November 21, 2009


Gift giving happens several times a year. This can be a bit tricky, whether or not you have limited or unlimited financial resources. Birthdays and other family holidays are the perfect time to talk to the parents and openly discuss EVERYONE’S needs. Why everyone? Because everyone in the family has feelings and issues about gifts!

In our family, when our great/grandchildren were born, we talked with the parents and agreed that having the parent’s pre-approve gifts, was a way for EVERYONE to get what they wanted out of the process. So now, we ask the parents what they would like us to get the great/grandchildren, and we are careful NOT to buy any major things without first checking with them. We also are free to say that certain items are outside of our financial comfort zone, which again, makes the experience fulfilling to everyone. We often make suggestions, but have learned to listen to the parent’s explanations and needs, which usually take into account what the great/grandchildren want and what the parents feel is appropriate.

Sometimes we pool resources with other grandparents or relatives, so that the kids aren’t overwhelmed with too many things. Aside from the economic advantage of sharing the expense, it’s a wonderful example for the children to see that family members can “team together”, especially in blended families. It’s also a way for great/grandparents NOT to compete with each other, as to who buys the best and biggest gift.

This year, for our great/grandchildren, the parents, in their own separate and wonderful ways, came up with two distinctly different ways to help us all join in, whether we are local or live far away.

All the great/grandchildren go through their toys, books and music, and “gift” some of their things either to younger relatives or organizations who provide for less fortunate families.

For a birthday party, one set of parents asked people to make a donation, in the child’s name, to a charity the parents support. Donations are made in all denominations of money; from $1 on up...the amount doesn’t matter. EVERYONE can participate at any level they want!

The other parents, for the holidays, decided to talk with the children about things they like in catalogs that were collected. They asked the kids to mark those things that they really wanted as gifts, telling them that they will get some and others not. These choices are then shared with the family, and each of us knows what we are giving. They’ve chosen a variety of price points and encourage us to buy things that both kids would enjoy.

Man, this is so much easier than going to a store and walking around, in crowds, forever, looking at all the junk on the shelves! We certainly are happy campers, and so is everyone else. HAPPY WHATEVER!


  1. Hey love the blog! Love the bloggers! Love the charity idea. Here's another twist on that: just to let the kids feel like IT IS their present, let them choose the charity. Great way to get them thinking aobut the needs of others. You can set some rules, or pare it down to 2 or 3 if it's a very young child, but even a 3 year old can think about whether they want to contribute to a house for an animal they saw at the zoo,buy ducks for a family in Peru that will be able to eat its eggs, or help to save the ice for polar bears (Kimi's choice!)

  2. Hooray for the Sales women! This is a perfect thing for you guys to be doing. I will put a link on my blog! Congrats!!!

  3. Congratulations to you both. Wonderful idea and great writing. I will pass it on.