My Precious Pennies

I will be AWAY until late February as we do this moving thing...again.

Ginger from Attention Target Shoppers & Tricia from 1stopmom
will be holding down the fort in the meantime - thank you so much, ladies!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Works-For-Me Wednesday: Christmas list

UPDATE: Thank you so much for all of the suggestions...! I am so touched that so many people have offered their suggestions, and you guys have given me really great ideas - I can't wait to hear more of them!

Today is a backwards edition of Works-For-Me Wednesday, and I really desperately need your help. It's only September, but Christmas is already threatening my sanity. And it's not giving presents that has the potential to put me in an insane asylum, but the prospect of receiving presents. My dilemma is how to politely and in a non-tacky way ask for certain types of gifts.

I am very grateful that we have so many friends and family that love us enough to want to send us presents. Last year we had so many presents that we had difficulty fitting them under our Christmas Tree (which was also a Christmas present). And the amazing thing was that we were on the east coast, and all these presents made their way from the west coast. But the problem is that we already have SO much stuff that we really can't just take on more useless items.

I'm so thankful for that gorgeous stationary set, but I really don't need it! And I'm sure that stuffed animal is adorable, but my will-be 7 month old won't really care for it. I would rather receive presents that we have a use for, because I feel so guilty about re-gifting presents or throwing them out, especially when someone took the time to buy it, wrap it, and then mail it to us!

Is there a polite and non-tacky way to establish and distribute a Christmas idea list amongst our family and friends? I don't want to make it seem like we're expecting presents, but honestly I would rather they donate the money to charity instead of getting us more useless stuff. I would rather 3 or 4 people pool their money and gift us with one present instead (read: the food processor or the camera that I desperately need).

And I am living in fear that this Christmas will just be blown out of proportion with the baby's presence. She's the first everything - grandkid, great grandkid, niece, name it, she's first. It's nowhere near Christmas, and at least once a week I'll get a package addressed to her with some cute booties or shirts or toys inside. And she has SO much of most things. She's got more clothes than my husband and I combined, and she's got enough stuffed animals and baby toys for me to open a daycare center. What she really needs are some developmental non-newborn toys, like walkers or entertainment centers.

I also need a way to suggest to our friends and family where to buy the gifts. It's really a waste of money to buy something at their local store and send it via mail when they can just order it online for pickup at our local store. USPS, UPS, and Fedex is NOT cheap, and I would rather they donate that postage money to a local animal shelter instead. Or if there's no local in-store pickup, I would rather they send a giftcard for the exact amount of the item they want us to get and a picture of it. I promise I'll go to get that actual item!

I admit it, I'm obsessed with saving money, even when it's not my own. None of our relatives are millionaires, and whereas I know they wouldn't make themselves broke on our behalf, I just wish that people who really need that money can get it, instead of UPS.

Anyone have words of advice on how to tactfully deliver a "we need" list for Christmas?


AmyK said...

Could you send out a family newsletter with subtle hints in it? Like, "Sally really enjoys playing with her [insert toy]." or, "Whenever Johnny goes to the toystore, he begs for [insert toy]." You could swing it to work in some hints about you and your husband, too; might not be too hard to do.
But remember, you'd have to send it out early enough to beat the gift-givers to their shopping spree! Try sending it in November to beat the rush.

aSprinkling said...

I don't know about the tactful part, but is a great place for creating a list for "giving ideas" to those who want to buy something for you or your baby.

Cheri said...

This is what we use for gift receiving. It's an online gift site, but you create the links to particular items/stores, then the buyer purchases the gift and goes back into the site to check off that they purchased it. We'ev done things like listed video games/books that my son wanted, linked to an example site, then clarified in the item's comments that USED is perfectly okay for these items. (You could clarify your shipping recommendations too...). Since you're setting it up, you could probably list your charity preferences too!

We've loved doing this, and our distant family members appreciate not having to guess at sizes, interests, etc!

Someone Being Me said...

I have a Target wish list for me and one for my son. You can also set up a wish list on Amazon. Then just let people know it is out there if they are looking for ideas. The people that want ideas will use it and those who are going to get you what they want to get you will just ignore it.

Anonymous said...

Hey! I'm a lurker and I don't have a blog, but I definitely wanted to throw out a thought I had regarding your Christmas present dilemma.

I am an only child, so my parents knew that I would receive a lot of gifts from our family members for birthdays and Christmas. With that said, they asked their parents (i.e. my grandparents) to give me savings bonds in whatever denomination they felt comfortable with. It became a wonderful tradition for birthdays and Christmas. By the time I went to college, I had enough savings bonds in the bank that I could pay for 4 years at a public college outright. No loans and such. I know college is becoming more and more expensive and the economy isn't great, so interest rates are low, but it's something to think about.

I know the suggestion sounds boring, but my money conscious Dad really had the right idea and I am so grateful not to have any debt to pay off. Plus your daughter is still young enough that she probably doesn't care too much about presents.

I hope this helps! Good luck :)

I absolutely love your blog and find it very encouraging! Thank you for taking the time to write about frugality, decluttering, etc.

Kim S.

mom0ktdid said...

I created a wish list on Amazon and posted it on our blog! We have one for the kids for Christmas and for us for school!
I know what their "big" present from us will be, and this way the grandparents, etc, can get extras to go along with the dollhouse and the knight's castle we are getting them. We wouldn't be able to afford to buy a whole lot more to go with it, but instead of getting them a Christmas Dora plush, why not get them bedroom sets for the dollhouse or horses for the castle? You can post the link icon on your blog with html, or just email it out. I am sure no one would be offended, and if they are, then maybe that is just one less person you have to reciprocate buy for! ha ha!

Bitty said...

I suggest you start a Christmas category on your blog. When you send out your Christmas cards, list the blog on the ones to family.
On the Christmas blog, mention what the baby has plenty of, what's needed, and maybe some ideas for gift cards. Or, list links to your favorite charities as a "hint." I think it could be a tactful way to begin to manage Christmas.

Leslie said...

Oh how I would love to find a way to do this...but I just don't know if that is even possible! I hope you get some great suggestions! :)

Debbie said...

My husband's family is large and we just draw names. Works great. I have a friend whose family does that too - even her parents are in the name drawing. Cuts down on waste. When mine were less than 1, I asked family not to get them anything and told them I'd let them know later if they needed something. I'm like you though. Tight on cash and wanting to not be wasteful. Good question.

Aubrey said...

My in-laws always ask us for a list. You can make a wish-list on, and then try to let the word get out about it. Amazon is great since they have lots of stuff besides books. Maybe if you can let one person (i.e. your mom, grandmother, mother-in-law) know who you know won't be offended by saying to them that you don't have room for tons of new clothes or whatever it is you don't want, but that you've made a list of things that you really need. Maybe then they could disperse the list so it doesn't seem like you are asking for things. Or you can always just return things and use the money on something you really need.

Clair said...

Hey! how did the Yorkshire Puddings go? Clair at Mummy Deals

Gillie said...

I don't know if it's tactful, but my sister always has a wishlist on her website for her kids. At least we all know where to find what will be useful for them. And if I buy them something unwanted or unneeded, if I didn't check the list, it's my own fault.

I don't think you're ever going to stem the tide of tacky gifts from tactless gift-givers, though. I love my mother in law, but I'll never forget the year I got everything purple because I may have mentioned that I like the color. Ah well, that little unicorn figurine will be appreciated by a little girl somewhere :)!

Anonymous said...

Money and Christmas can be a touchy conversation to have. Especially with grandparents, lol. But I totally see where you're coming from.

The first year we were stationed with the Army our eldest son opened Christmas presents for almost 4 hours. Yes, you read that right. By the end of it he said mom can I take a nap now? I stuttered out um, sure. We ended up rewrapping half of them for his birthday 2 months later and he never knew it because there were so many.

We sent out an email requesting other family members Christmas lists - and here it is - included our own. We said the baby wanted necessities, the older children wanted specific educational toys or clothes with sizes and that we were happy with donations to charities we suport.

We stressed that it is the thought that counts, but we'd rather see them next year than get presents all year long for this or that, so by all means, feel free to save for a plane ticket. We also added things the children (read: their mother) did Not want, like Playdough. Seriously at one time I gathered it all up and counted 68 jars of the stuff. Ludicrous, yes?

You know how carefully to tread with some, how brutally honest you can be with others. Just do it in the true spirit of Christmas and it'll all work out fine. Be blessed! ~Whitney

Diane said...

I dont really have any great words of wisdom for you sorry. I am in the same boat though getting too much and stuff we dont really need. I am not sure how to handle this.

Kristy said...

I think how well this works would depend a lot on your family and friends, but here are a couple ideas:

First, I think this would be easier done on your daughter's behalf than yours, so maybe you could start there. You might just stress that she has so many loving, giving people in her life that she gets so many of certain things.

Also - could you approach your family with the idea of exchanging lists? Maybe suggesting that you would love to have a better idea of some things that your sister or brother wants, and with living so far apart, you don't always know what a good gift would be.

You could also try just talking to your parents and in-laws about some things that you, your husband, and/or your child needs, and ask them to pass it on to other family members.

The other thing is, the only person I give a wish list to is my parents (informally - I just start saying things like, "you know what I really want for Christmas this year?). And I always give several options, so they still get some choice. :-) Because if my sister were to say, "please buy this specific toy for Jake, here's the link", I would hate it. I want some surprises Christmas morning!

Robyn said...

I'm dealing with the same dilemma.
I will be sending this out to my family this year. It's a blog called The Not Quite Crunchy Parent that gives great ideas for gift alternatives, and places to buy.
My hangup is the lead in all of the toys. I'd just rather they didn't get those kinds of toys anymore, so there are links to sites for safer toys.
Good luck!

Anonymous said...

My sister and I made a deal when our lil ones were born...between the three of them there is less than a year total...we give each other explicit lists and even call back and forth if we find something that we want our kids to have in particular...
also we are super lucky in the relationship with my folks. my mom asks and the kids and i create a NANA list with glue sticks and cut outs from the toys r us ads. she is allowed to pick no more than 3 per child.

this year i have asked her to consider instead of a bunch more toys they dont really need to buy each of them a magazine subscription...Zoobooks is a HUGE favorite around our house and highlights was suggested for the other one...
she was thrilled and its something that they will get enjoyment out of every month and not just one or two days...

as for us grownups we all give a very small but explicit list to each other...last year i wanted nothing more than a fabulous digi camera since the one i had bought the previous year was killed by a toddler. i found a deal online for a great one with a photo printer free after was a one day online only special....
also it was something Chris and i couldnt ever afford especially w/ the mail in rebate issue...i called my dad and asked if he would do it and just tell mom it had to be my only christmas present from them....

the year my sis and i were both preg at the same time mom and dad bought us both video cameras...and not really anything else...
we do wind up with a few surprises but they are much smaller and usually of the stocking filler variety

cynthiagilbert said...

I used this website for my baby shower in July. Since I was having another baby girl I had most everything I needed - except some of the big ticket items. This site gave me the flexibility to list the things we needed with links to Walmart, Target or Ikea so our friends could see what we wanted. Then, I used the quantity column as the amount for the item and people would enter how much of a gift card they were giving.

If you want to look over how mine turned out, enter "Gabriella" in the name field and select baby shower from the drop down field. The list displays oddly in IE - scroll down to see the content. Maybe this will give you some ideas... If you decide to do something like this, I'm sure you'll be able to come up with a tactful and subtle way to point people to the list.

I Am Frugal said...

I am new to your blog and this was posted a while ago but if you ever get this comment and see it one suggestion I have would be like someone else said and ask for savings bonds from family members. That way they aren't paying for postage or anything really and you have an automatic savings account for your kid.

Me and my husband are in school right now and have 2 little kids and although we don't have very much we don't really need anything because our space is limited. We just decided to tell my parents that we wanted some gift cards to local restaurants, sporting events, concerts, museums, etc. We are very limited on income and don't get to go out very much. We have loved getting these kinds of gifts because we get to spend time together over the christmas break without spending more money and it doesn't cost family members hardly anything to send you a gift card to somewhere. You could also suggest getting gift cards to like Barnes and Noble, Borders, Amazon, etc where you could get your kids some educational books or give you money to buy a certain book you are wanting to buy. I LOVE getting giftcards and they are easy for the one giving it to you.

Good luck!

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