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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


  • Jinxed8
    by Jinxed8
    December 5, 2012 at 2:28 PM

    I had this problem with my Ex MIL now I"m rid of her bwahahahahah, so XH is stuck with the crappy, useless presents NOT ME whatever she gets in his family stays at HIS house.

    My parents gladly take specific suggestions and buy exactly what I suggest. End of story.  Out of respect for the same issue as above stated, I also always ask my sister what to buy her kids or if DD is invited to a birthday party etc ...

  • SuperPickle
    December 5, 2012 at 10:00 PM

    Have more kids LOL.......between my sister and I we have 7 grand kids for them, that first year for each family was overboard but they learned really fast to not go nuts at Christmas or its gonna get pricey.

  • ninaboo80
    December 5, 2012 at 10:26 PM

    I'm still trying to deal I still have toys in the box from last year christmas. Of course my mother has gone over board again this year. I am trying to be patient with her but omg frustratedi want to pull my hair out cause i have to wrap all this crap. 

  • KylesMom409
    December 6, 2012 at 7:35 AM
    Ugh! :(

    Quoting ninaboo80:

    I'm still trying to deal I still have toys in the box from last year christmas. Of course my mother has gone over board again this year. I am trying to be patient with her but omg frustratedi want to pull my hair out cause i have to wrap all this crap. 

  • GagaNTattooS
    December 6, 2012 at 7:37 AM
    I don't they are my parents . They ask for a list I give it too them and they buy whatever they want on it. Usually half the list. I wont tell my parents what they can and cant buy for their grandson
  • countrymomma81
    December 7, 2012 at 12:00 AM

    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. 

  • landova
    by landova
    December 12, 2012 at 1:59 AM
    It's my sons first Christmas and my Mom's first Christmas as a grandma... I expect craziness... From her and myself... I've already spent $200 on small stuff... Lol
  • import1a92
    December 12, 2012 at 5:31 AM
    This year is the first year I have followed all these rules with my parents and my FIL. Too bad I can't say the same for myself. haha! It's worse around Christmas because DD's birthday is two weeks later.

    My parents are gift givers whenever we see them which is about 3-4 times a year since they live 10 hours away. They ask so many questions of what she is into daily and ask for my approval before buying anything. I have seldomly had any issues with their gifts nor even with their random gifts since it's usually books.

    My FIL see's DD 3-4 times a week since he lives 17 blocks away and watches her for us with our overlapping work schedules. He claims it's the best part of his retirement! He also claims he doesn't know what to get DD, then buys her all these boyish toys and pajamas that's 2 sizes too small after I've already have told him verbally what to get. He is a hybitual violator of bringing non-washable crayons, markers and finger paints into the house, then we come home to our 18 month old - 3 1/2 year old Picaso paintings all over stuff in the house and not on the supplied construction paper for two years... Ugh! Thankfully therapy has helped me let go of the anger and I have forbidden him to bring anything or I am taking away his visiting rights. He loves my child more than his own son! That was a very hard thing to say to him and to even think of cutting back on my work schedule. DH was dumb-founded he would let that behavior go on, yet DH would not comfront his father and it was believed that I was an impractical thinker and over reactor. *rolls eyes* You didn't have to clean it up!

    This year I gave my FIL and my parents a printed out list with pictures of the toys/puzzles/games/coloring items, discription, which stores had it, the stores item #'s and their cheapest prices of everything both me and DH approve of. They each got their very own list and were allowed to get only two gifts that were not on there and with limitations. I made a new list weekly. for a month and asked my FIL to give me the old copies to shread so there is no confusion between the lists and asked my parents to do the same with the emails I had sent. I let my FIL wrap the gifts himself and bring them into the basement for us to have prepared and ready for under the tree deployment on Christmas eve. My parents sent their gifts that I recieved, so those were prepared by myself. I have also split the gifts up evenly between the grandparents and have put away some for DD's birthday since some of the toys were conviently themed. We were done with Christmas shopping by December 3rd. This has went much smoother and has not left me pulling my hair out. Of course it took a lot of communication and organizing on my part. I do have an organized check list, inventory list and which occasion.
  • lalasmama2007
    December 12, 2012 at 10:42 AM

    My dd has a few Wish Lists for her grandparents.

  • faeryfrog
    December 12, 2012 at 12:02 PM

    We don't do anything. it's up to them what they want to get. We send them a list and they still go overboard, but it makes them happy. I usually take most of the stuff to good will after a few weeks anyway.

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