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"No gifts" rule? Anybody done this? - Page 3

post #41 of 116
This year, for Lindsey's birthday we told the family (and the friends that wouldn't be offended) that we don't want any plastic or battery operated toys - with a few exceptions (the kids love their little "laptops" and dd loves my little ponies). I told them I'd be happy to come up with a list.. but wooden puzzles, books (and books on tape) and art supplies (esp. paper) would always be appreciated.. and I send out give ideas to out of state relatives around Oct (with pictures of the kids in their Halloween costumes) to help make sure we don't get things I don't approve of.

That being said, things I dont' care for either get saved for birthdays for other children (we got things like a dump truck full of sand toys that was cool, just not for us, for example) or donate them.

As to the candy.. one of DH's coworkers has a diabetic child.. he goes trick or treating and then has a treat that's okay for him once he comes home as they count out all his candy.. he "sells" it to his parents for.. a quarter a piece, I think it was? Then he gets to go to the store and spend it on something he'd like
post #42 of 116
Thread Starter 
We buy most of ds' Halloween candy off him, by the pound, for whatever price pick-a-mix candy sells for that year
post #43 of 116
Thread Starter 
Oh, yeah:

Originally Posted by Turtlecouple
The IL's gave my ds an easter basket this past easter {...} DS WAS ONE MONTH OLD AT THE TIME!!!!!!
Dd was born March 2. Shortly before Easter the IL's asked what she would like in her Easter basket. WTF? I really was completely baffled.

I ended up telling them she would like Godiva chocolates and a Ficcarre hair clip :LOL
post #44 of 116
Something that hit me while reading this thread... we all know this about the gift-givers' issues, right? Deprived childhood, stuff=love, whatever. Well, what obnoxious thing that people do isn't due to their issues? If I walk around punching people in the nose, it's probably due to my issues. If I go over to your house and steal all your stuff, again, probably my issues are work. But the craftiness of the toxic gift-givers is to find a socially acceptable outlet to dump their crap on me, and to make me look like the bad guy when I enforce boundaries, boundaries which hurt them NOT AT ALL. Again, I have to repeat, no one's rights are being violated by not purchasing objects for my children. I am not taking away time with a child; I am saying WE HAVE TOO MUCH STUFF.

Like I said, my 85yo grandmother gets away with a lot, but I draw the $%%$# line with anyone under that age. I wouldn't let them display their bigotry in front of my child, no matter how much they might want to. I wouldn't let them take my child to see a violent movie, no matter how happy it might make them. The fact that they enjoy doing something that makes me suffer does not mean I have to let them do it.
post #45 of 116
Thread Starter 

So true! Thank you for articulating it so well.
post #46 of 116
I ended up telling them she would like Godiva chocolates and a Ficcarre hair clip

I've kind of done the no-gift thing with my mother, whose world view involves stuff = love, and it hasn't done much to foster her relationship with my children. Isn't that sad? I need a hug . But we simply cannot put our limited life energy towards constant decluttering, and our home is very small, too. Maybe time will heal the deep issues and Mom will come to understand that what we really want is her real SELF, not two of every kind of thing...but thats another story.

Its a toughie. May the force be with you!

post #47 of 116
I havent had to deal with this (yet!) My family sent $ for dd's 1st bday - we said we started a college fund and thats what we needed. My mom sent clothes for daycare - no frilly dresses, but pants and t-shirts that we actually use.

But I remember my clutter filled childhood ....

My mom would have us clean out stuff before a gift giving event, too. But the attidute wasnt "we are taking your crappy junk to the goodwill" but rather "you are so fortunate to have what you do, lets share with other kids".

The end result was the same, but the values instilled by this attitude made all of us grow up to be civic minded. We wouldnt just drop off a bag of stuff, but we would go to the homeless shelter and play with the other kids. We would pick out things ourselves to give, not based on it being junky, but on the fact that although we liked it when we got it, we didnt use it anymore. We would talk about how the other kids would enjoy it. Although looking back on it, we didnt have much, but we were so grateful for what we had.

It is still a time sink for you to do this, but at least it is trading the stuff for a lesson in altruism.

I am so sorry you are going through this. Disrespect of your parenting on any level is so hard.
post #48 of 116
I gotta laugh at all the people who are like "I don't have to deal with this" and then offer solutions. Uh, respectfully? You have no idea. Here's some things that you're not going to be aware of if you've got one child and the crap has not started to pile up:

* there is so much more crap available now then there was when we were children, and it so much cheaper, and it is positioned differently. This all makes it more available, and specifically more available as impulse purchases. Example: in the downtown RiteAid window I passed yesterday there were three foot tall mechanical walking dolls for TWENTY BUCKS. Someone going to RiteAid to get a prescription filled is totally going to buy that doll on a whim. It's positioned FOR impulse purchase, cause nobody wakes up in the morning and says, "hmm, you know, there's a three foot tall mechanical walking doll-shaped void in my life."

Unless you only shop at the co-op, this crap is so pervasive even if you're devoted to a simple life something is going to grab you. Who hasn't been tempted by the gorilla who sings the Macarena, or a cute plushie, or any other of the myriad cheap third world labor produced crapola that is EVERYWHERE? So people who don't critique the disposal lifestyle don't even have the limited defenses that we do. They're just going "see cute thing! buy cute thing!" EVERY TIME THEY GO TO THE STORE.

* due to blended families, better healthcare and self-care, later child-bearing, and people having fewer children, on average, there are WAY more gift-giving adults per your child then you had. Within the extended family that I saw regularly, there were me, my brother, and my three cousins, and then there were our parents, our maternal grandparents, and my mother's sister. That's seven adults for five children. There were also my paternal grandparents, my father's brothers, and both parents' cousins, with whom they'd grown up, but they lived on the other side of the country and also there were lots of children on that side of the family to spread the gift-giving around.

Today, I have one son and two stepsons - three children. The adults who wish to regularly give them gifts: me and my partner; my parents; my grandmothers; my partner's mother, father, and stepmother; my parter's two siblings; my brother and my brother's girlfriend; and my mother's two sisters. That's FIFTEEN ADULTS FOR THREE CHILDREN. There are no other children for these people to give to. None of these adults belong to a subculture or subscribe to any ideals that prevent them from picking up a plushie at the Safeway on the way to visiting me, and none of them have the capability or desire, no matter how many time it is spelled out to them, to apply their not insignificant intelligence to the problem and see that it's not personal, it's simply a question of scale.

My mother's friends gave her a "grandmother shower" when I was pregnant because none of their children are having children and they are so desperate to shop for a baby. I AM NOT MAKING THIS UP.

* As for dropping stuff off at the homeless shelter, the Goodwill, or what the hell ever:

a) I live in SF and dealing with homeless people is a major part of my day whenever I leave the house, and on special occasions sometimes they come to me. I'm not spending my free time at a shelter. Sorry if that sounds harsh.

b) I don't drive which means whatever crap comes into my house is being pushed by muscle power, with 28 lbs of urklebaby on my back, half a mile to the Goodwill. This ENRAGES me.

c) finally, lots of this stuff I wouldn't give to anyone! It's CRAP, that's the whole point. Using Goodwill as a dump isn't ok - Goodwill, and homeless shelters, want good toys that can be played with.
post #49 of 116
Originally Posted by urklemama
I gotta laugh at all the people who are like "I don't have to deal with this" and then offer solutions. Uh, respectfully? You have no idea.
That would be me. Duly chastized :

Forgive my home ownership : and car ownership : and general comfortableness :

post #50 of 116
Thread Starter 
bfb, I think you're missing urklemama's main point, which is that if you haven't lived with these massive amounts of crap constantly coming into your life, really, you have no idea what it's like. It's way more soul-sucking than you imagine it to be, I promise you.

And once you have lived with it, you get like urklemama and me ... and just want it to stop. Diverting the flow of crap to goodwill or a dumpster, or negotiating for the crap to be of a different nature, just doesn't cut it. Really. It just has to stop.
post #51 of 116
Here, bfb, have a gorilla who sings the Macarena. It dances too!
post #52 of 116

Oh My Gosh!

I tried doing something similar at Christmas last year. I sent this nice, friendly note saying that my children were very blessed and that we would rather spend TIME with our family and friends than everyone spending money. I thanked them for respecting our wishes and very clearly stated, 'We will not be giving OR receiving gifts'.

So Christmas comes around and all hell breaks loose. Either 'feelings are hurt' because I did this or they thought we were broke and bought us three times as many things. So I sit there feeling like a total loser because I have NO gifts for all of these people and what I wanted to be nice times with family members just felt like a big slap in the face. In-laws are STILL complaining about their feelings being hurt and we still received money orders saying 'we know you didn't want gifts so here's money'

I just didn't think it'd be that hard for people to understand that TIME means more than MONEY to us but it certainly was.

Very hard to teach my children values when stuff like this happens...

post #53 of 116
Would you believe this is such a problem for us, that we haven't bought our kids Christmas gifts in 5 years? Because despite my letters and lists, requests and suggestions, our kids get way too much stuff at Christmas? And ironically, even the people that have bought our kids gift certificates and memberships still have at least on gift, and some "little stuff" because the kids "need something to open" or they will feel bad?
post #54 of 116
Thread Starter 
I see I'm going to have to make contingency plans. (Really, it was pretty much a sure bet my ILs would pull something manipulative about this anyway).

I think one good plan is, if there are "thing" presents given to Ds at their house on Xmas day, next Xmas day we won't be coming to their house. They can come here, and I can make sure no presents make it in the door
post #55 of 116
I think this may be my first post here, as I have only lurked before, but this thread caught my eye and I wanted to add a few suggestions:

1. Does your dc or family spend much time at the in laws' house? Maybe the junk toys could live there to be played with when you visit.

2. Maybe you could ask your MIL to help you organize your dc's toys one day. Maybe actually having her participate in trying to keep up with it all would open her eyes to what you have been saying. My mom just helped me organize dd's room and pack away outgrown things and she has made a few comments since that dd doesn't need anymore xyz toys and she would like to get her ABC toy for her instead for her birthday.

3. Not sure about the age of your child, but could you find a suitable toy that can be built on at each gift giving occasion to suggest to them. I'm thinking of like a wooden train set, where the IL's could buy track or engines or whatever and you could maybe impress upon then that your child loves it and that it would be something special that they only get from grandma and grandpa?

I have found at parties that everyone (myself included) wants to give the "best" or "favorite" gift. People who aren't around kids that much seem to give flashy toys that catch the kids attention right away but are quickly forgotten. Last birthday my dd recieved a singing dancing bouncing Tigger from my FIL and a play kitchen from my parents. At the party the Tigger was the hit, but she actually plays with her kitchen. Unfortunatly, everyone sees the child get all excited over the dancing singing toy, so next time they give something similar. My best answer for those sorts of things is to tell the grandparents that they can buy it but it has to live at their house.
post #56 of 116
You know when grandparents or IL's or whatever give gifts, you could say "Why don't we keep this here for when dc visits? We are just so out of space at home." Let them take responsibility for their adding clutter to their own homes.

You can always 'accidentally' leave it behind, (if you visit there) or take it with you for the kids to play with and 'forget it'.

I'm very passive aggressive..;o>

piscean mama
post #57 of 116
Thread Starter 
I didn't see her tell anybody they didn't hae a right to offer solutions, Penelope. What she did say was this:

You have no idea. Here's some things that you're not going to be aware of if you've got one child and the crap has not started to pile up:
I think she has a very valid point. I'm seeing a lot of people who have no idea of the magnitude of this situation, and while they're trying to be helpful, they're almost all underestimating what it's really like to deal with and thus, their suggestions aren't as workable as they think they are. And I read her as very direct (and frustrated), but not mean or rude.
post #58 of 116
Well, I suggested thinking of a plan B just cause I just can't see a no gifts rule working any better than the other rules (not too many gifts, not those kids of gifts), and it is going to cause a lot of drama (a lot of drama AND you'll still end up with too many crap gifts).

As a last ditch effort (before what I suspect will be the drama in vein of no gifts), I would try the trash. When he stops playing with something, throw it in the trash. No effort (mental or physical), just trash. After christmas, throw a bag of ignored, broken toys away every night till he is left with just with stuff he uses and loves.

Yes it is so very wastefull. Yes, the gifts are toxic and they really shouldn't be doing it. Yes, he getting a materialistic thrill from opening gifts (but he will learn WAY more about possesions and anti-materialism from watching you cherish time and talk and experience above stuff than from getting his ils gifts).

I just really doubt you will have much luck changing people by proclomation and/or ultimatum. You want them to not do this, but we can't control other people and we can't control the relatioship other people have with our children (as much as we want to). We can, however, control our household. The toys belong to your ds, so I am a little uncomfortable suggesting tossing them (not that I will have any problem doing it - just thinking ethically here), but if it is making you and you ds unhappy, it seems a much easier solution that trying to make other people not do something.

Good luck. I know you are frustrated.
post #59 of 116
My kids rarely get "new" toys on xmas and bdays so I have no problem allowing indulgeses then. I have asked for then not to be given certain things but I'm pretty easy. Also we go through their room before everybday and holiday and get rid of years past stuff so it doesn't really add to the clutter a we declutter a bit first.
post #60 of 116
Wow what an interesting thread.
We have no experiences to offer--as a family we started the no giving things policy this year, and will see how it goes very shortly, when the gift giving season approaches. Our family, my husband's brother's family, and the grandparents all decided to give time, or home made gifts, or baked goods rather than stuff. Hooray. But everyone was in on it, and we all agreed. Not much help for your situation.

The problem as I see it is about stuff, but also about the ILs not respecting your parenting choices. Because they are choices. And even though I happen to agree with them, there are others who don't, or won't ever, and your ILs may be in the latter group. Do they honor your choices in other things, or is it an across the board kind of disrespect?

I think many of the posts on this thread have encouraged you to compromise, or have a plan B, or avoid the issue by just tossing the stuff or giving it to some other family, because perhaps most of us end up compromising when it comes to family, esp. inlaws. But no one offered any experiences, as you asked. We will have some soon, after the holidays, and I hope they are good ones. Incidentally, we don't have much of a problem with my side of the family, but that's because we are not at all close. But that's an entirely different issue, isn't it?
Best wishes in your quest, girl in docs.
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