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How do you Coordinate what to get stepkids for Xmas?

amber3902's picture

I usually spread my holiday shopping out over the three months of October, November and December so it's not that big a financial hit, so since it's October I'm getting ready to start shopping for xmas for my two daughters.

A couple of years ago, I did not coordinate with my exH on Christmas gifts for our daughters. And as a result, his sister wound up getting the exact same toy for my youngest daughter that I had gotten her.

Well, I couldn't exactly blame her, since I didn't coordinate the gift lists with my exH. So the next year, I had the girls write down their list. I divided the list into two, meticulously making sure each list had both a few inexpensive and a few expensive selections, to make sure exH's side of the family had several things to buy. I gave exH the list. Well, xmas rolls around and when the girls return from visiting their father for xmas, they did not get one thing that had been on the lists I gave their father! I was a little annoyed that I went through all that trouble for nothing.

So now it's nearing that time again and I'm wondering what to do. How you coordinate gift giving with the other family or do you just not bother?

Fairy dust 28's picture

My husband and his x-witch had the same issue, did a list, divided it and she didn't buy a thing of it, so since then, what we have done is inform her of what we are getting and leave it at that, then there are no duplicates.

However, she has also duplicated presents, despite knowing we hae already purchased - so we keep receipts for EVERYTHING now, just in case xxx

amber3902's picture

Yeah, it was so annoying to go through and divide everything up, only to have nothing bought off the list. I mean, if I had known they weren't going to buy the things the girls wanted, I could have gotten them myself.

And then last year my xMIL wanted to take the girls shopping on XMAS EVE to have them spend their gift cards. I had to tell her to wait until after xmas and they had a chance to see what I had gotten for xmas, so they didn't go and get the same thing that I had gotten them. DUH.

Fairy dust 28's picture

My husband and his x-witch had the same issue, did a list, divided it and she didn't buy a thing of it, so since then, what we have done is inform her of what we are getting and leave it at that, then there are no duplicates.

However, she has also duplicated presents, despite knowing we hae already purchased - so we keep receipts for EVERYTHING now, just in case xxx

Patsy's picture

We don't bother with it. BM would actually tell SD what we were getting her or she would get it for her when we would try to coordinate with SD's mom's side. It sounds to me your X doesn't respect your input. I am not sure of her age and if Santa is still in the picture (like it was for us at the time) it can be very aggravating and down right cruel to your daughter. If she doesn't believe in Santa it is aggravating that you might have to take her back to the store to return your gifts for other things. What we started doing was getting SD things from our trips that we thought she would like, but most likely BM wouldn't have been in those areas to get those particular gifts. Good luck to you it is a shame your X didn't want to work with you on this. Oh I almost forgot when SD got older a lot of our gifts were trips or activities that worked out great.

amber3902's picture

It was very disappointing for my daughter who was seven last year. I had put a doll on her list for her dad to get that she really wanted.

Even if he wasn't able to get the doll, he has several family members that could have gotten it and it wasn't that expensive, $20 I think.

She was very disappointed that Santa didn't bring her the doll she asked for. That experience still stings.

stormabruin's picture

If you get to decide what you're giving your daughter, shouldn't her dad get to decide what he's giving her too? If the doll was something you wanted her to have, YOU should have gotten it for her.

I'm not a fan of one parent assigning the other parent gifts to buy.

amber3902's picture

The doll was something D7 wanted. I was trying to split the lists evenly, so one parent didn't get all the big tickets items.

It just so happened I put the doll that D7 really wanted on her dad's list to get for her. If I had known he wasn't going to buy her the doll she wanted, I would have put it on my list instead.

PeanutandSons's picture

Disappointments are lart of life...I highly dkubt shd is scarred because Santz didnt bring a specific doll.

First off....... you seem to feel that she is required to have every item purchased that she put on her list. That expectation WI get really expensive really fast.

Second, you seem to feel that you have the right to tell dh, and his entire family, that they are requirec to only purchase off the list you gave thdm AND that they must purchase everything on that list. Thats very unrealistic demands to put on anyone.

amber3902's picture

No, no. I don't mean for it to appear that way. There were several things on D7's list that she didn't get and she wasn't disappointed. It was just this one item she REALLY wanted that she was disappointed about. And true, she isn't scarred for life.

Also, it's not that I feel I have the "right" to tell exH and his family what to get the girls, or that they can to only purchase items off the lists. They are the ones that ask the girls all the time what they want for xmas, which is why I thought doing the lists would help.

SMof2Girls's picture

They can continue to ask the girls, and the girls can continue to tell them. You don't NEED to have any roll in this.

Patsy's picture

I don't agree with assigning gifts either, but if he had a problem with it he should have put his BIG BOY PANTS on and told amber that he didn't want to do that. Poor girl waiting for Santa that is heartbreaking!

stormabruin's picture

Poor girl waiting for Santa??? If I understand it right, Santa still came. He just didn't bring the doll she wanted.

It isn't about big boy pants. A father put thought into choosing gifts to give his daughter. That's what gift-giving is supposed to be about. The giver puts thought into a gift & gives what they feel good about giving. Not picking from a list that was devised by the other parent.

PeanutandSons's picture

Poor girl waiting forSanta? Heartbreaking??

Man, get ready to start crying hysterically for my sd9 last year then. she got exacly nothing off her list since she decided to ask for a 2000 moped, an iphone, iPad, a laptop ect, etc. not one thing on her list was less than 300 bucks.

Patsy's picture

LOL come back to reality this girl wanted a doll that costs 20 bucks. I thought the OP just took from her daughters list. It wasn't her list it was her daughters list to Santa. OP gave list to dad (I don't agree with it but it happened). Instead of a grown man standing up to his ex and saying NO I WILL GET MY DAUGHTER WHAT I WANT TO GIVE HER he just ignored it letting OP assume what she wanted. Now it is Christmas time and this little girl didn't get a gift that was a very reasonable gift to ask Santa for. Yeah I think he should have put his BIG BOY PANTS on and said no it is not going to work this way. If a child who believes in Santa wants a very practical gift and the other parent did not state they had an objection to getting it I as a parent would be upset. It's Christmas I know the child is not going to be scarred for life, but come on it was a $20 doll for goodness sakes. I you can make a child feel the Christmas magic for 20 bucks why not?

Disneyfan's picture

The kid got plenty of other gifts. If she wasn't thankful for all of the other gifts she got, then something is very wrong.

Most kids will produce a laundry list of Christmas wants. Very few will end up with every item they request.

Patsy's picture

To Disneyfan I don't think the OP said that her daughter wasn't thankful for her other gifts. I think what irked the OP was that her X didn't follow through with what they had planned. She didn't mail the list to him and say here get her this. He was a part of the conversation and he decided not to stand up to her and tell her NO instead he went along with it. I don't see where what her X did to her wasn't so much unlike what many BM's do to manipulate the holidays. Go along with one thing then do something different. My DH and your DH stood up to our BMs from the get go and told the BMs the list thing will not work her X did not.

amber3902's picture

Yeah, Patsy you have it right. Ex was part of the conversation, I told him what I was planning to do ahead of time and he had no problem with it, in fact he agreed with the idea so he could give the lists to his family.

They always want to know what the girls want and what their sizes are so I thought a list would help eliminate confusion.

Patsy's picture

I'm glad I was assuming right so yeah I will say it again lol he should have put his BIG BOY PANTS on.

stormabruin's picture

" I don't see where what her X did to her wasn't so much unlike what many BM's do to manipulate the holidays."
Honestly, I don't see where what OP did to her ex wasn't unlike what many BM's do our DH's.

She tried to dictate how his money should be spent & what gifts to buy & got pissed because he didn't follow her instructions.

If OP wanted her daughter to have the doll, she should have gotten it for her.

OP said he agreed to the idea so he could give the list to his family. She didn't say he agreed to buy the doll.

IMO, he DID put on his big boy pants when he chose not to make a big deal out something that isn't a big deal.

amber3902's picture

Sorry Storm but you got it all wrong. I never told DH here is the girls' list, you HAVE to buy what's on this list.

ExH's family is always asking the girls what they want for xmas. So a couple of months before xmas, I TOLD exH I am going to give you a list of things the girls want for xmas, along with their sizes, for you and your family.

His response? "Okay, thanks." And when I had the lists ready, he TOOK the lists.

If he had a problem with it, he could have said, "You can't tell me what gifts to buy the girls," etc. etc. He could have said, "No thanks, I'm not taking the list." He didn't say anything like that.

I'm annoyed because I took time to look up all the prices for the items on the list, divide them up and make sure there weren't too many expensive things on one list vs. the other, and then he doesn't even bother to get at least ONE THING off the list.

Yeah, he didn't have to buy every thing listed, but he could have at least gotten ONE THING off the list. And why take the list if he had a problem with it?

SMof2Girls's picture

"And why take the list if he had a problem with it?"

Probably because it wasn't a big deal to him, and he took your list as suggestions. Or he didn't want to cause a scene.

I can't imagine ever going out of my way to come up with a list like this for an ex .. they're his kids too. I'm assuming they're just as capable of telling him and his family what they want for Christmas.

Just take it as a lesson learned and don't spend so much time on it in the future. It will be less upsetting for you when he disregards something you put little to no effort into.

This really shouldn't be a big deal at all.

Igiveupsotornupinside's picture

Thats one thing I guess I was lucky on. BM would call Me and coordinate Christmas. The girls would make one list and her and I would discuss it and figure it out. I guess it made it easier since BMs family was not very close to her and lived out of state so it was basically just DH's side and DH, I and BM that would get them things. I never had an issue. I did find it funny she would call me but then again I did the shopping for Christmas.

Starting last year since they were both adults we don't discuss with BM anymore. I just go shopping since I know what they like and get it. My oldest SD likes surprises and mainly just needs clothing so its pretty and SD19 before we disengaged was always happy with what I picked out for her. This year I only have oldest SD22 to buy for as far as step kids since we are disengaged from SD19 for various reasons I have chosen not to get her anything even though that was a hard decision to make.

I am actually looking forward to Christmas for the first time in 12 years this year. We are having family Christmas which includes SD22 on the weekend before and that means that this will be the first year I get to have Christmas eve and day with JUST our little bio daughters Smile Going to be nice to go to Christmas eve service with my girls and DH and then wake in the morning to the girls waking up to Santa gifts Smile 12 years of dealing with steps and BM is finally coming to a stop.

Patsy's picture

Oh I will never forget the day this happened for me. It was the end to dreading Christmas and the start of a true family celebration! Good for you Ivgivenup!

stormabruin's picture

DH & BM used to do this. I HATED it.

BM would call DH & tell him that her & her mom (her shopping with BM's money) were giving SS an XBox & we needed to get him games to go with it.

She called & said she wanted to get him new glasses & took him to pick them out & made a payment but couldn't pay the rest, so we needed to pay the rest by SS's birthday so she could wrap them & have them for his party.


1) No one will decide what I will give anyone as a gift. That's MY decision to make.
2) Who in the hell gives glasses for a birthday gift???

She always set it up for her gifts to be spotlighted, while ours were merely follow-ups.

SS called & told DH he wanted us to get him a Sleep Number bed for his 17th birthday. I LOST it. We don't coordinate with anyone. We buy what we want to buy. We'll ask the kids for ideas, but in the end, the decision is ours.

I think it's ridiculous when a kid can tell you who is giving them what & then tell you what you will give them to go with it.

IMO, if 2 people end up giving the same gift, it's up to the recipient to express thanks to both givers & then return one & purchase something else.

Of course, I realize that our situation went beyond simply coordinating, but I also believe that coordinating gifts is what led us there.

Patsy's picture

That for sure would leave a bad taste in my mouth. DH did try to coordinate with BM and it was a mess. I was never on board with communication about gifts for SD with BM after I saw what she did after the first time. My DH put a stop to it when SD was young so we do not have SD telling us what she gets for Christmas. I don't even think he has gotten a list from her since she was maybe 6. We do not ask our DD what she wants for Christmas. IF there is something she really wants she will let us know, but it is our decision and DD13 knows that. When DD figured out there was not a Santa we never asked for a list again. I see some of my friends grown children asking for things they want for Christmas and when they don't get it they act like 10 yr old brats. I will NOT tolerate that. I will never celebrate Christmas with people who feel they are entitled to what they want because Jesus was born on December 25th.

PeanutandSons's picture

I use xmas list more as a loose guide than an actual list of what must be bought. The kids probably get two tbings directly off their list, and the rest is what I choose to buy for them. That's the tbing about gifts.....its the gift givers choice, not the recievers.

Nothing creates spoiled and entitled children faster than setting up the expectation that they are entitled to get everything that they ask for. And whats the fun in defacto knowing what you are getting for xmas.... Kind of takes the fun and suspense out of it.

amber3902's picture

Hmmm, if my ex and I are civil. Well, I could try and talk to him about this, but it depends on what day of the week it is.

He'll probably take it as a criticism of him somehow and start attacking me. Last time I tried to clear up some misconceptions he had about the two weeks vacation time he had this past summer, he blew up at me and started yelling and hurling insults at me. It did not go good at all.

Patsy's picture

I just don't think the list is going to work for you. Are you open to him giving you a list that your daughter made and dividing it up? Would you trust he wouldn't screw it up just to be nasty with you. Do you trust that he would follow through on his part? I don't think I would be able to do that and you see from the past he wasn't able to communicate to you that he wasn't going to do things the way you two discussed he just let it go on. Don't leave your Christmas celebration in his hands. Find another way. Your daughter is at least 8 now and probably doesn't believe in Santa she is old enough to know by now that duplicate presents might happen. There are times when me DD has told our extended families what they want for Christmas because she was asked. The families usually tell me what they are planning to get her, but if they don't, I know my DD well enough to know some things that she will love and didn't even think to ask anyone for. That is how I deal with my DD and SD now. No complaints ever from DD and no complaints in a few years from SD and everyone is happy and ready to celebrate.

amber3902's picture

To answer your questions - I would not have a problem with exH giving me a list my daughter made and dividing it up, because that's basically what I did. I took D7's list and divided it up. I made sure each list each had items that were not expensive and some that were, because I know his family likes to buy the girls expensive stuff.

Communication has never been one of his strong suits so no, I could not trust that he would do what we agreed on.

I even told him ahead of time about the lists. He had no problem about it and in fact wanted the information because his family is always wanting to know what the girls want and what sizes they wear, so I told him I would write it all down for his family.

I think I'm just going to go ahead and get what I want my girls to have and not worry about what he or his family does.

Patsy's picture

I think that sounds like the best thing for you. You tried to compromise. Enjoy the season LOL I will be the first to wish you a MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Patsy's picture

beaccountable Wink Thanks and MERRY CHRISTMAS! I will never forget the day those words flew out of my mouth "I will not be your Patsy anymore!" That changed my life forever! Biggrin

Patsy's picture

beaccountable Same thing happened to us! BM even went as far as to ask my MIL's family and FIL's family what they were getting SD and BM turned around and got the same damn things! What a pain in the A$$! There was one year when BM told SD to tell us she only wanted clothes for Christmas. The girl was 10 and not into clothes.

When SD was 14 Dh did feel the need to tell BM our gift just to be sure to get the time that was already laid out in his parenting time agreement. We went on a cruise that year for Christmas. It was our gift to SD and DD. They opened bathing suits and other things for the cruise not very much it all fit into one box. BM then reneged and told SD she couldn't go. The cruise left in three days. SD asked what we were getting her since BM said she couldn't go on the cruise. DH said it was worked our with your mom the ticket is bought that is your Christmas! SD did end up going with us, but I was furious with her and BM for thinking we would just give her something different because it didn't suit them! SD was 14 she knew better than to ask that even if the initial thought was put there by BM.

Patsy's picture

Amazing isn't it. I have learned there are just some people in life I will NEVER figure out and it is not worth my time in trying. You can only look at two sides of the story for so long....

Disneyfan's picture

The whole list thing drives me nuts. I see it as BM telling DF what he has her permission to purchase. :sick:

BM tries the list thing every year. Each year DF tells her to stick the list in her ear.

Since the girls aren't allowed to take stuff from our house to BM's, getting two of the same thing isn't a big deal.

MamaDuck's picture

Me and my ex have never co-ordinated, what he and his family bought stayed at his house, what me and my family bought stayed at my house, no biggy if we doubled up (which was hardly ever). My kids never kicked up a fuss about that arrangement, I think they were happy knowing they had stuff at both homes.

amber3902's picture

I understand the point a few of you have made that the girls should not dictate to someone what to buy for them and I agree.

I also agree with not setting up the expectation that they are going to get everything they ask for, however, exH's family will get on the phone with the girls and ask them what they want for xmas, so they do have to come up with some ideas.

MamaDuck's picture

Every year my kids love to cut things out of catalogues and glue them to a paper, they end up with a pretty extensive wish list lol but the way to put it to them when they were little "Santa can't get you everything, but it is helpful for him to have 'back up' present ideas" And I know my family appreciate it when I make their shopping trips a bit easier

Patsy's picture

Oh MamaDuck I have to say I love your suggestions. You are so even keeled Smile You must be a valued friend to have. Just felt the need to share that.

PeanutandSons's picture

And thats fine.... Just explain tk the girls that they need to give people who ask different suggestions so they dont end up with 4 of the same thing. Assuming that they are older than six they should understand this concept.

When relatives ask me what the kids/skids want I just give general is into moster high and crafting... Ss is into legos and xx TV show right now....BS is big into trains and puzzles. Then the person asking can find what they wznt to give and we dong end up with any duplicates because I am not telling five people get the specific toy.

amber3902's picture

I've also done the approach you mentioned, Peanuts, of telling the girls to telling people different things, again, that didn't work too well either. My eldest has working memory problems, so she had a hard a time time remembering what she told one relative vs another one, and my youngest was just too young to figure out how to keep track of what she told each relative as well, LOL.

I like the idea of just giving general interests, that's a good idea and will probably be the best thing to do. Thanks!

loveandfitness's picture

We don't bother.
I believe it's best not to tell what your gift will be and keep a gift receipt should it happen to be duplicated.
For me, It seems anything we get my SS8 always ends up "lost" when he takes it home.
We have since started making gifts, or giving gifts that go along with things he already has.
For ex: FH made SS a rather nice, custom lap steel guitar(guitar building is a fave, hobby of FH) while he was with us this summer as something for them to do together during the long visit.
Since miraculously SS has been able to hold on to it, as it's not something BM can easily sell, for Christmas we will be giving him a book to help him as he learns to play it.

Tuff Noogies's picture

in the past we've just gotten things that were wanted for our house (like a TV for their room- dont' judge plz- or a game system, or mini scooter, or a pet...) along with a pair of new PJ's and maybe a few items of clothes.

but as they've gotten older, it's become increasingly harder to get them gifts. they always either change their mind, are indecisive, or want something WAAAAAY out of our budget, so cash is king from all sides of the contributing families.

it fantastically grates my nerves when they say "Dad's Christmas money" or "Grandmother's Christmas money" cuz i'm totally old fashioned about it being a **GIFT** not an entitlement (i mean a gift is something the GIVER wants them to have, which is why it's a gift- not something the RECEIVER demands, therefore it is NOT referred to as a Receipt. ok, i'm off my soapbox now...) but they'll take $$ from different parties, add it up, and use that for their big ticket item. either that, or we've gone halfsies w/ MIL (say something costs 300, she'll give half and so will we, but kids will know the gift came from both us and MIL- we'll buy it and she'll pay us her half)

SteelRose's picture

Dh and I were discussing this yesterday too and DH's idea is to draw names out of a hat for those of us here in town maybe on Thanksgiving day so that at least everyone has one gift to buy someone, (DH is trying to teach the boys now that they're teens that it's just as satisfying to give as to receive, but my boys have always bought me a gift and his have not bought anything for their dad or anyone so go ahead DH teach away. lol) but I am hesitant to do this b/c it's weird for step siblings to have to buy something each other. I am thinking in particular of bs18 and ss20, if bs18 got ss20's name he'd probably buy a crappy gift if anything b/c they hate each other. DH is always trying for the goodwill towards all men and steps feeling during the holidays. Like last year he bought a gorgeous train set for all the boys to set up and run. Well it turned out that bs18 set it up and then just bs18 and bs15 played with it with DH b/c his own boys were too jealous of their dad having done that? Anyways, me no like the holidays. Another thing, DH has always had this tradition of having a fondue for c.mas eve dinner. He buys wonderful beef and shrimp and we make sauces and baked potatoes and salad, etc. I bake pies and we try to make this the most special day of the year. But last year it was beginning to feel awkward with our 4 boys around the table. It might just be me though b/c I feel like DH puts so much effort into this and no one appreciates him for it. Oh well again, me no like holidays. lol

twopines's picture

DH asked for a list of items separate from BM's list. He would choose one or two things that generally totalled under 100 dollars.

Tuff Noogies's picture

ADDING - awe she's 7? i didnt realize she was that young. poor li'l thing.

if i were in your shoes, i'd get her what you wanted her to have. regardless of what your ex gets her.

if he duplicates items, he can return them - hey, santa's elves do a lot of the packing, i'm sure they must have made a mistake and didnt realize one of the other elves put the same gift for her in the 'to daddy's house' bag...

amber3902's picture

Yeah, she's eight this year. I think I'm going to do as you suggest and just get the girls what I want them to have and not worry about what ex and his family gets the girls.

sbm014's picture

We do it completely separate from BM. SS tells each parent what he wants Santa bring him other than that his gifts are at the givers will. This year DH is getting him a dirtbike something he wanted from Santa, I will get the chest protector...what BM and others do doesn't really matter to us.

We live two separate households nothing but a set of clothes goes between the two.....

Queencow's picture

I am of the who cares. We get the kids what we want and she gets them what she wants. They basically leave stuff at each house anyways so who cares if we both get xbox's. She's tried to tell dh what to buy them - get stuffed. Last year after learning we bought our clan a family Xbox she actually called the kids on Christmas to tell them she was returning the one she bought them - they live primarily with her - 3 hours away!!! Jealous much??

SMof2Girls's picture

We buy gifts for the skids based on what they want, what we think is appropriate, and what we can afford. BM does the same in her house.

Skids live in two homes. If they get duplicate gifts, that just means they have one of each thing for each home.

BM is not our family. She doesn't participate or have involvement in any part of our family traditions .. including gift giving.

feels_like_karma's picture

When I was younger, it started out as me making one list for both of them. But then I got duplicate gifts. It was easily solved just by them keeping receipts and exchanging it for something else I wanted, so really it wasn't that bad. Duplicates just meant a chance for me to pick out something myself instead! Splitting a list can work if both sides agree to follow the list (for the most part). But since your exH doesn't want to do that, then don't waste your time. If you think your kids might like it, try doing part of their gifts in the form of gift cards. I always thought it was fun getting to pick out whatever I wanted.

amber3902's picture

Oh that sucks. One year my daughter was turning 13 and wanted a Kindle for her birthday. Since I could not afford to get it, and I knew my exH's sister always likes to buy the girls big ticket items, I told exH so he could tell his sister. She doesn't have any kids and always buys the girls real expensive gifts. It was all set, everyone was in agreement that exH's sister was going to get D13 a Kindle.

Well, the day before DD's birthday, exH calls me and tells me "my sister said you can go ahead and get her the Kindle."

I said "NO, you told me a long time ago that she was going to get DD the kindle. I can not afford to get the Kindle and I went ahead and bought something else for her instead." So then he clicks over to the other line to tell her, and then comes back on the line with me and says "Uh, she said she'll get the kindle." I said "GOOD, like she said she would." Geesh!

Like you said Wingman, it's not about the gift, it's about enjoying that special moment with your child, and it sucks when other people ruin that for you.