Ex-mas Etiquette

by mssinglemama on December 17, 2008

A holiday question about our ex-men.

Do you buy them presents from the kids?

I will not be buying my ex-husband, Benjamin’s father, a Christmas present from myself. I think that’s a given. But what about a gift from Benjamin to his dad? Just shy of three, Benjamin still doesn’t really get the concept of gifts so what’s a single mama to do?

Here are my options:

  • Have Benjamin make cards for everyone, including a special card for his father.
  • Pick out an actual present, wrap it and tuck it in Benjamin’s bag on Christmas.
  • Ignore it all together or as I like to say, “play stupid.”

And what about my ex-husband’s girlfriend and her son? I’ve only met them once but they’ve been living together for over a year now. I can’t trust that my ex will buy a present from Benjamin to his (what do you call them) almost-step mother and step-brother. Should I cover those gifts too?

What have you all done in the past? What’s the typical ex-mas etiquette?


In the ex-mas spirit…

If you haven’t yet and you’d like a few laughs check out my post on Mr. [Blank]. I asked you all to create names for your ex-husbands or boyfriends. The responses (over 40 of them) vary. Some will make you laugh out loud and others are just flat out reminders of why we’re so lucky to be single.

Leave your Mr. Ex Man name here. Guaranteed to cleanse the soul if you leave a comment. Sign in anonymously if you like.


And on a completely random note… I found these the other day – THE perfect gift for teachers or child care givers.

Yogi Cold Defense Tea. You can find them at Whole Foods or other natural grocery stores. I had six teachers and child care givers to shop for, and with my limited budget gift cards were out of the question. Just had to pass this idea on. I found them at $3.29 a box. Here are more teacher gift ideas from iVillage.

If you have any other great gift ideas please share.

{ 41 comments… read them below or add one }

Single Mom Claire December 17, 2008 at 7:28 pm

I never bought a gift for my x-husband or for him from my daughter until this year. She is 3 1/2 and gets the whole consept and he is in her life now for the first time ever, for a year straight. We talked and decided that we were going to do that and get gifts for eachother and try to give our daughter a “Family Christmas” w/o killing eachother…. now I need to go comment in your Mr Blank post… I so have a nasty name for him!


J-Fo December 17, 2008 at 8:46 pm

My daughter made snowman ornaments with bread dough…and this was to be the present for both the ex and his live-in GF…until I picked one of the two up tonight, and Snowman 1 broke in half. Now it’s just a crapshoot what we’ll do.


cyndi December 17, 2008 at 9:10 pm

This year X is just getting a framed picture of N-man. I bought a package with enough pics to cover him and all the grandparents when I had them done last week. Next year, when he’s older, I’ll help him make something for his dad instead.


spatulahandle December 17, 2008 at 11:33 pm

I haven’t spoken or had anything to do with my ex in almost four years…and when I did I never bought him anything.


jen December 18, 2008 at 12:45 am

Unless Benjamin asks you to help him do something for his dad – NO.


Kat December 18, 2008 at 12:46 am

Ok, what I used to do right after the divorce when ex-husband and I were trying to be peaceful for the sake of the kids, (didn’t work, glad I moved thousands of miles away) I would buy a very small gift for their dad, (1 present from the both of them) or give him a nice framed picture of the 2 of them, and 1 small toy each for the half-brothers, and the new girlfriend/mother of the half brothers/flavor of the month, got a handmade card from them.
That’s it.

Our responsibility is to make sure our child has a nice Christmas with their parent, not to give the ex a super huge expensive gift, but something the child picks out themselves, or a nice new picture of the child in a frame, so they can give daddy a gift.
He will be daddy for life.

No matter our feelings for the ex, if the child visits with them all of the time, has holiday visits, the child should have a good time, be happy.

We do not have to give a gift to the new woman, that is the daddy’s job to buy a gift for her and say it’s from Benjamin.
It is nice to have our kids give a gift to their half/step sibling(s), they may end up being step siblings for life, so let them be friends, brothers to each other.

Our feelings do not really matter on this.
If our kids spend holiday time with their parent, we need to make sure that they have a good time, that they have a gift to give to them, and it’s just nice to give a gift for the half/step siblings because they are siblings, you want them to have a good relationship with them.

Our relationships with the ex are over, but the kids will have them for life, let them have good and happy memories of those holidays.
If we are bitter and angry, choose not to send gifts with our kids because of how we feel, that is selfish and it ruins the holiday for our kids.
Help your kids make happy memories, they will always remember it and love you for always making sure their happiness was put above our feelings.


Sara December 18, 2008 at 6:24 am

It is absolutly not your responsibility to buy HIS girlfriend a present from Ben.


Wondermom December 18, 2008 at 7:04 am

I was actually about to post this same thing about the gifts. I’m leaning toward going to the dollar store and getting a frame to either give him a picture of the boys or let them draw/paint something to frame for him (too bad I can’t frame the pictures my 4 year old has drawn at school of Daddy yelling at him!) My parents and sister are taking the boys shopping for a gift for me…it’s tempting to say that his parents and sister should do the same for him but I know they won’t and I know it will make the boys happy to have a gift to give their daddy. I helped them color pictures for him on Father’s day and helped them make him a card for his birthday. Right now that’s about all the “high road” I can muster.


Wyliekat December 18, 2008 at 7:32 am

I’ve gone for cards to mark my ex’s events. Birthdays and Father’s Day. Mostly, I try and get her to make them, for greater personal impact.

When she starts asking to buy things for her father for Xmas, I will help her out. Nothing expensive, but I will most definitely want her to have that open to her.

However, doing it now would be pure fabrication, and I don’t have any interest in buying for him. It will have to be 100 per cent led by her.


Lindsay December 18, 2008 at 7:52 am

I buy two gifts for my ex – one from my 5-year-old daughter and one from me. He’s fairly involved in her life and so far we’ve managed to keep it relatively amicable (with the occasional hiccup).

I know a lot of people feel like their relationship with their ex is over when the divorce papers are signed but I’ve never felt that way. He is my daughter’s father and that makes him an important person in my life no matter what the paperwork says. I buy him a gift – to show my appreciation, to acknowledge the bond we do have, and to say thank you for giving me the most amazing child. Nothing huge… $30-$40… but something.

My daughter wants to get him a gift and wants to surprise him. So we do. It seems only right that she buy her dad a Christmas present and who else is going to do that?

He follows my lead and does the same. It works for us.


Jobson February 4, 2015 at 12:09 pm

December 15, 2012Anybody do this nevertheless? they say you are able to have a Free of chgrae fridge calendar. Just type during the coupon code Absolutely free. I tried it and it took it from the purchase price but I didn’t order still. Required to check out if anybody else experienced carried out it very first.


littlemansmom December 18, 2008 at 7:58 am

Nope, never have…BUT, I have ALWAYS asked littleman if he wanted to make a card or a present for him. Up until 2 years ago he did…


Kelly December 18, 2008 at 8:09 am

It’s not something I had to deal with until my daughter was 10 (she’s 12 now), because until then her father, who I was never married to, didn’t want anything to do with her. Since he has decided to be in her life, I’ve been leaving everything up to her. We see him when she wants to see him, and if she wants to get him a present (she always does) I’ll take her shopping and help her pick something. Since she’s older now, I look at it as being between the two of them.

As for your situation, I’d get something for the ex, but not his girlfriend or her son. I think that’s his responsibility, and if he doesn’t do it, that’s his fault, not yours. Maybe you could just remind him.


Katherine (SOLO dot MOM) December 18, 2008 at 8:26 am

Wow… yeah… my kids are old enough so I encourage them to use allowance to buy their dad a gift. I just can’t bring myself to buy him one.. not even when they were smaller… I like the card making idea you mentioned for your toddler.


Sheila December 18, 2008 at 9:45 am

This year, because of budget issues, I’m making cookies/brownies for everyone, including my ex. It will be the baby’s present to his dad, and that’s basically it!

As I was buying the cookie ingredients, I was shocked by how expensive all of it was! That was a big chunk out of my discretionary income, so I hope everyone appreciates that!

I’m also going to take the baby to visit my ex’s grandparents, and considering how they drive me absolutely crazy, that is a gift in and of itself!!!!


Prasotam February 4, 2015 at 6:02 am

December 18, 2012On the other hand, some mortgage lnereds want the applicant’s home to foreclose. For starters, always acquire home equity options, consider the following equity scams, and learn how you can get the money right away. President Obama made a commitment to help homeowners avoid possible foreclosure.


discount cialis pa April 3, 2015 at 12:28 pm

hallo bluetimewitzigerweise bin ich auf der suche nach informationen über deine seite gestolpert.nun ja, ich bin in der walpurgisnacht geboren, am 30 april 1960 genau und musste schmunzeln über deine worte zur walpurgisnacht. eingentlich bist du, wenn du am 1. mai geboern bist, die frühlingsgötttin nach heidnischen brauch.in diesem sinne werde ich deinen geburtstag sicher nicht vegessen.grüssli christina


Heidi December 18, 2008 at 11:04 am

This year I allowed each of my children to pick out a small gift for their father. I want them to know that the holidays aren’t just about receiving tons of gifts, but also about giving them. I spent less than $30 and the girls are excited to have something to give their dad for Christmas.

In the past I’ve given him framed pictures of them that cost me very little money and meant a lot to him.

If there were someone in his life who I thought would take the effort to have the girls give him something I wouldn’t do this. But there isn’t, so I will continue the tradition until there is.


Heidi December 18, 2008 at 11:06 am

Oh and I would definitely no get anything for the girlfriend that’s his responsibility not yours.


LB December 18, 2008 at 11:38 am

My ex and I have always get each other a christmas present “from our daughter”. We do the same for birthdays and mothers/father’s day.


mssinglemama December 18, 2008 at 2:33 pm

So here’s my decision (tks to all of your thoughts):

I’m going to get my ex a present from Benjamin – a photo of Benjamin. But I can’t bring myself to buy him a present, although I so admire those of you who do.

It’s that part of me that’s still ticked because he never bought me Christmas presents.

And I definitely will not be buying his girlfriend a present. But the little boy, maybe.


Nick February 5, 2015 at 5:15 am

December 18, 2012I much like the worthwhile daietls you provide into your articles or blog posts.I will bookmark your blog site and check all over again below frequently.I’m pretty certain I’ll learn loads of new things perfect right here! Great luck with the next!


pisceshanna December 18, 2008 at 3:30 pm

Wow I can’t beleive he’s still with her! My ex is still with Blondie, and its been a year now, too. Insane.


The Dumbest Smart Girl You Know December 18, 2008 at 3:36 pm

I had a photobook made on Snapfish when Oprah had that promo for the free one. All I had to pay for was shipping! It’s pics from the kids throughout the year. I thought that would be nice for their dad, without having to spend a bunch!


Katie December 18, 2008 at 6:42 pm

I have and will continue to get gifts from little man for his dad and his dad’s fiancee, and for our former dog that they now have. I do it because he is pretty involved in ds’s life, my son adores daddy even if I don’t and his fiancee is like my reward. She is smart, funny, sweet and gets it, not sure what she sees in him, but hey, at least she loves my son. He is finally at an age where he does want to get gifts for his dad, etc.


Susan December 18, 2008 at 7:57 pm

I’ve bought gifts for the kids to give him for Christmas and Father’s Day (and his 40th bday), plus had them make cards for him, but backed off of every other holiday over hte years except for Christmas because he NEVER once has said thank you to me. Never. I realize the gifts are from the kids, but how many then 5-year olds could get him a gift certificate, or take them to the pottery place to paint a mug for him? It would be nice if he could at least be polite about it. I know, silly to get worked up, so I try to take the high road and be a good example to the kids and bite my tongue! Anyway, we have exchanged gifts (from/through the kids) for Christmas each year, although they are less and less, which is fine. The kids really enjoy making their own cards, so I’d definitely recommend that. You could also buy an ornament or something like that that doesn’t cost a lot for Benjamin to give.


Susan December 18, 2008 at 8:00 pm

Oh, this year we were back at the pottery place again making stuff for my beau, so I let the kids each pick out a piece for the Ex’s girlfriend. First time for everything, I suppose! But from what I can tell she treats them nicely, so ’tis the season…


Amanda December 18, 2008 at 10:57 pm

We’re doing like what Susan said. Going to the pottery place and getting her little hand prints and maybe foot prints on something for her dad.

And I’ll give him a framed picture of her.


Dawn December 19, 2008 at 8:32 am

No gifts … doesn’t fit the celebration of Christmas especially — nor birthdays.


shani December 19, 2008 at 9:49 am

I think that when the child is old enough to know what it is about, that would be the time to ‘let them get a gift’ for thier parent. even if you are paying for it.
Anytime before that, would be a gift from you. And that defeats the purpose.


Kelly December 19, 2008 at 12:27 pm

I know how you feel Katie! My daughter and I adore her dad’s wife. We are disappointed when he doesn’t bring her along for our meet ups (she’s not comfortable being left alone with him because she didn’t know him until she was 10, so I always have to go). And I don’t get why someone as great as her is with him. I just hope she doesn’t figure that out one day because we wouldn’t want to lose her!


LTP December 23, 2008 at 3:56 pm

Even as I am about to leave the office to head over to REI to shop for the ex….”from the kids” of course. UGH. He “requested” all kinds of running (which he took up after we split of course and lost 50lbs.) stuff and oh, camping stuff–guess so he can do that with his new girlfriend. Double-ugh.


Laura January 6, 2009 at 8:01 am

I know I am very late on this post seeing as it is Jan 6 🙂 but have to say I was blown away by the comments…all of the individuals that do make sure the ex has a gift I give great respect! I have NEVER done it. Honestly the kids have never brought it up so I don’t.


LJe January 14, 2009 at 6:32 am

I have always made sure My daughter did something as well as fathers day. He keeps getting dirtier and dirtier so I must stop being as nice ,as always still his punching board Plus his mistress that he married downs me every possible moment.. You think after being married 3 times she would go to college,n oh wait a minute she never graduated from high school. SORRY my bad. Not usually like that. I know she has been a big instigator rto all of this


Vita Rumple October 18, 2013 at 1:13 am

David, you don’t receive copies on the previous letters. As the letters go forward that range may very well be in the hundreds. But if there’s a particular letter send us an email and maybe we can figure something out.


Gordon Tsing October 29, 2013 at 3:49 pm

Good day! I simply wish to give an enormous thumbs up for the nice data you will have right here on this post. I will likely be coming again to your weblog for extra soon.


Jeciane February 4, 2015 at 3:26 am

Don’t forget to let me know how you like the ineetvirw.Did you find the information helpful?Cheers Amanda van der Gulik Excited Life Enthusiast! ;o)


Mary Saephan November 1, 2013 at 3:32 am

There are some fascinating cut-off dates on this article however I don�t know if I see all of them middle to heart. There’s some validity however I’ll take maintain opinion till I look into it further. Good article , thanks and we would like extra! Added to FeedBurner as properly


Domenic Flicker November 5, 2013 at 3:04 am

There are certainly a number of particulars like that to take into consideration. That is a nice level to convey up. I offer the ideas above as common inspiration however clearly there are questions just like the one you convey up the place an important factor will probably be working in honest good faith. I don?t know if best practices have emerged round issues like that, however I’m sure that your job is clearly recognized as a good game. Each girls and boys really feel the influence of only a second�s pleasure, for the remainder of their lives.


read more November 8, 2013 at 7:28 pm

Wow that was strange. I just wrote an very long comment but after I clicked submit my comment didn’t show up. Grrrr… well I’m not writing all that over again. Anyhow, just wanted to say superb blog!


Crystal February 3, 2015 at 6:04 am

Hi Amanda,this interview is awsomee, hey if Disney Radio interviews, then you MUST be the lady to go to when it comes to teaching my grandkids about money.You sound great and you give us lots of great advice that we can actually use.Keep up the great work,Lucia


Leave a Comment