By Diane Burton
In our family, we love to give gifts. Personally, I’d rather watch others open their gifts than open my own. I love it when the grandkids’ eyes light up, and I know we found the right gift. When Hubs worked (and I was a stay-at-home mom), I did all the shopping. He’d ask, “Now what did we get her/him?” We’ve sort of switched roles now that we’re retired. He likes to shop. (Actually, I think he just likes to get out of the house. 😊) I prefer to do my shopping online.
The trick is not to inundate the kids with so many gifts. It’s so easy to overspend.
We want our kids/grandkids to enjoy toys and books, especially ones we played with as kids (or wanted to play with). Yet, it’s easy to overdo it. Parents and grandparents can fall into a trap of trying to outdo the other(s). Or try to “buy” the kid’s love with things. But what happens when one parent/grandparent isn’t as well off than the other? Or is on a limited budget? Or has many more grandchildren than the other? That was the situation with my grandparents. Mom tried to explain so the one grandparent didn’t feel bad.
When our first grandchild was born, our daughter laid down the rules. ONE book, ONE toy, ONE outfit to wear. If we want to spend more money, earmark a check or cash for the college fund. While at first I thought that was restrictive, I’ve seen the benefit over the years. With two sets of grandparents, cousins, aunt, uncles, that’s a good rule. Sometimes, we fudged a little, especially when we saw such cute outfits at Carter’s. Now that the older two are fussy about what they wear, we give them gift cards to Kohl’s. My biggest downfall is books. What happens when we give too many books? The kids don’t have time to read them all. That’s a waste.
Our daughter-in-law likes our daughter’s rule so much she’s trying to implement it with her family. This is a good time to do it with Toddler Girl’s 3rd birthday coming up. I’m sure when the twins reach their 1st birthdays, it will become easier.
When our older grandkids turned five, we started a little tradition of giving them cash equivalent to their age.
I write on the envelope “for fun” to let them know they could save or spend it however they wanted. One child wants to spend it right away, while the older likes to save for something special.
An aspect to consider is gifts that children give. The art council in our town has an event where kids can make gifts for their family. Those gifts are more meaningful (to me) than those the parents buy and write the kids’ names on them. I treasure homemade gifts because the child is sharing part of themselves. Another favorite is handprints on canvas that the grandkids gave us last Christmas. I hung that picture where I see it often, reminding me how much the kids grow.
Gift giving is not a competition. It’s not an obligation. And it isn’t a way to buy love. We give gifts because we want to. Because it makes us feel good inside.
Do you have any ideas or traditions about gift giving? Please share.
About the Author
Diane Burton combines her love of mystery, adventure, science fiction and romance into writing romantic fiction. Besides the science fiction romance Switched and Outer Rim series, she is the author of One Red Shoe, a romantic suspense, and the Alex O’Hara PI mystery series. She is also a contributor to two anthologies: Portals, Volume 2 and How I Met My Husband. Diane and her husband live in West Michigan. They have two children and five grandchildren.
For more info and excerpts from her books, visit Diane’s website.
You can read Diane's "Family Life" column on the 3rd Wednesday each month here at Pandora's Box Gazette.