Wednesday, 28 October 2015


Do you ever feel that you are just in a really bad mood.  Like you want to be all yelling and shouting and having a go at someone?  No, probably not because you are normal, but that is how I feel today.

There is silly stuff going round in my head.  Most of which I will not bore you with, save this one little thing.

A quote from someone in a meeting (NOT me!).  "I'm not trying to be negative, just trying to see all the problems"  Really.  If that was your positive I would hate to see your negative!!!  Also I was got at today for not dressing up as a witch at work.  It isn't compulsory and there were many other non witches, but for some reason I was the person chosen to be pointedly pointed out......  Agghh!!

No, the issue is this, which I have to explain in a slightly roundabout way, so please, as Tilly* would say "bear with...".

I have to tell someone something which really isn't that horrid in my opinion.

That once the persons child reaches 21 next year, that really is it for gifts.  Under 21 is fine and will continue, but after that no.  Gifts stopped for me well before I was 16 so I have gone on a lot longer than that already.  Significant occasions like weddings are excluded from the no gifts of course and gifts will be bought for those occasions as and when they happen.

Relations with the person and their spouse are extremely difficult and likely to go off - on their end - like a truckload of fireworks if they even sense that they are somehow being "wronged" by me.  They have a lot to deal with and I know and accept that and if I was allowed to I would help, but I am not so I can't. 

That said, I don't think me giving advance warning of no more presents after this Christmas and the 21st birthday of their child next year should be the end of the world or add to their troubles in any way.

I am terrified though, based on previous horrendous experiences, that if I say, which I feel that I should do in order to give some advance warning, that this is your last Christmas and birthday gifts, it is very likely that all the circles of hell will break loose and come crashing down upon me faster than you can say Dante who.  Or bear with.

I started to vaguely mention it once before when relations were in an okish kind of place and it wasn't well received.  As I am apparently in the doghouse, once again, for not doing or not not doing or whatever it was I should or shouldn't have done because quite frankly I have no idea what it is that I did or didn't do, if I say it now, when I have apparently done something wrong (and, this is not a lie, their actual pet dog just died too!) then really, all the circles of hell will rain down on me.

If I leave it though then that isn't so nice either is it.  What do I do.  Just stop?  Send one child (well under 21) an envelope and not the other?

Oh, and at the moment the soon to be 21 and their younger sibling do send gifts to hubby and I, which are very kind, but not expected in any way, and I will, once again, make this absolutely clear, and will request, once again, that these gifts to us cease, because I really do not think it would be fair to send one way gifts to us.  Not because we are not grateful, I just don't think that it is right now and would really not be right if we stop.

This isn't someone that I can just ignore or not talk to, I do have to talk to them, at least at some points, even if they are in the middle of hating me.

Any advice?  Kind nice well meaning advice, I cannot take anyone being nasty right now!  Not that you would I am sure.

I know the answer, just rip off the plaster (band aid) and tell them, but oh gosh that doesn't make it any easier.

I guess that what I am hoping that you will say is that I am right, once you reach 21 I can stop with the gifts and then that will give me some confidence that I am not doing something awful and help me when I have to come out and say it.  Which I need to do.  Soon.

If I am being unfair though, do tell me.  Just nicely!

Thank you all!

That is why I am crabby.  I am stressed!  I am not going to yell or shout though.  Instead I just spent nigh on two hours writing and rewriting this.  I am going to press publish, but I might delete it in a moment!


* Tilly is a character from a sitcom called Miranda.  You have to have seen it to understand.  Sorry!


  1. I hate these kinds of decisions. They make me crabby too! I have a long time friend who I am going through this with right now. I stopped the birthday gifts at 18. And the parties. I am not going to parties for 19 and 20 year olds. I have to say, I still struggle with guilt because there are 2 younger kids involved who I DO give to. "If" I could go back and do it over again, I think I would do just a card and a couple scratch tickets in it (still no parties...just not a fan!), but since there is no going back, I'm sticking to just "Happy Birthday" :) Christmas... well, I'm a wimp about that. Since there are 2 younger, I just can't seem to make the break; I still buy for all of them. I'm with you though... it just gets to a point where enough is enough. Good luck, it's not easy!!

  2. I can't give any advice, but to say life is sometimes very tricky, Maybe just an explanation of how it works for you and is done to "all" and you just want to be 'fair', is all I can think of. Best of luck and don't stress unduly, as you'll make yourself ill. Take care, please!

  3. I'd be crabby too! This is such a tough situation. In our family the gifts stop after 18 - they are out of school at that time and are adults. It was easy for us though, because my kids were the oldest, I suggested it and everyone agreed.
    I think you've been very generous. I would send a note, explaining your position and why, and pray they accept it nicely!

  4. Gifts stop at 21...end of. Weddings etc are the exception. Done.
    Jane xxx

  5. It's been a long time since we had these decisions to make. We gave gifts to the little children but stopped when they got older and they never did thank us much, nor did they ever give us gifts. It's a sticky wicket. Now they're all older and we don't even send a card! But we love them and attend their weddings and give gifts for those events. But not Christmas or birthdays. It's a good thing to discuss this with more family and get a consensus and come up with a decision everyone can agree on. I wish you the best with this. Don't worry though, just do your best and don't let people be mean to you. ((hugs)), Teresa :-)

  6. I'm glad others obsess over the gift thing too. For us it was cutting out the birthday and Christmas gifts once the grandchildren turn 18. We don't hear from them (other than happy birthday on FB) nor have we received gifts for a number of years so the decision was made and they'll have to live with it. It can be a touchy subject and I heard one of our granddaughters make a snide remark about not getting money any more from us.
    Why don't you suggest best wishes only by way of a card or phone call? Of course if you want to sever the exchanging completely, just jump in like we did and expect disappointment.
    With other family members it's just a card at Christmas. Good luck Amy.

  7. We had to face this years ago with family. It wasn't easy.....with that I will agree, but when it was done, I was so much less stressed.

    I'm sure our family didn't understand, but they did respect our choice (thankfully). It's now 30+ years later and I'm so glad. Our holidays, birthdays etc....are much less hectic.

    Of course, graduations, marriages and births still get a gift.

  8. Ooh, sounds like a tough decision. I love giving gifts so I give to my children and their children, no matter their age. We stopped exchanging gifts in our extended family long ago, although I cannot let Christmas go by without giving my parents gifts.
    When relationships are strained, it's a really hard call to make.

  9. I had this situation just a few years ago.
    The couple and their kids always gave lavish (in my world) gifts and I felt uncomfortable and obliged to try and keep up.
    Like you, I decided 21 was the cut off point.
    I gave smaller gifts at the Christmas, and made a comment to the mum that it was a tradition of mine (!) not to gift after 21.
    I decided that me laying awake stressing was not the meaning of Christmas.
    They've been cooler towards us, but no wild axes were thrown.
    This year I'm buying/making for my absolute nearest and dearest, and other folk get a nice card.
    That's what Christmas giving should be in our house: affordable and stress-free, and I wholly recommend it. :-)

  10. We took the coward's way out and stopped without saying anything. We did this much earlier than 21 as our extended family were producing kids like rabbits and keeping up with all the birthdays was becoming a real problem Luckily it didn't seem to cause offence as everybody still talks to us. Some of those children are now having babies and I simply send them a blanket or hat and cardigan. Then that is IT.

  11. The 'no gifts as an adult' is a big rule in our family. If we didn't have it we would probably be bankrupt. I have 12 nieces and nephews. On top of that I have 8 great nieces and nephews. Our rule is once you start having children then presents stop for the parents. It works pretty well but we did have a couple of comments from the younger parents (a couple of my nieces are young mums) the first year they didn't get anything, but they quickly realised how expensive it can be and now agree with the rule. Xxx

  12. I think stopping gifts at 21 is perfectly reasonable and have such arrangements with friends whose children have grown up with mine. Frankly, I'm sure the 21 year old won't mind and it sounds as if the parents may have other issues, so I wouldn't worry too much. xx

  13. speak with the soon to be 21 and just explain that you will still send a card but now they are an adult the gifts will cease and point out you really appreciate the gift they send you but would really appreciate just a card and they could save the money on a gift towards something they want for themselves, if they dont like it well its just tough really all part of growing up, :-)

  14. Oh the joys of Xmas, if it is not present giving it's who you invite. I think you are being very sensible in saying there is a cut off point whichever age that may be. I have a feeling the young people involved will not be bothered either way and may even be relieved that they will not have to buy presents for you. xx

  15. I think what you are doing is perfectly fine. We have honestly stopped many gifts in this family - many live overseas and we do zero and vice versa (even with children); for the adults in the family in the same country we either buy none on one side of the family or buy one gift for only one adult (at Christmas) on the other side of the family. Birthdays are virtually totally ignored by most! SO my boys have grown up with few gifts from anyone and even at 11/14/17 they really would not be too bothered if they got little anyway. Santa is long gone. Good luck - it is tough. I make myself and my immediate family happy and have finally learnt not to get too stressed by everyone else. (I hate consumerism at Christmas and expectations!)

  16. Dear Amy
    My god daughter received gifts from me until she was 21 and I felt that was perfectly reasonable. My other god daughter will receive gifts until she is 21, but then they will stop. How about sending a little note to the person concerned - would that be easier, because you can really consider what it is you want to say. My aunt sent me a note explaining she wouldn't be sending any more gifts to us as she now had grandchildren, which was perfectly fair and reasonable. Any normal person wouldn't be offended at all - they would be grateful for all the gifts you had sent over the years.
    Anyway, I hope you get this sorted in your mind.
    Best wishes

  17. I think it should be entirely your decision to give or not to give. Giving gifts can be a bit of a chore I find. I would suggest you talk to the 'child' directly, rather than worrying about the parent. You might find that he/she is absolutely fine with not receiving a gift. You could soften the 'blow' by arranging a nice wee dinner at home, or a trip to the movies together. It wouldn't cost a fortune and you show that you still care. I would call it a gentle weaning.... Good luck, it is not easy. As for the witch, I could have stepped in for you yesterday... I showed up at a business plan meeting dripping wet, hair like a wet poodle and mascara running down my checks. My shoes squeaked, too. I left the broom on my bike :-) Just ignore those silly comments at work. If they have nothing better to do than point their fingers, theirs is a sad life indeed. Have a lovely weekend. x

  18. with most of our family groups we do gifts for the children and not for the adults (18). it works most of the time. or sometimes we buy a present for the whole family to share. there is no easy answer because people aren't easy...... but try not to stress about it too much. in times like these I usually fantasize about going and living like a hermit on some remote island where no-one knows where I am........

  19. It's probably best to let 21 know fairly soon otherwise it will build up and up in your head and it will all just burst out and won't come out as you would like it to. If you explain that that is the rule for everyone and that you have to be fair. What makes it worse for you is that there is a younger person in the same family but maybe 21 might like to be acknowledged as an adult. Mind you you won't be able to give the parents anything either. Tricky. Good luck. x

  20. Oh Amy, you are such a very lovely, kind, generous person, it saddens me to know that you have this difficult situation that is likely to be unpleasant for you. I think you're absolutely right that gifts stop at 21. And it's a good idea to tell them beforehand. Please try not to tie yourself up in knots about it. I know that's easy to say, but you've given gifts all this time, and it's perfectly reasonable and sensible to stop. A kind and decent person would be very grateful for all that they have had. I hope the conversation isn't as bad as you anticipate, and I hope that once it's all done you will feel happier about things. It's not okay for difficult people to upset you with their behaviour. I know how hard it is to live with bad situations and unpleasantness, and how it eats away at you inside. Please try not to let it. Sending you a cyber hug. CJ xx

  21. I like Ellie Foster's idea of putting a note in with the final gift to the 21 year old. This will set these out clearly, without having to have a confrontation about it.

  22. You've gone on with the present buying much longer than I do, I stop at 18, that goes for birthdays and Christmas. I think it's a case of just biting the bullet and telling them, in the nicest possible way, that you stop buying presents for everyone when they reach twenty one. You shouldn't feel under pressure with this, gift giving should be a pleasurable experience and you shouldn't feel guilty because you stop giving to a child when they become an adult.

  23. Oh dear, poor you, what a grotty day! Don't worry, it is perfectly reasonable not to give gifts to anyone over 21 - over 18 in my opinion. You can still send a card. I think I would be inclined not to mention it at all - certainly not to make a big announcement. You could drop a little hint in this last card that they are 'an adult now' - but I don't think you have to justify your decision in any way.

    I hate this consumer buy buy buy culture - what matters is that you love them and families spending time together, not gifts. Good luck, and I hope your week improves :-)

  24. It's difficult to give advice without knowing the persons and situations well. I think an adult can't e x p e c t a gift and receiving them can't continue for ever. We only exchange (Christmas) cards.
    I of course loved "Miranda" and keep the last episode on DVR so that I can gallop to the TV room every now and then to enjoy some happy moments with a cheerful old-school sitcom.
    Take care! xx

  25. There are some days that I think it would be nice to be a hermit living in the woods where nobody would bother me. Want to come with me? We can be crabby together.

    As for the gift thing - I think you know that, although there might be a storm about it, the best way is just to say it. Get it out there, if only for your own sake! And remember - this too will pass. In the meantime, try not to stress - easier said than done, I know.

  26. I had a horrendous day yesterday and ended up in tears. Joe was goading me a
    ll afternoon, I'm missing my mum horribly and between the imminent house move, concerns about family and starting my business it all got a bit much.
    Today's better. Bad days pass.
    As for the whole gift situation, how about just making something in a big batch (cookies/fudge/chocolate bark) and giving it as a family present, to be shared?
    I'm awful at confrontation or even being assertive. Good luck.
    Sarah x

  27. Hope you are feeling better today!
    I found...with my nieces and cards were better, in their teens.
    We collectively decided to stop the gifts...except of course for my SISTER...
    Who said.." I have been buying for your kids still owe my kids a few more years!"
    Really? I think not....
    Haven't spoken to her in over 4 years! Feels great! Hahaha!
    Enjoy your day Amy!
    Linda :o)

  28. If it is something you believe in then just "manup" and take care of it.

  29. Oh, dear such a dilemma, I've been through this on a smaller scale than you but I'm lucky in that we've never been a family for sending cards and presents other than to those really close and it is perfectly reasonable to get to 21 and not expect to be treated like a child anymore. I think it happened at 18 for me, We only send birthday cards to a special few and I notice that they are more friends than family and christmas cards to all including distant cousins and etc. I'm sure you are doing the right thing Amy by stopping at 21 it is just difficult because of the younger child. Good luck:)

  30. Life does that to us sometimes. I am a bit braver than you, I just said to my mate no more presents after eighteen which is why I am making my eight pointed star quilt for her to take to Uni. She is going out with a bang! then no more. You just have to go for it and listen to people who you like you not people who have some sort of issue with consumerism. PS. My girls didn't go to the halloween disco at school because they don't like scary outfits and we were a bit scowled upon but hey ho! Sending you positive vibes Amy. Jo xxxxx

  31. 21 years is amazing!!! You could write your thoughts in a letter/ have been so generous and do not deserve for anyone to be off with you... Stick to your guns and be firm like Margaret Thatcher said "this lady is not for turning!" I stop at 18, and that is that. Not open for debate , cards continue, gifts stop. Good luck I hope it goes well , remember no one has the right to make you feel bad in any situation. Xxx

  32. As me mum would say to a situation like this . Never right but wrong again . I think a lot of us have done this after 21 that's it things get more expensive and like the rest of us if you want it get a job and buy it like the rest of us have to . Sorry I am blunt no free bees any more ! your on your own jack lol hard cheese ducky ! Bare with .. no more !! I could go on but you get the phrases and the picture . Do what you feel is right and if they don't like it so be it to bad for them ! You go girl ! Hope you get past this and can move on with a giggle after !

  33. I hate when that happens my comment just vanished so if you have it twice I apologise. I think the gift giving thing is way over the top these days. I say don't give gifts from the start then none will be expected , maybe a card and a little something for special occasions or special birthdays. This won't help you of course Amy because you already started and have continued for far longer than I would have done. I would buy Mr/Miss 21 a gift and hand it to him/her and say we have made it extra special, because now that you have reached 21 this will be our last gift to you unless it's for a special birthday or occasion of course, and mind it works both ways don't you be buying gifts for us either. I have a friend who was putting money in an envelope for my youngest sons birthday every year I told her to stop and she honestly looked relieved I think people get into a cycle and they are scared to stop in case they are badly thought of. Stick to what you believe in Amy and think no more about it. :) xx

  34. Our family stopped exchanging gifts right across the board once all the kids were I think 16. I still exchange gifts with my brother & his kids (both under 10) because they're alone on the other side of the country, and I feel it makes it nicer for them to open a little something from "home". I exchange nothing with my sisters whom I see a little more often. It was pretty much agreed on by all of us once one person spoke up with "can we stop this now". I was kind of surprised, but realized it was all getting too much and the stress of shopping was getting us all a bit crazy (there are 20 of us!). It's more fun to just get together for a meal and an evening of pleasant company :) Just say it to the "child/new adult" that now that they're turning 21, there will no longer be gifts from you ... you don't need to say it directly to the parents.

  35. Hey Amy,
    Oh my lovely I feel for you with this one. I stop giving gifts - birthday and Xmas when any of my nieces and nephews turn 21. I think that's completely acceptable. My sister just 'got it' but my sister in law kind of didn't. It was a bit awkward but I stuck to my guns. I have had the ok back handed comment about her having to buy mine presents for years to come, but to be honest I ignore it. I have to or else she'd make me feel guilty. Which is kind of the point, I guess. She can stop when mine are 21 or this Xmas frankly. My children don't expect anything anyway! This is my very round about way of saying that I think you are being entirely appropriate about no gifts after 21, and that their reaction says more about them than it does you. You are kind, generous and well meaning. What more do they want?! I hope it us resolved, dear Amy.
    Leanne xx

  36. we have stopped giving Christmas gifts 2 the big family. - my Dad has 3 bros with lots of kids etc etc & would cost a fortune ( ;
    u have 2 give up n some area. makes u sad, but u have 2 think of ur wallet 2. i totally sympathize with u big time ( ;

  37. For what it is worth I think 21 is a perfectly reasonable age to stop - 18 would be reasonable too. I find the answer to crabby days is to put the TV or radio on and shout at that! x

  38. Oh Amy - these situations get so difficult sometimes (in many cases unnecessarily) and I sure feel for you. I think you're completely justified in saying that the gift thing ends at that age (you are incredibly generous to let it go that long!!). I think it would be good to have an open conversation about it and hope that everyone will be reasonable.

    However, if it starts getting ugly, than maybe some kind of compromise could be found. Maybe there could be a pooling of names each year and everybody draw one and only need to shop for that ONE gift to share and everyone will at least get something in the exchange. Or we do the funny door prize Christmas in my hubby's family - which is a fun gift game that everyone brings fun and goofy inexpensive gifts and numbers are drawn and gifts can be stolen etc. It's so fun and lighthearted and funny. I can share more info if you're interested.

    But if it's something where you just need to end things at the 21 age, then just know you are more than justified in doing so, and if there are problems/conflicts it is not your fault or problem - only theirs.
    Prayers for a peaceful resolution! xoxo

  39. Apologies if I'm echoing someone else - I haven't read all the comments above - but couldn't you shelve the issue until into the new year when relations may be better with recent events and general Christmas angst behind everyone. I totally agree re. no presents after 21 if that's the way your family does things, but why barb the last one with the knowledge that it's the last, won't that take some of the joy out of the occasion for both the recipient and you?

  40. Only just read this Amy. So much good advice here. So sorry to hear about this predicament. These people do not know how lucky they are that you are in their lives but yes I fear you should pull the plaster off and cease with presents now

  41. A tricky one Amy. I've always been of the opinion that gifts are exactly that... A gift, with no obligation to give them and no obligation to reciprocate if you happen to receive them, but that doesn't really help your situation! Good luck, however you decide to tackle it.

  42. our family just stopped when my kids were just kids on my husband's side. On my side we go until 21 then stop. Now that we each have a married couple we are revisiting our gifting rituals. Gifts are for giving and being in the spirit of remembering them. If it's a chore or causes anguish well then it's not much fun is it? I say try your best to do what you want to do and I will hope it goes your way!

  43. Families can drive us crazy! We gave gifts to nieces and nephews, but never received a thank you from either the child or the parent, so we stopped. I send cards to my siblings and we exchange gifts with one of my husband's brothers, thats it. I communicate with one of my sisters and hear from the other when she needs money. We haven't heard from one of my husband's brother in more than 25 years. As I said, families, they make life interesting, but not always in a good way.

  44. It's not unfair at all. My mother-in-law has let all of her grandkids know that at 21 they are no longer getting cash and big presents at Christmas and birthdays. It just becomes too expensive! I feel for you especially since it sounds like the ones you'll be dealing with aren't reasonable to begin with.

  45. 21???! Really? Um... The last birthday gift I got from my CLOSEST relative that wasn't one of my parents or a grandparents, (she is my Godmother) was when I was TEN years old! After that, cards without any money inside at all and certainly, no gifts. Gifts from my parents continue (THANK GOD, wink-wink) but even cards with money in them from my Oma in Germany ceased before I graduated from high school. No Yes! Dearest Amy - you are spot-on correct and, if I may so... Overly generous. xoxo


Thank you so very much for stopping by to visit and for leaving a comment, I love hearing what you have to say and I read all of your messages.

All comments are moderated, so it might take a little while for your comment to appear, but it will once I have read it!

Thank you again for visiting!

Amy xx