12 Christmas Gift-Giving Ideas For The Extended Family

by Katrina - The Organised Housewife

Unsure what to gift some family members for Christmas? 12 creative (and affordable!) gift-giving tips and ideas that will help with buying and giving presents to extended family members this Christmas.

Buying Christmas gifts for extended families raises a lot of questions. Is it expected that we buy gifts for cousins, aunties and mother-in-laws? How much should we spend on presents for extended family members? If we decide not to buy a present, should we do something else for them instead? I put these question to The Organised Housewife community recently, and I think the suggestions that rolled in could save the rest of us a lot of worry and work this Christmas.

If you’re having a Christmas with new people you don’t know well, trying to work to a tight budget, or perhaps wanting to avoid a repeat of last year when you received gifts from extended family members who you didn’t buy for (yikes!), I am confident one of these genius gift-giving tips will help.

Secret Santa

An age old classic is the secret Santa, or sometimes referred to as the Kris Kringle approach, however many families take a different approach with this.

  • Megan’s family does secret Santa between all the adults, and buys gift for the children.
  • Jackie’s family on the other hand does Kris Kringle between the adults (adults buy for adults), and also between the children (kids buy for kids). This is a fabulous way to get the kids involved, and celebrating in the joy that is gift giving.
  • Sarah’s family only buys for the children, but this is done via secret Santa – so every adult buys one gift for one child.
  • Melanie’s family goes one further and gets all adults to supply a wish list of 3 items within the budget. It makes it easier for the buyer and ensures everyone gets something they actually want.

Send Christmas Cards Instead

If you can’t afford to give presents to all the family members that you’d like to, consider writing Christmas cards instead. They cost little more than your time, are packed with a lot more heart than a store bought present, and make beautiful Christmas displays too. Consider adding a family photo or a lotto ticket like Sam does – it’s a “small price, but potentially big winnings”.

Set A Gift-Giving Theme

Sarah’s family sets a gift-giving theme each Christmas – but a theme that makes a difference! One year their theme was ‘handmade, local or homemade’, and another year they put half their budget to a secret Santa present and the other half they pooled together and gave to a charity.

Christmas Stockings

A very fun take on Christmas stockings for kids, is stockings for the adults! In Michelle’s family they have Christmas stockings for all the adults where women buy something for each of the women’s stockings, and the men do the men’s stockings. The limit is $10 per person, and apparently there have been some pretty creative ideas.

Make A Game Out Of Gift-Giving

Games are great icebreakers, particularly when you have newbies joining the Christmas celebrations. They also make it easy to keep to a small budget.

Barbara’s family came up with a very fun game where everyone places a ten dollar un-named gift under the tree. Numbers are then chosen from a hat, and this number marks the order of who chooses first, second etc. The fun twist is that a person is then allowed to choose somebody else’s already opened gift instead of choosing a wrapped present from under the tree. The opened presents can only change hands three times, so it becomes a fight for the best or funniest gift. Some people continue to barter and exchange gifts long after the gift-giving game is over. This sounds like so much fun!

Keep It In The Family

The immediate family that is. You don’t need to buy for extended family members if you don’t wish to, simply let everyone know though so you can manage their expectations. Raffaela’s family takes a beautiful approach to this style of gift giving – they only give presents to immediate family members, and what would have been spent on extended family is given to a nominated charity instead.

Shop The Sales

By planning ahead and shopping the sales and deals in the months leading up to Christmas you can save heaps! Natty was able to get presents for all her extended family’s children (8 kids!) for $130. Amanda on the other hand, gets her kids to choose things they like throughout the year so that they don’t have to get everything at the one time.

For a really gorgeous range of last-minute gift ideas (many of them with awesome discount codes!) check out The Organised HQ Christmas Gift Guide.

Gift An Experience

I love this idea! Instead of buying presents for children of extended family members, Kirrily’s family gifts the children money that gets pooled together to buy a family experience. This has meant that her brother-in-law has been able to take her three children to the zoo, Darling Harbour and the aquarium, whilst her sister-in-law has taken her boys to see Aladdin and Matilda. Kirrily has even bought her children a trampoline in the past with the money they were gifted from extended family members at Christmas.

You could even gift an experience via Adrenaline, like this Dreamworld and White Water World day pass.

Christmas Hampers

Christmas hampers are an awesome option for extended families. Brenda buys four to five gift bags a few months before Christmas, and gradually adds to them with tea, coffee, biscuits and other snacks. It only costs her about $10 to $20 for each bag. Natty also does Christmas hampers, and sends them to her family who don’t live close by so that they can enjoy them on Christmas Day.

Set A Budget

Get real about your gift-giving. Work out how much you want to spend, who you want to buy for, and then work backwards. If you have to knock a few people off your list, buy more affordable presents, or substitute some gifts with a hand-written card, then so be it.

Lots of people in The Organised Housewife community use the gift lists and budget pages within my Christmas Planner to helps them stay on track with their Christmas budget.

Just Buy Presents For The Kids

A few years ago Kelly decided they were only going to buy pressies for the kids of the family and that they didn’t want anyone to buy her and hubby any presents. Kelly says it’s worked out well, takes the stress out of Christmas, and allows them more time and money to get the perfect present for each child. Emma’s family has a similar approach, and only buys presents for family members until they’re 21.

When In Doubt… Buy Wine!

Wine is often a welcomed gift at Christmas time, and you can generally pick up some really good bargains when buying in bulk. Check out my Wine Cheat Sheet plus get yourself an exclusive BWS discount here.

…and if you’re wanting to splash out a little further, you could even gift your wine in this gorgeous insulated wine purse!

Whatever approach you take with your gift-giving, the biggest tip I can give is to be transparent about it. We all understand the financial and emotional strain that can come with Christmas time, so make sure you choose a gift-giving approach that works with your time and money constraints, and then let your family know. You might actually find that your family want to hop on board with your genius idea!

How do you celebrate Christmas with your extended family?

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