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Unwanted Gifts for Baby

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 
I'm curious to know how other expectant parents out there handle the issue of unwanted gifts for their babies. Any stories and suggestions whether or not they relate to my specific example are welcome.

There is a person in my life who buys a lot of Stuff. Sometimes it's excellent quality and thoughtful, sometimes it's cheap and/or not my taste, and sometimes it's Stuff that I or my DW have specifically said in the past that we do not want. This person seems to me to have have an unhealthy relationship with Stuff, and though I'm not a psychiatric professional, I consider them to be a hoarder. None of this is new since my pregnancy, and the people around this person, DW and I included, have sort of given up on encouraging them to change their behavior. But the whole thing is taking on a new twist since my pregnancy began...

This person will have a relationship with our son, there's no getting out of that. Already we have gotten some thoughtful gifts for him and some that we don't like, and in both cases the quantity has been excessive. Gift-giving, especially for a child, seems to take on an added layer of complexity. This person will clearly be offended if they are not allowed to give our son gifts, or if we treat their gifts differently from those given by others. They seem to feel entitled and proud to shower us with Stuff. But everytime they show up with a box or a bag, I get stressed out. I either don't want it, don't need it, or don't have room for it. If my grandmother gave me a baby outfit that I didn't like, I would probably still keep it long enough to take a picture of the baby in it and send it to her, then give it to Goodwill or something. But to do that with this person seems to be encouraging them to continue and makes me upset. Given our history, I feel burdened by their gifts, and I worry that this history is causing me to treat them unfairly. Maybe I should just accept everything with a smile? But it's exhausting...

There's also the added issue of trying to plan for the future, what we will do once our son is old enough to be involved in this dynamic directly? What will I say to him when he is old enough to realize that we dread getting gifts from this person, and often don't keep them?
post #2 of 16

I'm sorry you're in this situation. Gift giving can be a touchy thing, especially for parents as everyone seems to want to give us what they would want, not what we want or need. I know my sister found herself in this situation quite a bit. She would thank the person and then take the item back to the store where it came from, or if she didn't know she would find out where the same item can be sold and get the last sale price as credit in store to purchase something they really needed. For her, she felt that at least she was turning the gift into something she could use.

It sounds like you're getting more stuff than you could ever need though. Hopefully some others will be able to offer more advice for you.

post #3 of 16
Regift? Sell it? Return it? Toss it in the trash?
post #4 of 16

It's like you are talking about my MiL! She loves DD to pieces and LOVES to buy her stuff.  Not only that, she has so much things kept from DP's childhood (things are so used up I would never dream of keeping) and she tried to pass them on to us. I started being a bit more spoken about not having space or "it does not work with the room style". We also had to tell her at some point that we simply do not have space for all these things and would appreciate edible gifts or at least clothes instead of toys. DP is quite blunt with his mother and almost had her in tears once because he told her to take it all back. I don't really like his approach but sometimes it is necessary.


To sum up, kids are a junk magnet. Literally stuff falls into our laps the moment we step outside. So far we've been very clear about what kind of gifts are appreciated (I've made a point of saying "no-battery-operated toys please" over and over). If something comes our way we don't like we say thank you and then either re-sell, donate or throw away. I let DD play with them and then hide them (just the stuff we don't like/want). If she does not ask for them (and so far she has never asked for anything I did not like) it goes in the outbox.


There's no way around it I'm afraid. If you don't want all this STUFF to invade your life, you're going to have to speak up.

post #5 of 16

Ahh, that sounds like my house. Grams comes and I kid you not, about five bags of stuff...........So, I just get the 'stuff' from the previous visit or two and we donate that......(well, me, not we, the kids would freak out).......and you just sort of cycle thru it..........if this person is that close to you  and will be a part of their lives, it will be hard to convince them that 'stuff' isn't a good thing all the time.......just smile, take it, and at a later date toss or donate.

post #6 of 16

that sounds like my ex-mil. She would buy the kids piles and piles of stuff that just didn't work for us. At first i really tried to fight the good fight, i suggested on expensive toy instead of piles of dollar store junk etc. But it just mean to much to her to be able to give her grand kids a pile of toys. In the end it wasn't worth the turmoil. after said gift giving, i smiled said thanks, and into the closet it went. stuff that could be donated was eventually donated, if it couldn't it was tossed. I am pretty straight forward with my kids, so what i would tell them is, always say thank you. it's rude not to, then we will donate these gifts because though person xyz has good intentions, and we don't want to hurt their feelings, we really don't need this stuff. etc.


however it works out for you, good luck! babies are in fact junk magnets. i hope you find a way to dodge the pile up :)

post #7 of 16
This is a timely thread for me. I just had a baby shower for my second DD on the way and am pretty miffed that I'll be returning almost half of the *stuff* I got.

At least it sounds like you and your partner are on the same page with unwanted gifts. My DH grew up in a house so full of stuff you could barely walk through the door. It's even worse now because his parents have had 30+ years to collect enough stuff to fill a 4 bedroom house. It was such a beautiful house when they bought it too! I remember! So you can only guess how hard it is to just visit his parents and the stuff they get our DD is completely unwanted and even dirty!

His mom is a freak for coupons. I don't buy much processed food so they go straight in the trash now. I've said no time and time again. She just won't listen and after 13 years of being with DH I've given up with her. She gave us DIRTY (no joke!) books she found on sign language. I was fuming. How dare she introduce my pregnant self, my daughter and husband with dirty books? It was included in a gift bag with some gifts for DD2 from the shower. In the bottom of the bag was a bandaid. A used bandaid!!! I threw the whole bag in the trash. Including the baby toys and onsies because I don't know where they've been. Can you believe that?

They also decided to buy us yet another pack-n-play because they want us to visit their dirty house using it with the new baby. I'm really upset with DH for not telling them the truth and making them believe we will come over if they buy us that kind if thing. Well-- we won't. We cannot go there with our 3yo. It's not right to expose her to that kind of mess and it's dangerous. So I completely understand your pain and suffering OP! I usually make a stop at a trash can after visiting with his family. I've made it clear we don't have room for the junk. DH is already steadily filling our tiny apt. with toys and I know the reason. It's comfortable for him to get more stuff because of the way he was raised. Luckily he has me to tone that down.

I agree with saying thank you and heading to goodwill. I've actually started selling the decent quality (not dirty) stuff on eBay. I have made some good money on the side doing that! You might want to consider it. It's not worth the hurt feelings, in the end.
post #8 of 16
I'm going to disagree and say you need to set boundaries, right now.

In various situations with everyone from family to strangers, since I have become a mother I have realized how important boundaries are. I didn't used to do this for myself. It was my husband who taught me how. And it has changed my life.

Setting boundaries with people you care about can be hard, but it is so rewarding for everyone. You. Your kids, and even this other person. It may seem hurtful or wrong to be honest with this person and say, clearly, no more gifts. But you will be making a better future for your relationship. They may be offended. The best thing you can do is be clear that you care about them and are not shutting the door on your relationship. How they handle this is not up to you.

You're right. Your child is going to grow up and the boundary issue will be even greater. We are constantly running into new situations with our kids where we have to set boundaries and explain them to our kids. We want our kids to know to be sensitive to others. But especially because of my history with not keeping boundaries clear, it is really important to me that my kids see me set clear boundaries with others in a loving, honest way.

This is different than accepting an occasional unwanted item and smiling and saying thanks. We all navigate situations like that and try to be nice about it. I'm sure my church is going to shower me with stuff I don't want soon. But in your case we are talking about someone who will be in your life for a long time, someone who has a problem. I would encourage you to talk about this with DP and make a move to set a clear line. You can still love this person and they can still love your family.
post #9 of 16

I'm so thankful that my in-laws seem to be on the same page with getting us "stuff". They seem to understand that we are outgrowing our apartment and only want things the baby needs. My MIL is waiting until the baby is here (don't know gender) and will then buy us some 3-6 month clothes as she understands we have enough 0-3 month. Those really close to me know I don't need 0-3 clothes, and I won't mind getting a few more outfits from those who just have to get them for me.


I don't know if you have the kind of relationship with the person where you can suggest things they can buy for you, but that might be an option. Gift registries are also helpful, most people ask me if I have one. And not knowing the gender has probably saved me from getting a thousand outfits lol.

post #10 of 16
Oh I wish I had good advice to offer, but just chiming in to say thay every post here could be my own! Tillymonster, I am just cracking up at the used bandaid! I get bags of stuff with disgusting trash in the bottom too! Yes in gift bags too! ILs garbage pick and bring it over! Mountains of dollar store clutter!

I think it is a carryover from when we were a young, broke, student couple with absolutely nothing, who were grateful for handmedowns, and in 15 years, careers and kids we've never shed that image in their minds. We also grew up in very poor (financially) homes. I've tried to comminicate but have given up and I am just ruthless with the Goodwill and garbage bags. The kids are old enough to understand and they usually agree. We just say thanks, bag it up together and shake our heads.
post #11 of 16
So much good advice here, i cant help but crash... any thoughts on what to do if it's an exotic plant? I love plants and I really don't want to let it die, but it's not something easy to donate, and I'm sure they expect to see it on the table when they arrive ... Resell?

I'd try to keep it alive even with the baby but it is an orchid that needs specific temperatures, etc. to thrive and I just don't have the ability.
post #12 of 16

Cynthia - my Mom has this magic touch with orchids and thinks everyone should have one and often will get me one. They always die. No matter what I do to try to keep it alive. After about 3 orchids she has stopped buying them for me. They are beautiful, but I barely water my other house plants. Not sure what I'm saying, but maybe if you show that they don't make it at your house they will stop buying them for you? You could always see if a nice neighbour would like it.

post #13 of 16

Maybe you can say the plant is dying, maybe they can take it back and care for it.

post #14 of 16

Yeah, I would give the orchid away, and if they ever ask say, oh, I have such a brown thumb that I passed it along to [whoever] because I knew she would take good care of it and I can't. 

post #15 of 16
My Mom loves to give gifts, especially to my children. She at least will take gift suggestions for Christmas/birthdays, but she wants to buy SO MUCH STUFF. For me, I've come to the conclusion I can't make her not buy things, but I can control what comes into and stays in my home. Some things she gave us for DD1 this Christmas I said would have to stay at her house because we don't have room, DD1 plays with the toys when she is there and that works out. My sister is trying to build up some kids toys, so I brought her a bunch of things. It is all good stuff, but a kid can only have so many toys/books! Otherwise, I donate often and if it is something I can take back, I won't hesitate. But yeah, my Mom won't stop buying stuff, so I do what I can and only bring home or keep what I want and communicate as clearly as I can things I do need so she is not wasting so much of her $$.
post #16 of 16
Thread Starter 

Thanks everyone so much for all of your thoughts! I've been taking them all in and I don't know that I have a plan yet but I definitely have ideas and we'll just take it one step at at time. Tilly, I think we have a lot in common. DW and I are sorta on the same page about this, but... not always. In theory we are when we talk it out, but in practice sometimes she is more likely to give in to guilt or "just this once" and it has at times turned into an argument which is just awful, who wants to argue about objects! What a waste of time and energy. So it's a work in progress I guess. For those who suggested giving this person ideas for what to buy instead, I think that is the difference between a hoarder and a non-hoarder. Probably a great idea for someone else, but we have tried that before - when we tell this person something special that we would like, we just get that plus all the other random crap that they would have bought anyway. I think they just can't stop themselves (or are unwilling to try to stop). I like Quinalla's suggestion of letting go of the idea that I have any control over whether this person buys stuff for us, and focusing on what I can control. I've been so caught up at times in my feelings of being disrespected when our clearly communicated wishes aren't honored, and while I totally support standing up for one's self, I think I may have reached a point where the healthiest thing for me is to just lower my expectations of this person and try to choose not to be offended or guilted by their problem. We may still be able to try communicating some boundaries in relation to our child, but I think I need to go into that with a realistic expectation that those boundaries will not always be respected and think about what I can do in my home to minimize the impact. 

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