Ask Someone Else's Mom by Susan Writer

Overboard Gift Spending Sets LW at Odds with Family

DEAR SOMEONE ELSE’S MOM: One reason I have begun to really hate the holidays is that I come from a family where almost everyone goes all out and spends too much money on gifts for everyone, and then expects big and/or expensive gifts in return.

I am one of the only ones in my family who doesn’t buy into the overspending. I am all for exchanging gifts, but honestly, I do not want to go into debt that takes half a year to pay off like some of them do.

Whenever the topic comes up among the family, one of my brothers, a cousin, and I come down on what everyone else thinks is the wrong side of the issue.

Is there anything wrong with keeping the gift giving reasonable? --- NOT CHEAP, JUST PRACTICAL

DEAR NOT CHEAP, JUST PRACTICAL: You’re always going to find someone who believes the value of the relationship is reflected in the cost of the gift. It sounds like you, your brother, and your cousin have made a reasonable decision, and you should stick to it and not feel pressured to go into hock every year.

One tradition some families I know have, and it might be worth putting it out there for yours, is to do a Secret Santa, where everyone’s assigned one person in the circle for which to buy. Often, there are cost limits to work within, so ideally, the playing field is more even.

It still might be a hard sell, but it could also be a way for others in the family who are reluctant to buck the majority to jump on your bandwagon.

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