You’ve seen the Facebook memes—”100 days until Christmas!” … then 50 days … 10 days … Does this excite you or stress you out? Your answer might depend on whether you’re a grandparent, at least that’s what the t-shirts tell us:
“Saw it. Liked it. Told Grandma. Got it!”
“If Mom says no, ask Dad. If Dad says no, ask Grandma!”
“Grandpa’s my name. Spoiling’s my game!”
However, if you’re the child of a generous grandparent who could rock one of these shirts, you may be sweating just thinking about how to handle the gift overload that’s to come.
Sometimes, Grandpa and Grandma Warbucks create unintended challenges by “blessing the grandkids” with so many gifts. An excess of presents from one set of parents can cause issues with the other set, too many toys can mean too much stuff everywhere, or it can result in kids who are greedy, entitled, and spoiled. Yikes!
Get ahead of the present-palooza this year by deciding now how you will handle Christmas gifts from the grands. Consider one of these approaches:
1. Be honest with your parents.
Honesty is always the best policy. If your parents would receive it well, approach them for a direct conversation about toning down the presents.
First, thank them profusely for always being so generous and kind to your kids. Second, be upfront and give specific examples to explain why you’d like for them to give less.
Finally, present solutions, like suggesting that they purchase one item with a larger price tag instead of multiple less expensive things. Or suggest that they purchase four gifts by adopting the “something they want, something they need, something to wear, and something to read” mantra.
2. Save some gifts to open later.
Some grandparents are thrilled to be in a financial season where they are able to be extremely generous to their grandkids. If your parents fall into this category and broaching the subject would rob them of something they find rewarding, try a different approach. Ask each of your children to select three gifts from Grandma to open at Christmas, and put the rest away. Then pull the rest out at other times throughout the year. The gifts can be retrieved as rewards for jobs well done, a solution to boredom on a rainy day, or a treat given on a specific day each month.
Spreading out the gifts can mean that each one is savored instead of being lost in the shuffle at Christmas. Bonus: You can remind your parents that this is a way they can make their grandchildren smile throughout the year.
3. Ask for more experiences and less things.
Grandparents with deep pockets can be a blessing because they can sponsor enriching experiences that you might not be able to give your kids otherwise. Ask your folks to gift your kids memberships to local children’s museums or the zoo. Or ask if they would purchase extracurricular activities or lessons that can be enjoyed throughout the year, such as a pool membership or soccer. Their Christmas gift could be paying for summer camp or even a special vacation. Another option is depositing money into an account for future significant purchases such as college tuition or a wedding.
4. Adopt the “one in, one out” system for toys.
If “too much stuff” is the issue, let the kids open and enjoy each and every gift. However, when the wrapping paper is tossed and it’s time to find space for all of their new treasures, ask your kids to select an equal number of toys to give away. This can be a great teaching opportunity to talk about those who are less fortunate and why less really is more.
Any time our children receive gifts is a great time to remember and talk about the reason we exchange gifts at all—Jesus, God’s perfect gift to us. No one, not even Grandma, can top that!
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