How to Minimize Extended Family Gifts

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I’m here today to talk to you about how to minimize¬†extended family gifts. For those of you more interested in MAXIMIZING said gifts, move on. You are in the wrong frame of mind to even understand why I would write such craziness. But thanks for clicking on a title you had little interest in. Your support is astounding. ūüôā (P.S. I totally understand where you’re coming from sometimes too! I like other people to get my kids (or me) stuff.)

I’m going to focus mainly on extended family gifts given to our children because not many people complain about getting gifts for themselves. We’re parents. We’ve earned the right for a little duplicity haven’t we?

Why would anyone want to minimize extended family gifts?

Well, a couple reasons come to mind.

  1. They don’t like their kids. Maybe they are rotten. It happens.
  2. Their kids are drowning in stuff and they don’t want any more or else they’ll never be able to navigate the treacherous trail to tuck them in at night.
  3. They don’t like their extended family inserting themselves into their children’s lives. Or their lives.
  4. They are minimalists. (I feel like by expounding on this point I might clutter up “minimalist.”)
  5. They feel guilty. Maybe they didn’t get as many or as good of gifts for their own children. Maybe they don’t want others to spend money on their kids.
  6. It’s a matter of principle. They are the parent. They are responsible. They will provide.
  7. They fear their children will learn poor life lessons.

I’m sure there are more reasons to want to cut back on extended family gifts but this list will suffice. While this is not the main focus of my article, I do want to take a moment to address these concerns just a little. And I want to preface this with: I don’t want/expect/need gifts from extended family members for my children.

But I don’t discourage it either. Especially from Grandparents. I make sure they know that it is in no way expected but I never tell them they can’t do something nice for my kids. They are¬†grandparents¬†for Pete’s sakes! They survived all of the awful horrible years of parenthood! They raised you! Or the spouse you love. The best way you can pay them back is to give them as free of reign with your kids as possible.

Heck, if they spoil them rotten, it’s probably a plot to get back at you for your rotten childhood!

And they deserve that right.

Also, use this opportunity to teach gratitude to your children. Ingrain that deeply in their young impressionable minds and it might just help them survive the rest of their lives.

Wouldn’t you rather your kids have a benevolent Grandfather to thank profusely for the amazing gift they just received rather than a Santa Clause they will never see. (Don’t get me started on Santa’s influence on greed. “I want, I want, I want” with never a letter sent to thank, never a “Thank You!” the next year as they sit on his lap with a new list of wants… Woops…looks like I got started.) What I’m trying to say here is: If you want to teach your kids gratitude (and you should), having a person in front of them to thank is a great way to do it!

And finally, if you are concerned about the junk factor, get rid of some junk. KonMarie some toys (which I talk about here) or donate clothes to a local homeless shelter or thrift store.

Now, I want to address appropriate ways to handle the situation.


Change Your Attitude

Yeah, I know you don’t want to hear it. I don’t really want to have to say it. But the truth is, most of the problems we have in life are because of our attitudes.

Rather than resenting Grandma for outdoing your gifts, be super grateful for how much she loves your kids.

Instead of hating on the Aunt that just gave the biggest stuffed animal you’ve ever seen in your life to your child, (not that I’m talking from personal experience or anything…) try to enjoy the excitement and pure joy that gigantic hideous bear (or any other animal) brings your little one.

Instead of worrying about how educational something is, how much noise it makes, how dangerous it is…ok, maybe worry a little about that…try to show your children how to be grateful and humble and gracious.

Offer Appropriate Suggestions

Now if you really want/need things to change, you are going to need to do some work. For all you know, Grandpa doesn’t have a clue what to do for holidays or birthdays and hops on Amazon to buy something they think is great. Or maybe Grandma sees a toy promoted a lot and thinks it must be what all the kids are wanting. Maybe they feel the need to “outdo” themselves. Whatever the cause,¬†you,¬†yes YOU, need to offer alternatives.

If you want less clutter, suggest that they give an experience as a gift. Something such as a movie pass or a day at a skating rink or bounce house makes memories and doesn’t take up an ounce of space in your home.

If you want something educational rather than purely entertaining, make a list of appropriate toys or books or programs that you and your child would love.

If you just don’t want them going overboard, read the next suggestion.

Discuss the Theme/Vibe/Feel You are After

There are so many ways to celebrate and everyone has a different idea of what is fun and appropriate. For instance, many people choose Christmas gifts based on some cutesy rhyme like, “Something they want, something they need, something to wear, something to read.” Others say, “Jesus got 3 gifts, why should you get more than that?” Others still are all for loads of presents.

Birthday’s might vary on the age they are turning. Extravagant party for 16 or 18 for instance.

Regardless of what the “vibe” is, explaining it to any potential gift-givers will assure you are on the same page. That way, they can know how much they are allowed to splurge on your child without upsetting you.

Because the most important thing for you to realize is this: Most generally speaking, no one wants to upset the parents.

Think about that.


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