13 answers

What to Do for Christmas Gifts with a Huge Family with Little Money?

My family is very close even though everyone is in Georgia and I'm here in California. There are 5 of us in the family - all with kids - and some with grandkids. Christmas time is getting extremely expensive. On my side of the family, I have 4 siblings, 16 nieces and nephews, and 1 great mom to buy for. We all agree it's now too much - especially with the economy. We need suggestions for how to buy gifts. EX// draw names? adults only? kids too? Don't suggest handmaking things because even for this large number of people, it gets very expensive and time consuming. Help!

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What we've done a couple of years is everyone buys a gift certificate of the same value and wraps it. Then we play the white elephant game where everyone gets a number and #1 picks first. #2 can either steal #1 or take a new unwrapped present from the pile. We've had Home Depot, Books store, coffee shop, mervyn's, trader Joes, Spa store...all sorts of places. It is a bit like trading $$ but the game gets fun. For some, something practical like TJ's is good but for others, Starbucks GC is a HUGE treat! Just another thought.

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Hi G.!! I have a few suggestions for you....

1) Family gifts like movie night: family movie, hot chocolate mix and popcorn or a game and some goodies for game night.We love receiving such things.

2) Journal jars for the kids: You make up subjects and put them on stips of paper and put them in mason jars with lab1els and then give them journals and a cool pen. Mostly can be bought at dollar stores.

3) make conversation jars with subjects to discuss at the family dinner table. Decorate the jar.

Look at www.organizedchristmas.com which has tips on gift giving and other ideas like gifts in a jar...

4) buy each family a Christmas scrap-book and some cute stickers for them to memorialize their holidays. We received those one year and loved them.

5) a craft for the kids to make. My sister in-law has done that-she gives the kids the instructions and fabric and they create it. Real easy pattern but they have the pride in putting it together. For the adults, she just also includes a unique ornament for the family tree.

2 moms found this helpful

I am in the smae boat that you are. We started last year with buying a stocking for each family (something inexpensive or you could make them) and put in little things for everyone in the family. I went to Michael's this past weekend and got all kinds of great things out of their dollar bins. Also, $1 stores are always great. I have been shopping for x-mas for the past 2 months. I always start early and look for good deals. Go online and look at the clearance section of any store. You would be surprised what you can find (one of my favorites is Old Navy). Giving yourself plenty of time to shop for them will allow you to find good deals and stretch your x-mas funds! Hope this helps!

1 mom found this helpful

Definitely draw names! Set a limit of about $50 because then you can get that one person something nice and don't tell each other who got who, it makes it more fun until you actually exchange them. Have everyone put together a list of 3 things that they want so then everyone will get something nice versus getting everyone little gifts. It's worked in our extended family for years! Good luck and merry christmas!!!

I have a large family that keeps getting larger also. We have one large party in December where we all get together, not on Christmas eve or Day. In the past we have drawn names so each person will get one gift, this seems to work well. We put a limit such as $10.00, so no one feels they have to buy an expensive gift.

We also do an ornament game where everyone brings a wrapped ornament. This is where everyone draws a number and picks from the pile then the next person either steals an opened or unopened present from the person who already picked one or takes from the pile. An ornament can only have three homes. Our family has lots of fun playing this game

This past year we did something a little different. We still had our ornament game and had a family member dress up as Santa and pass out presents to the kids. Each parent of the child brought or mailed ahead of time, to the host of the party, a wrapped gift for Santa to hand out. The kids loved it and the parents were able to spend within their budget.

Just remember the presents are not what is important, having your family around is.

Hope this helps.

S. O.

Hi G.,
My family has the same issue. There are way too many of us and the expense is too much. So, we decided that instead of getting gifts for everyone, to just give gifts to the children. And for everyone else that we have a family outing and create a memory. Every year we choose a place to go such as: The Aquarium, The Pumpkin Patch, The Fair, apple picking, free concerts or movies in the park, etc. We bring our cameras and take tons of pictures of the day and always end up having a blast. As you can see we have relatively inexpensive outings (sometime free) and slightly more expensive, but we work together to decide what outing we want to do for the year.

When our family started getting big and the kids started having their own families...and living in California, struggling to own our own home, we all decided to do a white elephant type of gift. Everyone who attends the party brings one nice $10 gift per person, then we do the numbers, steal the presents, and everyone has a GREAT time. We all enjoy that much better, it's more fun, everyone gets 'a' gift, and no one is broke! If we do decide to buy gifts for the kids, we usually just pull them aside and give them their gift. But, this takes the pressure off! Maybe ask around and see if anyone else is interested...I bet more people than you'd think!

Good luck!

There are 5 adult kids in my family, three of us with kids. We only exchange gifts with the kids (cousins) and we pick a theme. Last year we did books - any kind of books, picture, chapter, coloring, sticker, etc. We have done music and this year we are doing cooking fun.

Hi G. what we do is everyone brings a wrapped gift under $20.00, that can be for either gender. Then we do a variation of a white elephant gift exchange. Since we changed it to do this its been the highlight of every christmas. We get loud and clap, we really make it fun. We make it so you can only change one gift 3 times, so it doesnt last forever. We draw names to see who goes in what order then we let the fun begin. You can also change the price range. As for the Children we buy them small things from each family. Since Christmas is more for them anyway. I know your family is far but hopefully our tradition will give you some ideas! good luck!

What we've done a couple of years is everyone buys a gift certificate of the same value and wraps it. Then we play the white elephant game where everyone gets a number and #1 picks first. #2 can either steal #1 or take a new unwrapped present from the pile. We've had Home Depot, Books store, coffee shop, mervyn's, trader Joes, Spa store...all sorts of places. It is a bit like trading $$ but the game gets fun. For some, something practical like TJ's is good but for others, Starbucks GC is a HUGE treat! Just another thought.

We have the same problem on my husbands side too many people to buy for and not enough money. Last year we decided only to buy for the kids and set a limit on the amount. Worked out great we are doing the same thing this year. Christmas is more fun for the kids. Just buy one gift each and set a limit per present. Hopefully the family will understand since the economy is so bad right now and money is tough for everyone. Good Luck

I have friends with large families. What they do is each year they draw a name/family and then they buy just for that family/person. Everyone gets a gift but no one has to by 40 of them. (Although all of the siblings do get a gift for the parents). Sometimes they buy a "family gift" and other times they buy individual gifts. It works out really well because it takes the guilt out of not having enough to get great gifts for every family member. Hope this helps!

We're in the same situation. We draw names for the adults (and therefore since we're only buying for 1 person, we can buy a nicer gift) and then we do buy for each niece/nephew. For many years my sister and I have gotten together to buy for the kids so then we're each paying half which keeps the cost down. We try to keep it to $10 or less per child. It's kinda fun to try and find great gifts for a great price. Sometimes we've given a family gift, like a board game the entire family can play etc. and that's pretty cost effective and fun for the family.
This year I am hand making gifts because it really is the most cost effective (less than $5 each). You are right about it being more time consuming, but so can trying to find the perfect gift! So, don't discount handmaking something too quickly. For example, for the boys I'm making stenciled t-shirts, http://panjokids.blogspot.com/2008/06/freezer-paper-stenc... and buying brand new t-shirts from Dick Blick for $2 each. Anyway, just thought I'd add my 2 cents.
It is quite a quandry, but we mainly just keep the focus on the kids. Good luck!

Maybe you can draw names just between the kids and let the adults go without since the kids are really the excitement anyway. Put a $ limit also of $10- or something and depending on the age of the children, let the kids pick out the gift for the the child that they drew the name for. I know my 8 & 10 year old daughter's have a blast choosing gifts for their little sister and brother. Itunes gift cards are good in the amount of $10- because even a full CD on Itunes is usually $8.99 if the child is old enough and they have iPod. Books are always a great gift too and you get books on clearance even at Target.

God Bless you & your family,
W. :)

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