Grandparents and Their Truckloads of Gifts

BlogHer Original Post

Ah, the holidays. They've arrived, and along with them come all the grandparents with large plastic toys and gadgets and clothes and more toys and where the heck are you going to put all that STUFF?

Not to mention -- are your kids getting a wee bit spoiled?

If this is baby's first Christmas, brace yourself. You may think your parents understand your wishes for environmentally friendly organic toys and the least amount of packaging possible. You might think your in-laws will send just something small since they've already been so generous at the baby shower.


The problem with babies is ... their stuff? It's cheap. So cheap, in fact, that the grandparents may go, well, a little overboard. Chris at Christmas Rants writes of the grandparents arriving at their child's first Christmas with THREE LOADS of inexpensive plastic toys:

With our grandparent "situation", the problem was they had decided ahead of time the amount they would spend on each grandchild and stick to it. They wanted to be fair and treat all the grandchildren equally - a noble intention gone wrong.

I distinctly remember the moment in which I realized I personally had to stop buying stuff for my baby. When she was brand new, we didn't have anything, so it seemed every time I went to the store I had to pick up some bibs or a paci or a little toy for the diaper bag or SOMETHING. As I stood in the baby aisle at Target one day, I realized we don't need anything. It was a relief, but also sort of a disappointment, because it's fun to buy stuff for babies! So fun! But at some point, you have to back away from the baby aisle. The grandparents don't live with you, so they may not even realize they are overwhelming you more than helping you once you've hit cute-blanket saturation.

As kids get older, they start expecting whatever they've had in the past, and this is where the present train can really go off the rails. You know what I'm talking about: spoiling. Kids who've received boatloads in the past will keep expecting boatloads without realizing the presents they want get more expensive every year.

Spoiling seems to be the major grandparent-present concern across the blogosphere. Grandparents are often in a position to spoil what with their lack of raising-the-children expenses that parents experience. Also? They don't have to store all that junk.

If you have grandparents who buy too much, talk to them, but remember to be tactful and kind. They're not barraging your kids with presents because they hate you and want to bury you in Polly Pockets shoes and Star Wars miniature plastic light sabers. They just love your kids. And they've forgotten how painful it is to step on those things with bare feet.

G is 4 Girl offers gift-giving tips for grandparents who have a tough time deciding on presents for grandkids. Here's my favorite from her list:

A special keepsake. I still have my grandfather’s cufflinks. I bought a woman’s blouse that I can wear them on and I wear them often. Every time I do, I think of him. I doesn’t have to be something from your closet, but consider giving an older grandchild a gift they can keep and use well into adulthood. Jewelry, a wristwatch or a keepsake box is something they can appreciate now and for years to come. I still have two dolls my great-grandmother gave to me as a child. Now my young daughter plays with them!

Lest you begin dreading the holidays for their present-bearing issues, take a deep breath and consider the alternative. Allison Gilbert writes about being a parentless parent at The Huffington Post:

Imagine not being able to go home for the holidays. Now imagine if you couldn't go home next year either. Or, ever again. What would it be like to never smell those smells from your childhood or re-taste those special tastes? That's what it's like for me now that both my parents have passed away.

I hate to end on such a sobering note, but it's so easy to get wrapped up in all that annoys us about the December holidays and the school programs and the extra shopping and the credit card bills and the pressure to cook things in Pyrex pans and the decorations and the credit card bills and the hauling ourselves back and forth across the country, peeing in dirty gas station bathrooms and wondering for the 41st time why, oh why, are we doing this again? We're doing it, they're doing it, because we love each other. But you can (and you should) ask the elder generation to love your children with less plastic stuff if it's really bothering you.

Do your kids' grandparents give too much stuff?


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