Stressed-Out Auntie

Dear Annabel Manners,

Here is another Christmas question. I come from a large family with lots of nieces and nephews. (I am a newlywed, so no kids of my own yet.) We all buy presents for the kids, but the QUALITY of the presents is hugely different. (In other words, some people are cheap and everyone else knows who they are.)
I love buying for my nieces and nephews, and I always get really nice things, but it’s like double the gifts now that I am shopping for my hubby’s family too. I can see this getting really out of control when the kids are bigger.
New Bride in Arizona
Dear New Bride,
That’s a tough one. Obviously it’s too late to do anything about it this year, but there’s plenty of time to strategize for Christmas 2010.
Chances are you’re not the only one feeling overwhelmed by shopping obligations. At some point after all the holiday hullabaloo, you and your siblings should sit down and have a Santa Summit.
Your mission is to establish boundaries that everybody feels good about. Maybe it’s a spending cap, or a rule that says no gifts for nieces and nephews once they enter high school. You could also explore the idea of a Secret Santa program where each grownup (or grownup couple) draws the names of a predetermined number of kids to shop for.
If possible, try adding a new tradition that the whole family can get excited about, like a massive ice-skating excursion or a trip to see The Nutcracker en masse. That way the mood will still be festive, but the gift-giving won’t take over your lives.
As for your husband’s family, I think you should go with the flow for a few years just to see how they operate during the holidays. When the time is right to make a gentle suggestion, you’ll know it.
Enjoy your first Christmas with your groom!
Graciously yours,
P.S. Love the mini kitchen in this pic? Click here.
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