17 different women, 36 crazy children, 0 babies in utero
Adventures, Advice and Questions from a group of Mormon women who met in Queens, NY and have now scattered all over the place.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Christmas Parties, Gifts and Big Families

I often get asked about the content, logistics and craziness of my family gatherings when people find out my immediate family has now hit 80 people (2 parents, 8 kids, 39 grandkids, 15 great-grandkids and all the spouses). In fact just the other day, my neighbor asked my specifically about what we do about gift-giving during the holidays. Personally, I love my big family's gift giving tradition so I thought I would share it with everyone.

First of all, our Christmas Party usually happens on the Saturday after Christmas. It is just one day of festivities and you make it if you can. No guilt, no pressure (but honestly, no one really likes to miss it). We have lots of good food, the cousins all play together (this year the hosts are organizing some double elimination tournaments of Pounce, Dance Dance Revolution and Boggle because we have found from past experience that my family is highly competitive - with brackets and everything!). We have a short talent show, family updates and the kids act out the nativity in full costume (I loved the year we had a white tiger at manger scene).

Then the gifts begin.

-My mom always gets a gift for every single person and many of them are homemade. I still don't know how she does it. It's completely crazy. But she loves it (and so do we).
-The children under the age of 12 all pick names. These gifts are supposed to be homemade or a "hand-me-down" toy.
-Kids age 12-18 have a white elephant gift exchange. These white elephant gifts are supposed to be things they already have or something under $10.
-All the adults have their own white elephant gift exchange. Again, thee gifts are supposed to be things we already have around, or something fairly cheap.

The adult white elephant gift exchange has always been quite the scene. With gifts ranging from live guinea pigs, to a real sword, to precious family heirlooms, it is always an exciting game. And I will never forget the year someone brought a "teddy" (and not of the bear variety) and we all watched in horror as my dad stole it from my brother. Double yuck.

In dh's family, we all pick names (kids and adults) which I think is pretty standard with a medium sized family. But my favorite tradition is that we fill each other's stockings. It's really fun as an adult to get a full stocking of goodies and then try to guess who was responsible for what.

I also love hearing about the families who forgo gift giving all together and instead adopt a family in need for the holidays, or donate to a favorite charity. Such a great idea.

What are your family's gift giving traditions?


  • Aunt Carrie, I'm actually quite grateful that grandpa stole the "teddy" from my dad....haha YUCK!

    Those guinea pigs were amazing. Leave it to Tamera and Brenna to be that creative.
    posted by Anonymous Mia Mortensen at 12/06/2007 12:32:00 PM  

  • I can't believe your immediate family is so big. I can't imagine cooking for that many people! CRAZY! How do you all do THAT??? Thanks for sharing your story. In DH's family we adopt a family for Christmas. Each sibling takes a turn. I can't wait to do this once DS is older and can really get it. This is the first year my family isn't getting a present for everyone, just the kids. The adults are doing a gift exchange. The gift has to be around $10 and it also has to be something you, yourself, would actually want. So no silly gifts. This has made shopping so much easier and enjoyable for me. :) This year DH and I are also not doing gifts (we don't have any real immediate wants), but are giving each other a date for Xmas. I'm SO looking forward to this since we haven't gone out much lately due to $$$$ and being super busy. It's always fun to find other ways to celebrate besides giving someone something that you're not even sure they'll really like. Thanks for the post.
    posted by Blogger beth at 12/06/2007 01:43:00 PM  

  • I love it! What a fun party tradition.

    The guinea pig thing totally cracks me up.
    posted by Anonymous Julie P at 12/06/2007 02:18:00 PM  

  • Well, my DH's family will be getting about as big as yours, but only two of the 8 are married and there's 1 grandchild and 1 on the way, so we're not quite there yet. I think I will keep in mind your traditions when we get a little bigger. They sound like fun!

    In my family, we draw names - twice. Once for the normal, nice present. And once for a gag gift. I think the gag gifts are what we look forward to once the previous Christmas is over. Sometimes, they're lame, but sometimes... they get talked about each year.
    posted by Blogger Erin Marie at 12/06/2007 02:57:00 PM  

  • I can't imagine my family ever doing Christmas like that, but it sure sounds like fun!!!

    Guinea Pigs...now that's a gift that keeps on giving!
    posted by Blogger Jen at 12/06/2007 06:19:00 PM  

  • Carrie, now that I read your post, maybe we got the stocking idea from you? For the past few years whenever my whole family is together, we each take a turn putting something in every stocking, and like you said, it is fun to figure out who was responsible for the span and sardines that we got one year. My Dad usually chooses to give something handwritten or sentimental.

    We don't exchange names or anything, but I have decided now that once a family hits a certain size , say 2 kids minimum, maybe 3...instead of givine individual gifts to every single person, I am giving a group gift. This year only one family on my list meets that criteria and I am giving them the PLANET EARTH DVD set. Other ideas that I thought of was deluxe sets of board games or the Restoration Hardware family sets (country band, puppet show etc.)...or like a yearly pass to a local museum...something like that.
    posted by Blogger Kage at 12/07/2007 06:17:00 AM  

  • This comment has been removed by the author.
    posted by Blogger cj at 12/07/2007 09:32:00 AM  

  • I rarely get gifts for everyone in my dh's family because he comes from a big bunch, but this year I thought of an idea. We decided to get everyone a marshmallow shooter (http://www.marshmallowville.com/mmv_products.htm) and I ordered 24. We thought it would be fun to have marshmallow wars in the park Christmas afternoon.

    I may regret my decision after I get hit by a couple of marshmallows, but I think it will make for a memorable Christmas:)
    posted by Blogger cj at 12/07/2007 09:34:00 AM  

  • Beth-
    We have it catered. :)

    We stole it from Grandpa (I'm blushing, now)--and I think we still have it somewhere... (btw, we're really going to miss you guys this year!)

    That's awesome! Grandpa (carrie's dad) made those for all the grandkids a couple of years ago. They were way cool...
    posted by Blogger Cheryl at 12/07/2007 11:40:00 AM  

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