Friday, May 16, 2008

From Grandma, with love

The Parent Bloggers Network Blog Blast topic for this weekend is “does Grandma need a gift consultant?” or “how do you and your kids’ grandparents handle buying gifts.” Even though I have a very fussy 6 week old (and a delightful 2.6 year old), I’m participating because I am trying to get some normalcy and mental stimulation back in my life!

My child (er, children!) receive no ends of gifts from the grandparents. Often these gifts are handy and useful, but just as often they are THE LAST THING WE NEED. I have tried several approaches to this, but none seem to completely work.

I was brought up to be grateful, thankful and appreciative of gifts. I have a hard time returning/exchanging gifts even if there is a gift receipt (although recently my sister-in-law has inspired me to do just that). I don’t know how to look a gift-horse in the mouth and I am prone to saying things like “I love it” and “It’s just what we needed” even if the polar opposite is true. I want my children to also be thankful and appreciative of gifts, which is why I perhaps make a bigger deal out of receiving gifts than need be.

Nonetheless, there comes a point when you have to start taking control of the glut of stuff entering your house. Here are some things that we have tried with the grandparents and other relatives when it comes to them buying gifts for the kids:

1. I have sent out emails, prior to events like b-days and Christmas, listing the things that we “need” for the children. It feels very mercenary and unnatural to me, but it seems to help the situation along somewhat. Often these “wish list” items are things like specific clothing, bedding, etc. The grandparents are happy to purchase such practical gifts, but are usually unable to bring themselves to give practical gifts without ALSO gifting us with another #$@!% humongo-tub of mega-blocks. I do understand this to a certain extent as D. Jr. certainly does not respond to bed sheets the same way he does to toys, but come on aren’t the 800,000 mega-blocks in his bedroom enough already?!

2. We have tried suggesting a monetary donation towards the RESPS, but so far this has just resulted in a cheque AND gifts making me feel even more mercenary!

3. When it comes to toys, I have been suggesting things that can be packed away for a long time if need be. Play-Doh, crayons, craft stuff etc. are great suggestions because I figure even 5 years from now we can pull out a brand new box of crayons and get some use out of it.

4. When it comes to clothing, I have asked the rellies to buy much larger sizes then what the kids are currently wearing.

5. I STRONGLY encourage second-hand purchases. That way if things don’t fit, don’t fit for very long or break, I don’t feel bad. I also feel less guilty about relegating second-hand items as permanent outside toys. The thing with second-hand is that some relatives (D. Sr.’s parents, my grandparents) just cannot bring themselves to buy second-hand. So far, though, my side has whole-heartedly embraced this.

6. I have to admit to donating several “big ticket” toys to D. Jr’s daycare (call me crazy, but I figured that 4 ride ‘em toys and 2 trikes in our possession were enough). The daycare can use them and I figure he still gets to play with the toys, while also learning valuable lessons about sharing! The daycare’s book collection is abhorrent (look, I’m a children’s librarian) so I have donated many books to them as well (the librarian’s son only listens to a story in daycare anyway).

7. Good old regifting – I just put lots of stuff away (still in boxes and tags) in hopes of either one day being able to pass it on as a re-gift or sell it on eBay. I was also able to donate several toys to Santa’s Anonymous this way.

8. Just give up already. My grandparents have gifts for D. Jr. EVERY time we see them -- and we see them once each week. I have convinced them to keep the lion’s share at their place, but I am still coming home with something every time I see them. Does yet another matchbox car or dollar store piece of crap sitting in the hallway drive me nuts? Yes, but it is hard to take this simple pleasure away from two 80-somethings who want nothing more than to make my kid happy.

These are the tactics that I have tried so far and they have certainly helped a little bit in decluttering my house . . . However, while the most annoying thing about too many presents or the wrong presents is the sheer amount of stuff, I think a close second is that as a parent you feel like there is nothing left for you to buy your child. If my kid so much as mentions “monster trucks” or dinosaurs he starts to receive them in droves from other people, and you know sometimes Mommy wants to be the hero!

Anyway, PBN has suggested what looks like a great resource for this “problem.” It is the Grandkids Gift Guide and from my quick perusal of the site, it seems to be a good resource for anyone, grandparent or not, struggling to find the perfect gift for the kids in their lives.

One final note, an embarrassment of riches for our children and our awareness about it must be a real concern for many of us Gen Xer yuppies what with companies like this springing up.


At 12:20 PM , Blogger Daisy said...

My daughter's boyfriend (it's okay, they're 21) posted his wish list online this year. We liked it; we adored him, he treated our girl well, and this way we had a good idea of something he would like.


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