What Did You Give, What Did You Get?

by Katy on December 26, 2012 · 39 comments


December 26th is a day to rest and recover, but it’s also a day to look back on the gift giving. Spent too much? Gave too much? Did people seem to like their gifts?

Here’s what I gave:


Nothing. We only exchange birthday gifts.

Seventeen-Year-Old Son: 

  • A pair of fleece pajama pants. ($4.99 from Goodwill.)
  • A set of poker chips. (Free from a friend. I asked on Facebook whether anyone had an extra set.)
  • A deck of cards. (99¢ from Goodwill.)
  • A $25 gift card to Buffalo Exchange used clothing shop (I got $18 in credit by exchanging clothing for store credit. This included $6.50 for a pair of jeans I had pulled from a free pile!)
  • $20 in iTunes gift cards. (There was a special deal through Safeway to buy $60 in cards for $36!)
  • A refurbished 5th generation iPod Touch from Best Buy. ($220. This way very expensive, no reasoning here.)

Fourteen-Year-Old Son:

  • A pair of pajama pants. ($4.99 from Goodwill.)
  • Two European soccer jerseys ($70. My husband picked these up from a local soccer shop.)
  • Portland Timbers limited edition soccer jersey with scarf in commemorative box. My husband took this to a Timbers event and had it signed by a number of the soccer players. ($75.)
  • Portland Timbers soccer shorts. ($15. On sale from $30.)
  • $25 gift certificate to a local art supply store. (I bought this on Small Business Saturday with my American Express Card, so the full $25 was reimbursed. Free! Whee!)
  • $20 in iTunes gift cards. (Same deal as above.)
  • Nice stainless steel Timex watch. ($5 from Goodwill. It had a yellow tag, and was 50%.)

My Mother:

  • Two jet bead necklaces. ($5 total. They were both the 50%-off color.)
  • A pair of flannel pajamas. ($9.99. From Goodwill, but new.)
  • A set of coasters that I Mod-Podged with the last of my vintage classroom map stash. (Coasters were $1.99 from Goodwill, the supplies were already owned.)
  • Two sets of Mason jar food kits. Soup and brownie mix. (Not sure the cost of the ingredients, although I did buy 12 Mason jars for $2.99 at Goodwill. Soup ideas was from Pinterest, brownie mix recipe was from a friend.)
  • A handmade gift certificate for the play of her choice and an evening out with me.

My Step-Father

  • Two vintage 45-records — Howdy Doody and The Three Stooges. (Bought these at the pay-by-the-pound Goodwill Outlet, so I’m unsure of the price.)
  • One vintage metal state tray. ($2.99 from Goodwill.)
  • An attractive and delicious package of smoked salmon. ($14.99 from Fred Meyer.)

My Father, Step-Mother and Two Sisters

Nothing. We don’t exchange Christmas gifts.

My Eight-Year-Old Niece

  • A stack of Zilpha Keatly Snyder books. (Free, as these were hand me downs from our stash of juvenile fiction.)
  • A small still-in-package Japanese plush doll. ($3.99 from Goodwill.)
  • A miniature silver plate bowl for her American Girl doll. ($1 from Goodwill.)
  • Large stash of Tinkertoys. (Unsure of price, as they were from the pay-by-the-pound Goodwill Outlet.)

Thirteen-Year-Old Nephew

$65 for a pair of custom Vans sneakers. (This was a joint birthday/Christmas present.)

My Parents-in-Law

  • A set of Mason jar food kits for soup and brownies. (See above.)
  • A pound of organic French roast coffee. ($11.99 from New Season’s Market.)
  • A $50 gift certificate to their current favorite restaurant.
  • Packaged in a large TastyKake tin. ($2.99 from Goodwill. My mother-in-law’s parents did the advertising art for TastyKake for years and years.)

My Brother and Sister-in-Law

  • A set of Mason jar food kits for soup and brownies. (See above.)
  • A $10 iTunes gift card. (See above.)
  • A beautiful venetian glass beaded bracelet. ($2.50 from Goodwill. It was the 50%-off color.)
  • A $30 gift certificate to a great local Mexican restaurant.
  • Packaged in a pretty basket that I picked up at the pay-by-the-pound Goodwill Outlet.

Here’s What I Received:

  • A beautiful carnelian and turquoise beaded necklace from my mother-in-law. She made the necklace.
  • A hand sewn flax seed neck wrap/cozy/thingy from my mother. Microwaved, this will be a cozy treat.
  • A $20 Goodwill gift card from my mother.
  • A $20 William Temple House thrift shop gift card from my mother.
  • A thrifted chair, for which my mother will be sewing and creating the cushions.

Whew . . .

You may notice that we do not exchange gifts with friends, co-workers, neighbors and extended family. We keep it tight. You may also notice that almost all of my gifts are from thrift shops, while my husband can’t keep himself from buying the expensive stuff.

It balances out . . . kind of.

Everything together totaled up to $609.39, which although it sounds enormous, is still $244.61 less than the $854 that the average American spent on their 2012 holiday shopping. We splurged a lot more than usual, but we’re both well employed and the blog is starting to generate more income. Plus, people seemed to love their gifts!

Now you. What did you give and what did you get? And do you plan on doing things differently in 2013? Please share your stories in the comments section below.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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{ 39 comments… read them below or add one }

Mauren December 26, 2012 at 3:42 pm

As we did get gifts for a few neices and nephews, and our daughter and son in law, hubby and I save our money and go on a trip. But 2013 will bring 2 trips, so besides saving, we will be on a strict budget so we can pay cash for both trips. We can swing 1 trip no problem, but really want to do 2 trips.

And by not exchanging with hubby, there is a lot less stress involved in “thinking” of gifts for him. No gift cards allowed as he wants the person getting him gifts to really think of a gift. That’s why I don’t mind saving and scrimping for a trip cause we both love to travel!


Katy December 26, 2012 at 7:36 pm

My husband hates not buying me gifts, but my birthday is next week so he’ll get to buy me something then.



tricia saltzberg December 26, 2012 at 3:50 pm

This year we ended up buying most of my son’s Xmas gifts when we were shopping my church’s flea market in august. Among the major items we got a Little People ramp/garage($5) , a Vtech train , a set of mega blok construction vehicles for $4 and a pianokeyboard ($5). And then in an uncoordinated “effort” my cousins bought him a black and Decker playtool set and we put it with a black and Decker tool bench my husband had found sitting on the side of one of our neighbor’s lawns back in October . He is 2 and he can be so fickle with toys I’m totally fine spending less and won’t sweat it if he moves on to other toys after a couple months.


Katy December 26, 2012 at 7:39 pm

It is certainly easier when they’re little. Teenagers are harder.



Bauunny December 26, 2012 at 4:15 pm

I cut back on Christmas…..my husband and I did not exchange gifts – partly because I tried to declare a no gift Christmas and because we are going to have our tiled shower rebuilt in the new year and it will be costly. I asked our two kids not to buy us gifts either – but they got stockings from Santa (some $$ to spend, a couple of lottery scratch-off tickets ( who knew Santa was a gambler) and something related to their hobby (camera magazine) and a planned summer trip (hiking maps, etc.). I exchanged small gifts with a couple of friends (handmade or favorite practical items less than $15). I filled Goodwill purchased tins with homemade cookies for 4 neighbors. We re-gifted holiday food gift baskets to 2 elderly relatives. Fruit was sent to siblings who live far away. It feels good not to have spent more than we could afford and not to have to return anything too.


Bridget December 26, 2012 at 4:17 pm

I gave:
My husband and I did not exchange gifts. Instead we changed our chandelier in our 2 story foyer and installed lights on either side of the garage. We also bought a new TV.

I gave my daughter:
Barbie Dream House – found on Craigslist for $30.
Ipod Touch – refurbished from Apple for $129
I also gave her a ton of other stuff that I bought all new but with coupons and on sale.

I gave my son:
2 monster trucks – $5 each found at a Consignment sale
Hess Truck – found at garage sale for $5
Spiderman Costume (to play dress up) found at Target after Halloween for $5.
The rest of the stuff was all new.

I gave my in-laws:
$75 gift certificate to restaurants. Bought at Price Chopper when they were doing gas points for 4x more than normal.

I gave my dad:
LL Bean Slippers

I gave my mom :
A stuffed whale that she wanted from Red Envelope. I used Fat Wallet to get money back.


Sheila December 26, 2012 at 5:09 pm

Bridget, Many years ago, I worked for Amerada Hess and we all got the trucks each Christmas. This was in Tulsa, OK, where they don’t have the Hess stations, so it was quite a novelty. Seeing you mention the truck brought back memories. I think my mom may have kept mine. I didn’t have kids then and let my nieces play with them.


Molly December 26, 2012 at 5:23 pm

I gave the hubby a copy of Brave, bought on *gasp* black friday at target. We watched it yesterday morning.
I gave the rest of the family a huge email of “thought that counts” gifts – a picture of the gift, a description, amd why i picked it for them. No physical gifts were given. It was hilarious.
I got a beautiful lilla rose hair clip from the hubby.


Katy December 26, 2012 at 7:41 pm

“That that counts gifts?!”

I love that!



Jenn December 26, 2012 at 5:44 pm

Friends we exchange gifts with got homemade candied pecans. These were packaged in new bowls, but decorated with used ribbon from my stash saved from previous gifts to us and homemade salt dough ornaments painted with supplies I had on hand.

I also made tic-tac-toe games for children in those families. I stitched a tic-tac-toe grid onto small drawstring bags that my husband rescued from being trashed (they were originally coffee sample bags) using embroidery floss I already owned. Then I pilfered my button stash to put together the game pieces. Each game has two different colors of buttons in varying shapes.

My children did get all new things, partly because the specific things they wanted are difficult to find used and in great condition. I shopped mindfully and they each got only three gifts that were either things they really wanted or things I knew they would really like. These were all wrapped in fabric – they each picked one Christmas print fabric on uber-sale and I purchased 3 yards of each to cut into large squares. This will be re-used for years making it easy to wrap things and making the use of gift tags unnecessary. They also got a few goodies in their stockings – lip balm, lotion bar, a piece of chocolate and training chopsticks.


Katy December 26, 2012 at 7:42 pm

Those tic-tac-toe kits sound great!



Lilypad December 26, 2012 at 5:59 pm

We celebrate Hanukkah, which has been over for a while now. I gave my son (11) $69 worth of stuff: 3 books, a puzzle, a DVD with a “Finn” hat from the crazy weird show “Adventure Time” (which was his favorite thing by far). I gave $80 worth of stuff to my nieces and two of my son’s friends who are like family to us. Now that I look at it and see that I spent more than others on my own kid, it seems strange. But I knew he’d get a lot from the family and he did: $530 worth of cash and “merch” as he says, from grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. (Most of it was in the form of gift cards and checks, so a lot of it will be saved and I’ll make him use it for any stuff he wants between now and his birthday.) I find that amount really horrifying and I told him in the future I’m going to take 25% off the top for his room and board. 🙂 My husband and I don’t exchange gifts usually but I did spend $5 on a book from Amazon (yay for Swagbucks gift cards) for him that I knew would never appear in our local library system. My MIL sent us $100 so I guess that more than paid for my son’s gifts from me! 😉 I was recovering from foot surgery, so I didn’t make any treats for anyone as I usually would have. And that was our holiday. p.s. latkes are delicious and everyone ought to try them whether they celebrate Hanukkah or not, tee hee.


Katy December 26, 2012 at 7:45 pm

My kids love “Adventure Time” too. Thanks for sharing your Hannukah gifts!



Heidi December 26, 2012 at 7:05 pm

I mostly just shop for my kids. Hubby and I do not exchange xmas gifts. We got a few small things for my MIL and a few re-gifted gifts (cost me $zero) for a Yankee swap game with my family. I did spend a bunch of money on my kids, but I spent less than last year, and I’m pleased with how far I was able to stretch my money. They are not materialistic and do not ask for much. I was happy to be able to get them a bunch of clothes, books, music etc that I knew they’d like.

What I’m really proud of is this. In my immediate family (hubby, 14 year old daughter, 16 year old daughter), each of us MADE gifts. 16 year old daughter knitted a beautiful cable and lace wool scarf for her sister. 14 year old daughter (very crafty kid) found directions on-line and made a little stuffed Ewok (from The Empire Strikes Back, remember??) for her sister. I knitted hats for my girls, on request – a “Hermione” hat (looks just like the one from the Harry Potter movie) for 16 year old daughter, and a trendy “slouchy” beret style hat for 14 year old daughter. (Both from a delicious 100% alpaca yarn I got at a wool show a few years ago. I enjoyed every second of the knitting of both hats.) And, last but not least, hubby tinkered with electronics (a hobby for him) and made lanterns with LED lights and batteries for each of the girls, using recycled coffee cans which he painted and made designs in with nail holes.

How cool is that?


Katy December 26, 2012 at 7:47 pm

How cool? Very cool!



Adrienne December 26, 2012 at 7:17 pm

All my best gifts for the kids each year come from Craigslist. This year we got a giant bounce house, a sports center thing (where they throw baksetballs, footballs, etc.) and a skee ball for probably 1/4 of what it would cost new (and we never would have spent the money if new had been the only option). In past years craigslist has also gotten them a wooden kitchen, a powerwheels jeep and a giant plastic climber slide. Getting the stuff has been an adventure but so much better than having to go to the mall….


Katy December 26, 2012 at 7:48 pm

Wow, you are the queen of BIG GIFTS!



Namastemama December 26, 2012 at 7:32 pm

We went on vacation this Christmas. Cost more than $854 but SOOOO worth it. We planned it this spring so spent a little vacation and a little Christmas money.

How did you score a refurbished iPod touch 5th gen? Did you find it in the store? I haven’t seen one anywhere? My daughter is saving her money.


Katy December 26, 2012 at 7:49 pm

My husband found it through Best Buy.



namastemama December 31, 2012 at 5:18 pm

I have to ask you about the 5th gen IPod again. I found one in the open box category at Best Buy but it’s still $270. Anymore details? I haven’t seen a refurbished 5th gen on the Apple website.


guitarwizard February 4, 2016 at 3:12 am

I have a 5th Generation iPod Touch for $200.00 it’s in perfect condition. I bought it at best buy and it’s too much for me, I want to get a regular iPod just to play my music.



K.B. December 26, 2012 at 7:52 pm

The adults in the family got a small gift of locally-made chocolate, plus the same thing they got last year – a monthly invitation to a family supper. I figured we all have enough stuff, but don’t spend enough time together, so I cook a meal once a month for everyone (10-15 people, depending on who can and can’t come and the dating status of assorted nephews and niece!). The two “kids” left in the family got presents, all bought on sale.

One perfect, “frugal” gift this year was from my brother – he “re-gifted” me his old, seldom used deep fryer – which is perfect, because I had offered to buy it from him a while ago, and just figured he had forgotten about it!


Katy December 26, 2012 at 8:02 pm

Love that your brother gave you something he already owned and knew that you wanted.



Helene December 26, 2012 at 9:02 pm

We did pretty well. My son made our tree out of books from the bookshelves, my husband made and bottled cold brew coffee for all the coffee geeks, I made kim chi, limoncello and sewed a couple pairs of PJ pants, napkins and a couple other things BUT got off the chart brand new expensive hanna Anderson outfit for the grandbaby. Oh and we made some cute photo personalized laminated placemats for the two other grandkids. I got a pass to the columbia employee store and got a couple $20 fleece jackets and gloves. Then costco wool socks for everybody… It was fun.


Renee December 26, 2012 at 10:06 pm

This was the first year my nearly three-year-old daughter really “got” Christmas. I tried to contain myself but went a little nutty with the stocking stuffers, which I figured out in time so I put them back in my suitcase (we spent Christmas at Grandpa’s) and will save for her birthday. She and her sister received a lot of toys and I am looking forward to doing a big toy purge/shuffle when we get home (where she will find her and her sister’s “big” gift from Santa, a rocket ship doll house.) Also, after lengthy polling, discussion, and consideration we have decided that in our house Santa does not wrap gifts.

This was also the first year we did a secret Santa exchange with my husband’s family. Way cheaper and less stressful than having to come up with gifts for everyone (and gift ideas for yourself.) I received two books that I regret not having removed from my old Amazon wish list, but there you go. I also received a beautiful sweater coat and of all the things I had put on my wish list I think it was the item I truly most wanted, and I know I will get a lot of wear put of it. But next week I’m buying myself a Keurig. 🙂

The gift exchange with my husband just reinforces that we need to stop exchanging gifts. I have him a “Jedi Bath Robe” that I purchased months ago but turned out to be lower quality than I had hoped (fluffy on the outside but scratchy nylon inside. Who wants that?) He gave me a bracelet that I had circled in the Red Envelope catalog, but that didn’t look nearly as nice in person. I would like to return both gifts but haven’t brought this up to him yet.


Practical Parsimony December 26, 2012 at 11:43 pm

My son:
Auburn ornament bought on sale last year $6
umbrella $14 (I never know what to get her, but it rains most places)
gson, 7:
CARS tshirt: $9 reduced to $1
licensed Auburn tshirt, $13, reduced to $1.30
Spiderman sock house shoes, reduced to $.50 last year

gdaughter, 5:
sweater, $8, reduced to $1
skeggings, $5
purple sock house shoes with a silver heart!, reduced to $1 last year.

His family got toothpaste I got free. I just throw these things into the flat rate box.

Daughter #2:
umbrella, $14

Daughter #1:
tank top, reduced from $8 to $1
knit “jean” leggings, $7
$50 that I earned from a friend because she wants me to do work for her. So, I got paid early.
keychain flashlight, $1.50
aluminum water bottle, $1.69

gson (17)
reduced stainless steel water bottle, $1.69
keychain flashlight, $1.50 (marked wrong on shelf and should have been $5)
10 pairs underwear–okay, I asked my daughter what he needed since no one could think of what he wanted.
Gift card to Radio Shack for $43.59. Yes, he thought it was a strange amount. I returned something and got a gift card, so I gave it away.
Wired magazine, gotten with My Coke Rewards.

Gson’s first girlfriend:
aluminum water bottle, reduced to $1.69
keyring flashlight, $1.50 and should have been $5.

Gdaughter (11):
leggings with skirt attached (skeggings), $8
printed hoodie short sweatshirt, $8
pink top, reduced from $12 to $2; both tops go with skeggings.
aluminum water bottle, $1.69

Daughter’s family:
LED tealights
light sticks
headlamps gotten with swagbucks

She lives in NYC (Brooklyn) was one block from all that lost their electricity during hurricane Sandy; one block to east and one block to the south all was dark. She sounded grateful that I told her I planned to get these items.

I also sent her items I get for free: 8 bars Ivory, 2 tubes Colgate, 3 toothbrushes, 1 deodorant for her, 2 deodorants for gson. All these are the exact brand she uses.

I sent her other things, but I cannot remember what else.

for other friends:
recycled gift bags holding tangerines (special low price), a card, and candy

I received:
$50 check from daughter
pictures of little grandchildren (son is not generous at all)
hand knit scarf from clerk in WM (you can read that on my post of (12-26-12)
sleigh music box–from me to me

I usually make more and get better bargains, but I must shop where there is an electric cart. That is limiting.

Last year, I found three licensed Auburn Univeristy tshirts in a size 8 priced $40 for the pack of three different colors. I bought the pack when it was reduced to $3.98. Later, I went back and bought another pack in a larger size. He got two of the size 8 tshirts for his birthday and the other one for Christmas. For his birthday this year and for next Christmas he will get more Auburn tshirts. My son could never have enough Auburn paraphenalia on his son. However, he does not live near AL, so cannot find anything.

Not counting the gift card and things bought with swagbucks, I spent less than $100 on three children, four grandchildren, and the one girlfriend. I started buying after Christmas last year, so most spending was spread through the year.

All shipping of packages was free because I am a mystery shopper.


Karen December 27, 2012 at 4:37 am

This year we did exchange gifts, as last year’s gift money went toward medical expenses.

What I gave:

* Golf GPS
* High-end cold gear top
* Name-brand golf shoes (on closeout)
* 3 containers of Mixed-Berry Granola
* Laser sunglasses without frames

What I got:
*digital camera
*3 skincare items plus 14 free samples

Three of these items I partially paid for using a cashback reward program. The card I used and the vendor have a business relationship whereby the cashback reward may be used toward the purchase price. I saved about $40 altogether, and the bill is paid in full. This is the only way I will use a card.


kris December 27, 2012 at 4:56 am

18 y/o son – a piece of recording equipment (honestly really don’t know what it is, I walked up to the salesman at the music store, handed him a picture and asked if they had it), he can hook his instruments up to it & record thru the computer ($140.00), Over-the-ear earphones ($30), something for his x-b0x ($20) and a new guitar strap ($15)

16 y/o daughter- A phone ($100), phone card ($25), a pair of boots ($20), a corkboard ($6). I also gave her a deposit for her drama trip over Spring Break ($80)

14 y/o daughter- Tablet ($110), Owl Pillow ($15), Owl Necklace ($20), Owl Bag ($15), some makeup ($12), an SG card ($9) and a phone case ($20)

7 y/o son – Skateboard ($35), pads ($20), a Power Rangers Sword thingy ($30), remote control helicopter ($50), Ninja Turtle kit ($30), 2 new Ninja Turtles ($15), 2 accessories for Ninja Turtles ($15). I also bought a used iPod for he & I to share (me for music and he for games) ($25)

Husband – Belt ($15), Knife ($20), Towel Wrap ($13), PJ bottoms ($10), Cologne spray ($15) and Boxers ($10)

My husband and kids TOTALLY SURPRISED me with:
a Keuring and a Kitchen Aid stand mixer! I knew I was getting a new coffee maker but not a Keurig. It came with a sampler set of 12. I plan on purchasing the refillable ‘cup’ so I can use my regular coffee for everyday use. The Kitchen aid was a total shock. I’ve been wanting one for oh, about 15 years and would never spend the $$. I do think they are wonderful pieces of kitchen equipment and it should last the rest of my lifetime.

My husband and I rarely buy anything for each other but we did have a little extra to spend this year. I try to keep it under $200 per child (although I went a bit over with the deposit $ for my 16 y/o). I don’t tend to buy a whole lot thru the year so Christmas and Birthdays I sometimes go overboard. However, if $$ is tight, I absolutely do not go over budget.


Amanda S December 27, 2012 at 5:56 am

This year, thanks to my extensive reading on how to be a non-consumer, I was able to do Christmas for a large family very inexpensively for the first time! Most of the gifts I gave were used, handmade, bought from artisans, or bought locally. My personal favorites are:

-A $50 gift card to the salon my mother and I both go to (a fantastic business, and worth the expense), I won it in a raffle – paid $10 for the raffle tickets.
-My sister requested a custom made infinity scarf. It turned out so well that I photographed it and plan to add it to my Etsy shop as a custom order option!
-Got my younger brother, who just moved into a new apartment at the Coast Guard base he’s been recently assigned at, goodies for his apartment, including a four piece canister set, two Coca Cola glasses, and a large pitcher, all adding up to $12 since I bought them from Goodwill and a local thrift store
-My youngest brother asked for a game expansion set which I found on Amazon double discounted, then bought using rewards points
-My large extended family does a White Elephant gift exchange every year, and this years theme was “Handmade”. I made a pumpkin pie (from frozen pumpkin I had pureed back in pumpkin season) that got stolen TWICE in the gift exchange!

My husband and I got some really fantastic gifts that we can both use, including a few bottles of very nice red wine; new sconces for the exterior of the house (the old ones are gold and ugly and don’t work well), and the best was that my sister (who was also my maid of honor at my wedding two years ago) made us a wedding album. Yes, we still hadn’t done it, and my sister is incredibly creative and crafty, and it’s beautiful.

For 2013 I am going to try the “buy nothing new” for clothing. I also want to go strawberry picking in the spring and make giant batches of homemade jam!


Diane December 27, 2012 at 6:01 am

My granddaughter and I used the 4 gift principle: 1 thing you want, 1 thing you need, 1 thing to wear, 1 thing to read. I knit her a lovely scarf with designer wool from a friend, and bought the rest. All stocking presents were free samples found on thefreebieblogger.com including a bag of fair trade coffee, a beauty kit from Target, and a candle from Bath and Body. I take advantage of freebies all year and stock up. Her want was a gift card for dance classes at Ballet Austin.

All gifts for the rest of my family were made by me.


michelle d December 27, 2012 at 6:17 am

I bought my kids (5 and 3 )four toys each through Amazon and used my Discover cash back they give a dollar per point. So $100 for the points I already had. I also bought a coin sorter machine months ago on clearance at CVS for $10. My boys LOVED it. We made no sew fleece blankets bought at a local fabric store $12 for their two close friends. I bought my mother a round trip ticket from Florida. My friend is a flight attendant and he put her on his friends list. She flew stand by – round trip $120. Christmas with her grandkids (corny moment) priceless. Movie gift cards for my niece and nephew – $30 each. My husband bought me a stand mixer (huge splurge) and I bought him a desk for his home office. We made cinnamon rolls teachers and neighbors and regifted a Waterford Crystal holy water font for my son’s school principal. It had sat in a box in my house for nine years. I was glad to give it someone that would love and appreciate it.


Reese December 27, 2012 at 7:37 am

Oh it was an outrageously expensive Christmas at my house. We bought gifts for 40 people this year in varying expense levels (The cheapest was $1.20 for a large frango cookie, which I treated to 10 people in my office. The most expensive was $110 for a year-long subscription to Birchbox for a long-time friend). I saved throughout the year for Christmas though, and I feel it’s a time to bless other people in any way I can. My grandmother (whose name I drew for our christmas draw) requested I donate to a charity. So I did. I think we spent somewhere in the ballpark of $1200 for everything. A number that even I think is ridiculous, but will work on lowering next year.

My BEST gift to give… was a custom guitar strap for my husband. It came from an Etsy seller, who, along with her husband, had a custom leather business. I had it embossed with a lyric to one of his favorite songs, got to pick the leather color and detailing… And while I normally wouldn’t spend $88 on something like this, i felt really good that it was something he would have and use FOREVER. Superb quality and supporting a small business. It was his favorite gift this year, and it will forever be a favorite memory of seeing him polish it that night to make the leather softer, and then attach it to his guitar. 🙂

Sometimes it’s just not about the money. Especially if you’re blessing other people with it and you aren’t putting yourself in a horrible place. I’m grateful I had the means this year…and know it won’t always be like this.


Peg December 27, 2012 at 8:06 am

I think you did a great job! We have friends, who for years, spent over a $1000 for Christmas on each of their two kids. Now that three grandkids, with a fourth on the way, are in the mix, they decreased the spending on their children to $600 each. I have no idea what they spend on grandkids but know they buy all their clothes. Every year. And not at Goodwill. Then they wonder why they never get ahead…


Amanda December 27, 2012 at 10:51 am

My husband and I do give each other gifts, but we keep it very cheap or free. I gave him a couple of DVDs that I borrowed from the library with a lot of meaning and a great story behind them (I’ll return them when he has watched them.) He made me a giant ruler/growth chart to track our little man’s height.


Samantha December 27, 2012 at 1:03 pm

I enjoyed reading your list and getting ideas for next year. I thought you had said in an earlier blog that you did have a gift for your sister because you told her to not read your post that day?

Anyway I love your blog and you inspire me everyday to buy less!
Happy holidays and happy new year from another L&D nurse.


Odette December 27, 2012 at 1:23 pm

We’re so boring! Smile…
I got my husband a little carry case for his GPS, and he installed a new shower head for me. Money for our son and a trip to see him in New Orleans. That’s it.


Barb December 27, 2012 at 1:26 pm

Unfortunately we are fourteen in total on my husband’s side and no one wants to draw names. I made all sewn gifts, mainly from fabric in my very large stash (not free, but no money outlayed specifically for this. Gifts inlcuded modge podge tile coasters, quilted table mat and coasters, set of eight coasters, sets of cloth napkins and so on. Long time unemployed post college student made picked veggies (from a food network recipe). The ingredients for eight were less than 25 and I had pint jars on hand not sure what they run these days. Daughter gave white chocolate popcorn, and edibles for the guys. she made sugar scrubs for the girls. My kids and I did stocings and only one or two gifts this year. Got my daughter an slw cooker cause she keeps borowwing one of my two and son jeans.


Shannon December 27, 2012 at 4:27 pm

I got my boys socks and underwear, a couple of books, a kickball and a wii sports which was purchased with bank card bonus bucks. For my husband, undershirts, a copy of “How to survive in the Woods” and a bottle of scotch. Cookies and iTunes and candies for the rest of the family. A watch, on mega sale from Macy’s for the MIL which we asked her to pick out. Clothes for my 12 year old nephew, also purchased with hoarded gift cards. Went a little nuts on the brother in law on a combo Christmas/housewarming gift: got him a number of needed things for the kitchen that we use all the time, such as a crock pot, though we hit the sales own that stuff big time. Could have done better, but I still feel that we scaled back a lot and kept it all simple and nice. Received some good things: restaurant gift cards and iTunes, a couple books and two pretty journals from my husband, an ikea catalogue, coffee and lingonberry jam from my MIL, which made me laugh, an electric wine bottle cork thingy which made me scratch my head, and a mason jar with a fake butterfly inside that flutters on a battery operated wire, which prompted me to just say “wow.” We don’t exchange gifts with our friends so that is a relief all around. We host a family style new years eve potluck instead, which is very fun.


greenstrivings December 27, 2012 at 9:00 pm

The gifts you and the other commenters gave all sound wonderful — thoughtfully chosen for each person. We have reduced our gift giving over the years; my spouse and I don’t exchange gifts. My two children got stocking stuffers (art supplies, nail polish, a few candies) and some bigger gifts, probably about $400 all told; that includes my mother’s spending on them. We got some things off eBay and in the thrift store. My inlaws sent a check. We don’t send them gifts because I went on strike without telling my spouse. I realized that every year I picked out gifts for my parents in law and three sisters in law with their spouses and children, paid for the gifts and shipped them, and it never even crossed my husband’s mind to do any of this. So I stopped. He’s never said anything so I don’t know if he realizes that his family doesn’t get gifts from us. They don’t usually send us anything anyway, and when they do it’s something generic and unusable.

I got, from my mother, some stocking stuffers and a VISA gift card that she got with the bonus points on her credit card (on which she doesn’t carry a balance). I gave her a promise to take her out for lunch and a cultural outing of her choice (museum/opera/theatre). I’ll send my sibling something because said sibling, although childfree, sends gifts to my children. Probably a gift card, that’s always welcome.


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