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Grandparents Buy My Kids Too Many Gifts

Is Limiting Gifts From Grandparents Really Worth the Battle?

In the grand scheme of things, of course there are much bigger problems than your kids getting too many presents. But if you have grandparents in your life who just can't stop, won't stop with the holiday cheer — at least when it comes to giving your kids an insane amount of gifts — you also understand that the struggle? It's absolutely real.

Last year, one of my friends was getting Christmas packages for her kids from her out-of-state mother-in-law almost twice a week for the entire month of December. The kids were thrilled about the largesse; my friend was not.

"She's stealing Santa's thunder, not to mention mine," she told me.

Eventually, she had a conversation with Grandma, asking her to cool it on the packages until Christmas and giving her a gift limit for the holiday itself. One guess about whether Grandma listened.

I've found myself in a similar situation with my own extended family, who are generous to a fault when it comes to raining presents on my kids. They're the only little ones on either side of my husband's and my family, so of course everyone's excited to buy them birthday and holiday gifts, not realizing that their eyes glaze over after about the third package they open. It's the law of diminishing returns, and the abundance starts feeling not only unnecessary but kind of gross.

The question is, as a parent, what to do about it.

They don't realize my kids' eyes glaze over after about the third package they open. It's the law of diminishing returns, and the abundance starts feeling not only unnecessary but kind of gross.

Telling your family members to take down the giving feels a little Grinch-like, and as my friend learned, the advice isn't necessarily going to be followed anyway. I've tried a more passive approach, sending specific and small wish lists from my kids to family members, hoping they'll stick to the few items my kids (OK, more likely, I) have requested. I've attempted the "they don't need much" tactic, and I've tried requesting one large item (like a scooter or bike) per child, hoping it will inspire a "one and done" gift-buying situation. But every year we still somehow end up with enough toys for a dozen kids.

In the end, I've accepted that the truth is all that abundant gift buying is as much about the happiness of the family member giving the gifts as it is about my children's happiness receiving them. Sure, I'll always cringe when my son is presented with more than a dozen Imaginext Batman toys or my daughter gets every single branded item Toys "R" Us sells of this year's most popular princess, but making it a bigger deal by shutting down gift-buying before Christmas or getting irritated during the unwrapping doesn't seem fair to anyone.

So this year I've decided to avoid the battle. Yes, I'll continue to subtly steer them to a more reasonable amount of giving, but in the back of my head, I know at least one family member will go rogue and buy my kids half a toy store. And if it gets too crazy, when the wrapping paper settles, I can always donate half of those toys to kids who will actually appreciate them.

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