“How can I discourage all the toys from the grandparents?” Have you thought the very same thing at some point? I know I have, usually while I am trying to dig out from and organize all the kids’ toys, games and gifts right after a holiday or birthday.
There’s no denying that some grandparents (and aunts and uncles) feel like they have to give actual, physical, wrappable gifts or it doesn’t really count. While the kids are young, this can cause parents real pain, which the grandparents probably don’t realize. After all, the grandparents get to give without any concern about how things will be stored.
Here are some strategies to use with the grandparents. Depending on your relationship with your parents and your spouse’s parents, you might need to adjust your strategy from time to time.
Gift registries. Amazon Wish Lists are perfect for getting what you want…I mean what your kids want. Just load up your list with must-have items, and send the link to your gift giver. It couldn’t be easier.
Emphasize experiences. Instead of gifts that you have to clean, dust, and organize, ask for experiences. An annual membership to a zoo, museum, art class, or anything similar will fit the bill. If that sounds good to you but not wrappable enough for them, suggest they pair the gift with a plush toy, science kit, or art portfolio.
Consumables. If they must bring a wrappable gift, encourage consumable gifts. Play-doh, bubbles, bubble bath, makeup, and craft kits all come in this category.
Personalize it. Personalized gifts have the benefit of being unique and somewhat more costly, so a grandparent may choose one of these instead of two or three junky gifts. Consider a story book that is written with your child as the main character. Or a personalized blanket made from baby clothes or your child’s camp shirts.
Turn photos into gifts. Give your children gifts that have been personalized with photos of them, the family, their pet, and their friends. Everything from computer mouse pads to blankets, tote bags, and holiday ornaments can be made into a one-of-a-kind gift.
Ask for organizing gifts. This may seem like cheating, but stick with me for a minute. One of my favorite organizing gifts is something your kids will love. Dynamic Frames have a hinged front, so they hold artwork off the counter, allow you to display the most current art item effortlessly, and store up to 50 pieces of paper in the same frame. Parents and grandparents love this clutter-buster. Kids love that their artwork gets featured in the family gallery for a time.
Limit 3. Explain to grandparents that you’ve limited gifts for a certain reason. One popular rule is to limit each child to three gifts for Christmas. After all, that’s what the wise men brought Jesus.
Shop local. Another fun way to limit the damage is to restrain your choices to things that can only be purchased in your local town or state. If you want to support small businesses, this really forces you to think creatively about your gift choices.
Host donation parties. You know your kid better than anyone, so only you will know if you can get away with this, but I have for many years now. Instead of hosting a traditional birthday party for my kids, we hosted a party, but asked for dog and cat food and toys for the local shelter. We ended up with a two-day event, as the first day was the party, and the second day was the drop-off event for our donations. I called ahead and made arrangements for my girls to play with some of the animals to see where their donations were going. The kids still got presents from the family, but they didn’t get a flood of random gifts from their friends.
529. Back in the day, grandparents would buy savings bonds for children, which were physical bonds. However, the US Treasury stopped issuing paper bonds. But you can still encourage family members to help your child succeed financially by contributing to their 529. Many 529s will take online contributions, so your family member can contribute online, if they choose. Still need a wrappable gift? Let them purchase team apparel for the university of their choice for your little one. Score!