How to survive the holidays with extended family: gift giving

By Rita Buettner

Flickr Creative Commons

It may be the thought that counts, but there are also plenty of emotions involved in holiday gift giving too, especially within families.

La Keita Carter, Psy.D., a licensed psychologist, and Danielle LaSure-Bryant, Ed.D., a licensed clinical professional counselor, both from the Loyola Clinical Centers, offer advice on how to fill your sleigh without straining family relations.

Keep in mind the financial stress of the holiday season.

“This is that time of year when the lack of finances becomes really prevalent,” LaSure-Bryant says. “People may be harboring these feelings of inadequacy and shame or not feeling like they are up to standard.”

Consider setting limits on holiday spending.

You could even hold a family yard sale to create a pot of money just for family gifts, LaSure-Bryant says.

Remember that a simple present can be meaningful.

“Think of the act of giving and not the cost,” Lasure-Bryant says. “Make a tin of chocolate chip cookies—and if they’re warm, that’s a bonus. Kids can make up coupon booklets for things they’re willing to do throughout the year.”

Accept gifts of every size graciously.

If the grandparents want to spend a lot of money on a large gift for their grandchildren, what do you do? “You let them,” says LaSure-Bryant. “How are you going to tell mom or dad not to spend money on their grandchild? You can’t say, ‘No, don’t spend $70.’ That’s an insult. You just let them and you graciously accept it.” However, you should ask about the types of gifts that grandparents are giving ahead of time. If Jason really didn’t perform at their peak potential in school, it may not be a good idea for Nana to give him a car for Christmas. Parents and Nana can negotiate how and when this gift should be given.

Write heartfelt notes with homemade gifts.

“It’s not a thank you note. It’s an ‘I appreciate you and here’s part of why,’” LaSure-Bryant says. “A little handwritten note goes a long way.

Let people give in whatever way, at whatever level they would like.

“Everyone should give only what they’re capable of and what they’re comfortable with,” LaSure-Bryant says.

Also in this series:

Preparing for the Family Gathering

Navigating conversation with your relatives

Are family gatherings mandatory?

The College Student Edition

Grieving a Loss at the Holidays

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