32 answers

When to Stop Buying Presents for "Adult" Niece

In my family we buy Christmas/ birthday presents for every niece and nephew, which gets to be spendy, but worth it. I have a niece who will be 19 in a few months, do I continue to buy her presents, or should that stop once she became an adult? My niece is also my goddaughter. I would feel very strange not getting her a gift however she has moved out and has her own place. In my heart I want to get her a gift, but do I continue this forever? I don't want to play favorites so will I then be obligated to buy for each niece and newphew forever? My sister mentioned my niece would like her boyfriend included in on any gifts to her. What do I do without hurting any feelings?

What can I do next?

Featured Answers

My mother had this same problem years ago. Her solution was that once her nieces had moved out on their own, they were considered adults. So instead of the gifts they would have been given (sweater, gift card, etc.) they were given a Christmas ornament. Most of the time they were handmade, and a lot of time was spent finding the perfect one. This became a tradition that my cousins still look forward to, and my mother enjoys continuing. I don't think any ornament was ever more than $10, but each and every one holds a place of honor on their trees.
Good luck,
B.

1 mom found this helpful

I give to all my nieces and nephews, no matter their age. If she is 19 and recently moved out, chances are she needs gifts now more than ever! I would do a gift card to Target, or somewhere, for both her and her boyfriend, then they can get something for their place, or groceries.
S.

We buy gifts for anyone under 18. But we still buy for my husband's brothers and their wives. But since we (my husband, me, his brothers & wives) are the youngest, the only gifts we get are from my husband's parents and no one else. So I would say stop giving gifts for nieces and nephews if they are adults (18 or older).

More Answers

... and there was I thinking that being a god parent was about supporting them and bring them up in X religion.

I dont think it should be expected after about 16 or 18 and personally to expect a girl/boy friend included which would increase the cost is a little too much IMHO.

Good luck

1 mom found this helpful

We stopped buying gifts for nieces and nephews when they turned 18. The reason we stopped at 18, was because they bought what they wanted themselves. We used to buy for the great nieces and nephews, but we are not going to buy this year because of the expense. We also found that it is difficult to buy for them, because we don't know their intrests or what they already have.

I also have an attitude that Christmas is not just for the gifts, which alot of kids expect that. We like to just get together and be thankful for our blessings and celebrate the true meaning of Christmas.

1 mom found this helpful

My mother had this same problem years ago. Her solution was that once her nieces had moved out on their own, they were considered adults. So instead of the gifts they would have been given (sweater, gift card, etc.) they were given a Christmas ornament. Most of the time they were handmade, and a lot of time was spent finding the perfect one. This became a tradition that my cousins still look forward to, and my mother enjoys continuing. I don't think any ornament was ever more than $10, but each and every one holds a place of honor on their trees.
Good luck,
B.

1 mom found this helpful

In our family, we only buy for the kids until 18, then they take part in the "family gift game" where every adult buys one gift for the same gender, and there's a creative way (usually a game) where it gets swapped. That way, the kids still get in on a gift, and we don't have to buy for all the adults. It's hard to know what people need anyway, when you don't see them very often, and you can only buy so many candles.

As for the "favorite" niece, we have one of those, too. And yes, she's our favorite, but we are hers, too. She makes an effort to spend lots of time with our kids, babysits for us when she visits or we visit, and is my husband's Godchild. So we do play favorites. She will probably receive a gift from us forever. The trick is to not "display" this. We give her gift in private. No one notices because 1) all the "kids" in the family scramble in a huge flurry to open thiers so it's hard to see what any kid got, and 2) since she's now over 18, there is no reason to think she got something from us. You could pull her aside, or walk her to her car, or something, and say something like, "I know we don't exchange gifts with the nieces and nephews once they're over 18, but I wanted to get you a little something because I think you're special and important in my life. Enjoy!"

I would get your niece a gift that's for her, but could easily include the boyfriend is she chooses to share: Netflix membership, movie theater gift cards, restaurant gift card, etc. Something to treat themselves (or her and a girlfriend) when she probably doesn't have much money for social stuff.

1 mom found this helpful

In my family, most gifts were stopped at high school graduation or our 18th birthday, whichever was last. My siblings and I didn't have any ill feelings toward our godparents at all when they stopped. However, I have kept in touch with my godmother throughout the years, missing holidays here and there. But I think that having the "extra" connection has been such a blessing.
But as for gifts from her, it has never been an expectation since I was 18. And even then I was grateful.
But when it came to getting gifts from any aunts or uncles, at all otherwise. It wasn't done. There were too many nieces and nephews for that to happen.
Good luck on your decision.

My Auntes still buy gifts for me and my husband as well as my sisters and their husbands. That only makes for a total of five people so it's not that many and they don't have kids of their own. Since she is your godchild you could continue to buy gifts for her and not the others as they get older but that might make the other kids upset. Since she wants her boyfriend included you could do things like gift certificates to restaraunts that they can share.

One more thing. We buy gifts for the auntes and uncles. Now that we are adults it is expecteded in my family.

You could just take a cue from family of the past. When did you stop getting gifts from extended family?

We buy for all nieces and nephews too-- but the older ones we just by for our God-Children, and it is usually something quite small. Like one of mine has her own place as well, I bought her an ornament for her tree, she doesn't have many because she is just starting out so she really liked that last year. This year I will do the same! We don't include boyfriends or girlfriends until they are married.

Happy Holidays!

J.-

My family always did the same, buying for all the nieces and nephews. We all knew that once we turned 21 that was the end of the gifts from the aunts and uncles. We are all now over 21 and that seemed to work out great for us. That way there were no hard feelings. It was a precedent that was made for everyone including godchildren. We were all fine with it! Best wishes and good luck!

I would continue to by gifts for my niece because she is my goddaughter as well. I plan on doing that for my two goddaughters no matter what their age. I would not however buy a gift for her boyfriend. Boyfriends come and go and until she has a husband, sorry they don't get anything!

Since she is your goddaughter, yes you should buy her a Christmas and birthday gift forever. Godparents are special and should find some way to keep reminding their godchild that she always has you to turn to when she needs someone. Hallmark usually has goddaughter ornaments every year. Until she is married, you really don't have to buy something that includes her boyfriend. She should appreciate that what you buy comes from the heart in the spirit of Christmas.

I remember when my aunts and uncles stopped buying presents for me because I had turned 18. I am the oldest of all my cousins and it hurt like heck to have to sit back and watch them all, including my siblings, open gifts but I didn't get a single one. It really felt like they thought I wasn't worth spending the money on anymore - like the price to pay was more important than me myself. So I vowed to keep buying small presents for all my nieces and nephews until the last one has turned 20, and who knows, by then I still may give them all small gifts or gift cards to help them out. That's what Christmas is all about anyway - giving.

Here's my 2 cents: stop buying for your nieces and nephews once they turn 18. However, feel free to continue to buy presents for your godchildren--whether or not your godchildren are otherwise related to you is irrelevant.

I would give your goddaughter/niece her gift in private, or mail it to her. If you give it to her in front of extended family, it could be awkward.

You are under no obligation to "include" her boyfriend in the gift, but of course you can if you choose. You could get them a gift certificate for a restaurant, for example.

I would advertise that you are not buying presents for adult children. However, I wouldn't feel bad for buying something for your goddaughter... "shouldn't" she be your favorite? Maybe you can arrange a special get together with her so the other nephews and nieces don't see it?

And even though she's asking to include her boyfriend... I don't think I would. But there are presents like movie theater "money", for instance, that can be shared.

Tough choices. Remember that you can't please everyone.

In our family, we buy for our godchildren until they are 18. We also have a kids drawing ages 0-17 where they buy the one they choose a $10-$15 gift. We also have an adult drawing for anyone 18 and older..we even include our parents in this drawing. We spend between $25 and $30 on the adults. We have a big family, so this helps cut down on the cost doing it this way. Hope this helps!!

I can't remember the last time my aunt/uncle bought me a christmas present, but I really didn't freel hurt when they stopped. I had always felt really lucky just getting anything from them in the past, but I didn't expect it. If you think she will feel forgotten maybe give her a christmas card instead of nothing. Also I find it odd that your sister expects you to get a gift for her daughter & boyfriend! A card is plenty at this age!

Hi J.!
I'm on the fly here - sorry!
It is different and special for the Godchild = gift.
Wait on the boyfriend until/if he becomes husband or go small (cute treat or something?).
What ever you decide, do it out of love and others will receive your decision in that light hopefully. It is obvious you have such a big heart! Many Blessings upon you.

i guess i would continue buying her gifts-as your god child-i would not include her boyfriend,make it something small,peice of jewelry,scarf,sweater,and just give it to her in private,if the others question it-just say shes your god child.end of discussion-take her out to lunch-just something for the 2 of you.gifts dont always have to be something elaborate-but something that will be a memory for years to come.

My aunt, who is also my godmother, still buys me gifts for Christmas and my Birthday and I'm 38!!! In turn, I always get her something too. When money is tight, like in my 20s, I only got her something small, like a used paperback novel I thought she'd like. This has been a very fun ritual for both of us - she likes to try to find things that she thinks I'll like and I do the same. For my birthday this year she bought a vintage print of dress fashions of the early 1910's from an antique mall that I absolutley love. Neither of us usually spend a lot, but it's really fun.

As your neice gets older, it may not be the gift-buying that has to continue, but I really always felt special (and still do) that my aunt has done something for me to recognized our relationship - she's a busy woman working full-time with 2 kids and 3 grandkids, yet she still goes out of her way to do something for me. Instead of gifts, you could always plan to go to a movie together or maybe a simple walk in the park around the holidays. Or even write her a special note telling her how much she means to you. It's the recognition that's wonderful.

I have one aunt who bought for me after I was 18 (she was my godmom too) and it was always a 20 gift card for groceries, my boyfriends name got added to it if I had one at the time and we were serious. It stopped when I got married, her thought was my husband could take care of me. There was a time in my marriage where things were really tight and she sent a card with money but it wasn't for a holiday it was just because. Other than then no one sends money/gifts and I don't expect it. It's just nice to be able to call my family and talk when things are going on in my life, and know they will talk to me like an adult.

My husband and I are the oldest and have the oldest children. My brother is 6 years younger then I and he has 4 brothers 1 to 5 years younger. Most relatives only bought gifts for my kids till they were around 10. Now my children are grown but most of there are young or just hitting 18. I've been buying 10 nieces and nephews gifts for birthdays and christmas since they were born. It was my choice. I think you should buy who and what you can and want too. Age means nothing.

Gifts should always be given because you want to give them not out of obligation. My oldest niece is also my god daughter and I still give her gifts at Christmas and her birthday and a scattering of days in between but I have also always told her that if I don't give you one for something don't be offended - gifts come from the heart 365 days a year they don't have to be given only on the holidays. Letters and notes of encouragement or an old photo framed are great gifts from the heart and ones that are treasured. I don't make sure all my nieces and nephews get equal numbers cause they all know that at different times and different occasions they may get more or they may get less. It's not playing favorites, its the unexpected that makes it more special.

J.,
Now that your niece is on her own, how about a gift card for gas, groceries, or her favorite store? Also, an ornament may be nice too. I remember when I had moved out... my mom had given me some of her oler ones she didn't hang anymore and some that I made as a kid. It was a huge help since I had none.

I think any of these ideas would be nice for her since she's on her own. The gift cards could be put into a card (others wouldn't know/know the amount) and the ornament is something small, but appreciated.

I'm sure you will have lots of ideas. I hope you find one that works for you.
~SR

We buy gifts for anyone under 18. But we still buy for my husband's brothers and their wives. But since we (my husband, me, his brothers & wives) are the youngest, the only gifts we get are from my husband's parents and no one else. So I would say stop giving gifts for nieces and nephews if they are adults (18 or older).

I continue to buy gifts for my older nieces and nephews however it is something little I can put in a birthday card like lottery tickets or $5 lunch gift cards. God children are different. I always treat that as the role it is supposed to be - to help them in their faith journey. Those gifts are related to that such as prayer journal/books, bible bookmarks, angel trinkets, etc. I agree with most in that the boyfriend is a no.

My initial thought is to make it known that you will ony buy Christmas gifts until nieces/nephews are 18+. I would continue to buy a little something for your godchild (and only her - not her boyfriend as the gift is for your goddaughter).

Good luck!

I'm 32, and my godmother and I still exchange gifts every year for christmas. She is also my sister's godmother so she gives her something too, but my brother gets a gift from my mom's other sister who is his godmother. But I am the only one who gives them something. No one feels bad about it.

My mom used to buy for all the neices and nephews on my dad's side of the family when we were little, but for the last ten years has only bought for her goddaughters. They are 21 and 20 now, and she is asking the same question to me about whether she should buy them something this year. I told her that she usually goes a little overboard, and that she could just tone it down and give them one smaller gift instead of the huge ordeal she usually does.
I just don't think anyone is going to feel left out if they are all older. In our family we draw names for everyone over 18, but all the kids get something from everyone, over 18 just the drawing person gives something, and the godparents. If I draw my godmother I just give her a bigger gift or two gifts. Does that help a little?

We have that rule gifting "rule" in our family. However, once you have graduated from high school, you graduate into the adult gifting pool. We used to draw names within the adult pool but got tired of exchanging gift cards and sweaters. Now, we pick a theme and each adult antes up a gift, then we draw numbers, pick a gift and swap & steal. Lots more fun and much more in sync with what the season is for anyway.

BTW - Most of the neices and nephews in my family (including myself!) have graduated into adults and we are left with just 2 "kids"...They are begging to join the adult pool now because it is so much more fun.

I give to all my nieces and nephews, no matter their age. If she is 19 and recently moved out, chances are she needs gifts now more than ever! I would do a gift card to Target, or somewhere, for both her and her boyfriend, then they can get something for their place, or groceries.
S.

Our family went through a similar thing a few years back. There are 6 aunts and now 16 grandkids/cousins. It got to be a lot for everyone and very expensive!

We have the kids draw names, until they are 18. They do a $15 gift. The adults (older cousins, aunts, etc) used to draw names then too, with a $30 per couple/single person limit, but even that got to be too much, so we recently decided to just focus on the kids. That's really who the holidays are for (and after awhile what do we adults really need that we don't just go get for ourselves?)

We do the same for birthdays now too. Instead of having 16 birthday parties, we now have 2 a year. We celebrate the kids born Jan.-June at one big family party and then kids July-Dec. at another big party. That way family can plan on just 2 parties instead of 16. But again, once we are 18, we are done with gifts.We still celebrate, but just no gifts are expected.

Good luck with your decision! I know it is SO hard!

A great question. In our family we do the pick names thing now, and there aren't really any little ones. Grandma and Grandpa usually gift the grand kids. However the reason I wanted to respond is because I'm wondering where the boyfriend thing is coming from. I had 1 serious boyfriend before my now husband, and he often spent holidays with us. It was always very nice if someone included him, even on the card, just to make him feel welcome and included in our celebrations. It wasn't so much about the gift, just the acknowledgment of his presence.

I understand the need to not want to play favorites, however, this particular neice is extra special because she is your goddaughter. Therefore, you have a special connection with her beyond just that of aunt and neice. I don't think that there is anything wrong with continuing to give a present if that is what you want to do. However, you could always lower the amount that you spend. Or, since she wants her boyfriend included, you could get them a joint gift. Maybe a dinner gift certificate or something they can both enjoy. As the children grow into adults, some of them you will become "friends" with while others, most likely, you will not. That is fine. And I think it is also fine to give some friends presents, while others you do not.

I know how feel- however this year my family has decided to keep the gifts for the little ones. I have cut back big time as I can not afford it -

This should be a decision the whole family should make so that everyone is on the same page. Since this is also so your goddaughter you could still get her alittle something if you wanted without feeling you are playing favorites. Is there a price limit to send? Could you make a gift? If you need to include the boyfriend then buy a nice candle for them to enjoy. Our family stopped buying gifts once they turned 18. They knew that was going to happen and so was accepted. Remember you can't please everyone so just do the best you can and be at peace with that.

Required Fields

Our records show that we already have a Mamapedia or Mamasource account created for you under the email address you entered.

Please enter your Mamapedia or Mamasource password to continue signing in.

Required Fields

, you’re almost done...

Since this is the first time you are logging in to Mamapedia with Facebook Connect, please provide the following information so you can participate in the Mamapedia community.

As a member, you’ll receive optional email newsletters and community updates sent to you from Mamapedia, and your email address will never be shared with third parties.

By clicking "Continue to Mamapedia", I agree to the Mamapedia Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy.