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5 Ways to Deal With Gift-Crazy Grandparents! How do you deal?
December 5, 2012 at 2:01 PM

5 Ways to Deal With Gift-Crazy Grandparents

Posted by Kristen Chase

Dealing with Grandparents at the HolidaysEvery year, I find myself banging my head against the wall when it comes to the grandparents and holiday gift shopping for my kids. Without fail, they end up buying all of them tons of crappy toys which usually my kids didn't ask for. And of course, they are battery operated and don't seem to have an "off" button.

As grateful as I am that they want to spend money on my kids, I feel terrible that these toys usually end up getting donated or tossed in the trash. Plus, we like to play "Santa" for our own kids, which means they end up with way too many gifts. Talk about spoiled!

So, this year, I've employed a few strategies that I think might have actually worked. And if you've got grandparents like my kids do, I bet they'll work for you too!

  • 1. Send a list, from the kids. I've tried sending them ideas that I've come up with on my own, but that never seems to work for whatever reason. However, if you have the list come from the kids, in their own handwriting if possible, this really helps them stick to it. 
  • 2. Give them ideas, rather than specific items. For my little one who really has no clue what she wants, I give them some ideas of her specific interests. This could actually work with older kids too if you find the grandparents really hate being limited by a wish list. If you tell them that she's really into playing with dolls and already has a crib and a stroller, or that he really loves Spiderman, then you're letting them choose something on their own but will hopefully still be appreciated and liked.
  • 3. Set some parameters, nicely. Every year, I ask my in-laws to please not send anything that takes batteries or anything with lots of pieces, mostly because they drive us nuts. Of course, we don't say that, but we do tell them that generally the batteries run out and the pieces get lost and we really want them to be able to play with the toys as much as possible.
  • 4. Ask for experiences, then send photos. My in-laws are super averse to giving gifts like a museum trip or a membership to the zoo, however, last year after I convinced them and took tons of photos of the kids enjoying their gift, they really understood how great it was and were much more inclined to do it again.
  • 5. Cut them some slack. When it comes down to it, sending gifts is how my in-laws show their love for the kids, so I've learned over the years to just let it go. Yes, I still roll my eyes a little, but in the end, it is the season for giving. Plus, how long do they really play with the skeeball machine and talking caterpillar? Not very long, especially when the batteries magically disappear.

How do you deal with crazy gift giving grandparents at the holidays?


Photo via Flickr/ptc24


  • chinosruca
    December 12, 2012 at 12:12 PM
    My mom never buys "crappy toys". Ever. I appreciate boyond words what my mom does for my kids. If for some reason she sends something I don't want the kids to have, I donate to Toys For Tots. My mom is in Alaska and mails a lot of stuff to my girls for Christmas and their birthdays. I show absolute gratitude, no matter what she sends.
  • chinosruca
    December 12, 2012 at 12:14 PM
    You could donate uneanted gifts to Angel Trer, Toys for Tots, a homeless shelter, a boys & girls club or a community center. The trash? Really? I think that is just sad.

    Quoting countrymomma81:

    I've taken to giving my family "do not buy" lists. I know it sounds ugly but I do not want certain things bought for my kids. I understand that people work hard for their money and can do as they wish with it. But these are things that will get thrown in the garbage immediately. If you are in a position to have money thrown away then go for it. 

    1.) No paint, crayons, markers or anything else to write with. 
    2.) No toys with small parts that they can lose. Because they will.
    3.) No play doh. 
    4.) No makeup for my 5 year old daughter.  

    My mom has a limit of $200 for each grandchild (she has 5). Every year she would buy a bunch of small things so they had a lot to open, but it all tended to be junk. This year she wisened up and got them each one expensive thing (iPod touches). She said that she definitely prefers doing it this way and already plans on getting them tablets next year....lol. 

  • robbinsroost
    December 12, 2012 at 12:19 PM

    My MIL never really buys anything. I hated it, but was ok with it because it meant less junk. She got a job at Dollar Tree this year and is filling giant stockings that she got at work. The stockings are almost 4 feet tall. I so dread the mess this will make and all the junk I will have to throw away.

  • OliviaW.
    December 12, 2012 at 12:37 PM

    My mom asks what they need and asks what I am getting the kids cause she doesn't want to overlap. My in-laws I don't say anything and just bring everything home and either donate, put away, return or let them have. My MIL likes to get things that are way too old for the kids so it either gets put away and I forget it or I'll try to return it. Sometimes I'll even give whatever it is to my mom since she's a school teacher. It just depends on the age range.

  • bewitchedmama
    December 12, 2012 at 5:41 PM

    I'm pregnant & I'm stuggling to get by. My mom loves to shop & I'm greatful for all the ways she is helping me. Growing up my mom didn't have much & my grandparents used to spoil me, taking me on trips & buying me things all the time. They also had time to spend with me which they couldn't do with their own kids. I'd say it's just part of the privilege of being grandparents to spoil their grandkids. If it doesn't affect the childs behavior & whatnot I don't see any harm in letting the grandparents spoil the kids.

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