or Connect
Mothering › Mothering Forums › Mom › Parenting › Christmas gifts that are continually not ideal, and general etiquette
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Christmas gifts that are continually not ideal, and general etiquette

post #1 of 122
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by eclipse View Post
A one off off the mark gift is one thing, but a continuous pattern is another - especially when you don't have a huge number of criteria. I have no idea what the OP's criteria are - but mine are just age appropriate, not loud, not a gun, and not inappropriately sized for our space.
Edited: My criteria are basically those posted above. Thanks to the poster!


I would love to gather other parents' perspectives about etiquette and your strategies for dealing with inlaws who have a continuous pattern of giving less than ideal gifts (edited to add that these were toys that were choking hazards, and age inappropriate, among other problems), year after year.

Here is more specifically what I am talking about. I think they must like to buy large plastic ride-on size trucks because we have gotten them in great quantity. I think at one time we had 7 of them. My inlaws did once check with us prior to buying this bells and whistles version that cost several hundred dollars. We said no thank you on that one.

We don't need, have the space for, and, yes, don't have the desire to own or keep that many large plastic trucks that are loud, battery operated, fairly passive, close ended play. Seven and growing as a collection? Would anyone still seriously question why I would donate?

I have talked to them about the toys we buy and why, DH talked to them to explain what would be good ideas when they asked for a birthday one year.

That didn't seem to do the trick. We do not feel entitled to anything we just don't want the clutter (one) nor the toys that do not meet our values (two) for our child to play with and (three) don't want to be asked where the toys are when they are donated.

I have sent them a list for that birthday when they asked, with price ranges from $5 upwards, and with lots of choices so they could still pick and choose. I have also shown them pictures, and signed them up for catalogs with selection that would work well.

And still they don't listen.

In the past, we have praised any good selections (rare) that they bought from the list (also rare) but we wanted to try to reinforce things in a positive way.

For a couple of years now, we have accepted the toys that weren't appropriate without saying anything and then donated them. But, while it's worthy to donate to charity, that seems kind of like I'm wasting their money year after year, after a while anyway, and I would like my child to have some gifts that are kept some of the time.

But this year, we decided that the inappropriate and less than ideal (choking hazard, too many pieces, battery operated, too big) gifts could be "grandpa and grandma's house toys" that would remain at grandpa and grandma's house.

I was not present for the conversation, which I left up to DH since it is his parents, but apparently they were quite offended and basically said they wouldn't be buying toys anymore. No one told them the gifts were not good enough or anything like that, just that they would be better suited to be played with at the grandparents' house and that they wouldn't work for our house.

What would you all do? Has someone been in a similar situation? I've seen similar threads and am off to read them. Thanks!
post #2 of 122
What would I do?

Apologize. Let it go and try to find a way to rebuild the relationship. Put restoring the relationship above worrying about the gifts in the future.

Tjej
post #3 of 122
Gifts are given out of the kindness of someone's heart. You do not dictate what they should give unless they ask, it's pretty much really rude to do so. I would be mortaly offended if someone told me my gift wasn't good enough and I would refuse to buy for them again.

And to just donate them, that is even ruder. They spent their hard earned money on gifts and you are essentially throwing them away. When I know people do not buy like I do for my daughter, I ask for art supplies. Simple as that.

But if they do not comply, I shut my mouth and be grateful that they thought of my family emough to buy a gift.
post #4 of 122
I agree with the PP and also think you are likely being too picky. Less than ideal won't hurt anyone. Are talking about weapons, here (real or toy?)
post #5 of 122
this is hard. i have this issue with my MIL as well. my husband has deep rooted issues with it because she did it to him his whole life as well.
what i have come to terms with is that she just will NEVER understand that what she is doing is a waste of money. NEVER.
so, we just dont count on getting anything usable from her, appreciate what she does give us and donate it to a family in need.
i make sure not to mention big gifts i would like to give to my kids, so we avoid the substitute not quite right but too close to be able to explain why we replaced it with what we really wanted problem.
mostly i ask for her to buy clothes as they go through them quickly and are easy to explain away if they dissapear. but usually we get a few toys as well and just donate or they break in less than a week (sometimes with mommy's help )

mostly, i would just lower your expectations, appologize, and realize they are not trying to insult you or take a stab at you, they are just oblivious to what the problem is and will NEVER get it. NEVER. EVER. so let it go. it makes life way easier. and think, they are making a wonderful donation every year to kids who otherwise have nothing. maybe not the gift you want most, but a pretty awesome gift.
post #6 of 122
donating is not practically throwing away and i am really insulted that ANYONE would think so.
post #7 of 122
I guess there's a difference between "less than ideal" and gifts that are dangerous, not age-appropriate or blatantly against your values. If it is just something you would not have selected, eh. What can you do? Let them play with it, when they get tired of it then donate it.

But if they are offensive in that they are dangerous for some reason or purposely insulting (I'm thinking a toy gun in a non-gun/vegetarian house) then maybe they stay at her house (like a huge motorized car you don't have space for) or they are donated (thinking a beading toy for a 2 yr old) or refused if they are truly dangerous (thinking a BB gun for a 5 yr old...why do I keep coming up with gun examples? LOL).

But if it is something age-appropriate you just don't like...then I wouldn't make a big deal out of it. Come here and complain but let it go.

And I think donating excess items is always a good idea. If you can't use something, pass it to someone who can.
post #8 of 122
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jackies Ladybug View Post
donating is not practically throwing away and i am really insulted that ANYONE would think so.

Let me put it to you this way.

If I bought you a gift, I bought YOU a gift. You just up and donate it without using it just because it is something you don't like or it isn't "good enough" for you. That is really rude. Seriously. It was a waste of my money. If I wanted to donate something to charity and spend my money that way, I would have.
Receiving gifts should be humbling and have a bit of gratefulness on the receivers part. Someone spent their money on you, show some respect. Just because they do not share your taste in toys, clothes or whatever, there is no reason to turn your nose up at them. Not everyone can afford or even knows about buying wooden toys that cost 60 bucks a pop! Waldorf isn't mainstream, neither is Montessori and many of the things that lots of us are into here. It just isn't. Toys with bells and whistles and lights and batteries are the NORM and most people scoff at a wooden barn.

Sometimes I wonder where people where raised. My mother raised to be gracious and accept a gift in the spirit that it was given in. I gave homemade gifts this year because I couldn't afford to buy anything really. Had anyone turned up their nose, I would have taken that gifts back and never given them something ever again.

And I am the type that thinks wish lists are darn right rude. Christmas/Holiday time is not a time to be like "I want this and I want this and I want this" The gift giving is secondary to the time spent with family. And when it comes to gift giving, I buy what I would love to buy for them because I adore them. I find it rude that someone gives me a list and then expects stuff off of there.
post #9 of 122

Gifts are freely given by the giver. That means that the recipient can't dictate what is given. But, the recipient is under no obligation to keep unwanted items, either, and the giver has no right to expect the recipient to keep gifts they can't use. I say graciously accept the inappropriate gifts, and then donate them!


Edited by April Dawn - 7/5/11 at 8:19pm
post #10 of 122
Hmmm, since you and your DH were ok with your child(ren) playing with the toys at grandma and grandpa's house I gather they are not offensive or completely unacceptable. In this case I think you say thank you and teach your children to say thank you. Since playing with them is ok, they are just not to your taste you let the kids play with them. As a way of saying thank you I always send a picture of my son playing with the toy or wearing the clothes or mention some occason they did so in a card. DS is not yet three so he only sort of paricipates in writing the thank you cards. There is an old cliche, "Remember, it's the thought that counts" but in this case it's not just a cliche, it's also the etiquette. We are frequently asked for ideas of what to get DS and when asked always provide some ideas but they are just that, ideas and by no means an obligation.

Edited to add that eventually all toys that are outgrown or unused around here get donated. The same goes for clothes in good condition. Frequently they go to a friend or friend of friend who now has a child of the appropriate age.
post #11 of 122
Today I gathered many toys that my kids either no longer play with, or never have played with in the first place. I usually hold onto things that the kids don't play with simply because I felt bad giving them away after they were given as gifts, but, you know what? I'm sick of my house being cluttered with toys just because of this sentiment. It's a waste of people's money either way, and I think it's ok to acknowledge that. Giving them away to someone who will actually USE them is not rude imo.

Unless someone asks me where this stuff has gone, I'm not going to call them up and say "hey, my kids didn't like what you gave them so I got rid of it". If I am specifically asked where such and such has gone, then I will say something to the tune of "they've outgrown that, or they just weren't interested, sorry!".
post #12 of 122
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tjej View Post
What would I do?

Apologize. Let it go and try to find a way to rebuild the relationship. Put restoring the relationship above worrying about the gifts in the future.

Tjej
Yep.

Quote:
Originally Posted by TulsiLeaf View Post
Gifts are given out of the kindness of someone's heart. You do not dictate what they should give unless they ask, it's pretty much really rude to do so. I would be mortaly offended if someone told me my gift wasn't good enough and I would refuse to buy for them again.

.
This, too.

Quote:
Originally Posted by That Is Nice View Post
I would love to gather other parents' perspectives about etiquette and your strategies for dealing with inlaws who continually buy less than ideal gifts, year after year.

I have talked to them, had DH talk to them to explain what would be good ideas, what types of toys, brands of toys, age ranges for toys would be appropriate and well played with.

That didn't seem to do the trick.

I have sent them lists, with price ranges from $5 upwards, and with lots of choices so they could still pick and choose. I have also shown them pictures, and signed them up for catalogs with selection that would work well.

And still they don't listen.

In the past, we have praised any good selections (rare) that they bought from the list (also rare) but we wanted to try to reinforce things in a positive way.

For a couple of years now, we have accepted the toys that weren't appropriate and then donated them. But that seems kind of like I'm wasting their money year after year after a while and I would like my child to have some gifts that are kept some of the time.

But this year, we decided that the inappropriate and less than ideal gifts could be "grandpa and grandma's house toys" that would remain at grandpa and grandma's house.

I was not present for the conversation, which I left up to DH since it is his parents, but apparently they were quite offended and basically said they wouldn't be buying toys anymore.

What would you all do? Has someone been in a similar situation? I've seen similar threads and am off to read them. Thanks!
You did all of this after they ASKED, right? Right? Because if I were them, I wouldn't be buying just toys anymore either...

And what would I do? I never would have done this in the first place, so in your shoes, I would beg forgiveness.
post #13 of 122
Yeah, same situation here, although it's not the grandparents, thankfully. I let dd make some decisions about the junky things. Ultimately, by the end of January, we have the junky books, junky toys, would-never-put-that-on-my-kid clothes, would-never-put-that-on-my-body potions, etc. out of the house and donated. Somebody out there wants it, and we like giving. But we don't really tell people that we're doing it, although most people know we tend to live pretty simply.
post #14 of 122
Quote:
Originally Posted by TulsiLeaf View Post

And I am the type that thinks wish lists are darn right rude. Christmas/Holiday time is not a time to be like "I want this and I want this and I want this" The gift giving is secondary to the time spent with family. And when it comes to gift giving, I buy what I would love to buy for them because I adore them. I find it rude that someone gives me a list and then expects stuff off of there.

I wish this were the case with my husbands family, but it's not. Christmas is all about giving a huge quantity of gifts. Many totally unsuitable.
This year I had to sit down with my children and remind them to say thankyou happily no matter what the gift was, as they should be thanking the person for thinking of them, not for what they are being given. I had to tell them to hide their disappointment and that we would exchange the gifts at a later date. It broke my heart seeing them open gift after gift knowing few would be enjoyed.
Some people give many gifts because they are addicted to buying, not because they love someone or think highly of them.
post #15 of 122
I agree, unless the toys are dangerous, or really age inappropriate or directly opposed to your values, just say thanks. It is too bad they are wasting their money, and I would feel frustrated about that too, but that's life.

As far as donating - I tend to donate after we have kept them a while, unless I am sure they won't be appreciated. But, given the amounts some people purchase, there really isn't any other option in many cases I think. But - I would never mention it.

I do think it is ok to discuss with family that you have space issues, etc, and so can't accommodate certain things. I would want to know that if I were buying gifts. But if they don't listen, then you can't do much.
post #16 of 122
Quote:
Originally Posted by TulsiLeaf View Post
Let me put it to you this way.
If I bought you a gift, I bought YOU a gift. You just up and donate it without using it just because it is something you don't like or it isn't "good enough" for you. That is really rude. Seriously. It was a waste of my money. If I wanted to donate something to charity and spend my money that way, I would have.
And if you bought me a gift that isn't something I'd ever wear or use, you'd rather it sit around in my house gathering dust than find a home with someone who might use it?

I have an odd body to fit, and a relatively simple taste in clothing. I'm not going to wear something that doesn't fit right, and I'm not going to wear something that completely offends my personal style. When I end up with clothing that I'm never going to wear, I first offer it around to my sibs and if none of them want it/fit it, it gets donated. A few times I have kept things out of a sense of guilt (a very expensive but far too large black wool coat comes to mind) and all that happens is that it falls out of style without ever being used--while it fits my youngest sister now, she told me that it spoke of the mid-1990s and that she'd never wear it either. Now that was sad waste of money, since I know that the person who purchased it spent several hundred dollars on it.
post #17 of 122
at first we used to give the inlaws a list from the kids because they specifically asked us too, but soon realized that they would get what they wanted, so we've stopped giving a list.

i think that almost every christmas the kids have donated some of their gifts the inlaws have given them, not because they are ungrateful and unappreciative, but because there is no point for us to hang onto something we don't like and collect clutter.

it's not about turning up our nose at the gifts either, but just being honest and realistic about what we've been given and whether or not we will actually use it. is it better for the gift to be donated to someone who will genuinely appreciate the item, or for it to sit in a box outside in my shed where it will be eventually taken to the dump?

when i give gifts, i give them freely and i certainly don't expect the person on the receiving end to keep something they would never use. i'd be happier knowing they donated my gift so that someone else could enjoy it instead.

anyway, as for the OP, i would just let it go, accept whatever gift they have given your kids, and if you don't want it, i would donate it. that's what we do
post #18 of 122
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tjej View Post
What would I do?

Apologize. Let it go and try to find a way to rebuild the relationship. Put restoring the relationship above worrying about the gifts in the future.

Tjej


Unless the toys are dangerous, I just can't understand how a person's feelings about "less than ideal" gifts could ever be more important than a relationship with family members.
post #19 of 122
We tell everyone to always buy art and craft supplies of any kind because we have no space for more toys in our house and DD loves to do art everyday. Then year round I post pictures of DD's art on our family photo album that everyone looks at. It's working out so well since DD actually really loves drawing, painting, etc. and I can store it all in several rubbermaid type tubs.

Sometimes you have family members who will buy what they want regardless. We just say thank you and take it home. If it's not being played with we pass it on to someone else or donate it. It's not our fault if someone wants to buy what *they* want instead of things we will actually use and enjoy! .

I don't think it's being ungrateful to share a gift with someone who will actually enjoy it. Homeless families at the Salvation Army shelter, for example, really appreciate clothes that don't fit us quite right or one of the four matching games DD has, or some of the 30 million Little People from her collection.

For the baby shower with my DD I let everyone know that we didn't need disposable diapers or formula because we planned on breastfeeding and cloth diapering, and of course I got enough sposies and bottle feeding items to cover triplets. I donated all of those things to a women's shelter and felt pretty good about it!
post #20 of 122
Quote:
Originally Posted by TulsiLeaf View Post
Let me put it to you this way.

If I bought you a gift, I bought YOU a gift. You just up and donate it without using it just because it is something you don't like or it isn't "good enough" for you. That is really rude. Seriously. It was a waste of my money. If I wanted to donate something to charity and spend my money that way, I would have.
I completely disagree.

I think either 1. It's okay to do wish lists/requests OR 2. It's okay to donate gifts that don't suit. You can't have it both ways or we'd all have homes full of stuff that we hate. We're a #2 family.

When I give a gift, it's GIVEN. That person can do whatever s/he likes with it.

I do agree that with kids, it's complicated because I might want to donate the gift and my kid might want to keep it. At that point we consider is it safe/morally ok, and if yes, then we discuss space.

Mostly I agree that being overly picky about gifts is not a good thing and that the relationship should come first. But there may be a broader context here. It might work out for the best if they don't give gifts for a couple of years and you find another way to celebrate.
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Parenting
Mothering › Mothering Forums › Mom › Parenting › Christmas gifts that are continually not ideal, and general etiquette