If you’re shopping for last minute gifts for your grandchildren, you might want to heed the advice contained in the December 20, 2018 Wall Street Journal article, Do’s and Don’ts for Grandparents Choosing Gifts.
According to recent surveys, grandparents are very generous in giving gifts and their spending tops that of parents. So, if you’re going to spend all that money, what should you spend it on? Hopefully it will be something that delights the child and gets a parental nod of approval.
One suggestion Is to take your grandchild out to dinner at their favorite restaurant—make it one-on-one with no parents or siblings. This is grandparent bonding time. After dinner, you might also take them to a favorite store to choose a gift to go under the tree. Even if they know what it is, it’s nice to have something that can be unwrapped on Christmas or Hanukkah.
Another option is to invite (or give a gift card) for the child and their best friend to attend favorite activity or event: a trampoline park, a sports event, or the skating rink. After age 5, we did this for our children’s birthday in lieu of a party. They loved it, we avoided the over-the-top birthday parties many of the other parents were throwing, along with the unwanted or unneeded toys.
With younger children, the traditional letter to Santa can be a good starting place. With older children, ask the child or their parents for a wish list. We do this for both birthdays and Christmas. It avoids giving toys they won’t play with or gifts that will be returned.
If you have your own ideas, check with the parents first to see what is wanted, need and allowed. It’s a sign of respect for the parents and avoids unwanted gifts.
Don’t try to compete with the other grandparents for who “wins” on number or expense of the gifts. It can turn into a never-ending competition which is not good for either the grandparents or the child.
There’s nothing wrong with gift cards or cash for older children who are picky or are saving for something specific like electronics or a trip. But, according to etiquette consultant Jay Renner, it’s best not to make the gift a contribution to the college fund: “While it’s a nice idea, it’s not warm and fuzzy.”
Be sure to set some spending limits for yourself, especially if you have a lot of grandchildren. Thoughtful gifts, even if inexpensive will be appreciated and enjoyed and you won’t exceed your budget.
If you’re going to buy multiple gifts for a child, let me once again quote the wise parent who suggested a limit of four gifts: something they want, something they need, something to wear and something to read.
Happy holidays everyone!
Mary Waldmann's expertise as a speech writer and media expert spans over 30 years including among other roles Public Affairs Director for the US Department of Commerce during the Reagan Administration. She is the author of Six-Word Lessons on Winning with Today's Media , Six-Word Lessons for Intentional Parenting, and Six-Word Lessons for Compelling Speeches.
See the Authors!