Putting a Price Limit on Gifts (without Seeming Cheap)

Dear Ms. Demeanor:

My family is growing as I write this. My sister just got married last week, and my brother's wife is expecting their first child any day now. I get along with everybody, so I'm truly blessed. I intend to buy each and every sibling and spouses a gift for either Christmas or Hanukkah. But how can I establish a suggested price limit on gifts within the family without them thinking I'm cheap or rude?



Dear Jody:

Without even dealing with a "dollars discussion," you can solve the problem by giving each family a gift for them to share. The idea is that they share and enjoy it together. My husband and I do that with his family. We make up baskets of treats -- fancy candy, nuts, jams, cookies, teas, coffee and cocoa. It gives them a morale boost, it's fun, and now they look forward to it each year. Perhaps you can let your family know by saying something like: "The holidays are getting so stressful lately that the spirit of them is getting lost. So this year, rather than rush around trying to find individual gifts, I've decided to give each family a gift to share. I might even make it myself." That way you establish both your values and your boundaries. At the same time, you'll appear thoughtful and considerate.

But if you get stuck in the dollars dilemma after all, perhaps you can suggest a Pollyanna system with a limit, say, of $25. That's what the government allows for deductible gifts. So if it's good enough for Uncle Sam, it should be fine for the rest of the relatives. If you can't persuade anyone to go this route and must go for broke, I wouldn't spend more than 10 dollars apiece and, frankly, would find things for far less. It takes some imagination, but it's possible.

You can also use my Gift Giving Guide to help you with your gift decisions.

Good luck!

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