How to handle the holiday giving?


This is mom's first year in assisted living. How do you handle Christmas gifts - did you just stop cold turkey? (Mom has 7 children with spouses and over 25 grandchildren. She used to buy for them all. Last year, I purchased gift cards for her seven children/spouses and bought a few toys for the grandchildren who lived beside her.)

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One of my G'mas slowly devolved into buying a crate of something--like a good jam, and gifting those. We put Mom's name on gifts we gave, too., which entirely took the load of gifting off her shoulders--she could help choose, help wrap, help sign cards, as she was able.
But even so, at some point, even that becomes too hard.

There are other things one can do for gifting, that make it easier..
It got ridiculous to try gifting to each family member---heck, it was ridiculous decades before elders needed to rearrange how they did things!
Too costly to afford, was what started it--not just that many gifts, but the postage/shipping!

We wanted gifts to make a beneficial difference in the World---something meaningful, helpful, positive.
Relatives pretty much had their needs met…why add to their piles of junk to get rid of?
And, it's a learning curve for young ones.

We found a number of worthy causes to donate to, in the name of each family household, instead of individual gifts.

Mom could sponsor this, if she is financially able and wants to
---you could help her do it all online, even
---once it's figured what to donate to, have those in your bookmarks, it's a snap.
---a small bank account that has a debit card, used -only- for online buying, is a safety measure---that account only holds amounts needed to cover purchases made. That way, if someone rips it off, they can't get much, if anything.

It took us several years to discover a handful of great, boot-strapping, worthy causes, such as:
== Meal baskets for impoverished Native families, or,
==The Heifer Project, which offers various size "gifts" of farm animals for 3rd world country families; or,
==Light Up The World, which helps villages bring solar lighting packages and industry to make these, into villages in 3rd World Countries; these small systems prevent burns from expensive kerosene lamps, increase household incomes by allowing people to stay up after dark to work on studies, income-generating work, etc.
To name a few.
OR, one can find local charitable programs.
By donating locally, one can help those in need, closer to home.
These charitable groups are easier to check out / verify--& even see results yourselves.
It could become a treasured game to see what each family can find each year--once we got the ball rolling, other family households jumped on the bandwagon to see what they could find, too--it's always a fun surprise!

Charitable organizations don't care how large/small a gift is--there's a broad range of suggested gift levels--or write in your own.
There is often a card given to let the receiver know what was gifted in their name.
BUT, for some of these, WE made cards, letting the receiver know we donated towards a worthy cause in their name
---we told them:
=== the name of the Organization
===what they do for who, how--we become small-time ambassadors for the charitable causes.
We didn't list the amount, as it was often embarrassingly small--but a gift, even so.

This allows "saving face" by gifting even small amounts, yet, doing it so "everybody wins".
No fuel, stress or frustration was spent, to "go shopping"

==="Pulling a name out of the hat" instead of gifting each person--the larger the family gets, the harder that is. But, the whole family needs to participate on that, because if some don't, it feels bad for those who only gift to the named person.
===OR restricting to gifting to the youngest children;
===OR, special gift to one or a few, who really need help with something.
===OR, restricting gifts to small, useful things--like containers of nuts & fruits per household.

Families should visit the elder who is gifting to them, or who they are gifting to, if possible. Kids need to get a concept: they need to make a relational contact--the gift should be relegated to being an unexpected perk.
A personal visit or phone call is a gift that costs little or nothing but transportation… ...smiles, kind words, pleasant conversations & hugs are a gift--yet are free.

Be careful to prevent Mom giving away assets if Medicaid is an issue, or might be anytime in 5 years from date of gift--that's the usual "look-back" period.
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When you send out your Christmas cards, include an address label with grandma's info on it, and ask them all to remember her and send HER something. Gentle reminders work, the pendulum needs to swing her way.
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I agree with Jeannegibbs. It is not our decision, but if they want to continue giving gifts, they should be able to. Just today mom asked me to help her figure out what to get my sisters (a lump of coal was my first thought) and grand children for Christmas. My mom has always gifted and gets a great deal of pleasure in it. Taking that away would be difficult for her she would feel bad if she didn't have something to give, thought she messed up, then become depressed thinking she is a bad person.
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Time to reverse the tradition and have the children and grandchildren give the gifts of themselves with visits, phone calls and letters throughout the year. The generousity your mother did in the past should now be reciprocated toward her.
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At this point I don't think she should be gifting unless she absolutely insists. If she does, I would suggest to her that she does it only for the grandchildren, not the grown children. That would narrow now the cost and time involved. Gifting grandchildren could be a gift bag with fruits, nuts, candy and a small inexpensive gift from the dollar store. It could all be done in one shopping trip and a little time putting the bags together. I believe this would satisfy her and the grandchildren. I also agree that the grown children should bring the grandchildren around to visit in order to get their goodies and show grandma some love.
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All of her children and grandchildren should be giving her gifts. She just needs to enjoy being wonderful!
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Many years ago I started a tradition with my own children, all got an inexpensive ornament, I then would add their names and year in a Sharpie. I did something similar last year for my mom to give great grandkids. I took her to have her picture taken with the Great Grandkids with Santa. I purchased a package with enough wallet size photos for each GG. I then had the photo laminated, found a very cute coin purse ornament, printed a childs holiday poem on holiday paper for each GG, put the the coin purse ornament. Gifts that the kids will have for many years, with a picture of GG with them as little kids. They loved it! Cost of each ornament with photo, ornament and poem, about $5.00.
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I like Veronica's visit, no gift. Must be careful gifting within 5 years of applying for medicaid. Small gifts could be ok, but no more that $500 in any one month. Its not the time to be getting rid of money at this point of life! You don't want to be disqualified for medicaid paying for your care by poor gifting advice. Seek a "qualified" Elderlaw Attorney...I go to NAELA to find attorneys that go the extra step to learn more....they aren't taught this stuff in their regular schooling!!!
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I would stop doing the gifts unless she insists and has enough money for herself. I think the gift giving by the elderly who are in poor health tends to be
gift giving by the caregiving child.

I did the gift giving my dad had established through his 93rd yr but really it didn't make sense. He wanted to continue but guess who had to factor in
gift giving, running to the bank for funds on top of caring for him and decorating the house which he did enjoy. He loved Christmas. He had enough money to give the gifts so I did comply but it was an added burden which took up much need time.

Perhaps a compromise, give nice Hallmark Christmas cards and small gift certificates to some place nearby?? Do whatever you can to keep it simple.
Being a caregiver, your time is so important you can't afford to run from store to store--continue some shopping online with direct delivery to the gifted person. (You can't be standing in post office lines while running up a home health aide bill on the home front).
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That's about all you can do. Last year as a gag I did Mom's $1 gifs in addition to regular presents really as a gentle message to the family. Lots of things were thrift store finds, plus the Dollar store and handmade. If the recipients don't visit to receive their gifts in person they just get a card in the mail.
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