Christmas Gifting for the Fam

Back when we were younger and equally broke, we siblings made a casual gift budget for birthdays and Christmas of ~$30 per person. Nowadays, we’re all at very different points in our life:

  • Mom is fairly recently out of debt and into savings, does a $10/week Christmas Club with her bank, has job security (high school library) and says that buying her kids Christmas presents gives her great joy. Since she’s a few years away from having her bankruptcy fall off her credit report, she has no credit cards. I know she has an approximate per-child budget of $100 for birthdays and $150 for Christmas, and we can’t talk her down from that. It’s not too outrageous, I guess. Anyway, she has come up with her own idea for me, phew.
  • My bridezillerina sister is in her last semester of nursing school and living on school loans and the occasional waitressing shift and boot camp instruction session. It would be insulting to tell her not to buy me anything for Christmas, so I’m hoping to persuade her to get me a token and just double-down next year – after the wedding is paid off, after she’s been earning decent money for about 8 months. I’m trying to come up with a couple of under-$20 ideas to offer her.
  • My brother is on a good career track and will only suffer job instability if pharmaceutical companies cease new drug development. He makes good coin. He’s also saving “like crazy” (he has low standards for that) for a house purchase, which is on the cards any week – he just had a bid rejected today, that’s how close this is to happening. I have no idea what to suggest that he get me in the $50-range.
  • My littlest sister, a.k.a. Starfish, is an odd combination of sensible and lavish in her spending. She just quit her optical assistant job a couple of weeks ago, starts a waitressing job in another 2 weeks, and is planning to take nursing pre-requisites in January. I just want something thoughtful from her, but she’ll probably spend a lot on me because I spend a lot on her.

Gift-giving for me is more than just a financial event. How much I want to spend on each of them is slightly more emotional than logical, though I always do a good job of superficially rationalizing my choices.

  • I would ordinarily spend a lot on my mom, but I got her 50% of a new bed for her birthday. She has asked for a particular handbag that costs $80-100, which is perfect.
  • Bridezillerina wants spa treatments (she’s a total jock with girly-girl aspirations), and I never got her a birthday gift because our early-summer plans fell through. So she’ll be getting gift certificates to a facial salon and her massage/acupuncture/chiro genius. Total cost: $160-200.
  • I’m planning to give my brother a token present plus an IOU for a super-nice housewarming present when he finally buys a place. He’s going from a one-bedroom, full-service building to a 3-story row house with no service. Mom & I might go in on a washing machine if his place doesn’t come with one…if it does, well, something along those lines (dining room table, cool light fixtures, etc).
  • Starfish…well, we all overbuy for her. Maybe it’s because she’s the baby we all love to spoil (she’s nearly 10 years younger than me), but I know that for me it’s because I’m so freaking grateful she’s alive. She’d had three serious brushes with death. The last one was just a year ago, when her apartment caught fire at 2am, and she only survived because her cat went mental at the bedroom door. Poor thing ran out naked into a snowdrift, just 11 degrees outside, and her boyfriend got 2nd-degree burn from the melting carpet near the fire extinguisher. Sorry, there I go again, off on another tangent. Anyway, I picked up half the tab for her flight to NYC (yay, she arrives Monday night!) for the bride-and-her-bitches shopping trip, which covers me for her birthday 2 weeks ago and Christmas.

As for what I want…I never want things, which makes things difficult for everyone. I’ve been like this for over 20 years, earning me the title of “old weird Katie” — back when I was a teenager! I want experiences like skydiving and microlighting, or to learn how to use a sewing machine (lessons are shockingly expensive in NYC!). I suppose I could use a new bookcase/room divider thing before my flatpack special from Target falls down…mm, boring.


One Response

  1. It’s comforting knowing the basics of what you are going to get for family members and knowing how much. I can’t believe it’s already the end of the freaking year!

    So, what’s planned for New Years? : )

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