Yay for getting your tree! JuggerBaby loves asking for the lights to be turned on when ze gets home, and then turned off when it’s mealtime 🙂

      • Just the four of us, and sometimes my mom’s parents. We lived across the country from most of our close family, and although we do have relatives all over, none were closer than a couple of days’ drive.

        As for books, right now I’m reading Laurie Halse Anderson’s YA historical novels about enslaved people during the American Revolution. I’ve read Chains and am about halfway through Forge. My TBR list is long, and includes a friend’s book about the making of Citizen Kane, a book about healing the brain, a novel about (I think) several generations of a Jewish family in the Midwest, and Feminist Fight Club.
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      • Oh, and Baguette likes the lights on the tree turned on at night, but not during the day. Unacceptable.

  3. Cassie says:

    A lot of our Christmas holiday traditions revolved around the morning gift opening and large dinner when I was a kid. For the sake of their sanity, my parents let us open our stockings in the morning before they woke up, because we generally woke up around 4am that morning, and they wouldn’t let us wake them up until 7. The stockings always had an Archie comic and games to keep us occupied for a couple hours, along with the obligatory Christmas orange and some candy. There was also tonnes of Christmas baking, which slowed down significantly once we figured out there were several celiacs in the family 🙁

    This year we’ve scaled back the gifting significantly. We convinced all three branches of the family to secret santa exchanges among the adults, so my husband and I each had three adults to give gifts to instead of the usual bonanza. It took several years of suggesting it before it finally took hold.

    My favourite gifts to receive are books and self pampering stuff for bath time (which is normally where I read the books). It drives my husband nuts because I ask for the same things every year. Depending on the recipient, sweaters and workout gear are usually big hits in our family.

    Merry Christmas if I don’t comment again before then!
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    • Revanche says:

      Smart parents! We were definitely not allowed to wake ours either, but coming from a strict family that meant sitting yourself down and controlling yourself lest you lose all the presents by annoying them too much, too early. It worked for us but I guarantee it won’t work with JuggerBaby. 😀

      That’s sad about the baking! I know some people get tired of all the sweets around Christmas but I never do.

      Consistent gift requests are awesome, especially when it’s books and pampering things. Well, maybe I think that’s great because I always relish receiving books.

      A very Merry Christmas to you and yours!

  4. We do a lot of obligatory gift giving.

    I’m not sure what my favorite holiday traditions are. I think as a smaller family unit we’re still trying to figure out what our traditions are. It’s difficult because we end up doing a lot of traveling to visit different families and haven’t really set upon an annual pattern.

    I like it when people get me stuff of my amazon wishlist. Particularly stuff that’s marked “highest” because that’s the stuff I want the most.
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  5. $75 for daycare was seriously mind boggling as a gift until I realized it would be pooled and split.

    I only just gave gifts to the actual workers who care for Baby Bun.. $15 max each.
    sherry @ save. spend. splurge. recently posted…How much I have actually worked for my entire careerMy Profile

    • Revanche says:

      Yeah, it feels like our gift is totally diluted being split across more than 50 people, but it IS the simpler way to give. There are more than ten people who rotate through who actually care for JuggerBaby this year and these are the ten that we have noticed are consistently great. I’d love to give them more because they really don’t get paid much but they’re always so incredibly patient and attentive.

  6. I haven’t done any shopping yet. I only have a few things to get, but still! We do a secret Santa among the adults in Peanut’s family and don’t exchange at all with either of mine. We used to do gifts for all the nieces but put an end to that this year (I think I am happier that my kids won’t GET anything than I am about not having to GIVE anything!). I’m going to get a little something for my direct reports at work, and my secret Santa thing, and that should be it.

    My favorite tradition is my Dickens Village, which I received as Christmas gifts as a teenager. I set them up every year and they make me happy. Peanut hides dragons, wizards, and ninjas throughout the scene each year, so it’s not super traditional but it’s fun! (another non-traditional tradition: Christmas tacos!)
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    • Revanche says:

      I adore the very thought of your Dickens Village – secret dragons, wizards and ninjas? Awesome! Also I think we have established that tacos are wonderful always so Christmas tacos sound triple-great.

      The idea of not having it all done by now is a little scary, though, I hope that’s taken care of soon and without stress. 🙂

  7. I love our traditions. I have a pretty small local (aka where my parents live) immediate family, and we are all close. We spend Christmas Eve doing an appetizer/pizza party, the kids open one gift (typically a puzzle or board game, to keep them entertained), and the adults drink martinis & have an ugly sock white elephant. Because, even the ugliest socks can be worn, and we hate the waste of a typical white elephant.

    The next day, the kids open stockings in the morning, we have breakfast, everyone goes on a bike ride, and then in the evening we have a microbrew tasting, soup & homemade bread.

    We’ve reduced the gifts down drastically on all sides, & I LOVE it! I only receive a gift now from my own kids (and, they are typically very amusing). My favorite part, other than they just hanging out with my favorite people, is the next day – we head to our vacation house on the Oregon coast & spend time together, just the four of us. A few days later, my parents, and sometimes my sister/her kids also show up & and we have a super chill few days at the beach.

    We’ve cut out pretty much all of the complications, and make the holidays as easy as possible.
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