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Christmas/other gifts for adult children?

13 years ago

What do you (or, what did your parents) do about gifts for adult children? Does the amount you spend decrease once they're on their own? Do you prefer to give tangible gifts rather than cash? Has the recession affected your spending plans for the holidays this year?

Dh & I are discussing this topic, and can't come to a satisfactory solution. Like many others, we're hard hit by the recession. I've had to postpone replacing my ancient van due to house repairs and I recently invaded the emergency fund. The cash we received from Wolf for their defective range went into roof & other repairs, so we've had no range for several months and likely won't until next year (dh grills & I use the crockpot a lot.)

Our kids finished college almost two years ago. One had a serious, lengthy medical crisis and faces a lifetime dealing with a chronic disease. He's working, but not in a full time permament position (although no longer for lack of trying), and his reserves are dwindling. The other is doing well, but is concerned about massive industry-wide layoffs and so is being careful with money.

Unlike some of our friends, neither dh nor I grew up in families that gave underwear & socks as Christmas gifts. We tended to be very frugal with ourselves but spoiled our children a bit. This may be our first year of truly practical gifts for them. I hate to admit it, but that takes some of the fun out of the holidays.

On the other hand, our "grasshopper" child spent large sums on travel and other non-necessities earlier this year, while dh & I haven't taken a vacation since '06. Again, as much as I hate to admit it, there's a little bit of pique ... consternation ... some none-too-pleasant feeling that parental sacrifices should not continue forever.

Anyway, I thought it might help to learn how others handle this situation. Do you ever feel constrained about buying/spending for yourselves when that means you cannot be as generous as you were previously with your adult children? Do you take into account whether you help (or expect to soon be helping) with their expenses due to gaps in employment &/or the recession? Do you attempt to maintain some semblance of equality between siblings?

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