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The holidays and unwanted (but appreciated) gifts - Page 3

post #41 of 64

We've always been honest with what we don't want- no characters, *nothing* that takes batteries, no latest toy trend. My parents, while not happy about it, usually stay within limits. Our daughter is their only grandchild, so she is spoiled and comes home with tons of stuff sometimes, but we send it right back to their house. My husbands parents do not listen at all. They live at Walmart, they over shop, and are semi-recovering hoarders. For DD's 5th birthday (in Nov), we asked for dress up items for her and her best friend, since they love playing dress up together. We asked for pirate, fairy, king/queen items; gender neutral, no characters. They bring over a huge trunk of Disney Princess dress up. So, they half listened. We would have taken it back, but FIL opened it up and showed her everything. For Christmas, they gave the same gift to two of their other granddaughters, and had they asked if Piper liked hers, I would have said we donated it, since we don't keep those kind of items in our house. Will they listen? No. But at least they know and understand they are giving to charity. smile.gif Right now, we have a big bag to donate to charity.

post #42 of 64

My kids always get tons of "stuff".  Regardless of what it is, it's too much.  I've started encouraging people to get them trips and activities as gifts.  I explain that most of my most beloved memories of my childhood is the time I spent doing different things and going different places and getting to know my family members better.  This year my son got a skiing trip and snow boarding lessons for Christmas.  For his birthday, he got a 6 week pottery class.  My daughter got a membership to our local YMCA and a gymnastics class for her birthday.  Since the membership is good for one year, another family member got her a dance class for Christmas.  For Easter, she'll get swim lessons.  Her Aunt is giving her and her cousin a day at an inflatable bounce center together.  You get the idea.  I always keep an eye out for these different activities so I have ideas to give people.

 

They still get too much stuff.  I buy them healthy creative toys.  I tried giving my mother-in-law a catalog that came in the mail this year for ideas.  It didn't work, but it might work for someone else.

 

Another thing my mother does, is she determines how much money she wants to spend on them.  She then spends some of it on stuff and puts the rest into a bank account for them.  The plan is that they will be able to use that money for a car or college when they are older.

 

While I'm not a fan of the plastic junk, I'm not going to upset my children by refusing to let them have their Christmas presents.  I personally think that would be more damaging to them.  But I do clean out our entire house at least once a year and have a yard sale and donate to charity.  Of course at that point most of the junk toys go and the good ones remain.  Over time the ratio of junk to quality is improving.

post #43 of 64

Just to play devil's advocate for a minute... I believe consumerism can happen in either direction and just because something is well known and plastic doesn't make it any less of a positive play thing.  I too, struggle with wanting chunky wooden toys made of natural materials, but my daughter plays the same with the wooden natural dollhouse dolls as she does with the littlest petshop plastic toys someone gave her.  I dislike those toys because of the small pieces (to get lost and the possible choking hazard), the impact on the environment (how many broken barbies are in landfills? plus who knows what will be a commonly known carcinogen in 15 years that is now in every children's toy) and the clutter in our house (and let's face it, I love the look of the wooden stuff).  However, I allow myself to have certain items, I should honor my daughter with the same respect.  Besides, explaining the Waldorf theory to her and trying to convince her to toss her plastic toys didn't go over too well.  But let's be honest, if Barbie was a $95 doll only sold through a few exclusive natural parenting stores and no one knew what it was, we might be a lot more likely to grab our daughters a Barbie.  I can recognize my own distaste for the mainstream :D

post #44 of 64


I agree with all of this, esp the bolded!

Quote:
Originally Posted by haleyelianasmom View Post

Just to play devil's advocate for a minute... I believe consumerism can happen in either direction and just because something is well known and plastic doesn't make it any less of a positive play thing.  I too, struggle with wanting chunky wooden toys made of natural materials, but my daughter plays the same with the wooden natural dollhouse dolls as she does with the littlest petshop plastic toys someone gave her.  I dislike those toys because of the small pieces (to get lost and the possible choking hazard), the impact on the environment (how many broken barbies are in landfills? plus who knows what will be a commonly known carcinogen in 15 years that is now in every children's toy) and the clutter in our house (and let's face it, I love the look of the wooden stuff).  However, I allow myself to have certain items, I should honor my daughter with the same respect.  Besides, explaining the Waldorf theory to her and trying to convince her to toss her plastic toys didn't go over too well.  But let's be honest, if Barbie was a $95 doll only sold through a few exclusive natural parenting stores and no one knew what it was, we might be a lot more likely to grab our daughters a Barbie.  I can recognize my own distaste for the mainstream :D

post #45 of 64

My mom loves to buy the noisy, light up type toys. I kind of resolved myself to getting one but she got him THREE! So, I'm returning one to exchange. DS prefers his crocheted toys, cloth books or wooden toys that he can chew on right now. My sister also got him a hideous ball that talks (like super annoying talking and telling him to throw, catch, share, etc.) and DH took it out of the box to pack it so now we can't return that one. I may just take the motor out of it and let it be a cloth ball he can roll and play with. I think next year I'll make him an Amazon wishlist and ask for them to get similar type things. I'm okay with plastic- but the music, lights, flashing and computer type stuff is unnecessary!

post #46 of 64

Thank you for starting this thread, I've been having these issues too!
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by zoebird View Post
 

 

but the reality is, the object *is not* their love. it is how they are *expressing* their love. Thing is, objects are not my love language. Getting a ton of objects that i do not want, that i feel that i have to hold on to because it is how they chose to express their love, actually really frustrates and upsets me. The object does not communicate love to me, instead if communicates "You are not listening to what i want or need for myself; you do not value me for the way i am and how i want to live, and by buying these objects that i do not want, and effectively foisting them on me, you are forcing me to live the way that you want me to, not the way that i want to."

 

^^ This is exactly how I feel!

 

My moms side of the family does the Amazon wishlist thing, so this year (DS's first holiday season) they all chose things from that list, and my dad's family gave books and clothes. DH's family is totally different. I have said from the beginning we want to do avoid plastics and focus on wooden toys, cloth, etc and MIL (who works with special needs kids and has an entire room in her house full of plastic toys, many of which are old and nasty) responds with "well, wood is great, but most of the time they're using questionable paints, blah blah" and then bought DS this plastic penguin toy, it blows up and it's meant to be knocked over and bounces up again. It's the same size he is and it terrifies him! she also got him some off brand bath toys that smell of chemicals. DH has the attitude that we can't get rid of stuff because it will hurt feelings and he doesn't think it's that big of a deal anyway. DS is not the first grandchild either, so that makes it harder, because none of his cousins have had any kind of restrictions on toys (though my SIL is labeled "overprotective" and there are certainly things we can't say in front of her daughters. Everyone respects this, but they don't care about my preferences for DS! argh.)
 

post #47 of 64

Personally, if your needs were made strongly known, then they still gave an offensive gift (plastic or whatever), then I would thank them for the gift and what a wonderful thought, but then immediately remind them of your strict rules regarding plastic or whatever the rules were and say, "I hope you are not offended since we let you know in advance about our wishes. I hope you understand we need to exchange the item for something we prefer for Johnny to have. I am sure you understand." Then if they still get offended or upset, then YOU have to remind YOURSELF that you are NOT responsible for their feelings. People own their own feelings.

Susan

post #48 of 64

I would like to offer a different opinion.  What a toy is made out of isn’t important to me.  What is important is 1. my child will play with the toy and 2. the toy is well-made.  I pay attention to my childrens needs and interests, and research the toys and companies that I buy from.  If I bought my kids a bunch of eco-friendly toys, they simply would not play with them and I think this would be just as wasteful.

 

In my experience, babies don’t play with toys much, and it’s very easy to limit the number of toys, and only have toys made out of certain materials.  When a child gets older, I think it’s best to be flexible and consider what their needs are.  My son only played with trucks as a toddler and I very rarely bought toys for him other than ones I found at thrift stores.  He’s 5 now and almost exclusively plays with Legos.  He assembles Lego sets by himself that are at an age 8 level and then plays imaginary scenarios with them.  They are also good for his fine motor skills, which he is behind in.  Legos are a creative, brain-building toy and I don’t think it would be in my son’s best interest to not let him have them because they are made out of plastic.

 

For the most part, though, I hate most of the toys at Target, Toys R Us, etc..  I think they aren’t creative and most are very cheaply made.  At Christmastime I search for well-made, well-reviewed toys online.  One of our favorite companies is Blue Orange Games.  Their games are creative, made out of wood, and they plant a tree for every game they make.  Our favorites are Bendominos and Gobblet, Jr.  Another great company is forsmallhands.com.  They are a Montessori store that specializes in kid-sized toys and tools.  For Christmas my daughter got a kid-sized broom and a dustpan made out of recycled plastic, and my son loves helping shovel snow with the kid-sized snow shovel I got for him. They carry great kitchen and garden tools too.

 

I’m lucky that my relatives ask for suggestions from me.  Being able to recommend gifts to family members depends on your relationships with your family.  In many instances, it might be better to accept that people have different values than you and let it go.

post #49 of 64


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by mooshersmama View Post

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!


So the gun went in the trash because you didn't think it was appropriate.But what if throwing that gun(or any other toy you might find inappropriate) in the trash was absolutely going to break your daughter's heart?Is it better to break a kid's heart or ask adults not to give your kids inappropriate toys?

post #50 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by rere View Post


 


So the gun went in the trash because you didn't think it was appropriate.But what if throwing that gun(or any other toy you might find inappropriate) in the trash was absolutely going to break your daughter's heart?Is it better to break a kid's heart or ask adults not to give your kids inappropriate toys?



 



Hm, I'd probably let her have it. However, I think there's a difference between asking for no guns and having a blanket ban on plastic junky toys.
post #51 of 64

 

What I really mean is that family harmony is more important to me than having the right toys. If dd gets a gift I don't want for her and I can get rid of it, I will. If not, oh well.
post #52 of 64

I'm strugging w/ this right now too. We got the boys a (IMO) reasonable amount of gifts. MIL? Went overboard. Like, we went to see them in columbus and everything almost didn't fit in our freaking car! Half of it is unopened still-in-the-box, and I for one am *VERY* tempted to return it. I'm certainly not going to just give it all to them right now. Definetly not. All the unopened stuff is going in the basement for now, and we'll see after that. Much of the rest of it will be dissapearing here shortly, to the resale store or goodwill. 

post #53 of 64

DH and I discussed things after this years holiday gift giving debacle. Next year we will ask the immediate family to give DD one or two books, clothes or toys and to take her on an "adventure". One of my aunts did that for me from when I was about 10 til 17 or so, and those days are still some of my favorite memories. And we will be making an Amazon wishlist for the extended family because they all asked us anyway. We try very hard to keep the plastic stuff out of our house, but after DD opened one particularly annoying present and LOVED IT we decided to keep it. It's a pink princess ride on toy that plays the most annoying music. But she loves it. That relative will most likely never be at our house but I'm not going to toss it since DD likes it so much. Another relative "helped" DD open her gift Christmas afternoon and said "wow that makes the most annoying sound ever!" Since we can't return it and DD could care less about it, we will be donating it (I saved the box for this reason). But if she had liked it, I probably would have kept it too.

 

I think it's a pick your battles game. You can ask for what you'd rather your child to have, but just be prepared not to get it. (O and then to get the exact opposite and your child to love it and then you feel bad for getting rid of it.)

post #54 of 64

When you have children with autism in your family, you have to be mindful of what toys are made of (BPA's in plastics or harnful metals from CHINA, for example). Toys are mouthed by most small children.

We are mindful of not only which toys are brought into our home, but also what dishes, silverware, and pots/pans we use.

With the rising rates of autism now being an estimated 1 in 25 in the USA (the old rates were 1 in 94 three years ago) today, then I think parents should be watching what comes into their home.

We also watch what chemicals we use in and around our house.

Susan

post #55 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by agirlnamedsuess View Post

When you have children with autism in your family, you have to be mindful of what toys are made of (BPA's in plastics or harnful metals from CHINA, for example). Toys are mouthed by most small children.

We are mindful of not only which toys are brought into our home, but also what dishes, silverware, and pots/pans we use.

With the rising rates of autism now being an estimated 1 in 25 in the USA (the old rates were 1 in 94 three years ago) today, then I think parents should be watching what comes into their home.

We also watch what chemicals we use in and around our house.

Susan


You make an excellent point.  I think when your children are at an age where they are putting things in their mouth, what their toys are made out of is more important then when they are older.  This also means they are young enough to not notice when you get rid of something.  As they get older, I think the risk of them playing with the plastic toys is a bit reduced and can warrant some more balance between your preferences, family relations and your child's preference.  I also think the cleaning products, laundry detergent, food choices and food storage systems are going to make a much larger impact on the health of your children then a handful of plastic toys.
 

post #56 of 64

We are very strict about what comes into our home after my youngest had lead poisoning in March of this year. We had to get rid of all her toys, go through our house,etc and still wasn't sure what caused it. So, for now we don't allow anything made in China or plastic into our home. My family knows that if they give her those things they will go out the door.

post #57 of 64

I think some of our new stuff might go into the garage soon.  I do dislike clutter.  Even worse, the family member who brought a TON of gifts for my kids was the same family member who comments at least once every time she visits that we have TOO MUCH STUFF.  This past time she made a comment about us having too much stuff at least twice.  Says the person who has more than twice the square footage with half the people living there.  Then give savings bonds.  Just sayin'...

post #58 of 64

Our extended family gave an insane amt of gifts. Anything that the kids set aside w/o opening the box the first day is getting returned or goodwilled. ie an entire garbage bag full.

post #59 of 64

I know a family that won't buy Barbie or never let their girls play with Barbie because they feel it is degrading to women and paints a picture in little girls heads that a female should have a *perfect* body. (Similar to the way magazine models are portrayed theory).

post #60 of 64

With the state of the economy (now) savings bonds or saver cd's may not be the best option, but cash always works. That said, kids want a *gift* and something tangible. Maybe well-meaning relatives can take your child somewhere special and do something with them (amusement park, ?) Time is a gift t hat cannot be returned and will always be remembered. IMHO

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