Battling over gifts not worth ruining your relationships

Perhaps at no other time of the year do we realize just how much we love our friends and families. We make extra time in our busy lives to gather together and share a meal.

We celebrate our favorite traditions — such as weekend getaways, playing games together and decorating the tree.

If you’re anything like my dad and my husband, you spend your quality holiday time nodding off in separate recliners for most of the afternoon. Probably the last thing any of us wants to do during this time of the year is to have an uncomfortable conversation.

However, no matter how tricky, navigating gift-giving conversations is a necessary part of keeping your spending in check this holiday season.

Here are some tips to start and end conversations well with your friends and family when it becomes a subject that can be a bit touchy.

a good place

It’s easy to begin to formulate an inaccurate mindset of it’s us (the thrifty and simple) against them (the indulgent over- spenders).

That is simply not true.

Even if your loved ones go overboard during the holiday season, they want to bless you with things. It’s not like they’re throwing rotten eggs at your door in the middle of the night.

Rather than adopting a divisive frame of reference, begin any conversation by acknowledging your gratitude for their generosity.

Suggest a gradual reduction or set a specific amount.

More than likely, your friends and family have already begun their shopping. So, suggesting that you nix giving gifts to one another altogether won’t be well received. Instead, encourage a gradual scaling back.

You could suggest a set dollar amount or number of gifts to be given. This might open the platform for a future discussion about changing your traditions in the future, too.


Life is better lived in community. No one breathes their last breath wishing they would have had one more pair of long underwear or another box of chocolates from the drugstore. What many do regret is having not spent time together.

Maybe you can suggest spending quality time over money this Christmas. It could be as simple as a trip to the movies or as expensive as a membership to a museum.

Especially when it comes to doting grandparents, brainstorm a list of non-toy gifts. We all know toys mate and multiply like rabbits during the late-night hours, scattering themselves over every walking surface in your home. Be as specific as possible and help guide them.

Swap stuff

Each year, we gather with some of our dearest friends. Everyone brings a delicious dish to share; and then, after the plates have been cleared, the real fun begins. Our annual white elephant gift exchange never fails to entertain.

From the mundane to the hilarious, everyone brings something they already own wrapped and ready to head home with someone else.

Some call this game Yankee Swap or Dirty Bingo. I call it yearly awesome. Gifts often make reappearances; and each time we play, the old adage “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure” proves true. The only rule is you can’t purchase anything.

Select your battles

We all know that people are always more important than things. While I would never advise you go into debt or even overspend at Christmastime, I also urge you to remember that battling over gifts is not worth burning relational bridges.

Measure your words carefully as you navigate. In the end, you may have to hold yourself to a standard of creativity, finding ways to bless people with affordable gifts and in unique ways. Do everything in love, realizing that your loved ones are not the enemy and Christmas is not a battlefield.

May all of your gatherings be filled with wonder and good cheer. May your conversations be sprinkled with grace and gratitude. And above all else, may you exchange memories that will last a lifetime this holiday season.