The holidays are filled with happiness, love, good food, great friends, and the creation of many wonderful memories. However, for many, this time of year also comes with great stress, as one is forced to consider the etiquette of gift giving within a new family. It is absolutely wonderful to give a gift and enjoy the look of thrill that comes with opening it, but giving a gift to a person who wasn’t expecting it often means giving a handful of guilt as well. When you are the one on the receiving end, with nothing to give in return, it can be horribly embarrassing. So now that you’re part of a new family, how do you know who you are supposed to buy for and how much to spend?
Who Should You Be Buying For? This is often the first question asked in new marriages. While it might be obvious what gifts need to be purchased on your side of the family, because you are very familiar with the traditions, it can be far more difficult deciding which relatives of your spouse will expect a present. One of the easiest ways to figure this out is to inquire about the annual holiday events. Is there a big get-together with the extended family? Who attends it? Are gifts exchanged and how? In many families, especially large families, it is nearly impossible to get a gift for every member, so names will be drawn from a hat so each person buys just one gift. Others may choose to have a gift swap for which each person brings one or two wrapped gifts and names are drawn deciding the order in which participants choose from the table of presents. Knowing what happens at your spouse’s holiday gatherings can often save you a great deal of worry. If you are still unsure of the situation, consider stockpiling a few small items wrapped and on hand for unexpected circumstances. Consider small ornaments, kitchen gadgets, scarfs, candles or other items that anyone might enjoy and if someone gives you a gift who you haven’t shopped for, use one of these standbys to prevent an uncomfortable situation.
How Much Should You Spend? This question should not have a universal answer. Each family faces a different set of financial circumstances. Staying on budget with your holiday shopping should be the primary goal, rather than worrying about what others are going to shell out for gifts. Create a budget for what you can afford, who you need to buy for, and divide the total among them. That way, there will be no question as to whether or not you have spent enough – you have spent what you can afford. As a final note, in some families, there will be a price limit set for gifts. If that is the case, abide by the guideline, even if you feel that it is really too little. This avoids embarrassing those who can’t afford to spend more.
Are you anxious about holiday shopping for your in-laws this year? Stay tuned for our Top 10 In-Law gifts post later this week!