Sharing is caring!

How to Stop Buying Gifts for Extended Family Graciously- pink background - Three cardboard box gifts with red yarn tied around.
Cardboard box gifts with red yarn tied around


This post contains affiliate links. This means if you click a link and make a purchase, I will receive a small commission at no cost to you, so thank you. This site uses cookies for a better user experience. For more information read our disclosure policy here.

So your on a budget this year. No problem. You’ve started shopping, bought stuff for the kids, teachers, friends, and then remembered your extended family members that always buy Christmas gifts for you and your family. Yet, it is not in your budget this year, but you are worried you will look bad if they get you a gift and you don’t buy them anything.

Now hear me out! I don’t want to sound like the grinch! In fact, I absolutely love giving gifts. I love it so much, that my husband asked me to cut back! And believe me, I understand his point, but the gift-givng madness needs to stop somewhere, right?

Moreover, wouldn’t it be nice to stop buying gifts for extended family so you can save more this year? According to a study by Deloite, in 2018, U.S. households spent an average of $1,536 during the Christmas holidays. That’s a big chunk of change, and can add up quickly if you are buying for extended family as well. 

Keep in mind, if you want to buy for extended family, that is great too, but if you are on a budget, chances are you don’t want to ring in the New Year in debt. So finding ways to stop buying gifts for extended family graciously is essential to holiday budget happines this year. 

Remember gift giving is a form of love and nurturing in a relationship. If you are handing out $20 gift cards to Starbucks to eveyone under the sun, you can see how this can become impersonal and lose it’s luster. Especially if you don’t have the money to continue buying for everyone under the umbrella term “family.”

Let’s face it, gift giving can be stressful. Perhaps you are looking to restore peace this Holiday Season and stop shopping online for a few minutes to enjoy your kids putting up decorations this year. 

Whatever the reason you want to stop buying gifts for extended family, here are some tips to help you make your transition. 

Related Holiday Posts:

Dollar Tree Christams Decoration Ideas

How to Stay on Budget This Christmas

Christmas Planner

Free or Fun Holiday Activities for the Family


Tips to Graciously Stop Buying Gifts for Extended Family

#1 Be honest & Prompt About Your Situation

If it isn’t in your budget, polietly send a note or email letting them know it is not in the budget this year to buy gifts for extended family and wish them happy Holidays. Make sure to do this in a timely manner, so they will know you do not plan to exchange gifts this year and they can decide if they still plan on shopping for you and your family.

#2 Transition to a family gift

Buy a gift for the “family” that won’t breakt the bank. If you feel it is expected to buy kids gifts for your family members, you could buy a “family” gift such as a board game (usually great sales on these around Black Friay) or a bag of candy under $10. After a few years, you could just send a card without the physical gift. This will help you make the transition to stop buying gifts for extended family altogether and your family will get the idea as your gift gets smaller, evenutlaly turning to a card. 

#3 Draw Names

Suggest drawing names at Thanksgiving and limit the gift to a set amount for everyone. This way you are only buying one gift  and since everyone is doing the same, you will not feel guilty. This is a great new tradition to cut down on everyone’s Holiday stress and chances are, there are others in your circle that will be relieved you suggested this idea. 

#4 Give Coupons

Instead of physcial gifts, suggest giving coupons to one and other for services and skills that will help the other family out. For example, if your handy, perhaps give a coupon to help fix something in the home. Or if you like to cook, give a coupon for one dinner at your house. These will be appriciated and also save your extended family members a lot of money, depending on your skill set.


#5 Suggest a “Family” donation

If you want to get away from the “gift giving” aspect of the Holidays so you can just enjoy your time spent with loved ones, suggest a family donation in lue of gifts this year. You can easily organize a fund raiser on facebook or collect cash to donate to a local charity. Remember to discuss this early and plan ahead. 

Even if your extended family is not on-board with this, you can still give to a family in need. Most local chruches, mom’s groups, and schools adopt families over the Holidays and you can focus your energey in helping others and teach this to your children. 

#7 Homemade Gifts

If you don’t want to entirely stop giving to your extended family, try making homemade gifts. Do you know how to sew, needle point, stitch, or bake? These could be wonderful, heartfelt gifts your family will come to cherrish. My cousin made me some Christmas towels around twenty years ago and I still put them out as a decoration every year. 

#8 Expect Some Puch Back

I love giving gifts, and I would still buy my family gifts even if they told me they can’t buy them for me. I don’t expect gifts in return from family so not getting things back is not a big deal to me. However, if you are suggesting not exchaning all together, expect some family members to still buy for you and your children. 

Remember not to feel guilty about making decisions for  you family. Don’t worry about what others think about your decisions and stick with them without feeling badly. 

#9 Explain the Situtaion to Your Kids

Make sure your children understand why you decided to stop buying for extended family. Let them know so they are not confused at the family gathering. 

Try bringing them one of their Christmas gifts from you to open at the gathering while others are exchanging gifts. 

#10 Stick to Your Guns

Once you have made the decision to stop buying gifts for extended family, stick to it. Don’t feel pressured or guilted into gift giving, especially if you don’t have the means. 

If your family doesn’t like it, there isn’t much you can do about it, and  not evreryone will agree with your decisoin so you have to be strong. 


What to Say When Someone Buys You a Gift, After You Agreed Not to Exchange Gifts This Year

As mentioned above, you will still probably recieve gifts from people you let know you where not going to buy for. You can politely say, “I thought we weren’t exchanging gifts so I don’t have anything for you, but thank you so much for the (insert gift). It was so nice of you.”  Be polite and move on. Not everyone will share the same feelings about gift giving as you do and that is okay. To each their own. 

How to Stop Giving Gifts to Extended Family Members Graciously Final Thoughts…

Whatever your reasons for wantinig to stop buying gifts for extended family memebers, I hope this post gave you some ideas to keep the Holidays fun and special, while staying on budget. Spending time with family is important, but the preasure of gift-giving can sometimes get out of hand and make the Holidays seem less magical and more daunting. Transition away from gifts for extended family so you can enjoy your time this year and be present, without a present. Happy Holiays.