Did you ever have one of those etiquette moments that stumped you? Find yourself asking WWEPD (“What Would Emily Post Do?”)? The holidays always seem fraught with those tricky questions about family and manners, especially as things change.
This year, a friend of mine asked me an interesting question: when do you stop giving gifts to extended family members? Is there an age “cut-off” for nieces, nephews, cousins, etc.?
For our extended family, we give gifts to the kids until they’re 18 years old. It’s been a long-standing tradition on both sides of our family, so it’s hard to remember how it came to pass. But it definitely works as a good rule of thumb, and everyone so far has been on the same page.
How does this work in your family?
If your family does have “age guidelines” for gifts, here’s the really sticky part: what do you do if you try to have the conversation about when to stop gifting (as the “kids” are really now adults)… and you are completely, utterly rebuffed? And not just once, but each time you try to bring it up.
For the past several years, my friend’s attempts to talk about this have been seriously shut down, along the lines of “That’s not how my family does it” with no further discussion. Then she’s handed their wish lists for various gifts and gift cards. It makes the Congressional “fiscal cliff” negotiations look like a congenial Kaffeeklatsch by comparison.
What would you do?
- Do you just cut them off cold turkey and deal with the fallout after? (I shudder to think of that option — tense holiday party, anyone?)
- Or do you get one last gift card and take a stand that it’s the last one?
- Do you phase it out by not getting as big a present to try to transition them from child phase to the adult one?
- Or do you just give whatever gift they requested and try not to be resentful?
Tricky. Very tricky. Especially because no one wants to look like a Scrooge during the big family party. (By the way, I asked her if I could throw this question out there to you lovely bloggers to tap into the collective wisdom, and she’s interested to see how other people would handle it).
Let me know your thoughts in the comments, and I’ll tell you what my advice was to my friend. Also, any other sticky holiday etiquette questions anyone is dealing with? Maybe we can all help each other through this season without stepping on too many toes… 🙂