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The holidays and unwanted (but appreciated) gifts - Page 2

post #21 of 64

We are in a similar situation. It's easy for me to explain our desire to be plastic and junk toy free to my folks because they agree! They are into giving one nice thoughtful gift each holiday. This year they are giving DD a wooden barn because they know how much she loves her schleich farm animals.  They also knew that we were looking at getting her one but couldn't afford it so they wanted to do it.  Dh's family is harder. We were very specific last year about not wanting anything that required batteries and plastic junk. I listened as DH explained this to his mom. What did we get? Plastic junk that required batteries. He told them that we gave it away because we really meant what we said. I believe very strongly that you can't control what others give but you can control what stays in your own home! This year my MIL asked for a specific suggestion. DH told her an easel would be great. So she is getting her an easel. Yeah, now we can say that Grandma got you this easel. BUT I can gauruntee that they will also send a box of junk. They can't just give one thing for whatever reason. We will likely donate anything else because it a) doesn't fit in with what we want her to play with and b) we live in a very small house and just don't have the room.

 

It's hard. For us beyond parents we don't go into it but I do think that it's important for grandparents to at least try to see how their kids are trying to raise their own little ones and try to respect that.

post #22 of 64
I dont have an answer, but I do have the problem.  My MIL is totally over the top with, well everything, but particularly gift-wise.  I LOVE her to pieces, but she loves to shop and the MASSIVE amounts of stuff we have gotten is overwhelming.  Particularly as we live overseas - she spends a fortune shipping stuff here.  She has cut down though and I've had to hint a lot.  This year I made an amazon wishlist and sent it in an e-mail to both sets of grandparents asking that they not buy everything off the list, but here were some choices I thought DS would enjoy, needed, and fit with our values (toys of recycled plastic, ethically made, lots of wooden stuff).  She has mostly stuck to the list, but bought nearly everything on it, including 3 sets of wooden cutting fruit.  THREE!  She has also hinted that they are bringing a lot more and I suspect that some of it is of the plastic noisy kind.  And I know that this is too annoy me.  But I will just get rid once she's gone.  Our house is tiny and everything in it has to be well thought out for it to work.
 
Maybe sending a link to one of the toxic toys lists would get the point across?  Thing is, you can't trust most toy manufacturers - look at all the recalls!
post #23 of 64

Common manners dictate that, beyond an Amazon-type wishlist, it's very rude to demand certain conditions from gift-givers unless they ask.  Even then, it would be rude to reject a gift or make unreasonable demands based on your personal preferences. 

 

I'm somewhat surprised by a few of these responses.  Both my and my husband's families have very traditional approaches to manners.  In our families, I would be considered completely lacking class if I made specific demands regarding gift receiving.  My mother always told me that if you don't like a gift, thank the giver politely and either return it or donate it without them ever knowing. 

 

On the other hand, if it was a gift that they would expect to see again when they visited, leave it in a closet and haul it out for show when they come so that they know it was appreciated.  It is very offensive to the giver to know that their gift was rejected.  It's just like saying to them that they have no taste, or that you think you are better than their gift.

post #24 of 64

Wow!  It's so nice to know that I'm not alone in this issue!

 

Until now, my husband and I have always just politely accepted the gifts and then discreetly taken them to Good Will.

However, someone posted here that it will be difficult once the child is old enough to understand that their beloved toy has disappeared.  It's true.  It happened in October for my daughter's 4th birthday.

Someone got her a Barbie makeup kit (of all things for a 4 year old).  It was a plastic case chock full of cheap, artificial colors, and chemicals.  I personally wear mineral make up (when I wear it at all) and I certainly would never let my 4 year old have free range with a gigantic makeup kit.  We actually ended up just throwing it away and for weeks now my daughter has been asking where her precious makeup kit is.  I recently spotted the kit at Costco.  Bummer.  If I had known it came from there, I could have exchanged it for something we approved of.

 

We have decided to start asking if people would donate to some of our local charities in lieu of a gift.  We stated that their presence in our daughter's life is gift enough and that we don't want her to get caught up in the frenzy that consumerism so often causes.  Or if they are not comfortable with that, an admission ticket to the children's museum, zoo, science center, etc. would be greatly appreciated.  Admission to our local children's museum costs $9.00.  What our daughter will gain from that experience versus a plastic, toxic toy (which probably costs the same) is far greater.  And of course, we are always open to books and educational materials.

 

We shall see how it goes over this Christmas. 

post #25 of 64

Sounds like a pretty common dilemma hey? I'm in a similar position to OP - I've spoken to my family and they're on board - and they know me well enough to know if we don't want it it's gone to charity. I periodically send them links on stuff I think would be useful cause I know my mum will still go overboard so at least it will be on stuff we need. I tried chatting to MIL about it recently as she asked what we wanted - I avoided saying no plastic or junk - I just suggested that since he has heaps of toys and we live so far away maybe zoo tickets or concert tickets or tickets to some place fun because what he really loves is spending time with them and he's too young (17mo) to really "get" the whole gift giving thing. She wasn't really into that idea at all but I think as he gets older she might warm to it. I even told her we'd make trips to see her specifically so they could use the tickets. Oh well. I'm just grateful for whatever we get as she's been amazingly good at accepting my alternative parenting as they are ultra conservative. Such a fine line between honesty/rudeness.gratitude. Good luck everyone!

post #26 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dinosaur_Mommy View Post

Common manners dictate that, beyond an Amazon-type wishlist, it's very rude to demand certain conditions from gift-givers unless they ask.  Even then, it would be rude to reject a gift or make unreasonable demands based on your personal preferences. 

 

I'm somewhat surprised by a few of these responses.  Both my and my husband's families have very traditional approaches to manners.  In our families, I would be considered completely lacking class if I made specific demands regarding gift receiving.  My mother always told me that if you don't like a gift, thank the giver politely and either return it or donate it without them ever knowing. 

 

On the other hand, if it was a gift that they would expect to see again when they visited, leave it in a closet and haul it out for show when they come so that they know it was appreciated.  It is very offensive to the giver to know that their gift was rejected.  It's just like saying to them that they have no taste, or that you think you are better than their gift.



I guess I get by with being specific because the only presents dh or I get are from our parents.  They are totally concerned with buying things we really truely need or want.  they hate to shop as much as we do.  they prefer to give one great present and some stocking stuffers.  I would never consider myself "better than their gift" but if I'm given something I will never ever use, but someone else might, Goodwill it goes.   And they know it because thats how we live our life every single day.  No extra "stuff" no knicky knacky crap.  SO this year my IL's gave me money to have some ceilings painted and the foyer painted.  And they gave my a gift cert for my bday so I could go to a shop I love and buy some clothes.  No hassle for them and they have the pleasure knowing I got something I really wanted.  My house is not a storage closet for stuff I don't want.  I have minimal storage the way it is.  We have manners and we have people in our lives who know and love us and want to see us happy.  They don't give us gifts for their pleasure.  Their pleasure comes from our happiness.

post #27 of 64


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dinosaur_Mommy View Post

Common manners dictate that, beyond an Amazon-type wishlist, it's very rude to demand certain conditions from gift-givers unless they ask.  Even then, it would be rude to reject a gift or make unreasonable demands based on your personal preferences. 

 

I'm somewhat surprised by a few of these responses.  Both my and my husband's families have very traditional approaches to manners.  In our families, I would be considered completely lacking class if I made specific demands regarding gift receiving.  My mother always told me that if you don't like a gift, thank the giver politely and either return it or donate it without them ever knowing. 

 

On the other hand, if it was a gift that they would expect to see again when they visited, leave it in a closet and haul it out for show when they come so that they know it was appreciated.  It is very offensive to the giver to know that their gift was rejected.  It's just like saying to them that they have no taste, or that you think you are better than their gift.


To each his own. To me environmental values are extremely important. And I will stand up for my beliefs in valuing and caring for our planet. This includes minimizing plastic and toys that are junk and will break easily and end up in the dump. This does not mean being rude to family and friends. I would not approach just anyone and say "only get us this or this". But I have had the "this is what we would prefer" conversation and left it at that.  I personally do not value all "traditional manners" I value honesty and the ability to have communication with those closest to me in my life. To be able to have a kind, polite and open conversation about gifts is a non issue for me and those around me. It does not mean we are not polite or caring people. I do not revisit this conversation upon every gift giving experience, but we gently set this up from the get go. It was totally appropriate and has been respected. To me, not respecting another person's values is low class. And judging someone on having an honest conversation that may be appropriate within their circle as such is not any better spirited than telling someone our gift preferences.

post #28 of 64

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dinosaur_Mommy View Post

On the other hand, if it was a gift that they would expect to see again when they visited, leave it in a closet and haul it out for show when they come so that they know it was appreciated.  It is very offensive to the giver to know that their gift was rejected.  It's just like saying to them that they have no taste, or that you think you are better than their gift.



Honestly, if this was an option I would gladly do this.  We have a SMALL house and literally no extra storage space at all.  So I have to be very particular about the things that stay in my home.  I did this with baby clothes for the first year - MIL bought him boxes and boxes of stuff and would go through it all when she came to visit to dress him up.  Much of it wasn't my taste, but I kept it because I could and it gives her pleasure to dress him.  In the end over HALF was donated with tags still on - we kept maybe 10 percent.  I can't bear her to waste so much money, but it is literally so much we can't use it all.  And what about the gift-giver respecting your values?  I think it does go both ways, but I think it is rude to give a gift that isn't about the reciever at all, but about what you want them to be/have/look like IYSWIM. I guess what I'm saying is that it isn't so black and white IMO.

 

 

post #29 of 64

I believe it is completely appropriate to have respectful conversations about the type of toys my family uses and appreciates. Why would anyone want someone to waste tons of money on stuff that is just going to get tossed out?? If you cant be honest with your parents, who can you be honest with? I would never be downright rude when opening a gift--I will certainly teach my children to say thank you and be grateful--but respectfully sharing your beliefs on toys and play is hardly low class or ill-mannered--shesh. Sure, it may be offensive for  my in-laws to show up and not see their gift--but it is also offensive to me when they completely ignore my values as a parent. We aren't talking "we only accept gifts from certain stores, or certain price ranges" we are saying "we prefer toys that are non-toxic, encourage little ones imagination, are not harmful to the environment, are not made by children in other countries, and are age appropriate". Don't people register for weddings, baby showers and the like? What is wrong with sharing your preference for toys? We also have a small house and cant keep a collection of toys to pull out when the in-laws are around. When they ask where such and such is, I would tell them that we passed it along to someone who is gladly using it and appreciating their gift--I guarantee that would please anyone who truly has a generous heart.   

post #30 of 64


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Makaylamama View Post

I believe it is completely appropriate to have respectful conversations about the type of toys my family uses and appreciates. Why would anyone want someone to waste tons of money on stuff that is just going to get tossed out?? If you cant be honest with your parents, who can you be honest with? I would never be downright rude when opening a gift--I will certainly teach my children to say thank you and be grateful--but respectfully sharing your beliefs on toys and play is hardly low class or ill-mannered--shesh. Sure, it may be offensive for  my in-laws to show up and not see their gift--but it is also offensive to me when they completely ignore my values as a parent. We aren't talking "we only accept gifts from certain stores, or certain price ranges" we are saying "we prefer toys that are non-toxic, encourage little ones imagination, are not harmful to the environment, are not made by children in other countries, and are age appropriate". Don't people register for weddings, baby showers and the like? What is wrong with sharing your preference for toys? We also have a small house and cant keep a collection of toys to pull out when the in-laws are around. When they ask where such and such is, I would tell them that we passed it along to someone who is gladly using it and appreciating their gift--I guarantee that would please anyone who truly has a generous heart.   


That was very well said! It's just how I feel.

post #31 of 64

I think a suggestion, especially when talking person to person or over the phone is better than emails sent out becuase a lot can be lost in translation via Emails.  

 

 

Having said that, we begun telling our family that we would love memberships to zoos, museums, or lessons at various studios (dance, baby signing, etc)   and all were very excited.  I also made sure to send them pictures throughout the year of DDs enjoying their experiences.  Now that they are older, even for birthday parties, when asked, I suggest movie theater gift cards, pottery painting gift cards, or gift cards to craft stores where they can buy yarn, fabric, etc.   People learn what your child enjoys over the years.  I think some of that tons of plastic junk is just part of a phase around the 1-2 yr mark, we had that.  Now the girls mostly get books, board games, and the above mentioned gifts. 

post #32 of 64

Luckily both sets of grandparents want very specific lists of what to buy for ds and stick to them.  They go for quality over quantity and he always gets gifts that he like and that dh and I approve of.  Our problem is birthday party gifts from his friends.  If a mom asks me what he would like I tell her a couple of items in a lower price range.  But most people don't ask and he ends up with a lot of gifts that normally I would say no to.  I can't invite people to a party and tell them what to give my son and I also can't take my ds's birthday gifts away from him. 

post #33 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by Zach'smom View Post

Luckily both sets of grandparents want very specific lists of what to buy for ds and stick to them.  They go for quality over quantity and he always gets gifts that he like and that dh and I approve of.  Our problem is birthday party gifts from his friends.  If a mom asks me what he would like I tell her a couple of items in a lower price range.  But most people don't ask and he ends up with a lot of gifts that normally I would say no to.  I can't invite people to a party and tell them what to give my son and I also can't take my ds's birthday gifts away from him. 


While you may not feel you can take your DS's gifts one he has received them, you could take a preventative approach. I think it is pretty well accepted now (if not yet Miss Manner's approved) to have a no gift policy for birthday parties. My mom did this when we were kids (when it wasn't a norm even for a fringe of the population), and no one really had a problem with it. Occasionally we would still receive gifts at our parties, but in those cases they were almost all gifts that met our tastes and values, from people who knew us well enough to do so.

 

I googled the topic before DD's birthday party (2nd B-day, first party) and found several conversations on the no gift theme on various parenting forums. Commonly used approaches were to have the invitation include "your presence is your present" or simply "No gifts, please."

post #34 of 64

Ok, this is a grandmother asking here.  What is wrong with plastic toys?  What did you play with as children?  I played with Barbie dolls, and Tonka trucks, etc. in the 60's  My sons played with Gi Joe's, Thundercats, He-Man, hot wheels, and Mattell  cars, and race tracks,  and they had the first Atari games in the 80's, oh they also had big wheels, and spirographs, slinkies, legos, and hula hoops, all plastic, and you know what?  They had a blast!  Were they made in China, guess so, but they would have been utterly bored with play silks and wooden toys.  Just look around you today, that computer you have is made of plastic, your car has plastic, I could go on,  the bottom line is this,  What did you play with as a child? And as a child, the toy you were playing with did it make you happy?  Or were you thinking this is made of plastic, this is a really bad thing, can't play with it.

post #35 of 64

L Vale-basically I feel the same way.  When they are past the preschool age play silks and crocheted play foods wont cut it with many kids.  Especially if they are in public schools where their friends have plastic toys.  We had barbie cars, barbies, baby dolls, Atari, etc just like your kids.  I do agree you have to be careful where you purchase the toys because lead in paint isn't well regulated in many countries, which is toxic to children.  As young children though, the idea is open ended play which allows for the imagination to grow and I think thats how it should be.  We also played outside and made up games and had a blast with nothing but our imaginations.  There is a happy medium. 

post #36 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by LVale View Post

Ok, this is a grandmother asking here.  What is wrong with plastic toys?  What did you play with as children?  I played with Barbie dolls, and Tonka trucks, etc. in the 60's  My sons played with Gi Joe's, Thundercats, He-Man, hot wheels, and Mattell  cars, and race tracks,  and they had the first Atari games in the 80's, oh they also had big wheels, and spirographs, slinkies, legos, and hula hoops, all plastic, and you know what?  They had a blast!  Were they made in China, guess so, but they would have been utterly bored with play silks and wooden toys.  Just look around you today, that computer you have is made of plastic, your car has plastic, I could go on,  the bottom line is this,  What did you play with as a child? And as a child, the toy you were playing with did it make you happy?  Or were you thinking this is made of plastic, this is a really bad thing, can't play with it.

 

In addition to the environmental and health concerns of plastic toys (which are not insignificant), this article addresses why the shift to plastic, intended use toys, over open-ended, creativity-inspiring things like play silks and blocks is a huge negative developmentally, especially for those kids who are now "bored" with simpler options.  http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=19212514 If you don't want to take the time to read the article, the synopsis is that the shift from creative/make-believe play has resulted in a big decrease in executive function and self-regulatory skills, such that modern kids are performing at the same level as kids 2 years younger preformed 60 years ago.

 

The only plastic toys my mom allowed were legos, playmobil and realistic dolls (not Barbies). We had tons of dress-up (thrift store finds and home-made), we had wooden blocks, real wooden doll houses with real wood and fabric furnishings, wood or natural rubber puzzles, jigsaw puzzles, musical instruments (real hand drums as opposed to plastic electronic drums, etc). We had tons of fun, and our friends *loved* to play at our house because of the cool things we had and the imaginative things that we came up with.

 

Also, the main point illustrated by this thread is that regardless of how a grandparent feels about plastic toys, if the parents of your grandchildren have expressed that avoiding plastic toys (for whatever reason) is *their* parenting preference, that should be respected. And, ignoring that preference, or arguing with it, leads to stress and frustration for the child's parents, tension in the relationship, and likely the continual disposal (through re-gifting, thrifting or trashing) of the gifts that are given in accordance with the grandparent's preferences.

post #37 of 64

For me, it is not the no plastic toys rule for the sake of plastic.  They do have some plastic toys , but usually you can find better quality that lasts thru many children if it is made of another material.  Also, I like giving money to local crafts people.  Finally, the "plastic toys" at the big box chains usually do not engage my children for very long.  Both my DDs, preschool and pre teen, may ask for those advertised toys, but once they get them, they are left to rot after the 3rd day.  Having said that, my older DD is into the fashion dolls (barbie, LIV).  I am ok with that.  I played with them.  She likes to design outfits for them.  But, she does not have 50 of them with their Barbie house .  She has a nice wooden house that she has decorated and there is a lot of imaginative play. 

 

 

 I just do not like when my DD ends up with a huge Hannah Montana set and a prostitute make up set.  Or my other DD ends up with this plastic monstrocity that can't fit into her room.  There are just better choices that do not waste people's money. 

post #38 of 64

Is it absolutely impossible to have a happy medium? I'm with the grandma who chimed in; I had Barbies and My Little Ponies and pretend make-up kits (pretend because my parents didn't want to clean up messes, not because they were afraid I was going to grow a third eye) and all kinds of other plastic, non-open ended toys when I was a child. I also had a bicycle that I loved to ride, and a swing set that I loved to play on, and dirt that I loved to dig in, and a teddy bear and a stuffed doll that I absolutely adored that did absolutely nothing other than what I imagined they could. I had birthday parties and Christmases where people gave me gifts; I loved getting presents (what kid doesn't?) but I also knew that Christmas and birthdays were about celebrating the people you love and not what they could give you, because that was what my parents taught me. I am teaching my children the same thing, not by demanding that people only give them things that fit in with my idea of what they should have (and I totally understand limiting things due to lack of space, I have that problem myself) but by teaching them that it's not the gift that counts, it is the time and attention and love that were put into choosing the gift by the person who gave it. I do prefer simpler toys, I really wish that people would give them books and wooden trains and dress-up clothes instead of useless noisemakers that have batteries that have to be constantly replaced, but like most people, I have to pick my battles. To me, this one isn't worth the fight.

post #39 of 64

Honestly, I'd just let it go.  You can make suggestions but you can't control what other people give your kids.  I personally would let my kids play with the gifts - some plastic "junky" stuff is actually fun for kids!  You can always donate it, as well.  My FIL included a plastic gun in DD's stocking - that just went right into the trash, but I didn't feel the need to lecture him on appropriate gifts.

 

I truly do not understand the whole "open ended toy" thing.  My daughter plays with her "single use" toys in all sorts of ways.  The plastic princess barbie phone becomes a bed, or a car, or gets wrapped in a blanket to be her baby.  I am certain she is not unique in this regard.  A kid can play just as well with a plastic Barbie house as with a wooden one.  Sometimes I feel we get into this weird power struggle about what toys enter our homes, under the guise of not wanting people to waste their money, but it is really about control.  These are toys, they're supposed to be fun! 

 

ETA - this sounds really scattered upon rereading.  Long story short, let it go, life's too short!

post #40 of 64

The grandparents are relatively good at getting good gifts for the most part.  My dad and uncle made dd a huge wooden waldorf style dollhouse that is an arcitectural replica of our own home (my dad's an architect and he's going to start a business doing this!  They're reaaly just amazing).  However, we went 5 years without any Barbies/Moxie Girls/whatever the latest trend is, but she was given a Barbie by a cousin and she was THRILLED. 

 

Of all her super awesome presents, that's pretty much the first one she'll talk about.  Go figure.  I find the idea of her playing with and adult female who is too skinny and wearing too much make-up and not enough clothing (if any) is a bit creepy and way too shallow and against pretty much all I stand for, but then at the same time that's where she is right now.  I get so frustrated at dd because she's all into dressing fancy and wearing make-up and high heels and jewelery and that is not at all me.  We get into more arguments over "you can't wear fancy shoes that are a few sizes too big in a snow storm". She is homeschooled and pretty much mostly in contact with other Mothering families and until this point only had Kathe Kruse dollhouse dolls, so I'm starting to think that letting her have it and leaving it alone might be the best bet.  If you think about it, many of us probably grew up with Barbies and still have pretty good outlooks.  I guess we'll see how it goes...

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