5 Ways to Deal With Gift-Crazy Grandparents

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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

christmas, toys


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banan... banana-bear

I don't have to. My grandparents send $25/kid and I let my girls spend their money on what they want. My husband's parents don't seem to give two shits about our kids - not even a phone call or card for birthdays and Christmas.

the4m... the4mutts

I simply smile, and say thank you. There is 1 gift that I hate, that both sets of grandparents get them for every bday & holiday: playing cards. Math flash cards, matching games, old maid, whatever comes in card form, they always get.

I hate cards, they end up everywhere! But the kids love them. So I just suck it up, and start throwing them away as my kids start to slowly lose cards from the sets.

I would never presume to ban a gift, as long as its not dangerous or hazardous to their health. But since they've never done it, and are generous, considerate, and are fantastic grandparents, I just give them theme ideas, and let them do what they want.

weird... weirdkids

we do themes then i let everyone know what i already got them. its worked out great so far. with the little one they ask what he would like or verify the gift with me(he has asd and sensory processing disorder) to make sure he will both like it and that its apropriate. his grandmother likes to get him things he can use all the time while his great grandmother will get him things we can use for his therapies. with the older ones ill give them a theme. like 1 year it was sports and the next it was art. this year as a treat i went with anything goes. the themes are great especially when you are racking your mind to figure out what they will like. 

Rushn311 Rushn311

Great Grandma, and the Grandparents  ALL give money or a gift card  so that's EASY!

Christina Michelle Wolgamot

I wish I could get my mom to stop buying my daughter a bunch of stuff from the dollar store. She works there so she buys giant stockings and fills them for each kid. Less than 10% of what she puts in actualy gets used more than once. Most of it is no great quality and falls apart after one or two uses. She easily spends over $40 on each stocking and could have gotten each child a nice toy/book/whatever that would have lasted. We tell her every year to forgo the dolla tree stocking and just get the kids something else and give ideas, but every year it's the same! She insists the kids love getting the stockings which initialy the do, but once we go home and everything breaks/falls apart they get tossed in the garbage rathr quickly. My mother-in-law and father-in-law always send her great gifts and great grandparents just send cash or gift cards. She is 3 so we just pick someting out for her and wrap it with their names on it.

Evaly... EvalynCarnate

2 grandkids between 4 grandmas here. Psh... I do not stand a chance lol

Michele Fraser

You should be thankful and teach your children to be thankful. My child will never receive a gift  or a hug from a grandparent because they have all passed away on both sides. So be thankful for what you have and what you get. 

kellynh kellynh

My mother goes overboard. Thing is she hates it. No matter how much we all tell her not to, she does it anyway. It's crazy!!!

Rhond... RhondaVeggie

My problem is more that my mother insists on one big thing. I keep an amazon wish list going for my son (she is thousands of miles away so it's easier that way) and this year she told me that I needed to update it because there was nothing on it. I checked because I had done it recently and there was maybe 20 things on it, all if which he had asked for. When I told her that she said it was all little things he could buy with his own allowance (some things were over $30, that's a lot of saving for a seven year old) and I had to put on something bigger. It doesn't make sense to me, I'd rather get a kid three smaller items that they actually want than one big thing they've never mentioned.

nates... natesmom1228

I don't have to worry about that. My sons grandparents only buy what I ask them to.

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