Let's Make It A Thing

Grown-Up Christmas Lists: Yay Or Nay?

Moms weigh in with their honest opinions — and some genius ideas.

As if life wasn't challenging enough, everyone's a critic. Disney adults? Haters say they need to grow up. Working moms? Selfish. Stay-at-home moms? Lazy. Parents who drink an extra glass of wine at dinner? Irresponsible. Whatever you love or how you choose to get through the week, there's someone out there judging you for it. And if you dare to suggest you're working on a grown-up Christmas list, you'll probably get plenty of feedback from those judgy judgersons.

While it's easy to shrug off negativity from Sharon at the PTA or that old high school connection on Facebook with oh-so-many opinions, it can be trickier to drown it out when it comes from your own family and friends. Case in point: your Christmas list. You're inclined to create one. Why? Because without one, you'll likely get another mug you'll never use or a vacuum you didn't ask for. (Feeling like a hint that the household cleaning isn't to your liking, Brad.)

But are grown-up wish lists... tacky? As holiday minimalism replaces maximalism, the push for heartfelt and desirable gifts is at the forefront. If someone is spending their hard-earned holiday budget on you, it doesn't seem wrong to help ensure they know you're getting a gift you'll use. So, is it finally OK to gently nudge your gift-giving family members toward presents you genuinely want?

Survey says: Yes — within reason.

Moms Weigh In

To get the general consensus on grown-up Christmas lists, Scary Mommy asked moms from all over the U.S. to share their honest, uncensored thoughts. Bonus: There are a few genius ideas in here you probably haven't thought of yet.

All the Yays

While a backward-thinking mother-in-law might still roll her eyes at a wish list, many of the mamas Scary Mommy spoke with said wish lists have become a game changer in their families. For extended families who might exchange gifts but aren't all that close, it takes the stress out of trying to figure out what they'd really appreciate. It's also a chance to avoid any cringe-worthy moments. (Remember the Peloton commercial?)

"Lists are important if you are doing a family gift exchange with adults," says Beaverton, Oregon, mom Carla B. "You don't want to get repeat items, and adults have needs or very specific hobbies that require that kind of information. Personally, I'm not a big fan of getting gifts as an adult. If someone asks, I will tell them what I need, sure. But otherwise, I would rather they just send something for our kids."

Even if you love getting gifts, asking for what you want can be challenging. Decades of society shaming moms for wanting anything can weigh heavily on your mind. The last thing you want is for someone to think or suggest you want a gift more than you want your kids to have a gift. It seems unreasonable, but there's always someone who will go there.

Perhaps the best way to avoid wish list awkwardness is if we all get in the habit of asking each other for our lists. Sarah M., a mom from New Orleans, Louisiana, has a mother who does precisely this. "Every year around October, my mom asks the family for a simple list: a want, a need, a wear, a read," she says. "It's a pretty cool way to gauge what's on everyone's radar of interest for the current year."

The fact is that wish lists aren't just helpful during the gift-giving season. Keeping lists of things you want/need and of things your kids want/need goes a long way in helping you stay organized throughout the year.

"I keep Amazon wish lists updated all year long, one for each kid, one for myself, and one for household/family wants and needs," says Sarah S., from San Diego, California. "It's super handy at birthdays and Christmas time. Especially with clothing sizes and what the kids are interested in because all grandparents and relatives live in other states. It has also (mostly) stopped my MIL from getting me things like pink gloves and gold jewelry. I never expect anything, but it is nice to get something you actually like and will use when you do."

Having a wish list can:

  • Give friends/family gift ideas across various budgets.
  • Avoid another unused candle/mug/gift card in your collection.
  • Elicit a moment of truly heartfelt gratitude.
  • Give a jumping-off point to gift-givers who want to choose their own presents.

Old School Sensibilities Say "Nay"

Not everyone is on the wish list train yet. Some recipients would still rather receive something heartfelt that a loved one picked out specifically for them. And the holidays are supposed to be about more than gift-giving, right? Handing out wish lists might take the focus off the more sentimental moments of the holidays.

"I'm around my daughter-in-law and grandkids all the time. I don't need a list," says Ruth H., a grandma from Falmouth, Kentucky. "I think getting wish lists takes the fun out of shopping and picking out something special for each of my family members."

How to Make a Wish List

It may seem like wish lists online are primarily geared toward weddings and babies. However, there are several options for creating a wish list for birthdays and holidays.

1. Use Elfster

"I come prepared with a list I made on Elfster!" says Jess B., from Los Angeles, California. "My list ranges from $5 items all the way to pricier items that I add for my husband to hopefully buy me ... I was just introduced to it last year. You can add items from any site, and they even have an option for secret Santa-type exchanges."

2. Amazon Lists

There is seemingly no limit to how many lists you can have on Amazon, plus you can prioritize things and add notes about sizes/colors/ideas for that item. They're great to keep you organized while "window shopping" and to pass along to loved ones.

3. Go Old School With a Printed List

"Every year, my husband and I make our adult Christmas lists PDFs, complete with hyperlinks, product photos, sizes, and prices," shares Alyssa H. of San Diego, California. "It gets sent out to our parents, step-parents, and each other. It makes it so much easier for everyone! My son and I also have the same birthday, which is 10 days after Christmas, so we're all about ease this time of year."

How to Share a Wish List

Offering up a wish list unprompted can still come off as a bit cringe. So, how do you share your wish list without ruffling feathers or looking like Veruca Salt? It's easier than you think! Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Ask everyone to exchange wish lists.
  • Have a whole family wish list with names in the comments — everyone always asks you what the kids or the partner want, anyway.
  • Call it a shopping list. When someone asks you what you want, reply with, "Can I just send you my shopping list?"
  • Make your wish list public. You already know who you're comfortable sharing a wish list with and who you're not. Make sure the list you share with your bestie, mom, or partner is public, so they can easily share it with others.

The Final Verdict

You do you. There is zero shame in asking for what you want. If the person asking didn't want to get you something you'd love and enjoy, they wouldn't have asked you in the first place. And even if you share your list preemptively, just think of it as a way to save another mom time, energy, and a little brain power this holiday season!