My family buys expensive gifts but I can't reciprocate. What can I do?December 11, 2013
By YOU Program Facilitator
Photo by Adam Brockway
Question: My sister-in-law and her husband are very well off and they tend to spend a lot of money on Christmas gifts for my seven-year old son. I really appreciate all of their attentions, however, I feel bad we can’t reciprocate in the same level and buy something expensive for their two daughters. Our financial situation is tight. How can I handle the gap in our gift budgets?
Answer: A gift doesn’t have to be expensive to be meaningful. Your sister-in-law and her husband are probably doing this because they love their nephew, they want to give him nice things and because they can afford them.
So what should you do?
- First, accept the gift gracefully and know that you are not obligated to respond in the same way. The only good reasons for not accepting an expensive gift would be that the giver couldn’t afford it or that the gift was coming with strings attached. This doesn’t seem the case for any of these options.
- Reciprocate with thoughtful presents that are within your budget. Your son can actually make something nice for his aunt, uncle, and cousins. Handmade gifts are sentimental and ideal for close family members. To some people, getting a store-bought gift isn’t a priority and instead they really appreciate something that you and your son made an effort to create.
- If you're not sure that they are the type of people who would appreciate something homemade, ask your son to write caring messages for all of the members of their family, thanking them for their gifts and for being part of his life.
- You and your husband should thank them in person saying something like: "Thank you very much! We didn't expect to get this!" Write them a thank-you note, accept the presents, and enjoy them with your child.
Just remember that for this family this was a possibility, and they decided to do it. That’s all! Enjoy the season by being close to the people who love you and be grateful for having such caring family members.