What can you do when too many people expect gifts on their birthday?

Reducing a Birthday List

by Dollar Stretcher Readers

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Reducing a Birthday List

For many years, I have given gifts and cards to all my cousins on their birthdays. Now, however, I'm trying to think of a nice way to stop this as each one reaches 18 years of age and to just recognize these events with a card for those over 18. Otherwise, as each relative gets married, has children, etc., I will not have the time, money, or energy to shop for their growing families! Do you have any ideas on how to let each person know this as they reach 18? Thanks for your help!

No Explanation Needed When Reducing a Birthday List

There is no need to make an announcement or provide an explanation. Just start sending cards only. My husband's grandparents did exactly that, and the grandchildren accepted it as acknowledgment of their adulthood. Only greedy people will care if you stop sending gifts; those people do not deserve gifts anyway.
Elsie in North Georgia

Ease Into the Transition

We simply told everyone that we would stop giving gifts at either age 18 or high school graduation. We give a larger money gift at graduation. It somewhat eases the blow, if you will. Then we acknowledge other milestones accordingly. No one seemed to be unhappy. Works for us!

No Need to Strive for the "Perfect" Gift

I think just switching to cards with no fanfare or explanation would be perfect. They will be changing addresses, tastes, and lifestyles, so the perfect gift is unlikely anyway.

The Gift That Keeps on Giving

Give a savings account or a bond as a final gift with a card reading, "This gift will keep on giving (interest) as I won't. Welcome to adulthood."
Debbie in Bells, TX

What "Not" to Do When Reducing a Birthday List

My aunt just flat-out told me she was going to stop giving me birthday gifts after I turned 18, although she did get me one for my 21st birthday. It was a little hard to react to. What do you say when someone says that? So I think that's a good example of what "not" to do. I'd tell the parent(s) and let him/her/them tell the kid.

Welcome to the Birthday Card Club!

Try this or something like it:

"Congratulations! As an adult, you have automatically become a member of the "Aunt Maria Birthday Card Club." A card will be sent to you free of charge on your birthday every year, along with my love, which is always my special gift to you! Love (see? It starts already!), Aunt Maria."

Send Birthday Greetings by Email

This is easy! Subscribe to an email greeting card company. Many are free. Everyone loves getting a cheery card complete with sound and movement on their special day, and you can even plan out the whole year in advance! Since it comes by email, no one will expect anything extra in the envelope! Last, in this economy, many people are cutting back on a lot of things, so why feel that you need an explanation? I think it will be more important to them that you remembered them.
Sharmin in Austin, Texas

They May Be Relieved

I had this same problem. I just stopped sending money or gift cards and no one asked why. With my older (more mature) people, I explained that I was on a limited budget and could not afford the gifts anymore and to please not send me a gift. I know four friends were ecstatic with this since all we were doing was "trading" gift cards. Now we just send crazy cards. I get mine from a dollar store or even from the charities I support, as do my family and friends.

Continue to Nurture the Relationship

This is an issue. Those children will also have children in the near future and you'll end up with a list 24 or 30 instead of 8! There is a limit. The answer depends on your relationship. If you are close enough to call or speak in person, that's the best way. Simply say that you're cutting back on expenses and paring your gift giving to the bone. Assure them that you love them and are interested in hearing about their lives.

If distance is the issue, then the answer is easier. Give a nice card with a brief explanation (see above) and be sure to keep in touch. So many younger people use electronic communication; be sure you have their correct electronic information, so you don't lose touch. If you don't know how to use technology, just ask at your local library. They are happy to help you. If your library is too small, try your college or "over 50" community center.

The point is to continue the relationship minus the drain of gift giving. Your time is the greatest gift.

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