how do I include friends at Christmas? : LUSENET : Country Families : One Thread

We have dear friends who are currently under employed, and will be having a simple Christmas, away from extended family. We want to include them in our Christmas celebration, but I'm concerned about the feelings of their wonderful children, since Christmas is a big deal for us(okay, we maybe overindulge this one time a year;)

I want to buy an inexpensive present for each of her children, but I don't want my friend to feel she needs to buy something for mine. Also, if I have them over for Christmas lunch, they will see that my children got lots of stuff, and might have their feelings hurt.

Has anyone dealt with this dilemma, from either side? Would it be better to just have them over the next day, or to deliver gifts anonymously?

-- mary (, December 18, 2001


Maybe Christmas Eve would be an option? That way all the gifts won't be open.

-- Jo (, December 18, 2001.

I think delivering gifts anonymously would be the best way to go. And you might want to include a turkey or ham for their Christmas dinner. What a nice thing to do, Mary!

We had a somewhat similar thing happen last year. My husband's brother and family were pretty broke, and didn't have much money for Christmas. They decided to spend what they had to come up to Kansas from Oklahoma to visit with family (his mom-my MIL-lives with us). They have 4 kids, and there was NO WAY we were going to let them sit there and watch our 2 girls open presents, with them not having any! SO.... we rushed out to the store and spent more than we should have on their kids (we truly enjoyed it, though!). We couldn't afford it, but it was so nice to see them open their presents. Now here's the problem - I could tell that my brother in law and his wife were uncomfortable about it. Like we thought they couldn't provide for their kids. And they felt bad about not having presents for us and our kids even though we told them we understood their situation, and were just glad they came to visit-that their being with us for Christmas was the best present they could give. I think the whole situation made the kids feel better, but made their parents feel worse. And this year, they're not even coming to visit!

So, I'm all for the anonymous giving.

-- Cheryl in KS (, December 18, 2001.

I would go for the Christmas Eve party. Maybe have small gifts for all the kids, yours and theirs, and play some kind of game to get the "prize". We did one once where everyone starts with a present then they draw a slip of paper that might say trade with someone wearing blue, trade with person on the left etc...

You could just have a light supper or snack type meal, and if they ask what to bring, think up something you know they have on hand. You will be the best judge of that, but say for instance you know they have beef, you could ask them to bring sloppy joes or something like that.

This is not to say don't deliver anonymously also if you want to. Because you could probably do both.

Many times I didn't have the money to buy for all my nieces and nephews, but could usually come up with some small gift, like school notebooks I had bought when school started and a small bag with pencils, gum and candy. I could buy for 10 children for under $10, so it doesn't have to be expensive.

-- Melissa (, December 18, 2001.

Mary if you don't mind, later let us know what you decide. I'm sure many people encounter this situation and would be interested in what you did, and how they felt/reacted...

-- Melissa (, December 18, 2001.

I have been on both ends. We would have been on the other end this year but we have been very blessed. I can suggest you give the mother gift certificates for a grocery store and small presents for the children. Maybe as a gift back they will invite you over for dinner.

-- melinda (, December 18, 2001.

you may think i'm awful but, i would tell my kids, hey we are doing pretty good this year, but the neighbors aren't. why don't we give this from you. that way they (IMHO) learn giving,compassion, etc,....... i don't know about everyone else, but my kids have too much anyway. they know it is the right thing to do and that they will have plenty under the tree anyway.

don't know your area, but we are giving our "under employed" gift cards from a local "have all" store, that way they can buy what they need, not what we think they need. anyway i hope this e-mail is readable, i know i'm having trouble re-reading it!

-- steve (, December 18, 2001.

How kind you are mary (but I already knew that)....It could not be a good thing to have your frinds children see all the goodies your kiddos will get, and yet you cannot run out and buy equal things,as much as I am certain you would wish to! I agree with whomever said to have a Christmas Eve get together...Do you have a Dollar Tree store in your area? Neil, every year, goes to this store, where the things truly ARE a dollar and comes home with tons of goodies for "stocking" fillers..I have to tell you, our kids and all those foster kids we used to have, say that the stockings from Neil make the can but tons of cookies and chocolate stuff dirt cheap as well as some very nice "toys" like puzzles and silly things that the kids year we ran out of homemade stockings, so I ran to the Goddwill store and bought several knee socks instead..these were filled with all sorts of goodies (wrapped bars of soap, toothbrushes, samples of shampoo, SARDINES, etc... kids adore opening up all those small packages and it is so inexpensive..your friends children will have a ball and go home with a kneesock full of of all, their parents, while being grateful that you included their children will n ot feel uncomfortable....God bless you sweetie!

-- lesley (, December 18, 2001.

I'd do it anonymously. A very good friend of mine has a business is doing that. She knows of a family who is having trouble making ends meet this Chirstmas and she sent them money.

-- Ardie /WI (, December 18, 2001.

Mary-you are a very thoughtful and caring person! What I would do would depend on how close you were to these friends and many other faqctors but off hand I'd say go annyomous with optinal Christmas Eve party.

I remember once as a child my dad had lost his job and our chuch sent us a "box" at Christmas-I thought it was very nice- a canned ham, some other food and some trinkets. My Mother was terrably upset and pretty embaressed-of course this was our church so she knew these people. However-I have had Christmases, as a Mom with small Children when we could pay rent and groceries and that was it, also away from family, I would have been very grateful for some help. However-you are right to feel for the children, because no matter what, they are going to compare gifts. So maybe invite them over for Christmas Eve to share the holiday, but don't open any gifts, and send them whatever you like annoyomously -I liked the idea of money or gift certificates so they could get what they need-still, its fun and cheery to open a surprise!

-- Kelly (, December 18, 2001.

Just want to say thank you for all the thoughtful responses. I've been considering on this for awhile now, and knew ya'll could help me out with your perspectives.

I think I know now what I want to do, but if any one else wants to add suggestions, please do.

Thanks again.

-- mary (, December 19, 2001.

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