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#1 of 32 Old 11-26-2005, 07:16 PM - Thread Starter
 
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My kids are the only grandkids on dh's side of the family, and everyone wants to play "Santa". We have 2 kids, and MIL, BIL and SIL will each get 6-7 gifts for each child (and they are not small, inexpensive gifts either!). In years past, we have just politely thanked them, then when we got home, most of the gifts would either go back to the store for a refund, get donated, etc. But, this year, it's going to be more complicated. Now, ds is 5, and he will remember what he got. I am trying to figure out some way to make this whole thing more manageable.

Dh is fed up, and wants to just tell them to knock it off. I am uncomfortable with this approach, because as much as I despise their taste in gifts, and the sheer volume of stuff we are bombarded with, I think it's impolite to try and dictate other people's gift-giving. So, I am trying to figure out some way to deal with the 3 dozen+ gifts we will have to cart back from their house again this Christmas.

My first thought was to maybe talk to ds beforehand and discuss giving--suggest that we keep some of our gifts, and give some to others in need. Should I try something along those lines? Or just let him keep all the stuff and suggest rotating toys, getting rid of some of his old toys, or something similar? Or should I just go along with what dh wants tp do, since it's his family? Any other suggestions?
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#2 of 32 Old 11-26-2005, 07:30 PM
 
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I think you should talk to the family members. This will be my ds's 1st Christmas and I come from a big "gift-giving" family. I think that it is easier in the long run to explain your preferences. You might be surprised by their reaction. I talked to my SIL when I was over there for Thanksgiving and she had no problem with it. And I talked to my mom. I told her that (gasp) we will not be "doing Santa Claus" with ds and she was actually fine with it. She even just bought him one gift - a nice wagon that he will be able to start using this spring. We were at TRU today (she was buying gifts for my nieces) and she asked about buying more for my ds and I just said he doesn't need anything and I'd rather she didn't. So she didn't!

You are not really dictating other people's gift-giving, just your gift-receiving! In some families, buying gifts is how they show love. So, if they still want to spend the money, ask for other "non-material" types of gifts, like memberships to the zoo, children's museums...

Unless your ds is a VERY understanding child, it may be hard for him to graciously open presents with the knowledge that he is just going to have to give them away. I guess you could also let him accept them, then select a certain number of items that he already owns to give to charity. That way you could limit the amount of things in your home.

I don't know... Just throwing those ideas out there!

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#3 of 32 Old 11-26-2005, 07:31 PM
 
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I'd be upfront with them. Just tell them that with all the gifts combined it is way too much, and could they please tone it down. If they insist then tell them the extra toys will be donated to others that need them.

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#4 of 32 Old 11-26-2005, 07:33 PM
 
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I would go directly to the family. I don't think its fair to involve your son, being that he is only 5. It seems he would kind of be caught in the middle.
I have done this with our families and it got much better. I suggest telling them that you are struggling with a number of issues with this and the best thing would be to cut back on the gifts. Let them know that it is just too overwhelming to the children and to yourself. Suggest that they buy one or two item that your children really want and tell them how much more your children will appreciate them.
Good luck and I hope it all works out for you!
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#5 of 32 Old 11-26-2005, 10:52 PM
 
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If they don't listen you can always give them away to the salvation army or a women's shelter. At least they will use them and you won't be offending anyone.


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#6 of 32 Old 11-27-2005, 12:28 AM
 
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I feel for ya! MIL has said, repeatedly, that the gifts are about what SHE WANTS TO GIVE, not about what our kids want and/or need, or don't need! Dh will say, "We don't need that," and she will say, "I don't care." It's frustrating!
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#7 of 32 Old 11-27-2005, 12:29 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bjortandcompany
If they don't listen you can always give them away to the salvation army or a women's shelter. At least they will use them and you won't be offending anyone.
Except.......maybe the 5 year old, who knows what was his that mommy is giving away!
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#8 of 32 Old 11-27-2005, 12:41 AM
 
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I would talk to the family. Make it more of a case that your children have too many toys. Tell them you are looking for ways to reduce how many toys the kids have. Do it in a round about way at first.

In a few years there will be less gift giving. There will be other neices and nephews and your children will get harder to shop for.

In the mean time I would talk to your child/ren about Toys for Tots, woman/homeless shelters, Red Cross, fire departments, and/or police. The latter to might be more real than toys for Tots. Saying the people that use these services having a hard time and need a little charity. Us the too many gifts as a way to teach charity.
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#9 of 32 Old 11-27-2005, 10:25 AM - Thread Starter
 
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We have already tried the "roundabout" way--talking about how we have too many toys, small house, etc. Dh has even dropped some comments in past years about how it is overwhelming for the kids to have so much stuff all at once--the ILs seem proud of the fact that they are overwhelming the kids This year, dh is ready to have a real talk with them--put some actual limits, like one gift per child, etc.

And no, it won't get better over time--there aren't any cousins in my kids' future. SIL and BIL are both much older than dh, and it's highly unlikely that either will ever have children. And as my kids get older, I have a feeling the gifts will just get bigger and more expensive, not taper off.

And yes, we have been giving the stuff away for years, but this year ds is old enough that he's going to notice. Since dropping hints with the ILs hasn't worked, I'm thinking we are either going to have to be blunt with them or find some way to deal with it on our side. The latter would have to involve the kids in some way, since we can't just sneak the toys off to the donate bin any more. Maybe if we talked to ds about giving away some of the toys, but also he could take some of them back to the store and get a non-toy something he wants? He loves books more than anything--maybe he'd be happier about returning the toys, or giving them to charity, if we let him pick out a few books he wants in exchange?

Or maybe we should simply say "Stop!". It just seems so rude to me Do you really think we should tell them "One gift per child, no more than $30"?? That's what dh wants to do, and I know it will cause a major blowout with the ILs. Urgh! Why do the holidays have to be so stressful?
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#10 of 32 Old 11-27-2005, 10:30 AM
 
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I understand where you're at mama. My DDs bday id in Dec as well so it gets even worse. They can't even think of a large enough gift list. At least I'm a single mom and can stow some of the stuff away at Xs

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#11 of 32 Old 11-27-2005, 10:51 AM
 
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Gotta tell ya--because my ILs do this and my folks do this--we take our money that WE would buy for gifts for our kids and it goes straight to 529 college plans for them.
Afterall, you can only control yourself in this world.
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#12 of 32 Old 11-27-2005, 11:05 AM
 
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I have fought this fight and have finally just given in. I now buy less presents myself so that they are not overloaded. Poeple do feel that since they are the ones giving that you can't tell them what to give, and in some ways they are right, so I just do the best to keep things low key on my end which I can control

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#13 of 32 Old 11-27-2005, 11:18 AM
 
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well, i agree that talking to the ILs is probably best. luckily for us, my ILs decided to draw names this year though they set a $50 limit which seemed really high to me, but at least it's something.

anyway, as a stop gap, i would suggest that at the present opening time, maybe you could stash some of the presents before he opens them. a lot of times my kids enjoy one thing that they're playing with and then sort of forget that they have more presents to open. if your ds is like this maybe you could just go with it and take some home unopened and then donate them before they even get opened. i agree that if he sees them open he's not going to forget, but _maybe_ if he doesn't get them all opened? alternately could some of the toys stay at the grands? we've done that in the past, but i don't know if it would work this year or not (dd1 is almost 5).

if you want to talk to the in-laws i'd start with saying something like, "ds/we are overwhelmed with a large amount of gifts and we're really trying to combat the commercialism and consumerism of the holidays and have decided to try to reduce the number of gifts and put the emphasis back on spending time with family and friends." maybe you could invite them to come over and make sugar cookies together or do something else that doesn't involve large quantities of plastic?

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#14 of 32 Old 11-27-2005, 11:49 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I see what people are saying about cutting back on our own gift-giving, but we've never given the kids lots of presents, anyway. Usually just one "big" gift per child, and some stocking stuffers. And I enjoy that part of it--I don't want to give it up entirely, just because the ILs overdo. And, the fact of the matter is that even if dh and I gave the kids NO presents, and my family gave the kids NO presents, 20+ presents per kid is just too much, IMO.

They get 1-2 gifts at home, 2-4 gifts from my family (my parents and 2 sibs), then we go to ILs, and they get 20+!!! I think some sort of talk is going to have to be had, either with the ILs, or with the kids, or both. I mean, ds is old enough now that he is going to start noticing that grandma x gives him 1 or 2 gifts and grandma y gives him 6 or 7.
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#15 of 32 Old 11-27-2005, 01:04 PM
 
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Since you've already tried the gentle ways I would have the blunt conversation. At that conversation, I would tell them that you can't accept more than four presents per kid from each of them. If there are more then the rest will have to be declined and not opened or brought home. You should tell your kids to pick out just four to open. Follow through firmly on that. If they still don't get it then don't spend Christmas with them.
Twenty presents per child is pretty ridiculous. Who has room to transport and store all of that? I have one child and if someone gave her that many presents it would be difficult to fit it all in the car and find places for it all when we got home or arrange to dispose of old toys or the new ones.

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#16 of 32 Old 11-28-2005, 09:13 PM
 
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Originally Posted by onlyzombiecat
Since you've already tried the gentle ways I would have the blunt conversation. At that conversation, I would tell them that you can't accept more than four presents per kid from each of them. If there are more then the rest will have to be declined and not opened or brought home. You should tell your kids to pick out just four to open. Follow through firmly on that. If they still don't get it then don't spend Christmas with them.
Yeah; if they're not going to respect your wishes, let them know what the outcome will be.
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#17 of 32 Old 11-28-2005, 10:15 PM
 
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I admit to not having read this entire thread, but immediately, ideas other than tangible gifts come to mind. Mostly because my house is so small, but also because I don't believe in excess, I do not like to receive too many gift items for my children. When generous relatives express their intent to spend large sums of money on my children, I blatantly request things like swim lessons, art and music classes, and memberships to the local zoo and children's museum. These gifts are well used, they're more than a one-shot deal, and they don't take up space. Most of the relatives we have are happy to comply with this request!
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#18 of 32 Old 11-29-2005, 11:00 AM
 
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I don't remember who said it, but there was another thread, and the poster said that they have a 'ONE TOY RULE'. Everyone can get the kids as many art supplies, clothes, and books as they like, but only one toy. We're going to talk to everyone next year at Thanksgiving, just to start off on the right foot.

Last Christmas, my neices and nephews had SO MUCH STUFF! I never really got more than two or three presents. These kids got at least 20 each. It was absolutley ridiculous.

Maybe send an email with links in it, saying that these toys DC have seen and liked, and they can have. If they go against your wishes, at a time like this, they're putting the kids in the middle. It's not fair to them, and it's not fair to you.

These are the forst Grandkids on my side of the family. Luckily, we were never big gift givers.
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#19 of 32 Old 11-29-2005, 11:05 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by teachma
When generous relatives express their intent to spend large sums of money on my children, I blatantly request things like swim lessons, art and music classes, and memberships to the local zoo and children's museum. These gifts are well used, they're more than a one-shot deal, and they don't take up space. Most of the relatives we have are happy to comply with this request!
I think that is a wonderful idea

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#20 of 32 Old 11-29-2005, 11:53 AM
 
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We come from a gift giving family too and my kids are the only grandchildren on both sides of the family. I have just been very direct about it. They have been to our houses and have seen the clutter. They are also all great with respecting how we choose to raise our kids.

Both sets of grandparents now donate a sum of money to their college funds each year. This is the most amazing thing-may not be instant gratification but they will so appreciate one day.

They each get to buy one gift for each kid and they are great about asking me if it is an appropriate one first. books are always welcome gifts as are arts supplies. My parents are also great about buying things like museum memberships and lessons instead of stuff.

Now if I could just stop my dad from bringing random gifts for them for no reason. He just gets so much joy out of surprising them with things. I don't mind too much but sometimes it feels like he is buying their affection and he doesn't have to-they both love him dearly and love spending time with him.
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#21 of 32 Old 11-29-2005, 12:11 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Okay, dh and I talked about it more, and he now says he wants to wait till after this Christmas to talk to them. He says they've already bought all their gifts for this year (they like to hit the after-Thanksgiving sales), so setting limits right now would mean they'd have to return things. So, he'd rather wait until January to have a talk with them, then have a whole year to "work" on them.

But, that still doesn't solve our problem of what to do this year. I like the idea someone brought up of letting the kids choose one or two gifts from each person to open, then bringing the rest home unopened. Unfortunately, the ILs (particularly SIL) won't go for that, I'm afraid. I am going to talk to dh about it anyway, and see if he will go along with it. I also LOVE the idea of the kids asking them for lessons, zoo/museum memberships, etc.--will definitely file that one away for next year!

But, if dh says no to the bringing gifts home unopened deal, that brings me back to my original question--how to handle too many gifts? I have already weeded out the playroom, and all that's left is really good toys that the kids love. I am loathe to get rid of some of their nice, wooden toys and things to make room for the junky, loud stuff that the ILs will give them, so I guess my choices are a) accept the toys and let the kids keep them, and just try to have them "disappear" as soon as possible, or b) talk to ds about donating some of the new toys to charity, or c) let ds choose which of his toys to "weed out", and curse the ILs under my breath if he chooses to keep their stuff and give away his "good" toys :

What would you choose? Any options I missed?
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#22 of 32 Old 11-29-2005, 12:44 PM
 
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My mother is the one who likes to innundate DS with junk plastic toys galore on Christmas. I've tried everything to get her to stop. The thing that worked best was "We don't have room for lots of toys so most of the things you buy DS will have to stay at your house" It worked pretty well. She despises the thought of having lots of toys with lots of plastic pieces laying around her house I've also told her that when DS has too many toys we go through them and donate a bunch, she doesn't like the thought of having her things donated so she eased up a bit.

She usually spends lots of $$ on DS and talked of getting him a portable DVD player this year (which we have ZERO use for) so I suggested a big gift that he would like - a wooden train set with a train table. She ended up getting it. It only took 2 years of "working on her" to get her to stop with the truckload of plastic toys. Seriously, one year my dad had to drive over our house with his pickup truck to bring all the Christmas gifts over, that is in addition to all the gifts I brought home in my car

I think it makes her feel like a better grandmother when she buys DS 100+ toys.

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#23 of 32 Old 11-29-2005, 01:32 PM
 
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My experience with kids and plastic toys is that they bore of them easily. What I would do for this year (if you can't take any home unopened) is just have them disappear slowly over the month of January, leaving anything your ds really loves. And good luck with the talk for next year!
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#24 of 32 Old 11-29-2005, 05:21 PM
 
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Honestly, I think you should talk to your family members and just tell them that your ds is getting too much stuff! Last year, when my in-laws visited after Christmas, it took the kids well over an hour to open all the gifts they brought, from themselves and from dh's two sisters and from both sets of dh's grandparents and from dh's uncle. It was ridiculous, and Ramona actually said, "I don't want to open any more presents!" I was not very gracious and did not do a good job of hiding my displeasure at the absurdity of it all. We had always had a one-gift-per-family-unit rule in place to stem the tide of stuff (and even with that rule, we have gifts from all of dh's side, listed above, and from my two sets of parents, both my sisters, my grandmother, and my step-mother's parents), and this year we made a really big deal about sticking to it. I think my in-laws finally got it last year when they saw how overwhelmed the kids were and how disgusted I was. Because they feel the need to spend the same amount of money on each grandchild (they have five), they are going to get each of our kids one gift and give the rest in money. My side of the family has always been pretty good about honoring the one-gift rule.

Anyway, I think you should tell them. If you're not comfortable with that, however, I think it's fine to enlist your ds's cooperation in choosing some gifts to donate. I also think it's fine to tell him that for every gift (or every two gifts) he receives, he needs to pick an existing toy to donate. I think it's important to model moderation in accumulating belongings.

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#25 of 32 Old 11-29-2005, 05:29 PM
 
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Ok, since I see that this year it's still going to be an issue, I would do one of two things: after everything has been opened and brought home, let your kids decide which of their toys (new and old) to keep, and live with their decisions (or, if they choose to get rid of the nice toys, keep them in the garage for a few months to see whether they can be reintroduced after the kids tire of the junk) or follow CarenSwan's advice and just gradually disappear the junk.

Namaste!
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#26 of 32 Old 11-29-2005, 06:25 PM
 
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Upon talking to SO about it, we've come to an agreement.

We're going to open an account for the baby boy, and we're putting money in every time we can for his college and getting him a car when he is responsible enough to drive. We will request that family members limit 'junk toys' to one per year. They're allowed to get clothes, books, board games, music, whatever (I love the memberships/lessons idea!! ). We will encourage them to deposit in the account, though.

He needs a college education A LOT more than a hotwheels racing ramp.

Plan B-The junk will dissappear, and it will never be seen again.
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#27 of 32 Old 11-29-2005, 06:27 PM
 
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Kezia, honestly, I would just put the most offensive toys away in a closet or something. If he asks for it, then give it to him, but if a week or two has passed, and he has forgotten all about the loud, plastic, annoying toys, just take them to Goodwill.. Take one or two at a time until they're all gone..

Or, let them keep the toys at their house. This is what my Dad has agreed to do.. Any toys that I don't want him to have here he can have at Grandpa's.
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#28 of 32 Old 12-24-2005, 12:00 AM
 
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Ok, I come from the pov that the gifts are not the parent's gifts to make decisions about. The gifts are given to the children, and unless they are morally opposed to the gift as some dangerous item, I don't see how the parent can decide for the child. I certainly wouldn't like dh saying 'well, you've received enough chocolate already this year, I think we need to take some of that Godiva back to the store.' Or, 'what about these pruning shears, its not like you need those, I think I will give them to the neighbor who works in their garden.' Or, 'what? another cook book, you don't have any place to store all of those, I'll put some of them away and if you really need it, ask and I'll see if I haven't given it away to Salvation Army.' 'Those specialty plates are just too impractical, we don't need those anyway. We don't have room for more plates. We'll just box them up and eventually get rid of them.'

I agree with suggesting that the family contribute to a long term gift (529 college fund, for instance), or that they even send some to charity, IF the gift giver chooses to do so. And discussing the space issue with the children regarding rotating and perhaps choosing to contribute to charity with old or new toys. Maybe get their help boxing some things up for temporary storage and taking it along to grandma's for when they visit there, or for temporary storage there, if space is a real issue. Or suggest sharing with a known friend who has less, but they would still get to play with the stuff. Suggest selling it on e-bay so that they can get the funds for more specific desires, saving for an important bigger item, or whatever the child decides to do with the procedes of *their* gifts. Consider freecycle for large things the child would like to share with others.

And I would buy less stuff for them for Christmas even, or buy throughout the year instead. And discuss being able to purchase more of the toys they actually want later in the year if they make room for new stuff later. Include the child in the decision about how they wish to work with you regarding the space needs. I certainly wouldn't judge the gift of another as necessary or worthless. The child may enjoy much more value and fun with a temporary plastic item that they later decide isn't worth keeping than knowing mom and dad weren't their advocate for what was important to them. The greatest gift is respect for their own opinion. Not many kids get that from their parents. And it is worth more than any other gift we can buy. Not saying this isn't important to you, just mentioning how important it is to them.

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#29 of 32 Old 12-24-2005, 01:44 AM
 
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I put about two-thirds of their Christmas or birthday gifts in the attic and bring them out over the course of the year. We also take a big box every so often and fill it with unused/unloved toys and donate them to charity. Really helps keep clutter down and I think it's good for everyone involved too.
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#30 of 32 Old 12-25-2005, 02:36 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kezia
What would you choose? Any options I missed?
Here's what I would do (a little late now )

First, I would keep in mind that the proper starting postion is to assume that no one is giving you anything, and that all gifts are a surprise. Sounds like you've done this, with you gentle approaches, but if you come at people with the "you can give us stuff, but only the things we say you can give us" attitude, their feelings will be hurt and they will be mad at you. It would be a social blunder.

So, the thing to do this year is to appeal to your dc. Talk about all of the museum memberships, event tickets, lessons, and books that could be purchased with the value of the gifts. Point out that the grandparents are being loving and generous in their way, but that people are allowed to exchange gifts for things that they will truly enjoy. Perhaps your dc will see the wisdom in this approach, treat the toys gently when they are first opened, and then go home and sell them on ebay if they can't figure out where to exchange them. If there are a couple of toys that hit the spot, make sure to talk them up in the thank-you letters. It sounds like these will run to multiple pages, just to list everything! Maybe you could make that work for you somehow...

For next year, make a "dear santa" letter with your kids, and show it to your inlaws at thanksgiving with an "aw, isn't this cute? Look what they did aren't they precious" attitude.
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