Top 5 Things to NOT Buy Your Grandkids (and 4 to consider instead): A Grandparent's Gift Guide
Loving Grandparents, let me first thank you for caring enough about your grandbabies to purchase them a gift. You are SO important in their lives! They are beyond fortunate to have someone that loves them. There are so many options for presents these days and it can be a bit overwhelming to know what to buy that will both be adored and endure. I've written this little guide with things for you to consider when choosing a present or two in hopes to help strengthen good feelings between everyone. Obviously, YOU get to choose what gift to give, and my suggestions are just that: suggestions.
This can be a tricky topic to write about, but with 3 amazing sets of grandparents who are nothing but thoughtful and generous, I'm able to approach this potential minefield of a subject to hopefully help give some things for other families to think about.
Now, before I start I need to make a few statements:
1. I make no claims to be an expert on anything. I'm just a mom of 5 with lots of experience with toys and gifts. I have made my doozies of purchases for my own crew (Christmas of 2011, I'm talking to you) but I've picked up a few things in the decade I've had my small basketball team.
2. We have had times when we've had a dedicated room for toys and times where we haven't. I stand by my statements below in either situation.
3. While any gift is appreciated when given with love, there are some that are appreciated less, especially from the one responsible for finding it a home and ensuring it is not destroying sanity.
4. Just for the record I am NOT a minimalist by any stretch of the imagination. I long to be one. Every time we move I swear allegiance to their philosophies for the future. But we have lots of stuff. I do my very best to purge and help the kids to do the same, but I swear our stuff multiplies faster than rabbits.
So here are my least favorite present ideas. Most kids are pretty darn excited about most stuff, so these are all written from the perspective of the housecleaner, meaning me.
Top 5 Gifts to NOT Give Your Grandkids
5. Slime or Putty of ANY Kind: This stuff is so dang fun. At YOUR house. At mine, it ended up ruining my then 8 year old's bedding when he decided to have it come on a sleepover to his bed. For the record, he was gifted it from school. This stuff is just not good news, and life is too crazy for me to keep track of who has what out at any given time.
4. Poorly Made Toys: Whether it be plastic Matchbox type cars or Dollar Tree dolls or cheap crayons, if it's not well made, please don't give it to your grandkids. With a limited amount of space, only a certain amount of stuff can stay, and for whatever we bring in, something has to go. It's so difficult getting rid of quality items to make room for something that won't endure.
3. Random Stuff: This one can be tricky because those random figurines can be really fun and kids can get excited over that colorful top. But the toy fishing pole and the butterfly net and the big car have to be stored somewhere. Random items can be really hard to group together to store and we all know we want to teach these kiddos to be tidy. This category is nearly impossible to avoid but do your best to keep storage in mind as you browse the shelves.
2. Anything That Makes Noise and Doesn't Have a Volume Button or an Off Switch: While I have been known to put masking tape over the speaker of a baby toy that had no volume, I think it's a general consensus that noisy baby toys are pretty much the worst. Nothing like that annoying music to be the soundtrack of your life.
1. A Massive Teddy Bear: Every time we go to Costco and see those ginormous teddy bears I wonder who in the world could possibly have room long term to store one of those things. Because that's what you would be doing: storing it. After the initial excitement, the only thing I could see my kids doing with it is maybe laying on it occasionally to read, but that is one large pillow. We have a decent sized toy room currently and I can honestly say there is no room in the inn for that- we'd have to get rid of way too much other awesome stuff to make space for it.
Of course there are exceptions to these, like treasured heirloom items created just for our little ones, but overall these are some pretty solid guidelines.
So what SHOULD you get your grandkids?
I don't know.
But here are some ideas to think about:
1. In addition to feeling it out with your grandkids, consider getting input from your grandkids' mom (or dad!). I know family life can be complicated and also that there is something so fun about a complete surprise, but the surest way to give something that will be used and loved long term is to ask. Honestly, the perfect gift for your grandchild might break all of the rules I've just listed but you won't know unless you ask. You may want to provide a few choices or a budget or some sort of guideline so that everything is upfront. In our family, one set of grandparents very thoughtfully asks me before each birthday and Christmas what my kids would like and the other ones check in with the kids beforehand, ensuring happy kids.
2. Instead of toys, consider an experience gift. One of our amazing sets of grandparents gives my kids each a gift card to Barnes and Noble to go pick out their own books. It's one of my kids' favorite things ever. But we are book obsessed around here and this would be another kid's absolute worst present of all time.
Experience Gift Ideas: Membership to a children's museum, _______ activity with Grandma coupon, gift certificate to roller skating, a restaurant, the zoo, ceramic painting, movie tickets, concert tickets, laser tag, mani-pedi, trampoline jumping place. Consider the receivers though- if it's an hour drive with a paid parking, that membership might not be used as much as something closer. Also, I've very much appreciated having each of the kids receiving gift cards to the same location so we can use them all at once.
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3. Add to a current set of something they already have, like legos, or a block set, or more food for their play kitchen, Barbies, whatever they already have and love. Another set of grandparents gives my kids a thoughtful hardbound book every Christmas.
4. What about a subscription? My kids adore their very own magazines that come in the mail every month with their name on it and they sing grandma's praises every single month. Or there are some awesome activity boxes out there like Kiwi Crates. How about something of the month club? There's one for bows, socks, chocolate, books, tons of options. These can get expensive but you could also just do a 6 month or 3 month plan. But what to open? Doing a sock subscription? Buy a couple pairs of fun socks and wrap that up for them to open with a note about the subscription.
As I've thought and pondered and processed this topic, I've been so grateful that this is even a subject we can talk about here. What a wonderful place to be, to have so many fabulous options for gifts from people that are sharing love. I am beyond thankful for the thought and effort that goes into the gifts my kids receive.
I died when I saw this meme. So funny!
What do you think? You agree with my lists or think I'm way off base? Anything you'd add? Leave a (respectful!) comment and let me know.
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