What Do You Want? What Do You Want? What Do You Waaaaant?

by Katy on December 9, 2012 · 48 comments

Mid-December is the time of year for cutting down Christmas trees, lighting candles and answering the endless questions of “What do you want” and the corresponding “What do the kids want?”

I never seem to come up with good enough answers, because frankly I hate this placing an order style of gifting. It was easier when my teenage sons were little, because “anything Lego” was always a sure-fire hit. I prefer for gifts to reflect the giver, which is why I refused to put together a gift registry when I got married. (Boy-o-boy did this annoy certain relatives.)

However, I do recognize that some people won’t take no for an answer, and for them I do suggest a few gift ideas. Earrings for my freshly pierced older son and iTunes for my younger son.

I am curious how others deal being asked to name specific gifts. Do you request gift cards, charitable donations or something completely different? Please share your stories and ideas in the comments section below.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

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{ 48 comments… read them below or add one }

Shelley December 9, 2012 at 3:30 am

My mom got me in the habit of making a wishlist years ago. I think of it as a frugal thing to do: you put things on a list instead of rushing out to buy them the minute you think of a want, thereby practicing delayed gratification; also, the buyer knows they are spending their money wisely, or at least it’s not entirely wasted on something that will go into the bin or clutter up a closet. I made sure I gave her a wide range of choices (everything from measuring cups to emerald rings – she loved to buy me jewelry, even though she had to save up for it, bless her).

We do it now, my husband and step-children, mainly via Amazon. We exchange emails and if it’s not purchased via Amazon, we tell one another ‘I’m getting Sarah the art supplies she wants’, so there aren’t duplicates.

If you don’t want to ask for anything, just say it has to be something that can’t be bought in a store. I aim to give everyone three gifts: something sewn, something bought, something baked.


HeatherS December 9, 2012 at 5:14 am

I hate this part of the holidays also. It’s not so bad on one side of the family as I can just email my mother links to certain items for the kids and she will purchase exactly that and we are all happy. But the other side is more difficult due to the fact that my very well intentioned mother-in-law has limited shopping available in her area, is not online and for some reason can mess up the simplest request. Big tub of Legos does not equal bag of Duplo blocks when the gift is for a 12 year old boy! and Barbie size Disney Princess dolls do not equal creepy Justin Bieber doll that sings when you press it’s stomach – Yikes! Though watching my 4 year daughter throw the Justin Bieber doll (still in package) would have been more amusing if she had not been getting ready to cry at the time. Gift giving is often just one more holiday stress for everyone sometimes!


Karen December 9, 2012 at 5:17 am

My grandmother had all three of us kids make her a list. We were encouraged to put several things on the list, and then she could chose what to get. It worked well since it was still a surprise.

I spend well below the reported “average” on Christmas. I have no children at home, so there is no expense for that. I do bake some gifts to give to the business people I deal with during the year.


Bauunny December 9, 2012 at 5:31 am

Oh….this is a hard one. Inproposed a “no gift” Christmas this year (my kids are older and appreciate some cash). It often seems that gifts we carefully choose are not well received (evidence all the returns/exchanges after Christmas). I am just giving “stockings” this year and I am so happy to have the stress of shopping pretty much off my shoulders. Just yesterday we received a food gift from a geographically distant relative. This is an annual gift that we have no use for (we don’t eat that kind of processed stuff) but don’t think we can tell them that for fear of offending them. We will regift or contribute them to others.


Sarah December 9, 2012 at 5:35 am

We practice both types of gifting with my husbands family. (My fam does not celebrate xmas.) We all surprise each other with one or two mesium sized gifts but if there is something we specifically want or need, we ask for it, like the year we requested a food processor. My mother in law is in charge of stockings, and my husband and I each send her a small list of little things the other would like, such as a specific brand of shaving soap for him or a certain type of gloves for me. It really works for us!


Megyn @Unstuffed December 9, 2012 at 6:17 am

We are definitely a list-heavy family. Frankly, I LOVE it. I’m an extremely particular person who just to happens to be wildly emotional, so my family has learned to stick to the list (ok, and I’ve had to learn to appreciate whatever it is I get lol). My parents often got mad at my lists when I was younger because I often only wanted practical gifts, especially as a teen. I was never a jewelry or clothes or stuff person. I wanted cash or gift cards or cleaning supplies (yes, cleaning supplies) or bills paid. I believe that if you’re going to ask for a list, you should stick to it unless you know without a doubt that the person wants something not on their list. For those that don’t have lists, I just get them gift cards to places I’m 100% sure they frequent. I think, for me, I view money as a very precious commodity so refuse to risk it on something someone may not like or utilize. I figure it was hard making that money, so I don’t want to see it wasted.


PJ December 9, 2012 at 6:43 am

I like Christmas lists. I have requested them and find them very useful when buying for relatives we only see once a year and have no idea what would be appropriate. We have limited funds and I enjoy knowing that our dollars are going to buy something that the receiver will use and enjoy. I would prefer to be asked what I would enjoy receiving rather than having others spend their money year after year on things I can not use.


nicoleandmaggie December 9, 2012 at 6:51 am

When I want things through the year I put them on my amazon wishlist.

DH’s family does a lot of gift giving and I’m always grateful when they have a wishlist. They live far away and it’s hard to know what they have or need. Sometimes we’ll know (just bought a house? you will need cash), but much of the time we don’t. And often there won’t be any feedback, so it’s hard to know if we can get the same gift again the next year.


Linda in Indiana December 9, 2012 at 7:05 am

My daughter,granddaughter and I go shopping together. We all create lists and then we help each other shop for the whole family. We have done this since my daughter is 16 and is now 39. It is a girl’s day out and we laugh and joke and have a ball. For my parents who are older, they never ask for anything but are very hard to buy for. This year I have made a list everytime I hear something they need to replace. They said this fall how they are always cold…hence, microfleece sheets and cozy socks. They commented that their hearth rug was on its last leg but they were having trouble finding that size. I measured when they were out of the room…now there is a new hearth rug wrapped and ready. I also know which restaurants they eat at and have a card for that now for them. On the extended side of the family, we get together and have a $5 dirty santa…so it is more of a joke, fun interaction…it can be food, homemade, used, etc. And everyone 14 up participates. Lots of fun! We are trying to simplify. Lists are good and listening all year to hopefully hear what everyone really needs or wants helps….but I am not always good at that…but I am trying.


Jess December 9, 2012 at 7:53 am

In addition to what the other posters have already said about wishlists and pressure from family (lots of pressure from family)…

As a last resort, after a lot of protests and complaints on both sides, I finally had the brilliant idea of asking for things for other people. Now I put items on my Amazon wishlist specifically intended to be donated in-kind to a charity that needs those exact items. (Many charities have wish-lists for in-kind donations.) My family doesn’t want to donate to charity instead of giving gifts because they want the fun of shopping, don’t have an emotional connection to the charity, and want to get something special for ME. I already have everything I need. This one charity is important to me, I donate there a lot, AND it is desperately in need. So I put items that the charity needs on MY wishlist as things *I* want. Family doesn’t know that I’m donating the items. Even though I’m not going to keep the gifts, I appreciate getting them because then I can make a donation I could not afford to make on my own. (I appreciate being able to help that worthy cause more than I would appreciate getting a 70th pair of earrings, or a 3rd blender, that I keep for myself and stuff into a closet in my little house.) I’m genuinely happy to get the gifts and write nice ‘thank you’ notes. My family gets the fun of shopping and finding something I asked for, I donate to a charity that is important to me, and the charity gets something they specifically need and asked for. Everybody’s happy.


Jo H. December 10, 2012 at 9:30 pm

I think this is a brilliant solution!


Rosa December 13, 2012 at 8:39 pm

This is brilliant.

I had said I was giving up and not trying to control the Christmas experience anymore because it just makes me hate it more, but I am trying this next year.


Sarah December 9, 2012 at 9:07 am

I try to be grateful that there are people in my life that love me enough to want to share their time and generosity with me.


nancy December 10, 2012 at 1:53 pm



Mary December 9, 2012 at 9:40 am

We do lists, but with enough on the lists that it’s still a surprise because you have no idea what that peron will choose to get for you. I mostly put practical items on my wish list. These are usually things that I want/need and that I will buy for myself if they are not gifted to me. I also try to think of some practical items to add to my kids’ wish lists like new gloves, sleeping bags, crayons, art supplies, etc.

Oh and throughout the year whenever a family member mentions that they’d like or need something, I make a note of it on my phone. That way I don’t always have to ask for a wish list.


My Life December 9, 2012 at 9:40 am

We stopped exchanging gifts 3 years ago and are welcoming our 4th year. We’ve also stopped sending out Christmas cards. We also have a fake tree and will no longer waste cutting down a real tree only to see it burned in the trash a few weeks later.

It’s being with family and friends that matter to us. And sharing a wonderful meal. Attending Christmas Eve mass. Making donations and helping others in need. Less materialistic and more experience. That’s what we all wanted.


Kristen | The Frugal Girl December 9, 2012 at 11:33 am

When shopping for other people, I do try to think of gifts without depending on a list (I try to study my recipients and figure something out that way.)

But I don’t mind providing a list for people who want one. I wouldn’t go and force my list on someone, but if they ask, I don’t exactly what to say something like, “Well, you should have been studying me all year, figuring out what would blow my hair back.” =P


amariew December 9, 2012 at 12:07 pm

I think it is important to preface this issue by recognizing that people who ask, and even subtly demand, that you come up with some suggestions are well-intentioned. The act of giving “gifts” can be rooted in love, affection, gratitude, and tradition. I had an aunt who passed away a few years ago. She was a Colonel in the Air Force who never married or had children. She served in vietnam and developed several medical patentsfor the military that helped injured soldiers– an amazing woman. Once she retired, she lived for Christmas, throwing large parties at her home and providing gifts for all 36 nieces and nephews and even more great- nieces and nephews. I bring this up because she always asked us what we and our children wanted. This question came from her heart. It would have been insulting and a bit mean-spirited to not acquiesce to her question and not identify a dazzling/materialistic gift that fit within her perspective of appropriate. So, we put our ideals and philosophical underpinnings regarding the ills of materialism aside,and provided her with “lists.” Examples included, $60.00 North Face gloves for my son who was skiing 3-5 days a week in Colorado, a Hollister jacket for my then 13 year old daughter, cool kitchen products from William Sonoma, etc., etc., etc. And, to keep it “honest” we did not return the gifts because what may seem like just another materialistic thing was so much more than that and I beleived that she would have felt awful if we just disregarded her gifts and returned them . I think of her often when I see or use one of her gifts. We miss her at Christmas– not because we received nice gifts, but instead knowiing how special each and every gift that she gave to us was to her.


Sherry December 10, 2012 at 10:44 am

Beautiful!– both your aunt for her expression of love to you and all of your family, and your loving response in acknowledging how much it meant to her to be a conduit of bountiful love. Thank you for sharing story.


patti December 9, 2012 at 12:45 pm

This is a classic dilemma, I think, and one for which there is no right or wrong answer. In my husband’s family, we draw names and give a list or a suggestion such as “hunting clothing” or “gardening tools”. We started this because year after year my MIL would give gifts that she shouldn’t have been spending money on and no one wanted. She would buy on impulse and it never fit the recipient in literal size or in personality. So to slow her down, we (all) decided to do the list and $$ cap. In my family, my parents are elderly and it is hard for them to shop so they have me buy their gifts and wrap them but they want them to “come from them”. I really wish they would go the gift card route or just give cash because no one expects them to have shopped and everyone knows they didn’t do it. My brother would prefer that there be no gift exchange but I think that is to get him off the hook!!LOL I expect my immediate family to exchange thoughtful gifts. That is what gift giving is supposed to be about (to me) that you know the person well enough to pick out something personal for them. It doesn’t mean spending $$ – I like thrift store purchases as well as anyone. It does need to be something that makes sense… a book for the reader, yarn for the knitter, etc. I always make sure I gratefully accept each gift and use it often because I want my family to know I appreciate their thoughtfulness.


lindsey December 9, 2012 at 12:50 pm

My standard answer is “toilet paper.” I just feel better having cases of it stacked all around the house, so really appreciate getting it. For my parents, who insist on spending more, I ask for a gift certificate to our fuel oil company. I think it makes them feel good that they are keeping me warm and I certainly adore not having that bill for a month or so.


Heather Mason December 9, 2012 at 6:45 pm

TP for a Christmas present!?!? You’re kidding,right?


Rosa December 13, 2012 at 8:42 pm

Why does that have to be a joke? If it’s the thought that counts, and you ask a person what they want, shouldn’t you then get it for them even if it’s not something you would want? That seems like the essence of the whole process, to me (and it’s why we get the ridiculous coffee table books and plastic toys the people we give gifts to want, even though it’s nothing that fits our usual buying standards.)


kat December 9, 2012 at 1:54 pm

I’m a fan of the Amazon wishlist feature–when ever my Mom asks for gift ideas, I blank! Now, I just pop things on my list when I think of them and she knows she’s getting me something useful that I will appreciate. Now, if I can get her to do the same we’d be all set!


nancy December 10, 2012 at 1:57 pm

This has been great for connecting with my far away grandkids. I’m not around enough to really know what they are into these days, but don’t want to send gifts that will be returned, donated to goodwill, or just take up valuable storage space.


Emily Wicks December 9, 2012 at 2:24 pm

I agree with most of the above comments. At this point in our lives (early 30’s with 2 small children and 1 on the way) I would prefer to ask for things that we *need* but can’t necessarily afford. For example: this Christmas I asked my father-in-law to build a loft bed so that the 4-year old and 2-year old can move into a new bedroom when the baby arrives. And to go with that I asked my very generous sister-in-law to buy bedding for said beds. While none of my inlaws consider these “fun” gifts and would prefer to get the kids something else, it’s what we need right now. (Although we *could* probably make do with what we have if we tried…) And they are so young. And we already have so. many. toys. It’s just such a waste for people to be spending money when the recipient doesn’t necessarily want or need something.


Alexia December 9, 2012 at 2:40 pm

I’m definitely a fan of lists. It’s lovely if the gift reflects the giver and it’s something you love/need/really want. But more often it’s not any of those things unless the gift giver knows you reaaaally well and puts a lot of thought into it. And for some the idea of forgoing gifts is unthinkable. We “save up” ideas for things we want or could use throughout the year, put them on a list, and hand them off to our parents who then choose something. We don’t know exactly what we’re getting until we open the gifts but we know it won’t be something we don’t want and/or can’t use. This is especially helpful if some of said gift givers are very sensitive about whether/how long you KEEP what they gave you.


Reese from Chicago December 9, 2012 at 3:33 pm

This is the first year I’ve actually WANTED lists from people. Usually in the past I’ve just sent things I thought the person would like/need…. but I found out the hard way that they didn’t like some of those gifts! I know everyone will love everything 100% this year (and that’s why I gift…to bless other people with things that they wouldn’t have gotten themselves). We did end up going a wee bit over budget…but we didn’t break the bank. Next year we’ll add a little extra to our monthly savings to cover this.

As for me… my mom NEVER asks what to get me, and she usually comes up with cool stuff that I didn’t realize I would like! I prefer not to give giftcards, but I don’t mind when I get them. What I don’t really like is someone sending me a check…. getting cash feels pretty tacky and thoughtless to me. Like they are forced to participate in the holiday but don’t really want to expend the effort. It always gets put to use though, so it’s something that is sure to fit anyone.

For the family Christmas draw, my grandma asked that whoever got her (me) just donate money to her favorite charity. So I did. But I’m also sending her a small small small smallllllll box of chocolate so she has something to enjoy. 🙂


Michaela December 9, 2012 at 3:56 pm

I keep asking family members to not buy my son toys this year. He is only 6, but loves “cool” clothes, hats, and Nintendo DS games (NO MORE LEGOS PLEASE). You would think this would be a simple request, but for some reason someone will end up giving him toys. And its never nice quality toys, its always something cheap with 9.6 million pieces or parts that break within the first play (I’m looking at you in-laws). I even suggested a monetary donation to his school tuition, and that was met with a not too enthusiastic response.

Seriously, at age 6 I am tossing out toys left and right that he is too big for. We have too much stuff anyway, and a limited amount of space. I am personally am making all the important people (aka people that I have to gift to like parents/in-laws/siblings) gift bags with practical everyday items – such as dish soap, hand soap, carmex, coffee, chocolate, and a Christmas ornament. I would rather give something that gets used and appreciated, rather than later donated or tossed out because the recipient didn’t like it.


Tina B December 9, 2012 at 3:59 pm

I have created lists for several years (I’m 40-something) because otherwise, Mom would get me something lacy or frilly that I would never wear. Mom doesn’t have much money and it was horrifying to think how much she was spending on things that I would never, ever wear. At least I will get something that I’ll want and can use. I also ask for lists for my nieces and nephews because I don’t see often enough to be sure of what they’d enjoy and use.


Happy Mum December 9, 2012 at 4:34 pm

A small present — under $5 — the giver’s choice, or I’ll supply some ideas. If the giver really wants to do “more” — then a donation to one of our favorite charities — or one of theirs, with a story about why they like the charity.


Lois December 9, 2012 at 4:48 pm

When the boys were little I would have them make their lists before their birthdays (July and September) to avoid the advertising of stupid things released just before Christmas, then gave family members a set number of items to choose from. As they got older it got harder. Now that they are adults with their own families I have become the one everyone goes to, so throughout the year when someone mentions something I make a note of it, then when someone asks what so and so needs or wants I have ideas to give them. The hardest part for me is my youngest grand child, they live a couple hours away so I don’t get to see her as often and need to ask her parents so I don’t buy something she already has.


Rachel Gillespie December 9, 2012 at 6:52 pm

My kids are very quirky and the more mainstream gifts they’ve received from family members who think they’re like all other teenagers have ended up regifted. I simply answer to give them gift cards, including itunes, these days. (I can guarantee you the itunes cards won’t be spent on Top 40!)
Also, my daughter really likes Kiva and is very happy to receive gift cards for them. Some family members, however, think that giving to charity isn’t a fair thing to do. Hello?
I think that the holidays are difficult for any of us who have chosen to live a lifestyle of less consumerism. We want to stick to our principals when choosing gifts for others which doesn’t always go down well with them. Equally we don’t want to add to the problem by receiving gifts that may go against what we believe in or stand for. Ultimately, I begin to feel like Scrooge!


Cassidy December 11, 2012 at 2:35 pm

I’m 17 years old and if I must provide a response to what do you want I always reply with Kiva Gift cards! My family hates it but when I write the thank you cards telling them of the budding entrepreneur we helped out in Indonesia they can’t interpret that any other way! Don’t feel like a scrooge, I don’t participate in gift exchanges and the rest of my family does its just something that everyone gets used to and when I talk about the effects of consumerism they would rather leave me gift less so I will stop talking about it! Haha I just tough it out for the holidays and set examples of home made gifts. 🙂


Ellie December 9, 2012 at 6:58 pm

My in-laws are really big on gift-giving, and there is NO WAY OUT of it unless we want to be the Grinches Who Ruin Christmas. And no, donations will not work with them. Fortunately, though, they are at least list people. So we can at least make lists of stuff we’d actually want, and don’t have to deal with (too much) unwanted STUFF.

Truth is, I am a bit of a hedonist at heart, because I can usually think of plenty of things-to-do/eat/drink to put on lists. I/We ask for gift certificates for things like massages and facials (well, just me on the facials!), gift certficates for gourmet or ethnic restaurants that serve things we can’t make at home, bottles of good booze, organic tea and coffee, theatre tickets, museum memberships (which usually include free or discounted admission), etc. Like I said – I guess in my own way I am a bit hedonistic, becase if someone else is willing to pay, I don’t really have much problem with gifts to DO – or eat, or drink – nice things! My older inlaws are well-off and pretty generous, so I don’t feel too bad about putting that stuff on the list.

Sometimes I/we do ask for “things” that we actually need but which can be hard to get second-hand, or which I frankly just don’t want to get second hand (for example, I have asked for new sneakers when my old ones wore out – I have issues with second hand shoes). Of course, we also include less pricey stuff to – the odd book that we want to own rather than borrow, and both my husband and I have been known to put socks on the list.

So “what do I want”? Well, if you really want to know – I like to go out and do things, and I like yummy things to eat and drink. Also, my socks all have holes again 🙂

Or feel free to just make a donation, that’s cool too.


Laure December 9, 2012 at 7:23 pm

Usually will offer a general suggestion, e.g. X person’s favorite color is purple, or Y will be getting her first apartment next year; Z child loves monkeys. This makes it easy for the giver to get a hit with with the recipient (and hopefully reduces stress on them, which I assume is why they’re asking) but leaves the $ wide-open which a specific item request might not , as well as the choice of the actual gift – e..g monkey pajamas, monkey stationary, toy monkey, book on monkeys, hand-me-down Curious George classic, etc.


Amber December 9, 2012 at 7:40 pm

I’m actually a big fan of wish lists because it cuts back on waste. I strongly dislike receiving plastic flashing made in china crap for my kids so I keep ongoing amazon wish lists of things they would actually love that I share with people who ask. Same for me. I dislike receiving something I won’t use that someone bought just for the sake of buying something. It’s like giving me an errand aka trip to return it or goodwill. So if someone just wants to buy the obligatory gift I love the wish list. But I also totally super appreciate handmade or thoughtful gifts that are a result of someone studying me or considering me. Some people really do get what I like. For those that don’t, a wish list is nice or I end up with plastic battery operated made in china paper weights


Anonymous from FL December 9, 2012 at 8:17 pm

To family, I say that I want to spend time with them and share a nice meal. I think experiential gifts or food gifts are the most appreciated, so I try to focus on giving and asking for those.


Jennifer @ Little Blog in the Big Woods December 10, 2012 at 4:17 am

My husband an I usually tell each other what we want. We usually throw a surprise in too. This year I just wanted him to make me the “chicken coop” style cubbies to organize my kid’s toys. He finished last night!! I wish my parents would ask what I want…..’cause many times they will get me jeans. Jeans. You don’t buy someone jeans, people need to buy their own jeans…… I’m such an ungrateful twit. 😉


Terilyn December 10, 2012 at 4:30 am

I do not like the list thing either. It just seems tacky to me to hand a list to a person telling them what to get me. And it bothers me when people try to manipulate me into buying something specific too. It takes away the joy of hunting for the “perfect” gift to give them. List are just joy stealers to my way of thinking.
When someone asks what I want, I am willing to give a few general suggestion comments:
We can always use consumable kitchen supplies.
Everyone wears socks.
Food of any sort!
Something that smells good.

But I just feel the whole list thing demanding a specific gift is tacky. I won’t do that to someone.


Ashley S December 10, 2012 at 9:10 am

My side of the family is doing a very simple Christmas this year. I am making quilts for my niece and nephew and have thrifted several binders to print out and gift the workbook that Susannah Conway has put together at Thrifty Kittens, as well as several of my favorite books. We have a tradition of giving tree ornaments as well, and rather than spend a ton on new ones I have thrifted some, as well as having collected Happy Meal-type toys, which can easily be turned into ornaments, and no worries if the little ones pull them off the tree!

My DH’s side is another story. My in-laws are taking us to Disneyland, which I am very excited about because I’ve never been. Both my MIL and FIL got some serious health news this year, so the trip is really about being able to make some great memories while they can still go.

As for our own kids, each are getting 2 things off their Christmas list, then some goodies in their stockings. I never feel bad buying art supplies and Legos for my kids, and as long as they want creative and meaningful gifts I’m happy to give them.

I will say that the list thing can bother me, but mostly with my sister. We were both raised thrifty, but while I embraced it she has ran the opposite way. Each birthday and holiday she produces a very specific list, and has even been known to say, as a grown woman, that she doesn’t like a gift and will be returning it, without even saying thank you. She will be getting “You Can Buy Happiness (and It’s Cheap): How One Woman Radically Simplified Her Life and How You Can Too!” Hopefully she’ll read it!


John December 10, 2012 at 9:40 am

I give genres: tools, electronics, cooking and let them go from there. During the year I make mention of specific things I want and I have one daughter that has learned to track those and then picks one for birthdays, christmas, etc.

This year I told my three kids to go in together and get me a basic Kindle. I like to read and this is a great tool and easy to carry. Plus I can use it with all kinds of books/articles: work, fun, research…easy on them, too!


Annie December 10, 2012 at 11:18 am

We have always done lists in my family since we were old enough to do so. We include a variety of price ranges, and also include charities, help with a dreaded major chore like clearing clutter, and homemade gifts we would welcome, (my mom makes the most delicious whole wheat bread and it freezes well so we can enjoy her gift for several months.) We also use our lists to avoid receiving certain well-meant items like tchotchkes, scented candles, and too many sugary treats. The lists have served us well, as we avoid having to spend time returning/exchanging and can spend that time together doing something fun instead.


Louise December 10, 2012 at 2:59 pm

I ask to be thrifty! Sometimes the person says they don’t want anything – saves me time and money. Or they tell me something that helps me focus on a gift that they can use and/or enjoy – still usually saves me time and money. My husband always asks for money – he gets a lottery ticket … which is what he wants! By asking I’ve cut out at least 90% of the gift buying I used to do. Now, it’s basically for my 5-year-old son. Much easier on me.


Kailey December 10, 2012 at 3:15 pm

I like the gifts I receive to reflect the giver too. So if someone is asking me what I want, I’ll ask for their favourite book or recipe.
I’m trying really hard to take the needless consumerism out of Christmas this year and it’s stressing my mom out. She doesn’t think that the homemade granola, a magic bullet and a her sweet and sour chicken recipe is good enough for Christmas…..but I’m not budging hahaha.
When people want a list I ask for what their into because I’ve almost always gotten something that I didn’t know I would like or didn’t think of (maybe I’ve been lucky) and that surprise is the best.
Although if I was getting clothes that didn’t fit or if someone was sending me cat figurines every year I might subtly supply them with a list 🙂


Laurie Bennett December 10, 2012 at 8:04 pm

Since I was a child, we always made wish lists. But in the 35 years since, my wish lists have changed. I ask for what I want so that I don’t receive clutter (i.e. knicknacks, clothing not my style, gift cards to places I won’t shop at, etc.). My requests are usually for experiences (tix to the movies or a play in town), and if I ask for books or CDs, I ask for used ones in good condition (why have them pay full price when I wouldn’t?). Sometimes I do ask for charity donations (I argue every year for us all to do that, but it hasn’t worked yet). I never give hubby a wish list, he delights in figuring out the perfect gift, and is almost always right.


Rosa December 12, 2012 at 9:10 pm

I hate Christmas and the lists and gifts are the main reason.

After 10 years, I have given up: i make a list of things I sort of want that I know my family will buy. Because if not I’ll get a huge pile of cheap crap. And if I ask for things that don’t suit them (like charitable donations, things from local artisans, or food I actually like) I will get a huge pile of cheap crap instead, and be angrier about it.

I just relax and submit, because I can’t do anything about it. I have solved my family (no gifts for adults, only for kids!) and my partner won’t even try to change his so there’s nothing I can do.


Betty Winslow December 26, 2012 at 5:26 pm

I do most of the Christmas shopping, and up until this past year, the kids (who are all grown) have given us lists of suggestions. This year, they didn’t get around to it, so I bought them stuff I knew they needed or could use. I did the same with my husband, who will never give me a list. As for me, I give lists, with items specific (incudling size, color, and location) for my shopping-challenged husband, as well as inexpensive and/or handmade ideas for my usually-broke kids. I also am a school librarian, and the PTF has instituted forms we fill out at the beginning of the year, with likes, dislikes, allergies, prefered foods and scents, etc., which is then kept on file for any parent or secret santa who wants to gift one of us. It works great – no more apple ornaments!!


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