Holidays at a distance — The Bump
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Holidays at a distance

DS is 7 months old, first grandchild on both sides and this is our first Christmas in the UK. The grandparents are all asking about sending us gifts, but from what I can tell if UK customs determines that the contents of a package are worth some amount, they would assess duty on the package before releasing it. Which to me sounds like a PITA. Plus, as parents we want to have some control over what DS receives, especially when it comes to toys. And we pretty much have what we need and don't have a ton of space as it is.

So we want to tell the grandparents to go lite on the gifts, but they might not take this well. Especially MIL, who goes overboard with gifts every year. We Skyped with her the other day and she wants to send a box of stuff but it was going to cost her $160 to ship it to us here. So she asks if she can send it to DH on his next business trip home (next week) so that he can lug it back and forth across the USA before bringing it back here. She says "It's not that much, it'll squish down, you can fit it in a small carryon" And then she shows us this Large moving box that fills the whole screen! And it's full of knitted items, toys, and matching pajamas for the whole family, etc., etc. DH actually didn't let her finish her entire inventory.

We finally agreed that she could send the box to my brother, and DH will have an opportunity to stop by there and bring back what he can. Privately, we've decided that anything that is not hand-made will go straight to charity -- Toys for Tots, women's shelters, etc. DH wants to save his suitcase space for stuff we actually need. He thinks his mom is out of control and needs to dial it back, but from experience he knows that having that conversation with her would be like talking to a brick wall.

How do you get your far away families to dial things back during the holidays? 




Re: Holidays at a distance

  • We usually pick just one thing for the family to send to our 18 month old, and have them order it from Amazon UK to avoid the custom issue.  This year, my 18 month old is getting new bath towels, and I plan to wrap some of his older toys he has forgotten about on Christmas.  Maybe a bit lame, but we just don't have the space to accumulate too much!
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  • My MIL is the same way...she buys DD an excessive amount of clothes/toys/books and then expects us to bring it back in our suitcase.  It is not that we are not appreciative, but it is a hassle trying to figure out how to shove everything in our suitcases.  DH has tried talking to her...

    My mom on the other hand bought DD something off of Amazon UK this year...makes it a lot easier.

    Since DD is still young, she wont understand the gifts this year anyway. 



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  • My mom orders from Amazon.UK so there won't be any extra cost.
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  • Ditto again on the Amazon. Similarly, they can also order off other websites like Marks & Spencer, John Lewis, etc. if there's something special you want but can't find on Amazon. My family still sends a box of small, wrapped presents and cards, so there's something for us to "open" on Christmas morning. But it's usually just candy and socks!
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  • I fourth or fifth the amazon idea. For my parents it's a little harder because they have to order off of with little knowledge of German, but my brother has done it before and they're trying, and I've decided that I'm going to put together a little "how to" pdf with screen shots so they can have a guide as they go through the process. It's just easier that way, and since it looks like we're going to be here long term, it will definitely save on shipping / customs costs if they can just order online and have the stuff sent to us. They usually send us a package, too, but this way the larger items won't have to be shipped and they can be a little freer in what they get (don't have to be as careful about it being lightweight, compact, etc).

    In turn, we usually order things on and have them sent to them. 

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  • We've told them to just order from websites and send to us directly and yet... they still send $40 worth of stuff in a box that cost them $60 to ship.

    It's been 18 months since we moved and, honestly, the novelty has worn off for them. They send a lot less than they did in the beginning.

    MIL just told us she spent a fortune shipping things to use for Christmas and the new baby and won't be doing it again. Slow learning curve for the generous grandmothers :)

    Oh, also helps that we are trying to live simply (see blog in siggy) so when they ask what we'd like we say nothing with a receipt, just more Skype calls.

    Which, honestly, really is the best gift for us living so far away. 

  • Thank you everyone for the great ideas! We've let our families know about the UK websites. Looks like LL Bean has one, too, which our family in Maine should find very convenient!

    Of course, after telling our families about the websites, my MIL writes back to say she has already shipped a package to us as of Monday, after she had agreed on a plan with DH to ship it to my brother in Seattle where DH will be passing through. We'll see what her learning curve is!

  • Amazon Wishlists! I know some people think they are tacky, but that way people know what you want and can have it shipped right too you.

    The other thing that I have is a bank card to a bank account in SA (my home country) and if my mom wants to buy DS something then she puts the money in the card and I either use the card to pay or I draw out the cash.  


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