Tuesday, December 3, 2013

A message to those without children about buying gifts for kids

(or please think before you buy...)

This weekend I got caught up in the sales and ended up buying all the gifts for our 3 nieces and several family friends. As I got home and admired my bounty it occurred to me how much I had learned about gift giving to children since actually HAVING kids myself, but also how much I wished those without kids knew what I know now before they showered our kids with their good intentions.

So you don't have kids. Maybe it's because you haven't had them yet but plan to or maybe you like them when they belong to someone else but don't actually want your own. Either way you're that fun aunt, uncle or family friend who gets great joy out of buying things for the children in your lives. You have big hearts and great intentions and we know that and don't want to burst your bubble. But these are the things that parents wish they could say to you....

Things that we really don't want you to buy our children

1. Stuffed animals.



This is only half of them. My oldest child is only 4 years old.

It started the moment I got pregnant- people started buying stuffed animals 'for the baby'. I totally understand the desire to do so- I did it too before I had kids. But keep in mind that kids only really take to one or two of them and the rest pile up (and pile up...). The number I received during my first pregnancy would have held both my kids over for their whole lives, but they only increased in numbers once the actual kids were born. Not to mention the ones my husband and I both saved from our own childhoods for 'when we had kids some day'. Take it from me- parents hate the things. And the kids? There is that one stuffed animal that will become their velveteen rabbit, and it could be yours. But you would have better luck playing the lottery with those numbers.

2. Toys that sing in THAT VOICE.



Anyone with kids knows exactly what I'm talking about. IT'S LEARNING TIME! YOU'RE MY FRIEND! GOT MY NOSE! (HONK HONK!). To be on the safe side, just don't buy anything that sings or makes noise. If you don't believe me, try playing it 25 times when you're hungover and you'll reach the tip of the iceberg as to how it feels to have one of those things in your house for FIVE YEARS.

3. Anything with lace, ruffles or buttons.

I know you think it's ADORABLE. You think we will too. But what you don't know is that they will wear it once for an obligatory guilt photo and then be put back in the closet. This is because these things are 1. a pain in the ass to put on them. 2. incredibly uncomfortable for the child and 3. completely impractical to wash. Kids are a giant mess of bodily functions and wearing something like that for longer than 5 minutes is bound to end badly.

4. Candy.

But kids love candy right? Um yeah. But what you don't see is that after you go home they end up crying or puking or both. We try SO hard to feed our kids healthy foods and they are constantly bombarded with junk food. Please don't add to the problem.

5. Seasonally inappropriate sizes.

Sure that sun dress you bought is GORGEOUS. But it's going to have to be GORGEOUS on some other kid because by the time they're the right size for it it is going to be snowing outside. Keep in mind that all children are different sizes regardless of age and all brands of children's clothes are completely arbitrary in sizing.

6. Shoes for babies.

My girls had about a dozen pairs of shoes. They never wore any of them because babies have strange shaped feet and kick everything off instantly (except the leather ones like robeez. Those are the best). If you have a thing for shoes please wait a few years and buy them for a 5 year old who keeps wearing them out or losing them at school. They are still small enough to be cute but they are SO needed. I promise the parents will love you for it. This also applies to newborn outfits. They fit into those things for about 5 minutes, but they can wear some of the larger toddlers sizes for YEARS sometimes.

7. GIANT toys

If it's too big to bring over without a car, it's too big to give to other people's kids. The floor space in our house is in very short supply and WE like to be the ones to decide what occupies it. The sheer amount of gear that comes with babies and children is overwhelming, and unless you live in a giant mansion you're constantly fighting to find room for it all. Please buy something small enough to fit in a drawer or on a shelf.

And PLEASE don't combine #1 with #7 and buy something like this:



So what do you buy if you can't buy all those wonderful things? There are PLENTY of things that we would LOVE for our kids.

Parents love when people give THESE things to our kids

1. Pyjamas.

If you want to buy cute clothing, the best bet is simple cotton pyjamas. For babies make sure any sleepers have zippers instead of snaps. If you want to know why, try this: Dress your cat in a sleeper with snaps. In the dark. At 3 am. See how that works out for you. Zippers make it faster, and when it comes to dressing squirmy babies every second counts. Simple cotton outfits work too- think onesie or shirt and matching leggings or shorts. If you're going to buy individual pieces of clothing make sure it's a very neutral color. Nothing is going to match with that green pair of pants.

2. Good quality children's literature

Go for award winners, classics or current bestsellers. Read it 6 times in a row and see if you still like it. Remember that we're going to be reading these books over and over and OVER again, so make them ones that every age will like.



3. Wooden toys.

I don't know why, but wooden toys have more appeal to children. Stacking rings, sorting shapes ,blocks, puzzles. They will play with the same pile of blocks over and over but ignore the giant plastic stuff that's much more complicated. Educational toys, art supplies and anything that will really engage them is also usually a safe bet. But be wary of play doh. Some parents hate digging that shit out of carpet and cracks in the hardwood.

4. An experience. Especially with you.

If you really want to be AMAZING to the child, while still keeping the parents happy, do something together. Take them to a movie, or a museum, or an amusement park. The child will be thrilled and remember it long after any toy and the parents would love the peace and quiet for a few hours. Everybody wins. If you're out of town a gift certificate to DO something (including lessons) is a close second.

5. An addition to something they already have and love.

More trains for their set, legos for their collection, food for their play kitchen, furniture for their doll house. Adding something new to something they have breathes new life into it without huge cost.



6. Ask.

Every child has gaps that the parent would love filled. They might have been passed down 3 coats this year but not have boots. They might need new ice skates, or hardly have any pants, or REALLY want a certain toy. Ask for needs, ask for sizes, ask for wants. A little knowledge goes a long way.

7. If the baby is too young to notice the gift (or not even born yet) consider getting REALLY practical.

Batteries. They go in SO many toys and items. AA and AAA for most, but a few C and D as well. They will certainly go to good use.

Gift certificates for places that sell everything (like walmart, costco, target, the dollar store). There is always something we need to buy last minute for the baby.

Gift certificates for food. New parents are VERY short on time and any meal they don't have to cook is VERY appreciated.

Fitted sheets. Babies (and later children) are very leaky, spewing creatures. They require far more bedding changes than we do, often at all hours of the night. We can never have enough spares.

8. Your interest in them as people.

Nothing makes kids (or their parents) happier than really KNOWING them. Ask them questions, listen to their stories (and our stories about them. We love them so much and love that you do too).It thrills them when you remember their favorite color or book or their best friends name. You're an important part of their life and the time you spend with them (or talking to them if you're far away) is really what matters to them more than any flashy toy you could ever buy them. I know it sounds corny, but it's really true.




280 comments:

  1. AMEN!! My kids are teens now, so I wish this post had come out 15 years ago! But I can really, really relate.

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  2. Absolutely superb list, spot on!

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  3. But I like buying the noisy toys :). Especially for the pets of the household!

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  4. If you buy shoes for my children they will be donated to charity. My children have >20 pairs of pyjamas/nighties each and while they probably will wear them before they're outgrown, they're all super cute and yours are probably not going to stand out.

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    1. You must be very blessed with a lot of hand me downs, most parents I know can never seem to get enough shoes or pyjamas for their kids. That's why the best option is always to ask the parents because you can have a ton of one thing and hardly any of another.

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    2. Um, ghoti, lucky you o.0
      My kid has about 2 or 3 pairs of shoes at any given time, and wears them bare and/or outgrows them faster than I can keep up. She also often just sleeps in a tshirt because she doesn't have even a week's worth of PJs. If your children's PJs and shoes are such a huge burden, feel free to donate them to my 4yo who would love them ;)

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    3. We can't keep enough PJs for my 4-year-old. I swear, its like they vanish or something. Now shoes are something we really don't switch out much for her because she needs to wear special inserts. So she has her sneakers (with the inserts), a pair or two of dress shoes for church and other times she needs to wear a dress and pair of rain boots.

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    4. HA!! my kids also don't have enough shoes or PJs!!
      husband: 'hmm...that tshirt and those leggings are too short'
      me: 'KEEP THEM!! they will do as PJs!!!!!!!' lol

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    5. Even when you think you have plenty of pjs, a single case of gastro comes along and suddenly you're scrambling to find anything!

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  5. While I understand what you're saying here and I like the way you wrote this, having just asked my mother (as I'm not yet a mother), she said that even the noisy toys, the candy, the out of season clothing were all much appreciated gifts, she was always grateful that those people even thought of me and thought to buy me gifts at all.

    I've also had a couple of my friends with children pull me aside and gently tell me that the gift I bought their child isn't suitable, doesn't fit, isn't used, and do I mind if they donate it, which is always 100% fine with me :)

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    1. The thoughts are always very much appreciated because these are people we dearly love and who love our children. That's why it's so hard when they get it wrong because I know they would be very happy to see and know how much the children are enjoying (or wearing) the gifts they give and I wan to make that happen as often as possible. It makes family and friends SO happy to see their gifts show up in photos we post on Facebook and that only happens when the gifts are appropriate. (although the noisy toy request... totally selfish on the parents part lol... the kids DO love those)

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    2. I think this is possibly one of the rudest lists I've ever read. You can't go "wrong" with a "gift" unless you give it to someone with an unappreciative heart. Spoiled people. Gross.

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    3. Rebekah....I think this list helps parents not be rude. And if the person buying knows the gift is really needed it just makes the giving that much more rewarding. I have very limited resources and want my grandchildren's gifts to be needed, appreciated and appropriate if I am using my limited money to purchase it.

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  6. Our kids are grown, now 23 and 25 years old. I think your advice is PERFECT! Could have written it myself. Thank you!

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  7. More of the me, me, me culture.
    It's a gift. Be thankful the person spent the time, effort and money getting something for your child. Accept it graciously, they could have spent the money on something they wanted or needed for themselves instead.

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    1. It is actually less about me, me, and more about less of the throw away nation. If people ask then their gifts dont go in one door and out the other. A mom as well as a gift giver, I can relate as both. I would rather my gifts, that I take the time (and money) to buy, be appropriate, and appreciated, rather than tossed out. If you buy something of value for someone, you want that. If you run into toys r us and grab the first cute, noisy, pretty, or even expensive item, then clearly its no big deal. But I buy gifts that I dont want to see still in its package or with the tags on at the thriift store down the road.

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    2. That's exactly what I meant by it, it's less about me and more about the person giving and how terrible I always feel for them when the gift is unused and given away or worse when my children give a lukewarm response to something they're clearly excited about. The people who buy gifts for my kids are people I love and I want them their money to bring both them and the children joy. The best part of giving gifts is seeing how much they are loved and used and when they visit again and see well worn toys and clothing that they have given in the past they tell me it makes them very happy.

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    3. I totally agree Aimee. Gone are the days of being thankful for what is given and instead we have "wish lists" and parents making the suggestions of what people should buy for their kids. It has become a greedy selfish world.

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    4. Actually it's funny you should mention that because of all the parents who have come forward to me about this article, almost all of them have stated that it was not actually the people without children but the grandparents that were the least flexible and understanding about giving to their grandchildren. From our perspective most of the time it looks like that wants and needs of the child are overlooked in favor for what is most 'fun' for the adult to buy. So in actuality it is the person giving who appears to be selfish for not considering the children themselves. I can't count the number of times I've heard of (and experienced) requests of donations to their education funds (which benefit the child 100%) are disregarded because the adult would rather buy something that they themselves like. To parents these days we feel like it completely invalidates our children as individual people. Also as an environmentally concerned generation we are often horrified by the sheer waste that comes from thoughtless spending.

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    5. Agree 100% Lulu. Thanks for this article. I find it hard to communicate what I desire to see my guy given for fear of people saying (like those above) that I'm making it about me. But my goal is to encourage people to give what is best for my son (by contributing to his development), for their wallets (by not wasting $$ on unused things), for our household (where we constantly battle with clutter), and for the environment (soooo much plastic!!). Gift givers often feel pressure to buy something so I want to help them know that 1) they don't have to buy anything if they don't want to (the gift of time is the very best gift!) and 2) if they want to buy something, how their $$ can have maximum impact.

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    6. Exactly, I don't see how I'm making it about myself when the gifts are for my children. It's not like I'm pouting because I didn't like my own gift, we actually have a strict 'no gifts for adults' rule in our house. I think some people have probably just purchased some giant bears already thinking they were the greatest gift ever and are feeling a little embarrassed now ;)

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    7. Totally agree with Aimee 200 0/0!! Whatever happened to dont look a gift horse in the mouth! Appreciate what someone went out and bought for your child!!

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    8. I have to say, I have 2 kids 19 and 18, when they were little, I could buy them a dollar tree toy and they would LOVE it. As I am approaching the next step in life to having grand kids (hopefully in 10 yrs or more) I WILL give my grandkids the loudest, most obnoxious gift i can find..2 reasons 1) it will drive their parents crazy like i was driven crazy and most importantly the kids LOVE THEM! my parents and in laws bought stuff for my kids that we couldn't afford as it is the parents job to provide them with the needs. So from us (santa) they would get socks and underwear. from grandma/pa etc they would get uggs, northface, coach etc.

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    9. I'm a lot less concerned with the gifts that the kids actually love (even if we don't) than the ones that won't get used at all. There is nothing like a child's complete disinterest to burst the bubble of an excited gift giver. My daughters have zero interest in 'girl' toys, but unless people took the time to know them they would spend money on an expensive doll thinking 'well all girls like dolls' when mine actually spend most of their time playing with trains. The people who ask first know exactly what they like and get the benefit of the reaction where they jump up and down in excitement and beg you to take it out of the packaging RIGHT NOW.

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    10. I can see both sides. "Please don't buy my child anything impractical" is, well, practical advice. But then why don't you just say "I'd prefer you give me the cash because I know what my child needs more than you"? Because that's the next logical statement to make.

      This Christmas, I'll try to be more thoughtful when picking gifts for other people's kids, but I'm not going to be donating money to your childs' education fund. A gift is meant to be something more than practical or convertible to cash.

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    11. We would never request donations to their education fund to anyone other than grandparents. We actually tell our friends not to buy gifts for the kids.

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    12. Scott, I think gift should always be practical, in a way that it serves some purpose, any purpose to the receiver(Yes you read that right, the receiver, not the giver).
      I agree a gift is more than just cash, a gift is meant to make the RECEIVER happy.
      It's good to hear that you are trying to be more thoughtful, hopefully you were thoughtful before.

      I think another logical statement, which is already in the blog, is that just ask, ask what is it that they need.

      It is more of the me, me, me culture, when the giver thinks of gift giving as the receiver having to thank giver, but not about making an effort to get something that the receiver actually wants.
      Gift giver, why are you not grateful that the receiver is letting you know what is it that he/she needs, so that you don't waste your time and effort to buy crap that he/she doesn't need/want?

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    13. When I buy a fun gift for a kid, I AM buying them an experience. The experience of unwrapping an exciting gift. If it gets added to the pile within a month, go ahead and donate it, I don't want it to be an inconvenience, and it's already served its purpose. Much better that than for the child to unwrap an unexciting practical gift. If you as a parent would rather deny them the excitement both leading up to and shortly after the gift giving than to be inconvenienced and have to endure some noisy toys, then yeah... it's selfish. Give your kids a childhood.
      I have 4 year old twins.

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    14. I see where everyone is coming from in saying that people should just appreciate the gifts, however until kids are around 8 years old they are going to say what they actually think of the gift. So if they don't like it, they're going to tell you. Lulu is just trying to say that if you ask what the kid wants/needs they're much less likely to cry and tell you it's a horrible gift they don't like.

      Also, it is possible to appreciate a gift, but still wish it wasn't given.

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    15. I try my best to communicate the items my child actually needs, BECAUSE I care about the person buying it. There are certain family members that I know will by my daughter gifts even if I say its not necessary. & when they spend their money on something too small, or age inappropriate, or that she already has 10 of, I feel really bad that they wasted their money. I don't want to see their effort/money/good intentions go to waste on something that will not get used.

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    16. Those who say it's greedy and selfish to tell a gift-giver what to get their child- when you give a gift, you seriously never ask? Isn't it more selfish to just decide that what YOU want them to have is more important that what those children would love or need? Really? Do you really think that you should just be able to buy whatever you damn well please? Wedding registries have been around for.ev.er. And I never hear anyone complaining about how selfish it is for the bride and groom to tell you what it is that they actually need. When I got married, it was so hard when someone bought off the registry, because a lot of times, they gave us something we already had and their good intentions are wasted and then we have to go to the hassle of bringing it back. Then you feel bad for the person who bought it. As a gift giver, I want what I buy to be appreciated and used. For my children, if asked, I suggest what they like. In fact, not a single person who has bought for my girls this Christmas has bought something without checking to see what size the girls are and if there's anything that they are really excited about lately. And thank God they ask me- I know 90% of what they're getting from family and friends and my kids are going to LOVE Christmas. Not because they are materialistic or spoiled (or that I am), but because my family genuinely wants to give them something they will LIKE. Why does that make me greedy? I guess brides and grooms are the worst since they tell us what to get them- how selfish of them to think about your time and money. Shame on them.

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    17. It's the same thing with a baby registry. People make those all the time, yet a few years (or even months) later it's rude to let people know what the same babies/kids do or do not need?

      I find the it's same people who insist on buying whatever they want for my kids when they don't need it, but have zero clue what my daughter's favorite season is, or the names of any of her friends, or her favorite color, or what she wants to be when she grows up. Why are you giving her things when you don't want to know who she is?

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    18. i really don't see the issue with this. my kids get ridiculous amounts of sweets, clothes that don't fit, duplicate toys, toys they are not interested in etc and they are wasted. when i buy someone a gift, i want it to be used!! i want the child to enjoy it. i don't want the time and money i've spent picking it out to be wasted. this is not about being spoilt or unappreciative, it's about wanting to get it right, making everyone happy.

      good shout about the wooden toys and books!! my kids love them and they are normally cheaper and enjoyed for longer than other toys :D

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    19. Aimee, I get your point, but you completely missed the point of this article! Wouldn't it be so much nicer if the gratefully received gift that you gave my child would light up their life and that of their parents, because you as a gift giver made the effort to get to know my child, find out what they really want or need and then go out and buy a gift that will come to good use and doesn't waste your money by ending up in the bin or at the nearest charity shop? It's not about being ungrateful, it's about being thoughtful and grateful at the same time.

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  8. Instead of lots of these kinds of gifts, I've decided to be the boring Auntie and instead gift in small ways but put money into their MESP college savings. My nieces and nephews have all appreciated it as they come of age.

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    1. You mean you're the awesome Auntie who loves them so much you invest in their future instead of your own need to shop for frivolous things. Good for you :)

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  9. I buy a Christmas ornament for my God daughter each year. That way she'll have the beginning of her own collection when she's grown up and moves out on her own.

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    1. That's a wonderful idea. We actually request ornaments with their names and the year engraved or painted on them to hang on our tree. My husband still has one he received as a little boy that we use every year and now our daughters have some too.

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    2. One of my sisters did this for me. When my daughter was born, she stopped buying ornaments for me and started buying them for my child. I love it! Every year, I enjoy putting those ornaments on the tree and I think about how old I was when received this one or that one.

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    3. oooh i say every year i'm going to start buying one special ornament, but never do. next ear, i promise!!

      great idea

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    4. I really do not like individual ornaments. My Christmas tree has coordinated ornaments in the same colours of my home decoration. So the whole personalised ornaments thing just makes me shiver and I have received some for my children and my children received some, but they stay in the Christmas decoration box and some have been so ugly they 'accidentally' broke and eded up in the bin. Think before you buy!? ;)

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    5. Nicolette I have a solution for that- when I was growing up my friend's mom really loved having a perfectly coordinated tree, but the kids really love a sloppy mosaic of decorations. They would set up TWO trees every year, the perfect one was on display upstairs in the front window for the world to see, the 'kids tree' was down in the rec room and covered in all the tinsel, candy canes, mis matched ornaments and horrible construction paper/pipe cleaner creations they brought home from school. Everyone was very happy with this arrangement.

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  10. Wow... really.. the fact you feel this is a 'problem' says it all. I guess. There are plenty of kids that dont owe a stuffed animal. Or you could donate them to.a day care or hospital. I am sure someone would be happy with the items you cannot use. Your blog here makes me sick really. Without childeren yes (not by choice). Humbleness and gratitude for your friends and family without kids (wanted or unwanted) Shame on You!!!

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    1. These items ARE donated. But ask the same family and friends to make a donation in our child's name to a charity and they refuse because they want to give something to the actual child. The logic of that completely baffles me because it disappoints the child in the process. Other parents totally understand how horrified we are by the sheer waste that goes into spending on our children. We would TOTALLY rather the money be given to charities instead of a poorly chosen gift. That way those in need would receive new gifts instead of ones that have been opened. What you have overlooked is that the main thing that parents want from family and friends for our children is their TIME, which is why I suggested that instead of a gift that they offer to do something together. We are tired of excessive, thoughtless spending and want people to know that the biggest gift they give is getting to know our children as people. But perhaps you you skimmed the entry and didn't get the main message.

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    2. I'm pretty sure you missed the point of this post entirely Maya. The fact that you even felt the need to reply in such an ignorant manner makes me sick. Keyboard warriors like you should be ashamed of yourselves.

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    3. My kids have so many toys it is ridiculous. And a lot are hand-me downs but many are gifts from relatives. They are all appreciated but kids only play with them for a week and then move onto something else. When they ask me what they should get for the kids, I reply that if they would really like to give them something they can give money which I will deposit in their bank account. That way when they are older they will have a nice start to their savings. Some relatives gladly have done this (great). Some will give a portion in money and a a smaller gift to open (also great). However certain relatives refuse because they want to the children to know what was given by them. (fine but it just adds to the pile). I'm not thankless. It's that I don't want my kids overwhelmed by toys, that they take them for granted. And saving for the kids future or even saving up for a large purchase in their teenage years, I think is a great idea.

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    4. Indeed, there are a lot of kids without stuffed animal, why don't you give a stuffed animal to those kids instead of insisting on giving to someone who doesn't need one? What's your purpose of giving gift? Why do you not bother to check what the receiver wants? You make me sick that you think you can just get whatever crap YOU like and expect the other person to like it.

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    5. Then just keep giving kids things they don't want. Who cares what they need? After all, it's more important for you to feel good about giving than the kid to enjoy your gift. Because that's what you're saying, Maya.

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    6. I have an internal fight every year when my kids receive presents that are inappropriate for one reason or another. I am very thankful that the gift giver took the time (and spent the money) on my child's gift, and as a consequence I generally keep it in a cupboard because I feel guilty about moving it on, because I value the fact that someone spent money on that gift for my child. Take that problem and times it by 4 - for the amount of children I have and then try to find room in a small house to store said items....... I don't see this post as ungrateful, it's more about enlightening others on what items your kids would enjoy or need more than others so that your gift doesn't end up on a stock pile, never to be played with. I even go one step further and ask (grandparents especially) not to buy cheap toys. If you have $20 to spend, that's great, but please don't go out and buy as many toys as you can for $20, because they will inevitably break 5 minutes after the gift is opened and then we have to deal with the melt down that ensues because the brand new toys are now ready for the bin. Spend your $20 (and this is an arbitrary amount) on one gift that is of decent quality so that it lasts

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    7. Not the point as Lulu says, you lack reading comprehension.

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    8. Maya, I understand your frustration at not having children yourself and you probably want to spoil every child you see rotten because they are so precious. I totally get that. The thing is that you don't have a house full of broken and useless toys that clutter up your house, so you may not understand where the writer is coming from. Granted this article would hit you the wrong way as it is directed at people without children and I think you're right if you were criticising that aspect as the article should be aimed at ANYONE BUYING GIFTS FOR CHILDREN and I would even go as far as to say it can be extended to buying gifts for anyone, not just children. I am sure even you and other adults reading this have received gifts that you find completely useless or not to your taste that you've thrown out or given to charity... Why should we stop at asking children what they want? Reader, ask yourself, have you asked your partner, brother, sister, mother, father, best friend, etc what they want for Christmas?

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    9. Sure have asked and usually get the it doesn't matter, they'll like whatever you get them spiel. The presents I buy are what reminds me of the child, not some random, well it's in my price range and doesn't look deadly gifts. Personally it rankles me a bit that it comes across as let me tell you how to spend your own money. So, these days it's a gift card to toys r us and let the parents spend hours listening to their kids agonize over which toys they can purchase so I don't have to do the agonizing myself.

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  11. (Here's hoping basic HTML tags work here...)

    I'm not as concerned about getting annoying talking toys but otherwise I would say that this list gives a very good account of recommendations for gift-giving to people with children - infants and younger children, especially. (Speaking as a parent of a 2-year old.)

    With respect to the counter-claims attempting to "shame" the OP, I have this to say:

    Nothing - nothing - says "I am a considerate and thoughtful gift-giver who takes the time to understand and appreciate the people I am giving gifts to" like making the effort to buy, craft, donate, (etc.) a gift that you know will be used and/or appreciated by the recipients - and the easiest way to do that is to consult with the people to whom you are giving the gift. After all, giving a gift is supposed to be about the recipient.

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    1. I think part of it is because I have such clear memories of how it feels to be a child. I had a very considerate aunt who always asked and picked wonderful gifts that made me very happy and I also remember the terrible disappointment I felt at the poorly picked gifts from others. I thought holidays were supposed to be about the kids, not the adults?

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    2. I agree... however I do have to say who the heck are ya'll buying presents for??? I always ask and I have five kids myself but seriously. If you don't know the person you are giving too what is the point??? obligation... humph. A gift should be a reflection of your relationship with the person. It's not hard.
      Asking is always the best way but seriously to make a list about what NOT to get your kids? You'd have been much better off with a list of their all time favorites and what they beg for the most.

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  12. Gift giving is so expensive and there are so many things to consider and your article is a good reminder. I spent years with well meaning "family" buying so much for my kids that they never wore or played with. I tried to ask them to not spend so much or do so much because I knew they would not be able to keep it up and eventually the younger kids would be left wondering why they did not get the same attention the older ones did. What I would have preferred would have been one joint big gift for all the kids like a good game that they could play together or a season pass to the zoo or an overnight stay at a hotel with a waterslide for the family - THOSE types of things the kids treasured for years and still talk about as adults.

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    1. my parents had a family friend when we were kids who bought us a board game EVERY year - three girls, 4 years between youngest and oldest, and this man (single, childless) nailed it every time. We used to love seeing him arrive Christmas Eve with a box because we always knew there'd be "something to do" once we unwrapped it. Some years the games were ones that eventually wore out (Life, Monopoly) because we played them so much; some years they were played for the winter and sold in a yard sale the following summer. But we always looked forward to that gift, and looking back it's amazing to me that a person would choose to buy a "split gift" (one that had to be shared among siblings) because people almost never seem to do that anymore. It's a great way to get more bang for your buck - we appreciated an "expensive" board game that forced us to play together much more than we would have appreciated three cheaper gifts.

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  13. you're not excatly gracious are you?

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  14. This is a well-thought out article. To those claiming the OP is "selfish", "greedy" or "ungracious"- you have totally missed the point here. Like many parents nowadays, this parent is concerned about a) the gift giver wasting/spending too much money on a present the child already has or will not use; b) her children being spoiled with gifts; c) the waste of finite resources used to produce and procure junk food or non-educational toys. I find it baffling that people are actually claiming it is selfish and greedy to suggest gifts of say, a picnic in the park, a book, or a set of pyjamas in lieu of junk food or expensive, useless toys. And to suggest an ungracious attitude- who in his.her right mind would think it reasonable equate this article with her behaviour in real life when receiving a gift? Where in the article does the author say "whenever someone gives us a gift that isn't appropriate or useful, we openly scoff at them and mock them for their inferior gift-giving skills"? It doesn't because this is a real person writing this article, and most real people aren't monsters.

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    1. I know, the things I've suggested are all very inexpensive and cost under $10 (or free!). And we never insult a gift or not let the kids have it just because it's annoying. I just wish people would stop spending their money on things that are going to waste. If making gift lists or requests are selfish and greedy than why do we get kids to visit and write to Santa to let him know what they want? Does that mean by teaching them to ask we are making them selfish?

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  15. Well, I'm happy to tell you that some people without kids (like me) are already fitting in the second category (without getting any advice!!!). No need to have kids to realize what kind of gift you should give (it is my point of view). I think people are too much focusing on giving "stuff" to kids, so I like your suggestions of "experience" and "interest".

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    1. My oldest daughter is going to the movies with her Nana for her Christmas gift this year. Another year she went to the children's museum with her and for her birthday she went for tea at a fancy dining room with her. The memories were very special for her.

      Delete
  16. Puppies and kittens are cute but a normal person would ask someone if a puppy or kitten was wanted right? So why not have the same consideration and ask if something is wanted or needed..I am quite sure that there are many adults that have been given "that gift" that makes them think if they were thought of when the gift was purchased..in the end if you have a problem with someone asking to be asked about a gift for THEIR child..don't buy or give one..

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    1. "in the end if you have a problem with someone asking to be asked about a gift for THEIR child..don't buy or give one"

      That's a great idea.

      If any of my friends become this self-absorbed, condescending, ungrateful, and rude in response to the nice gesture of GIVING A GIFT, I will never buy them anything again. Thanks for the advice!

      God, you think you people with kids are the only people in the universe to be stuck with something you didn't really want from someone who was trying to be kind? GOD FORBID you should have to carry the burden of accepting peoples' kindness. SHUT UP, get over yourselves, send a thank you letter anyway (a basic courtesy that I've noticed people with kids seem to believe they're not obligated to do any more), and then do whatever you want with it. Just stop complaining.

      Delete
    2. Kindness? That's a weird word to describe someone who buys something another person doesn't want, but expect him to be happy about it. It's a weird word to describe someone who has no intention to learn what his/her friend wants, but just decide to buy whatever crap he/she likes and expect the other person to like it.
      *Shrugs*
      As a gift giver, I always make sure to buy something that my friend wants. I give them gift to make them happy, not to expect them to pretend to be happy to boost my own ego.

      If you don't consider what your friend wants when you give gifts and would expect your friend to just like whatever YOU like, then it doesn't sound like you are that kind of a person.
      If you are not going to put any thought into your gift, yes, please don't buy me anything.

      Delete
    3. Gotham77 so you think someone should thank you for wasting your money on something that clutters up their house, just because you want to feel good about giving?

      Delete
  17. We are the first to have kids on my side of the family and my brothers think it's "funny" to buy the noisy toys that my boys LOVE and hubby and I don't (he works 3rd shift and sleeps during the day so I have to try to keep kids quiet for him) we discovered that a few layers of duct tape over any speaker will take the toy down to about half volume without totally ruining the fun for the kids like taking out the batteries when they have pushed the same button for the millionth time without letting it ever finish the original phrase (yes my son did follow me around the house for hours with "wel-wel-wel-welco-we-welco-wel-wel...welcome aboard!" after 2 hours straight of trying to ignore him and/or convince him to choose a different button, I did take the batteries out. Sorry "mommy broke it!"... but it was still a great riding toy and I didn't throw it through the window.)
    And the duct tape comes in so many different colors its barely noticeable on most toys so everybody wins!!!!

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    1. That's a great idea. My eye was twitching this evening while I was making dinner because my daughters were in the next room pushing the same button over and over on some toy. And you're right, the worst part is when they keep hitting it so fast that it doesn't even play the whole word or phrase, it just does that weird robot stutter type thing.

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  18. I think you have covered everything!! And I shall inconspicuously drop this link in every email and letter I send to my friends and family going forward!!

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  19. I was the great aunt who bought the giant stuffed animals - I LOVED them. Now, after having twins.......there must be HUNDREDS of stuffed animals in this house. They are mostly on shelves just taking up space. They are a pain to clean when the kids puke on them, get them dirty, whatever. Can't stand them. But you're right, I had no idea until I had my own kids. I guess I've been lucky with most everything else. I've only gotten a few things that were TOTALLY inappropriate or annoying (I can remember one babydoll that cried - as if I wasn't tired enough of hearing babies cry - luckily the twins were as annoyed by it as I was, so it was given away immediately)

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    1. I'm glad we never got one of those dolls! And I think how easy it is to clean bodily fluids off the gifts is also very important.

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  20. Wow, another "you JUST DON'T GET IT until you have kids" whine-fest blog. And it's also a "it's so horrible that people do nice things" blog, too! You got two birds with one stone! I hope your children learn to be more gracious and appreciative than you are...and that when they grow up and have kids, they don't feel compelled to talk down to those who don't and make them feel stupid.

    You don't like the stuffed animals and talking toys? So throw them out! Who forced you to keep them and make yourself a martyr?

    Until your friends have kids, you have no idea how self-absorbed and condescending people who have kids become.

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    1. Oh my goodness, what a touchy young man. It looks like another person bought a giant bear.

      I am confused as to why you think I would personally insult someone who gave me a gift. We always graciously thank people for any gift, even the totally inappropriate ones. This post was compiled of the opinions of many other parents I know, not an attack on anyone we know personally.

      It sounds like you have unresolved issues regarding your friends having children. A complete stranger wouldn't trigger that kind of anger otherwise.

      Delete
    2. Right, you don't insult your friends for their gestures of kindness. You just turn to the internet and tell the entire world what a burden they are on you.

      Fine, make up a reason to dismiss me. Don't bother reexamining your own behavior and considering how utterly self-absorbed you sound in this blog. But just understand, my reaction is from the fact that his is probably the hundredth blog I've seen about what a burden it is as a parent to receive acts of kindness from people. From whining about how it feels to be told "cherish these moments" from parents of now-grown children to this kvetching about gifts, all you can think about is yourself. This isn't even about your kids. It's about YOU. Well maybe how it makes YOU feel when someone gives something to your child isn't really what matters.

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    3. Well that's actually much less aggressive and makes a lot more sense. What I was trying to convey wasn't that we didn't like the gifts people were giving our children (the annoying toys are true, but it's mainly just funny to us), but how heartbreaking it is for friends and family (many who have very little money to begin with) waste their money on things my children cannot use. I don't know if you read the second half of the post, but my suggestions and message were that as parents we don't expect expensive gifts, that we would prefer you spend the time with them, or buy them something small that they will really use. Friends of the family always tell us how thrilled they are to see photos of the girls playing with their toys, or wearing the clothes they were given in many pictures that we share. It's a shame when something ends up not fitting, either their bodies or inside our small house, especially when someone we care about has put so much money and thought into it. This isn't about greed, this is about less wasted money and resources. I'm not trying to insult people without children, for 31 years I was one of them, and I bought many stuffed animals because that's what I thought was expected. If I had known otherwise, I would have given something else.

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    4. Howdy strangers....I'm going to have to agree with gotham77 here. It seems like the past 2 months have been nothing but lists complaining about nice things that happen or nice things that people do for them. Basically, stop being annoying about people giving you gifts. They do not have to do this for you, they are being kind. But what do you (and all these other whiners) do? You complain about it to the internet and expect more - "It's not enough someone is giving me a gift, it has to be THIS gift else I'll be annoyed (or my husband and I will laugh at it behind your backs)." In 3 words, get over yourself. No one but you really cares this much about your kids.

      For what it's worth, I have kids of my own and almost none of this applies to me. How dare you think you speak for all parents with children. You don't speak for me....If anyone here wants to give my kids gifts, please do and I will GRACIOUSLY accept them!! My 5 year old still adores stuffed animals. And oh yeah, I still have a scar on my face because one of your precious wooden block toys splintered off and cut me as a baby so I in no way allow my children to go near them.

      Different strokes for different folks lady. You don't own parenting so you have no right to pretend like you do.

      Delete
    5. gotham77, why are you making up a reason to dismiss Lulu? Why aren't you bothering to reexamine your own behavior and considering how utterly self-absorbed you sound? And why are you accusing of others being self-absorbed only because they disagree with you? Why don't you just lay down your reasons in a civil way? Is it ok for me to accuse you for all of the above?

      This blog is to bring attention to people who do not put thoughts into their gifts and keep buying garbage, thinking that whatever crap they buy, the other person has to like it. I don't know, I don't have kids, but whenever I buy gift for others, I have always thought that I want to make the other person happy, that I will try the best that I can to get something that THEY like, that I am not giving them gifts so they can say "OMG THANK YOU" to boost my own ego. Yes it is about them when I buy gift for them, it is not about me.
      *shrug* maybe I have it all wrong.

      Stop making up excuse and reexamine YOUR attitude in giving gifts.

      Bottle line, yes, different strokes for different folks, best advice is to ASK, and not buy someone because YOU like it and expect the other person would too.

      Delete
  21. i believe the gift is in the giving. When someone gives your child a gift it is an act of love. When you reject it or put conditions on it, you're putting conditions on their love. Perhaps that's not want you intend, but in effect, that's what your doing. Be gracious and just say thank you, and acknowlege how blessed you are that so many people want to give to your children. Aren't you so very blessed?

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    1. I do say thank you every single time. I think the sarcasm may have been lost on a lot of people, this post was supposed to be funny. We have wonderful friends and family who love our children very much.

      Delete
    2. Oh no, the sarcasm came through loud and clear.

      What's apparently lost on YOU is that sarcasm is a form of passive aggression.

      Delete
    3. So is trolling on the internet.

      Delete
    4. I agree with you sej, gift is in the giving and is an act of love, and when the giver does not consider the other person's needs and want, is it really an act of love?
      When you make gift giving about yourself, and making gift giving about boosting your own ego and don't consider the receiver's feeling, it's not an act of love anymore. As a gift giver, do you not want to know exactly what the other person wants?
      Claim it as an act of love all you want, but the moment you think that you deserve that the other person has to be happy even when you give them something that they don't like, it's not an act of love anymore.

      Delete
  22. Let us compare gift giving to another act of love-a hug:
    It is your birthday and I know that this is a time where I should show you love so here is this X I have no clue if you want or need...I just got it because I am supposed to show you love.
    I have not seen you in a while so I am supposed to show you love so here is a hug (a bit awkward and not very snug...hangs on a bit too long in a weird way) because I am supposed to show you love.
    In both cases it is obvious that is was done out of obligation rather than thought or caring...because it IS the thought that counts which is exactly what this post is saying. THINK about the gift you give to give to make it more meaningful to the child. I am thankful and appreciative of each gift that my children get but I also feel great amount of guilt when that gift "goes to waste" because it was not appropriate for the child and thus they were never able to use it. My father gave my children a LARGE train set that is too big for us to set up in our house and our son was too little at the time when it was gifted to us. We still have it tucked away in our storage unit brand new waiting for a day when we will hopefully have enough space to set it up. Every time my dad asks about it I feel guilty, every time my son asks if we can set it up I feel guilty...it doesn't much feel like an act of love.

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    1. I know, the guilt is the hardest part of it. The reason I haven't 'just thrown out' or donated that pile of stuffed animals is because of the guilt I feel on behalf of the people who gave them with good intentions. I keep hoping my children will grow to like stuffed animals when they are older. For now they are stuffing in our beanbag chair.

      Delete
    2. Oh, Cassi, I want to hug you as I feel your pain over your guilt! I so empathise with you on that one. Can you somehow explain to your father that you really love his gift, but that unfortunately it will not fit in your house? Could you take out part of it and let your child play with only a section of it? Or perhaps when you break the subject with your dad get it exchanged for a smaller one that will fit and can be played with?

      Lulu, I feel the same about the stuffed animals. Unfortunately my son LOVES stuffed animals and they all have to live on his bed, it's a nightmare to make his bed as all the stuffed animals need to come off and then be put on and arranged so there is still Soave for him to sleep. He's 7 years old now and still needs all of them there, they fall off the bed when he turns in his sleep, so the mess in his room every morning is incredible. We have them on shelves in his room, on the floor, in a net with different compartments hanging from the ceiling, on his book shelves, which are also over crowded with books... They are cute... but they are everywhere!

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  23. I always think of the parents when I'm buying for their children and I don't need to have kids to know this. It bugs me a bit that people generalize and lump all of us together. It really depends on their living quarters as well. My friend has a studio and I'd never think of getting her anything that would have a footprint in her home. We learn a lot from all of the times we babysit our friends and family's kids (for free). If people don't like the idea of buying clothes (sometimes they think it's too boring) buy some clothes with organic fabrics or ask about the bedding -- could they use extra sheets for the bed wetters etc. and buy organic cotton etc. as a lot of parents can't afford them and I'm sure every parent would choose the non-chemical option if they could manage it financially. Make your gift count, be thoughtful and you should do just fine. PS I'll still buy the noisy toys if they are educational. If I can phase it out so can parents!

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    1. We know a lot of people who are considerate like you are. I wish we had people to babysit as well! Your friends are very lucky!

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  24. For those crying ungrateful... is it ungrateful to tell someone you're a size 14 and not a 2? Especially if they just keep buying you size 2 skirts over and over again?

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  25. I almost never post on the blogs of complete strangers, but felt compelled to here. A lot of these commenters are frankly jerks. What's so wrong with being asked to respect the needs of your friends and family? Also, what's so wrong with being advised on what will help someone's kids grow as a person and feel genuine, non-rampant-consumerism-driven happiness? I echo the above opinions that some gift-givers make it entirely about themselves rather than the recipients, which is just so very thoughtless and rude.
    As someone who has no kids and isn't planning any, I am very grateful to Lulu for this useful post.

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  26. Your list is wholly accurate (though I'd disagree about sheets; I seemed to have gotten bombarded with them), but your attitude sucks. Please remember that your target audience for this is people who are indeed buying gifts for your children. Believe me, as a mother of four whose first set of twins had FOUR baby showers, I completely understand (I returned $500 worth of clothes), but please bear in mind nobody is deliberately trying to piss you off. Maybe you're trying to be funny with your comments, but you come off as rude, dictatorial, and entitled to the gifts your children are receiving.

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  27. I also rarely post on anyone's blog, strangers or otherwise - but a friend posted this to FB and it really left a bad taste in my mouth. It is sad that you don't see the ingratitude with which this post is written. Defending yourself by saying "but I always say thanks and that wasn't my point" is a day late and a dollar short. Your gut impulse was to write a cheeky list advising people of what to give your kids. Were your soul truly filled with gratitude and understanding towards others, your ENTIRE post would have be written differently. Below is a proposed edit:
    TITLE: "THANKS TO THOSE WITHOUT CHILDREN FOR HELPING US TO SHARE THE WEALTH ON CHRISTMAS":
    Isn't it awkward how those we support our children often give, with the best of intentions, gifts that -for whatever reason - aren't appropriate or don't work? AT THE SAME TIME, HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF CHILDREN & PARENTS IN THE US ALONE LACK THE MONEY AND/ OR FAMILY SUPPORT TO HAVE ACCESS TO THE SAME GIFTS. Brilliant solution: give those gifts to your local homeless organization, church, synagogue or hospital. Because while so many of us are about to just pull out our hair if we have the hear another chatty doll…some people would die for the opportunity to give their kids such an expensive toy. (ps- don't forget the batteries). What makes this better: while we all know kids can get attached to these things on first sight, explaining to them that we're giving it to other girls and boys who are not as lucky as they are is an invaluable lesson. Hopefully your aunt/uncle/friend will be touched by the spirit of this circular doogoodery - therefore helping you to avoid the awkward scenario that occurs in the odd chance that they don't ask what to give and we receive something that doesn't fit in our household."

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    1. Do you know how incredible insensitive that suggestion would be to someone in real life giving a gift to your child in real life. Let your child open it and tell the person 'Oh I'm sorry, they can't keep this, we're going to give it away but thanks for nothing'. When someone gives a toy to a child they generally expect them to take it out of the packaging and watch them play with it right away. This means that even if you're giving it away to charity, you're giving them a used toy. We actually donate NEW toys to charities to give to children, as well as money and food. When someone gives YOU a present do you look them in the eye, say 'no thank you' and tell them you plan to give it away? I didn't think so.

      This isn't a post about gratitude and charity, it's about the massive amount of waste that is created by misdirected spending toward children. We're and extremely environmental family and it really bothers me when people feel obligated to buy excessive amounts of gifts for my children. It also bothers an extremely large number of other parents out there considering the hundreds of messages I've received in the past few days thanking me so trying to spell it out for people that they should think before they buy whatever they think of. My BIGGEST concern is actually that there is actually still a planet left for my children to live on at all when they grow up, but it doesn't look very hopeful considering they mass consumerism and thoughtless spending that has become the norm in our culture. So I guess I'm selfish for requesting small, practical gifts or that people spend time with my children instead of buying them a giant piece of landfill fodder.

      Delete
    2. Lulu -- You are not selfish. And if people ASK, by all means, request all the things you mentioned. But I have definitely told my kids, even at birthday parties where all the gifts were purchased by well-meaning parents, "No, let's wait and open that later," and then quietly put it in a closet to be given away or regifted at a later date. My kids never even noticed. As I mentioned above, your suggestions are all sound; it was the snarky "Don't you know any better?" tone that turned me off. I know you were trying to be funny; it just didn't sound that way.

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    3. I am sorry if I offended anyone. I seriously didn't expect anyone except a handful of friends to read this in the first place. But so many of them (both parents and those without kids- the same ones who bought us gifts and can laugh about it) loved it so much that they kept asking to share it and it ended up going viral on Facebook. So suddenly hundreds of thousands of people are reading something that was intended for about four. I've been blogging for 3 years, mainly over at my cooking blog and I've never had anyone but my own friends following any of it. I mean EVERYONE has a blog about their kids now, what is the likelihood than someone that doesn't know you will read it? Not much.

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    4. Well, on the plus side, maybe you picked up some new readers! Viral is what bloggers shoot for, right? :)

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    5. Ha, too bad it's the wrong blog! That place is my 'real' blog. But I guess my grilled chicken and cheese dip just don't touch any nerves with people. :P

      Delete
  28. Wow. I can't believe how many negative and down right rude comments this blog post has received. First of all, there was a degree of humor to it. Second, If you know the kid well enough to be getting him or her a toy, why not take the time to get to know the kid? Otherwise, why are you buying a gift in the first place?! The author has been attacked for "acting like a martyr" and keeping gifts out of guilt. What about all of these people with the attitude of, "I'm giving you a gift so be grateful... or else!". That isn't very loving. Shouldn't gifts be given out of love? We have a problem when gifts are given out of guilt because the culture tells us that we need to purchase gifts for everyone and their dog. I don't think that this blog meant to divide the internet into parents vs. non-parents. This is obviously a touchy subject and name calling will get us nowhere. If the author has offended you, calling her things or accusing her of things will only perpetuate negative comments and attitudes. Be kind and gentle and write as you claim you want to be written to.

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  29. Yes, yes, for the love of your deity of choice, YES!!! I have three children, ages 11, 4, and 2, and I wholeheartedly agree with every point on this list!!!

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  30. YES! My boys are teens now and much of this list STILL applies.

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  31. And I also have to say in response to some of the harsher responses..Please don't be so quick to judge. This is about a mom sharing her life experience. Nowhere in her post is she nasty, degrading, demanding, or rude. Why are some people feeling such a need to bash her for what is obviously meant to be a helpful post. I'm not saying everyone should agree or that we can't have differences of opinion, but is it really necessary to be mean to someone you've never met simply because you don't like something they wrote that you CHOSE to read? I'd like to say something meaningful here about the spirit of the season, but really all I have is a twist on something we've all heard before..."If you can't type something nice, please just don't type anything at all".

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    1. Thanks. What I find disturbing is the number of people who want to buy other people's children noisy, annoying toys to 'pay them back'. I find this spirit of revenge uncalled for. What are you paying them back for? Having children in the first place? Or if you're grandparents are you paying them back for someone ELSE buying them annoying toys as a child that they were playing with? How is that justified? If you feel the need to get back at someone passive aggressively by buying their kids something that will torture the parents then you clearly either don't love their child, or the parents, or both and should not be giving them anything. If I knew someone in our lives felt this way about us then I wouldn't want them around my kids in the first place.

      Delete
    2. Also, contrary to popular belief, most parents don't look down on people without kids or want to 'pay them back' for not having kids. Many of my close friends are child free by choice and I totally understand and respect their reasons for making that choice, just like I hope they respect my choice to have children myself. I always had a very strong desire for children and wanted them very very much since a young age and couldn't imagine not having them because it was something that I wanted. If someone feels the complete opposite and really doesn't want them then by all means deciding not to have any kids is 100% the right choice for them. Having kids is such incredibly hard work and it overtakes your life in so many ways that I can't advocate for anyone going into it without wanting it with everything you have. The fact that you want it so much is what gets you through the moments of cleaning up vomit at 3 am when people without kids are sleeping soundly after a nice evening out with friends. I also don't assume that people who don't want kids don't like children, often the opposite is very true. I happen to feel the same way about dogs- love them when they belong to someone else, but I don't want the work and responsibility that comes with caring for one.

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  32. I don't have kids, but I like the idea of this blog. And I appreciate you letting me know what I should do when I give my friends' kids gifts.

    Another suggestion, it's not if you are too lazy or inconsiderate to learn what the kid wants and just want to buy something that YOU like, at the very least include the gift receipt when you give the kid the gift.
    My friend who's now a dad received $800 worth of toys that they either can't use or are duplicates, good thing we are not stupid people and all of us included gift receipt, so he could return the gifts and get something they really need, and it would be still our money.

    But still, it's a hassle for him to bring all the toys back.

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  33. I agree with absolutely everything you said. I actually wrote a couple posts about a very similar topic:)
    http://www.alifeintune.com/8-gift-ideas-for-the-child-who-has-everything.html

    http://www.alifeintune.com/why-i-hate-christmas.html

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    1. I love your idea for a gift card for the actual child (instead of for the parents to get something for them). My daughter would love an 'ice cream card'. She got one for the book store this year and we went together and she picked out 2 books that she wanted. She liked the idea of being able to get any book she wanted!

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  34. When my cousin called my house "Al's Toy Barn" I told him it was the grandparents' fault. For my kid's next birthday that same cousin bought my son snack packs of carrots and celery with ranch to dip in and it was my son's FAVORITE gift that year lol.

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  36. I don't have kids, but I remember that, as a kid, I enjoyed many of the things you mentioned in the first part of your post. I would have appreciated a stuffed animal more than pyjamas, which I think is more of a gift for the parents who don't have to buy a necessary (but not desired) item anymore.
    When the baby is too young there is no such thing as a gift for the it because it doesn't understand the concept of receiving. Even when kids are a few years old, some people still see gift giving as a sort of exchange with the parents. "Mr. Smith is our boss/teacher/etc. so we should buy his kids something nice". But you're saying this post was intended for a few childless close friends and relatives, so I don't get how they didn't know what your kids needed by now. Wasn't it better to tell them in person, from the beggining, instead of generalizing advice? For example, someone with a big house wouldn't mind a supersized Teddy bear for his/her kid.
    I totally understand that some gifts are inappropiate for kids, like items made for adults or too much of something, but CANDY? Really, not even in small amounts once in a while?!
    An "experience" with the kid is a gift for you, because it's free babysitting. So is a meal you didn't have to cook yourself. And books that you as an adult still like after reading them over and over sounds like mission impossible.
    Maybe you don't realize it, but what this article expresses is not that you care about the wasted money of the givers (for them it's not a waste if it's from the heart). It expresses that motherhod has turned you in a very demanding person, if you weren't like that already.
    Gifts are not charity, you can buy yourself the things that your daughters actually need. Only if you can't is it ok to ask specifically. I agree, however, that it's better to ask the parents when buying smth for their kids.
    After a while, you'll probably complain there are two many hard wooden toys on the floor and you'll miss the days when you accidentally stepped on a fluffy buny.

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    1. Candy is actually the biggest problem. Because yes 'just a small bit once in a while' is fine. But what makes you think that you're the only person in their entire lives offering that 'small bit of candy' once in a while?

      My oldest daughter was in pre-school last year where they celebrated the kids birthdays. In a class of 30 this meant there was at least one birthday a week, which meant cupcakes with frosting for all. They also had days to celebrate all the different colors (pink, red, blue, green, yellow, brown, ect...) and each other those days meant cupcakes or frosted cookies for the kids. There was also 'hockey day' and 'rainbow day', as well as a halloween party, Christmas party, Valentine's party, Easter party, St. Patricks day party, ect, complete with cupcakes or cookies.

      On Halloween, Valentine's and Easter the kids gave each other cards, but with almost each card a mother had attached a bag of candy. She also went out trick or treating on Halloween and was given more candy from all the neighbors. We take her to the Santa claus parade every year where most organizations throw candy to the kids, and she gathers up a big pile.

      We attend several Christmas parties for family friends, as well as at my husbands work and at her school. They are given cookies, cake and candy at all of these parties.

      She is also invited to many birthday parties for her friends on the weekends, there seem to be 1 or 2 every month. At these parties there is always cake served, as well as many other treats. She comes home from each other these parties with a 'grab bag' full of candy.

      This does not include our family, which means every time a cousin, aunt, uncle, parent, ect has a birthday or holiday we all get together and there is birthday cake or some sort of holiday dessert. And she is babysat by her grandma many weekends who wants to buy her an ice cream. This assumes that as parents we never EVER give our children treats ourselves, which we actually rarely can because they are already eating so much of it and that makes us sad.

      So yes, when someone without kids gives our kids a gift of candy and tells us 'oh lighten up, a little bit of candy is okay for them once in a while!' they were clearly not there for Acts 1-20 of the show in which our kids were given 'just a little bit of candy' about a thousand times. And THIS is why it is a problem.

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    2. My point was that there are worse things you can get a child, though I understand your concern. Nonetheless, it seems to me that the bigger problem is kids receiving a lot of candy from other parents too, not only people without children. Your post is called "a message to those without children", so it's a bit unfair.

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    3. Other parents are definitely the biggest part of the problem as there is some sort of unwritten competition between school mothers to out do each other with holidays. It's a peer pressure thing that I myself refuse to succumb to but am constantly exposed to. I'm just saying that people without kids might not be aware that this is already going on and that some parents really really want other people to stop giving their kids candy. 1/3 North American children born these days will develop type 2 diabetes at some point in their lives. I want to make sure that my kids are not in that 1/3. I don't think there is a worse gift to give a child than diabetes.

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    4. Since when do have guidelines of what we should give to those kids we adore? As parent of 5 kids, being given a gift, shouldn't we thank and respect what ever gift they give to our children, no matter how annoying the sounds are or even out of season whatever. The thought of somebody adores your child and spend their hard earned money to make your child happy is demonstrating love to your child no matter what the gift may be. If a parent will have these "guideline" of what or what not to give..... I see this very disrespectful and over the top picky especially coming form a mother like Lulu. This is not "Fact", this is "Selfish and Tactless Opinion" from a the author that perhaps apply to some but not the most.

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  37. Very well said! But no matter how good your intentions, there are always the haters out there. I think all your points are spot on, and the comment someone made about 'me me me...wheres the gratitude' obviously does not realise that there will be lots of gratitude given for the well thought out gift. When I give gifts I like to think the gift will make a positive difference...and hey, a lot of those impractical gifts are expensive...those of you that have a problem with this article should read this article in the light it was written, not to criticize but to HELP! My goddness, get a life...you are the type of people that are the selfish ones...I can hear it now...Don't tell ME what to buy, I will get what I want because I, I, I know best. Really? Well instead of buying crappy gifts that are not so much 'unwanted' as they are just never used, try sponsoring a starving uneducated child in Africa, hmm, I wonder what the Africans who are literally starving to death would think of getting a truck load of soft toys for Christmas? As oppossed to gardens planted, wells sunk and school fees paid...now you haters, do you get the picture as to the gist of this article?

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  38. Wow... How dare someone do something nice for you. This is the most selfish thing I've read.

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  39. This Is So Ignorant. Its The Thought That Counts Not What It Is At The End Of The Day Does It Matter If They Ask For Ideas Then Fair Enough Mention Some That You Have Seen Or Like But Who Are You To Try And Tell People What To Buy For The Whole World Everyone Is Different. My Son Is Nearly 2 And Anything He Gets He Says Thank You And Really Loves It And Appreciates It. I Just Think That Its Each To Their Own And It Depends On The Person Who's Buying And Also The Child They Are Buying For. Plus If You Follow This They You Are Gunna Have An Endless Amount Of Book And Pyjamas Which My Son Already Has Millions Of.

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  40. Those people spend money on you they could have spent on themselves. Be thankful you can complain about how much you have when alot of people these days are doing with out. Brat.

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  41. Christmas is a time to give. I am saddened by the arguement that my gift to your child isn't exactly what YOU wanted. Be grateful you even have a child to love. Christmas is hard enough when you have lost a child- don't make it any harder by your "gift rules". You may have meant to be helpful but really you just sound mean. And yes I read the whole blog and replies so no skimming here.

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  42. How about you stop being so god damn selfish and be thankful for what you get! There are so many families in this world that can't afford food, never mind toys. They would be grateful for a stuff animal. Some children have never even seen a teddy that can talk! Stop being so selfish over things and just be grateful, instead of bitching about the gifts your spoiled kids get, why not donate them to the needy! Christmas is about giving and being with family, not bitching that you didn't get book you asked for! Or like some people, ask your friends and family instead of gifts for my child, how about you donate money, toys, food to a local charity!

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    1. I got nothing for my birthday. I got stuffed animals for Christmas. It was the only thing I got. I was a 16 year old WOMAN getting stuffed animals from family who didn't know I had grown up. I was 1/9. Now I am failure to launch. I have no money. No job. No school. No anything. I am disabled.

      The best gift I got was skating lessons from my grandma.

      It isn't bitching. I have been homeless... I have been in ruins. Nobody thought about my future. Imagine if the money they kept spending on stuffed animals was spent on a future for me?

      It is you who keeps buying the stuffed animals that is selfish.

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  43. I'm happy my grandparents did what they did,and am happy we do what we do for ours. I am also happy we dont have you as a child or daughter in law. We do what we do because we love the grandkids, and so did our grandparents. I am sure that many people are a little annoyed, but your blog takes it to another level. So selfish. ugh. That said, if any child or inlaw posted this, then I'd have ahrd time buying gifts at all. I still would, because they are NOT foryou, they're for the grand kids. A drumset and electric guitar would be cool. And well deserved. Our grandkids have always been thriilled with everything. We take them to swimming lessons, we have them pretty much one to two days a week, every week, always, and do a LOT with them. We ask THEM what they want, not their parents. And we get noisy toys because we want to. TRY a bit of gratefulness. And a bit of humility. This whole blog made me ill. My grandparents were THE most important people in my life. You shold be grateful you have them, your kids have them, start there.

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  44. There are also many other reasons people may not have children beyond not having them yet and being too selfish to want them. How extremely narrow minded. In addition, I have never once gifted one of these items - but thank you for assuming that sense I don't have children I am too stupid to know better. These gifts could come from anyone, children or not. Sad & Demeaning. Humility and grace go along way.

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  45. You know what, I would love to have kids, but God has not blessed me in that way. So sue me if I want to buy things for your kids that I would have bought for my own. How awful and thoughtless of me. Also, I;m sorry, but I thought these gifts were for the kid, not the convenience of the parent. I have spent years buying gifts for nephews, cousins, friends kids and they never give me a thing. (Because I am so selfish and thoughtless). I don't even put up a Christmas tree anymore because there's never anything under it for me to open. The stuffed animals I've bought for some kids are the ones they still have...you know why, because I mean something to them and gifts from me mean something to them...regardless of what the gift is. If your kids has too many, then donate the rest...is that so hard? Not only have I gifted your child with a stuffed animal, but I gifted you with a tax donation. Let's not forget that in the end, the joy is in the giving, not the getting, so get over whatever it is your kids are getting and recognize the joy someone had from picking it out and giving it to them.

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  46. Great list! I used to think sleepers with zippers were great too, until I had a son with an umbilical hernia. Trust me-I caught it in the zipper-bad situation. So even with my second I used all the hand me down snaps and survived :)

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  47. Although you forgot to mention that there are some of us that won't be able to have children naturally (not just by choice), live vicariously through those who have kids, and adore our friends' kids, nieces and nephews, I do appreciate your blog. My husband and I always ask our friends and relatives with kids what the kids like/need at that particular moment. We want to gift them with something both parents and kids will appreciate/use because we care about their needs and interests and because our financial resources are limited. When we get a vague response, we always default on gift cards (like visa cards that you can use anywhere), and have them decide what they want. To me, and this is just my opinion, nothing says 'I love you' more than taking the time to get to know the kids in our life and investing in their interests, likes and dreams. By asking first, you are being considerate to the family culture and showing that you love and care for them. But then, I guess this blog wouldn't be necessary if we all ask...

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  48. I have no children of my own, but I do have to buy for some friends. This information was extremely helpful. THANKS!

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  49. I was relieved to figure out that I had given some of the good gifts! Phew, it took us three years to conceive a child and we went through a lot of pain with infertility and it cost tons of money. I'm sure you are very grateful for all the gifts you receive from folks that don't have children. Although this is not true of everyone without children, I would have found it really painful to know that the gifts I had bought were not the right ones. I've always tried really hard to be a good gift giver. Truly, though, the real gift is being able to have the child. Sometimes those who have conceived children without difficulty fail to realize that one of the reasons the child free don't give the right gift is because it's painful to research that (provided they have a history of infertility and aren't child free by choice, of course). I know that this may be beside the point of the one you were trying to make with your post, and I'm not trying to attack you. It's just that when you aren't able to have children, the grief is terrible since nearly everyone around you seems to have them. Research studies show it's as emotionally difficult as having cancer or AIDS. Congrats on your beautiful family, and please keep in mind that there are 1 in 6 couples that would dearly love to be in your shoes.

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    1. I hadn't thought of that, while we do know a few couples that struggled to conceive, the majority we know are either just not ready yet or do not want children. We absolutely adore our girls and feel incredibly thankful to have them.

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  50. I don't agree with the neutral clothes or the noisy toys (I love the sound of playing in my home), but agree with most of this. To the people calling parents selfish for not wanting their kids to get something they won't enjoy our use: You try giving a gift to a child then telling that child to immediately donate it. My son didn't even like saying goodbye to broken handles from long forgotten toys when he was little, never mind brand new stuffed animals that he'll only look at for ten seconds after receiving. Children try to hold onto everything. Christmases and birthdays aren't supposed to be learning experiences for not keeping gifts they were just given. If you truly want them to enjoy the gift, then why is it so hard to recognise that you should think about what they want and need? Otherwise it IS about the me me me culture, but it's you you you - the gift giver. And trust me, most charity shops and similar world really rather be less inundated with unwanted stuffed animals at c Christmas. They don't sell and take up far too much room, just like on the home of the child you were supposedly thinking of when you bought it despite knowing most parents would say there are better gifts to choose.

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    1. We also have a very close knit group of family and friends and we could never get away with giving away any of their gifts right away without it being noticed. We prefer to donate new toys specifically to charity rather than our own cast offs. We like to choose toys meant for older children since they are also in need but are often overlooked when people donate. Most toys donated are meant for under 5 but we feel that a 10 year old is just as much in need of something special at Christmas.

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  51. Just because I have no children does not mean I'm a thoughtless idiot when I gift to my relatives' and friends' children. I've seen people WITH children give other children these same things on the "don't" list, so maybe this should be a message to all people when gift-giving to children. Just sayin'.
    That being said, when we have children I am instituting the four gift rule from the relatives (particularly grandparents, as the in laws currently buy about 50 gifts each for my niece and nephew... I WISH I WERE KIDDING! It took them two HOURS to open last year. It's obscene.). The four gift rule is: Something they wear, something they read, something they want, something they need.

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    1. That's a good rule as well. Kids get overwhelmed when they are given too much, I like to keep it simple and just get them one or two things they really want.

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  52. I have three grown children. You're right about the stuffed animals. One or two become their favorites. My daughter, an artist, still has two beat up polar bears in her apartment. One I noticed was acting as a wig for a roman bust. One item that's good to have and that is a puppet. If the child is having an issue they'll talk to the puppet rather than you. As for books. We had plenty. Just looking at some of them bring back memories. My daughter and son still talk about some of them and last year as a Christmas present my daughter ask for a version out of print for the illustrations.

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    1. Puppets are great, we have a whole bunch of finger puppets.

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  53. I understand the purpose of this post. I even laughed while reading it because I can totally relate. HOWEVER, this year, my sons grandfather did as you suggested and asked my son what he really wanted. My son told him, and yet when he opened his rediculously expensive $100 lego set that he had "asked for" he burst into tears and proclaimed "this isnt what I wanted!!!!" boy was I shocked, and embarrassed. I cant believe that all this time I have allowed my son to decide what someone gives him! Gift giving is just as much about the giver as it is the receiver. let people get your kid what they want! It is a valuable lesson for a child to learn that you don't always get what you want. sometimes you get a giant stuffed animal that takes up half your kids bedroom. deal with it. Learn to be grateful, and move on. appreciate that the gift giver thought you might like it. Keep it for a week, and then donate it if you want. I made the decision from that day on, that I would teach my child to be gracious, and kind no matter what they are given. What are we teaching our children when they hear us specify the rules of gift giving?

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    1. I agree, except it is the mum, not the child, who has to deal with it.

      I cleared most of my kids toys out. It took up so much of my day tidying them up (and they are great at helping, and constantly instigate 'lets clean up' sessions on their own... but a modern-day room full of toys is an overwhelming thing to clean up... at least for a young child. So while I love helping my kids learn the value of cleaning up, and love seeing that they are learning, I had to acknowledge that they would actually be better able to clean up on their own if there was less for them.

      My point. As long as the mum is the one cleaning up then she gets a say in the status of a toy (ie. If it gets to stay in the house). All done in a polite manner with my children of course, and as honestly, they are so much the happier for it. It takes two minutes to tidy the room, and I haven't heard them moan or groan about it since the toys were reduced....

      I get a say!

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    2. Yes! I'm sure some people live in large houses with rooms specifically for toys, but we're in a small space and it's the parents who have to deal with shuffling all that stuff around. We don't have a play room. Our girls play in the front room during the day and every evening my husband and I have to clean it all out of the way so we can drag chairs in front of our t.v. so we can sit down, otherwise we're sitting on the floor with trains digging into our butts.

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  54. Agree with almost everything, except the bit about zippers. Anyone who prefers zippers over poppers is crazy. The damn things always get jammed and break (and I'm not got enough at sewing to replace them, so that's the end of a perfectly good bit of clothing) or catch the toddler's skin as you're trying to wrench the jammed bit up and he's trying to roll off the bed all at the same time. Then the top bit irritates him under his chin where it meets with all the teething dribble which reacts with the metal on the zipper. There's a reason why they don't usually make baby's pyjamas with zippers.

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    1. Yes, I'm hearing mixed reviews on the zippers. Some people are saying they like being able to undo just the legs to change the baby at night without undoing the whole thing so they stay warm. My youngest has such skinny legs though that her legs always come out in the spaces between the snaps! When she wakes up in the morning I'll find bare legs poking out! Plus my kids are serious wigglers....

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  55. A family membership to children's museum is a favorite of mine. Or lessons and equipment. Or vouchers for driving kids to lessons or a concert or puppet show and enjoying it with them.

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  56. I'm almost 22 with an 8 month old boy and nothing rings louder in truth than this post. A lot of these loud toys bought for children actually scare the hell out of them (and let's admit it, are bought to annoy the parents, we've all done it at some point!) - god forbid those Alfie bears that do NOT have an off button and randomly activate continuously throughout the night! Clothes aren't the most practical thing unless they're gros or vests for babies. I had a lot of outfits and jeans given as gifts and through guilt never had any use of the £100s of clothes I bought with my hard earned wages for my own son, which have since been bagged away and made into a patchwork quilt, the rest have been recycled to people needing them. Baby wipes, towels, muslin cloths, bibs, baby bubble bath, wash and shampoos are such amazing gifts, handy and always seemingly in dire need because you can't remember where you stocked them in your home last. Pjs are brilliant too as are socks. Pratical things, everyday things - not items that would cost me £20+ to replace everytime they break (because toys aren't as well made as they used to be, purposely!). This post is in no way a 'me me me' style post its actually the politest way of explaining to other people (Lulu even said she used to do these things too - no one seems to remember that part) that sometimes the things you personally like, aren't what the child wants nor needs. That said, people complaining they have too much stuff all I can think is remember the shoebox appeals? Why not stuff some 'extra' things in there and give some kids a christmas? I know I definitely will be because everyone deserves an ounce of happiness, second hand - preloved - new, its all loved and appreciate the same. At the end of the day everyone is entitled too and will no doubt voice however they feel acceptable to do so - their opinions. If you know and love a person/child enough to buy them a gift you should know exactly what to buy them. Thank you so much for this original post - merry christmas to everyone!

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  57. This is a great post and for the most part, I agree with you. I will say - I have a slight obsession with baby shoes and noisy toys, ha-ha. In a house full of 5 girls, noise is constant and I have learned to drown out the unnecessary noises very well!
    I do have one (slight) problem with posts like this. They tend to come off very unappreciative. I'm not saying that yours did, not entirely. Its just that I think we should feel less inclined to post about what people should remember to get our children (or us) and instead, be thankful that we have people in our lives who even have that sort of love and compassion that prompts them to buy gifts for our family. In our family, gifts are exchanged once a year (by family members) at Christmastime. Sure, we've had our share of gifts that make me internally cringe (Bratz doll - anyone?!) but the gift giver was well intentioned and in the end, how could we fault them? I agree that all of the gifts you mentioned are wonderful alternatives and Lord knows, I would love to have gotten batteries (I'm so serious - those things are ridiculously expensive and die practically overnight!) but with each gift, I appreciated it for what it was worth and tried to make due with it. Perhaps its just because its the gift-giving time of year but seeing how others react to getting gifts that aren't "perfect" for them or their children just make me sad. My parents send pajamas for Christmas every single year, its become the highlight of my children's Christmas Eve, to open those pajamas. Sure, there isn't anything fancy or "fun" about pajamas but they have learned to appreciate the gift. A gift is thoughtful, not because the person chose the gift you wanted for yourself or your child but because they took the time to spend their hard-earned money on someone else. They could have kept their money and spent nothing. So, I will say that you made a great list of things that are perfect gift-giving ideas for little ones but in the end - we should all be happy and thankful that someone out there cares enough to buy for our children. Regardless of what it is that they buy them.

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  58. You know what? I get it, it's a pain in the ass to have the noisy toy or whatever. I wouldn't buy those in particular because I find them annoying myself.

    As to the rest of the suggestions, get over yourself to be honest. Yeah, you might not want some of the gifts but the fact is, they aren't for YOU. They are for the child. Some boundaries should be given (no junk food or no noisy toys) but for the most part, be thankful you have friends who care enough about your child to actually give them something.

    Most of the presents that you have suggested for kids are ones that YOU want and are practical for YOUR needs so you can save some money. Saving money is good but trying to make people feel guilty about not giving something that is practical and cost saving for you is just absurd.

    Be thankful you have people who care enough to bother. Don't put so many limitations on them.

    Let people pick their own gifts to give (with a couple of limitations) or just ask them not to give anything.

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  59. I can't believe how much hate you received after this post, I'm genuinely sorry! Just wanted to let you know that as a person without kids (and not intending to have any in the near future), but with a growing number of friends with kids, I found this post very helpful. I love giving gifts and I always put a lot of time and effort to give to people I love what they will love as well. However since kids are an alien territory to me, it is great to hear from parents what is actually practical or helpful, because common sense is not really as common as you'd imagine. Having been brought up in a communist country, where it was impossible to spoil a child, we'd appreciate the small gifts and there was never a risk of ending up hidden beneath a pile of useless toys - and I have to say I wouldn't like my future children to be swamped in gifts not well thought of. I love how you point out to experience, time, educational toys - AND BOOKS!! There are so many timeless classic that can be later on passed on, and they are worth so much more than a yet another stuffed toy! One thing that people don't realise is that families nowadays have the luxury (yes, a luxury) to live a certain lifestyle and the couple that shared your post on my Facebook feed are very environmentally conscious and vegan. I get why so many of your haters keep throwing at you 'just be grateful and throw it out later', but what they don't get is that what you're asking for is really to be conscious of the family and the way they want to raise their children. And yes, I completely see where you're coming from when you describe the haters as the ones who bought a giant bear already because I'm starting to see it that was as well. We already live in a fast food nation and it looks like we're starting to live in a fast toy nation as well. I'm glad that, even if accidentally, you took a strong stand against it.

    And to all the people who said 'be grateful and if you don't like it, donate it to charity' - I don't know how many times people picked up on the fact that it's not about ungratefulness at all, but wouldn't you prefer to take some time and effort to give a gift that won't be given away? Can't you see it's all about not wasting the money on stuff that's not needed? Raising a child is about much more than showering it with toys, it's about shaping someone who'll become a future adult. Instead of getting the child whatever - and rest assured, the gift will always be appreciated - why not take some time and get the child what their parents believe is appropriate. They are the ones bringing up a human being. They have every right to want it to be done in a certain way and if you invested more time in getting to know the family, you'd never get an inappropriate gift.

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    1. We're a very environmentally conscious family too and that is one of my biggest concerns when it comes to misdirected gifts. People keep saying 'just give it to charity' but the truth is most charities will not accept used (or any) stuffed animals. Those things get slobbered on right away and become useless for everyone and another thing to add to a landfill.

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  60. I enjoyed your post and the comments. I am not surprised at the controversy, though a little disappointed at how rude some of the replies are.

    A good point was made in the comments - we accept wedding and baby gift registries, yet baulk when the same is applied to children. I am still personally struggling with the "give me money" poems that are common in wedding invitations these days (proof that we can all struggle with current trends).

    Last Christmas my 4yo and 2yo recieved a lot of presents. We were at our normal big family christmas morning, it was wonderful but when it was all over the adults were a bit shell-shocked. I suppose this was our first modern Christmas with children. So many more presents then we remembered receiving. It was too much. We felt a bit disgusted. Honestly, leading up to Christmas I thought we had been really frugal, but when the pile of presents surrounding my children grew it was apparent that it all added up to way too much.

    Firstly, their was clearly too much for the children to appreciate. They had no chance of playing with all their toys on Christmas morning, not even to remember what they had been given or time to encourage a polite thanking... it was a huge job getting them to unwrap and several presents remained wrapped at the end... it was too much.

    Secondly, it was a revelation to see presents, which we had gone to some effort to pick, sit in a pile of other stuff. The present that I had thought would make her eyes shine on xmas morning was just one of way too many presents. It was over-whelming. It sickened us all (the adults) just a little.

    This year things are different. No longer to they have a house full of toys (all boxed up in the shed currently), they have a small basket of toys, shelves of books, a dress-up box, some dolls. In short, they have very little indoor toys and life in the house has changed. They play so much more. They always have plenty of wide open spaces to play in. They are creative in turning household objects into toys for a day (the fruitbowl was empty yesterday and it featured heavily in their games). It is better for them, easier for them to play.

    My family remember that feeling from last year, and they have heard how much happier we are with very few toys in the house. They have all asked for lists and I happily gave them lists (similiar to what the OP wrote... dollhouse toys, outdoor toys, dollclothes, art supplies, music CDs, bath bombs, stickers, books).

    I laughed at the comment above about "looking a gift horse in the mouth". An amusing analogy. How would you feel if someone actually gave you a horse. What would you do with it. I mean of course you would say thank you and be grateful and do all the right things... but deep down you would be wondering why the giver would do this to you. They have given a burden instead of a present. It is really a gift? I think cuts to what the OP was saying. When you don't have kids it is easy to say that a noisy toy is nothing like a real horse. But when you are the mother putting the noisy toy on the shelf ten times a day, watching kids throw tantrums because it doesn't do something that it did before, listening to the noise over and over again, even worse when they are still so young that they need you to press the buttons to make the noise... 100 times a day.... Well, as a parent I can say that some presents are absolutely painful, and while we are grateful for the thought, internally I am trying to figure out how to quickly hide it so they don't even realise they were given it, and then wondering how appropriate it would be to donate it. I feel sad for the gift giver, I don't honestly believe this is what they want.

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    1. I really try to avoid the sort of Christmas where my children are so overwhelmed with presents that they actually get sick of opening them. In reality they open one or two and then want to go play with them. Giving them more than that takes the joy away. We make sure our children aren't swamped with gifts. My oldest daughter is very specific about what she wants every year and I find it's much nicer to see her enthralled for weeks with the toy she's been pining after for months than to just flood her with wild guesses.

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  61. I enjoyed this post, although, I'm pretty sure we all know DEEP DOWN that a giant stuffed bear or that frilly lace dress was a HORRIBLE idea, but we did it anyway. I have two nieces, 4 and 6, who want for nothing. The fact they are spoiled and have everything they need and want makes gift buying a nightmare. I blame this on my brother and his wife. Instead of getting everything they need (that extra pair of shoes) or want (that Barbie Mansion), why not hold out and give these gift ideas to friends and family members so we aren't buying stupid gifts like stuffed animals, that cat that meows, or the Cinderella Fairy dress and wand (actually, she very much liked that one!). Now, they are at an age where if I simply give them a savings bond, I look like the uncool Uncle and that sucks. I am grateful they have everything they need, but looking at a 4 and 6 year old and saying that Uncle Josh is going to take you to the Zoo in the Spring, 5 months away, isn't understood or appreciated.

    My favorite gift giving is to those younger parents/friends who DONT have enough and appreciate ANYTHING you give them. Perhaps these are all 1st world problems and we all have too much...but this certainly isn't your fault Lulu. Your article was thought provoking shouldn't have been taken as a complaint or ungrateful. As a receiver of gifts, there is no worse feeling than receiving a gift that will go unused or will be given away - you were just trying to avoid this.

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    1. That's a great attitude. We actually try to do that with (compliant) family members- we decide in advance who is buying what for each child in the family so they all get things they have asked for from everyone instead of just the parents getting them the things they will really get excited over. My sister in law is buying our oldest daughter this train crossing for her set this year that she's been talking about for months and it will be nice for her to be the one to get the giant happy reaction from our daughter. Sometimes being specific IS about the feelings of the person giving the gift because they are someone you love and you want them to feel happy when the child loves the gift. Very young children can't help but be honest, so when you see a truly ecstatic child fall in love with your gift you feel like the greatest person ever.

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  62. You forgot about all those people who really wanted kids but weren't able. I will not be sharing this because of that lack of compassion. They should be able to give whatever the hell they want, no matter how much it bothers those of us who have been lucky enough to have children.

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    1. A parent's worse nightmare... a 3yo throwing a tantrum when they are supposed to be being grateful. Sometimes when someone gives my daughter something I just hold my breathe and hope I have refreshed her enough on how to behave in this moment.

      Sometimes I go so far as to spoil a surprise just so I can deal with the negative emotions and help her to readjust to positive emotions in a private setting... that way I can be her rock guiding her through positive displays (ie "Remember, we talked about before we came into the room, the proper response is....." whispered into her ear while I give her a hug as she decides when she looks ready to begin sulking or complaining.

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  63. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  64. Now if only I could figure out a way to send this to my mom and mother-in-law without looking like a douche-bag.

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  65. I still can not understand why people can't just read a blog and disregard it if they don't agree. There are always so many aggressive replies, as though people have been really hurt by the author's ideas and want to hurt them back in someway. I know it can't make these people feel any better, there will always be dissatisfaction in how the argument pans out and in the end they have achieved nothing but making themselves more frustrated.
    I read this blog and was actually a little convicted on my intentions while gift giving. I have always enjoyed the choosing of the gift in the hope that the recipient would really love it! In saying that, I would selfishly not want to ask if it was appropriate as (if I'm honest with myself) I guess I want to be seen as a great gift giver-"without any help from you"... It's a bit embarrassing to admit! And while I have never been a stuffed toy fan, and since having my own baby found out firsthand which gifts are the most appreciated, I have not always cared more about the recipient, but about how awesome a gift giver I am. So thank you, for your blog. I may have dismissed a few things you stated, as they did not apply to me personally, but I have a much better perspective of what it means to be a loving gift giver, instead of a selfish one. It's also made me realize that my family that do ask me what to get for my child (or even me) as a present aren't being lazy, they just genuinely want to give something that will be a real blessing. I mistakenly felt as though I was selfish if I gave them an answer about what we want/need, but really it was selfish to refuse to tell them, and let them risk their money in a way that may not be a sure hit with our home. Have ALWAYS been grateful and chuffed to receive any gift, but so sad later on when I realize we haven't been able to use them, and they have gone to waste :( How silly I have been!!

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  66. Lulu congratulations this is great! I am a 1st time grandma this Christmas & as the sales ore on I have just bought a birthday outfit for his 1st bithday.(on sale for next August) I cant agree more with what you have said & I was fortunate with my children that family often asked so when there was a need & want I always gave the want idea for the "Cool" family member & I was the boring mum with the socks & undies. Win win all around!

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  67. When I first read this post, I have to admit, I was a little offended. I don't have children yet (want to, just hasn't happened yet), and like some others have said, I sort of live vicariously through my friends who do have kids. I absolutely ADORE these children and LOVE buying presents for them! I would do anything for them! This post made me feel a little like a mindless idiot who just buys stuff because it makes ME happy to give presents. I mean, I try to be practical and thoughtful (okay, practical MOST of the time, not always), but in all reality, you can't expect me as a parent-in-waiting to know what it's like to receive all this stuff for my kids. I really don't know that it's fair to expect those without children to think like someone with children. And although I don't believe you were trying to sound condescending, patronizing or ungrateful, the sarcastic nature of the post really kind of got to me. Like "Hey, dummy, what in the world could you have been thinking?!"

    BUT when I looked past the sarcasm, I found that the words offered are really very helpful! This post makes me want to ask my friends what their children need, what sort of toys they're really interested in right now, what sorts of toys/books/clothes the parents want them to be interested in right now, what is appropriate for their age/stage of development, etc. Because really, it is MORE selfish to just buy what I want to buy instead of opening my mouth and asking what might be needed/appreciated/played with/used. Also, I'm really not a fan of wasting money on things that won't be enjoyed precisely BECAUSE so many people in this world have so little. If I can buy a $5 toy or book that a kid is really going to love, well great! That leaves me with money left over to use for someone who is really in need!

    I think it's really unfortunate that people got so upset with this post because I do think it was meant to be helpful and not critical. So thanks for the tips! Now, if you'll excuse me, I believe I have some parent friends to talk to... :)

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    1. Thank you for this post!
      This is exactly what those who call Lulu (the writer) ungrateful need to know. It's not that we parents aren't grateful, it's the gesture that we are grateful for, we would be even MORE grateful if you as a gift giver have taken the time to get to know my children and give them an experience of receiving gifts that will bring them into the realm of feeling ecstatic because the gift you bought them is EXACTLY what they like, not something you guessed they might like and is completely missing the point of gift giving and receiving by leaving the child indifferent or even disappointed. Having said that, this article should have been aimed at ANYONE BUYING GIFTS not just to childless people. I have found other parents can make the same mistake and buy gifts for other people's children thinking they will enjoy it, because their own children enjoy it, but this is not the case, not every child of the same age is the same. Each child has their individual likes and dislikes. I have realised after reading this article that when I have thought how inconsiderate some people are or have been with gifts to my children, they might have thought the same of me. How often do I, as a parent gift giver, ask the parents of my children's friends what their child would like for their birthday present? How often do I check with my brother, sister, brother & sister-in-law what my nieces and nephews want? Guess what? Guilty as charged! So off I go asking my sister-in-law if my nephews have any special wishes we can contribute to... ;)

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    2. Yes, after the fact I realize this article should be for anyone because grandparents are far worse than people without kids. I think misdirected spending comes when either you don't know, or you THINK you know because you had kids 30 years ago and vaguely remember. Asking is always the best idea.

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  68. definately agree!! im sick of having to store shitty noisy toys in the garage because gifts arent thought out properly.. ive given a few giant toys to the op shop also. we just dont have the room for them. our 3yr old son has autism so the useless noisy toys are distracting him from the educational ones im trying to help him learn with =/ a couple noisy toys are ok but every christmas from the same 2 people?? ffs!

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    1. Perhaps they don't like you… I know extremely loud, obnoxious toys are my 'go-to' gifts for parents I can't stand.

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  69. I don’t have kids but have bought countless gifts for many family members and friends’ kids over decades. I’ve researched sizes, wants, etc with parents or grandparents. Sometimes the young recipients are clearly excited by their gift. That's a thrill for me. Others have responded with a blank look and moved onto the next gift. One cried hysterically, “no, that’s not what I wanted.” I was disappointed it wasn’t what that child wanted, but horrified that the child thought about presents as an entitlement and not a privilege. In my view, the parents are partly to blame for this reaction in children old enough to understand the concept of gift-giving. It’s all part of learning the lessons of life and maturing into a considerate, caring adult.

    I must add that in all the years I’ve showered gifts on my little rellies and friends, not once have I been asked what I might like at Christmas or birthday time. But that’s okay. I love being remembered. I use or enjoy what I receive, or give it to a charity shop which is grateful for the opportunity to make a few dollars. :)

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  70. Replies
    1. Or maybe so grateful that she wants to make sure the gifts are well used and loved... rather than quickly hidden and taken to Goodwill.

      Imagine giving an inappropriate wedding present and then calling the bride ungrateful because she has written a gift registry????

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  71. This ungrateful mentality is why I won't be buying ANY kids ANY gifts. Parents like this disgust me. Ridiculously overly entitled witch… I hope nobody buys your children ANYTHING. They don't deserve it.

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  72. People keep complaining about my 'first world problems'. Well what about the whole world? The one that's being completely destroyed by the massive consumerism and thoughtless spending? I would rather be ungrateful than see people destroy our planet.

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    1. You're not ungrateful Lulu - far from it, you have compassion for the world that some of these commentators obviously lack.

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  73. I read this blog and agree with you on so many points. I applaud the fact that you are trying to fight over consumption – this is a great example for your children. The commentators saying that you’re ungrateful or that it’s a first world problem have their head in the sand (or in another place…) and have totally missed the point of why you wrote this, either because their reading comprehension sucks or they are wilfully being ignorant. I just want to say to those commentators that calling this a ‘first world problem’ you are both rude and inaccurate. With your ‘excuse not to care’ you are also being condescending and suggesting that those in the first world don’t have problems, or that those in the developing world aren’t ever caught up with the mundane trivialities of living their lives. Overconsumption goes across boundaries of the developed/undeveloped areas of the world. It’s isn’t trivial, and if you really don’t care, just say ‘Whatever’ and move on, at least you are being blatant about your feelings, the other is masked by a veneer of care, with the compassion lasting as long as it takes for the sentence to escape your mouth.

    Also to the troll who called you a witch - people like you who have nothing better to do than abuse people on their personal blogs, I say 'get a life'.

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  74. What a fab article. I agree with a lot of these, but not all. Yes, the noisy toys are annoying, but as one of the comments says, kids love them and it is about the kids isn't it? They learn from these toys, so they are educational toys. I would also say shoes for ANY child that is still growing is a no-no. Let parents decided or buy them with the child to get good shoes that are properly fitted and suited to the growing child's feet. Please don't buy my child PJs as one doesn't wear them at all and the other has too many to wear. Clothes are difficult as tastes are not the same and always check the size as there is no point in buying clothes that they can grow into if it means it has to be put away for 2 years! Plus kids find clothes incredibly boring, so you give them the excitement of a gift and they get all worked up, only to find boring clothes... The disappointment on their faces is surely not what you're after as a gift giver?

    I can also add to the list of don't buys:
    1. The writer's eldest is only 4 so probably hasn't experienced the inappropriate toy guns (not water shooters that don't look like guns)! A few people have bought these for my son, not thinking about asking us, the parents, if they mind (toy) guns. They went straight in the bin after they left, what a waste!
    2. Construction kits or tiny dolls that need dressing, anything with tiny bits, believe me, children do not keep things neatly together, the bits go everywhere and often end up in the vacuum cleaner rendering the toy useless as parts are now missing.
    3. Paint and felt tip pens... Please just stick to pencils, they can't do any damage to walls & furniture with them!
    4. Knitting, cross stitch, sewing & crochet for a 4 or 5 year old? Noooo! They don't have a grasp for these crafts yet, so it's mummy (or daddy?) who ends up doing them. If you're a grandparent who loves to knit, sew or crochet, just buy the kit, make what's in it and then hand it to the child as a gift, but don't expect parents to sit down with children to make things when the child isn't ready or has no interest in these things yet... Parents are busy enough these days without the added compulsory arts & crafts sessions. If the parent likes such projects then buy them as gifts for that parent, but not for a child that is too young. A 7 or 8 year old may start to get an interest in such crafts, but before that age they really aren't ready.
    5. Play dough... or any other clay. I know this had a mention in the main article, but I think it needs a very big warning and consideration. As does this new thing which is a clay/dough sand substance. What a night mare! Another waste of money! The child plays with it once, leaves the lid of the pot open or loses it in some impossible place, it dries out and has to be thrown. If the parents do manage to hold on to lids and pots the child will have mixed the colours and it is now one chunk of brown mess, the child no longer interested as the bright colours have gone, so it gets binned. Not to mention bits come off fall on the floor, get walked into carpet or cracks in wooden floors...

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    1. Last year my son turned 3 and his birthday gifts were all playdoh and we loved it. I have 7 kids and no problem keeping the colours in their rightful pots and the accessories all together. Then again, I sit and play with my kids with the playdoh so I don't have the issue of hunting down dried out clumps. When I have given playdoh as a gift I assume other parents would be spending time with their children with it and not opening the pots of dough and walking away.

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    2. I actually love play doh, but I make my own and stick to one color at a time because they DO get mixed together. I might start off playing it with her in the first place but my daughter isn't going to want to stop playing with it when I need to go nurse the baby or change a diaper or start making dinner. Once she gets involved in what she's doing she will keep doing it ALL day and I'm sure most parents can't sit playing play doh uninterrupted for hours straight when they have younger children to attend to. Christmas holidays start here this week and play doh is one of the things I'm hoping to do with her when the baby is napping, but I'm not going to make her stop when her sister wakes up and I have to leave the room.

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  75. You had me with the photo, then I wasn't going to comment because of all the comments you have, but enough said you had me at the first photo, loved it. xxx Rae

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    1. The massive pile of stuffies or the state of my living room? :P

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  76. Nicolette I have a solution for that- when I was growing up my friend's mom really loved having a perfectly coordinated tree, but the kids really love a sloppy mosaic of decorations. They would set up TWO trees every year, the perfect one was on display upstairs in the front window for the world to see, the 'kids tree' was down in the rec room and covered in all the tinsel, candy canes, mis matched ornaments and horrible construction paper/pipe cleaner creations they brought home from school. Everyone was very happy with this arrangement.

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    1. Horrible construction paper/pipe cleaner creations they brought home from school??? I still have my childrens "horrible" creations in my tree and my children are 28, 24, snd 21 and treasure them dearly. Here's hoping your children never bring you home their "treasures"!!!

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    2. Mine are hanging proudly on my tree as well, but not everyone feels this way. Obviously you did not read the previous comment by the mother I was responding to. The mother I knew growing up who loved her perfect symmetrical tree was a wonderful woman who loved her children and now loves her grandchildren, but she wanted something beautiful and perfect to gaze upon as well so she let the children have their own tree. I don't have that need, but I respect those people who do.

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  77. Lulu and to those that think it's important to say things they "think" should be said, there is usually a good reason why it's never been said. Just saying.

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  78. I think the problem with stuffed animals (and toys in general) these days is that they are so cheap to make (and buy) because things are massed produced in the very 3rd world countries that people are saying would 'appreciate' these toys. People, these children in need are MAKING the toys you keep buying! When I was a child a stuffed animal cost $20-30 BEFORE inflation which meant that people just weren't randomly buying them without thought. Now you can walk into any dollar store/Walmart/discount store and buy a large cheaply made stuffed animal for as little as $1. Kids still LIKE stuffed animals, but now that people can afford to buy unlimited numbers of them they really are a problem- for the landfills, for the disadvantaged children making them instead of attending schools and yes, for the parents whose houses are overflowing with them.

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  79. Why did you choose to be hungover if you're supposed to be interacting with your kids? You can go out and have a good time without over indulging. Voluntarily acting in a way that leave you with no energy, patience or enthusiasm left for your kid is a very poor parenting choice.

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    1. I actually don't drink at all. I'm allergic to alcohol and even a few sips render me unable to breathe from the reaction. I was being sarcastic. But most parents I know DO drink and they all agree that those toys are awful the next day.

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  80. I am sorry, but I totally disagree with this blog. First off, children are gifts, not only to their parents, but to all family and friends that love them. I would never think of telling one of my friends or one of my family members what they should and should not buy for my daughter. Gifts given come from the heart, or they are supposed to….but this makes it a “promise” to limit what one desires to give. I had 20 nieces and nephews before having my own daughter, who is now not quite 3. So I have experience both as a non-parent and as a parent. When I chose to buy a gift…in fact, when I still do, I don’t think about “what do they have already?”…I think about what will bring the greatest joy and surprise to their face. Whether they are 2, 6, 10, 14, 18, 22 or more…it’s not about being practical, it’s about knowing the individual, caring enough to actually put some thought in to the gift. But I don’t expect that everyone will have the opportunity to know my child as well as I do. Nor do I expect my family and friends to come over and do a complete inventory to see what we already have. I don’t want phone calls “what should we buy?…because it makes me uncomfortable, as a gift is just that…a gift, not an obligation.

    When you give a child a gift, the joy and excitement comes when they open it and see it, no matter the gift, no matter how large or small. I would not take that away from anyone. As for an “overabundance”…can you really have such a thing as a child? It only comes when you do not teach your children to love and care for their toys and things. My daughter has a ton of stuffed animals, many of which came from her uncle Jerry, who passed away this past June. He loved to buy and was very good at winning (through all the various carnival games and crane games, etc) stuffed animals for my daughter. Yep, he even gave her one of those “big” ones…a Minnie Mouse (who my daughter dearly loves) last year for Christmas. He was so excited to see her reaction when he gave it to her and was thrilled when she hugged Minnie tightly and said “I love her!” Yes, Minnie is big and “in the way”…but I would not trade that precious moment when he gave her to Anna, seeing the joy on HIS face gave us a precious memory that will last forever, and I thank God for it every day!

    Gift giving is not just about “receiving” the right gift…it is, most importantly about giving. Giving what you can because you want to, giving what you feel will bring happiness to another, it’s about sharing and loving and being thankful. It’s not about how many we receive or whether or not we have those things already…that’s just the selfish mentality of today. It’s not about what we “want”…it’s about what others are generously giving. Why do we receive so many stuffed animals, especially as new parents? Well, imagine a child loving and hugging a sweet, soft teddy bear, cuddling it as they lay down to sleep each night…is there a better vision to have? What about those pretty, frilling, lacey clothes? I put them on my daughter, pretty much daily and have been since she was born…why, because they are beautiful, just like my daughter. I comb her hair, I dress her up…I am proud to take the time each day to care for her and teach her how to care for herself as well, all too soon, those days will be gone. It is my desire that she grows up with a lovely sense of style and grace…that she will know how to dress properly for each occasion and will appreciate her own beauty, beauty designed especially for her by God Himself.

    No, I would not ever dare “dictate” what gifts to give my child, because any gift, stuffed animal, doll, frilly lacey dress, wooden car, a pretty pair of shoes, a lollipop, a hug and a kiss, time…will be cherished and enjoyed. Most importantly, the witnessing of and learning to appreciate the “generosity of others” is one thing I can’t teach my daughter, without the help of our family and friends, who do so generously and thoughtfully give to her.

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    1. When I had just one child like you do, I had the luxury to think that way. But when you're stuffed to capacity in a tiny house with two children at different ages and everything that comes with them it's incredibly overwhelming. We had plenty of room for our daughter and all her toys when she was the only one. Now we've got all of her toys, all her clothing (plus 3 years of outgrown clothing, snow suits and boots that are waiting for her sister some day at all times)- plus all the necessary baby gear piling up on every surface in the house. It got to the point where I spent so much time cleaning up all of that STUFF that I had very little time to actually spend playing with my actual children. I think it's time for people to stop equating 'things' with love and generosity and build the memories by spending time with them.

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    2. Then it appears you missed the point of my post altogether. I am not the one believing that the "things" = love..I am not hung up on the idea of giving or receiving of "things". But it sounds like you may have an issue with "things". You know you can teach your children to give away some of their "things" that they do no longer play with, want or need. My point is that there are precious times to spend with your children, especially when they are young. Maybe it is because I am older and had Anna older...I see the times she will not be able to share with loved ones lost, my father, my brother, cousins, grandfather, grandma...what would I give to be able to see my deceased loved ones spend joyous days like Christmas or birthdays with her?? I am grateful for all my family and friends who take the time to visit, to bring gifts, especially the gifts of a hug, a kiss. My point is its not about what we receive, it is in fact that the giver took the time, effort, energy, thought to give...no matter the gift (including simply spending time together). I could never imagine someone coming to my house with a gift for my child, her opening it and my responding..."oh, we already have enough of those"...or "we don't really need that". Perhaps its just me and my old fashioned way of thinking, but I believe that we should be grateful for all that we receive, especially when another thought enough about us to make an effort to give.

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    3. Thank you neat 62.

      I want to preface this by saying that I think I am a very genuine and caring gift giver. I put a ton of thoughts into the recipient and what they like or what the parents tell me I should buy their child. That being said, this article irritated me. To imply that people are not thoughtful because their gifts fall into categories you personally don't want is just a representation of our society in which people think the recipient of kindness should dictate the terms. If you don't want something, donate it. As a gift giver, I can only say I tried and I am more than happy to know that my gift can be used by someone else. I put my heart into gifts--gift giving has an element of the giver which you deny with your logic. If giving brings joy as we've all been taught, you've told us that the joy that the giver feels from choosing what they believed was a good gift should be is irrelevant--give you things from your wish list instead.

      As a childless adult, I started out thrilled to attend parties and celebrate my friends, their lives and their children. I'm becoming less and less enthralled as the "wish list culture" grows and begins making demands like yours---to put limits and constraints on other peoples generosity for your benefit with no thought to the feelings you hurt in the process.

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  81. Great list. As a parent, #8 had me crying like a baby

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  82. I'm a mom of four adults, two years apart. Finished rearing them, and am now actively involved in the lives of my seven grandkids, ages 6 and younger. The first whining, complaining, ungrateful blog I remember was an outrageously ungrateful "STOP GIVING MY KIDS GOODY BAGS AT YOUR KIDS" PARTIES!!!" Lulu's blog here, in contrast, is attempting to be helpful and contains practical suggestions. It is, sadly, tainted by the pitiful whining and complaining context in which it sits. The suggestions here do not apply to all families. Some are picky about shoes, some about jammies. Some about books. I'm an inveterate book- and jammy-giver, but don't always hit it on the mark, no matter how I try. BUT...

    I would say, please - don't judge the givers so harshly and ungraciously for trying to bring delight to a loved child. Gift-giving and receiving is a love language and perhaps it is not yours, but maybe it is your child's. Maybe it is Grandma's. Gifts are about relationship, about the moment the giver and the receiver sit in the same space, the rest of the people fade away, and it's just the two of them in a magic love moment. Please don't make us give underwear or socks or college money (except to newborns). Please - no child's eyes will light up at a package of socks. If we didn't get your child what YOU wanted, please don't call us selfish or lazy or uncaring. Please don't judge our hearts, even if we miss the mark. After the delight is past, you can always donate it, pass it on, put on longjohns and turtlenecks under the summer outfit, bring the winter outfit to the mountains or beach for a night walk, take out the batteries or designate that toy an OUTSIDE toy, play school or church with the child and line up the 243 stuffed animals from the $3 hammock hanging over her bed and let her be the teacher, let her tell you all their names. Let her choose five to take to a women's shelter for every one new one she receives this Christmas, helping you wrap them and hug them goodbye.

    We exchange lengthy wish lists from a pack of tictacs to bicycles, giving lots of ideas that will "hit the spot" but not ruin the surprise, and that helps, but we focus more on "What shall we GIVE so-and-so this year?"

    Before we had children, my husband said all our kids would need is Lincoln Logs and one doll. Oh his surprise at the love they had for their many dolls and animals and how little they cared for the Lincoln logs!

    Give thanks for the love poured out, however clumsily. MODEL gratitude. Take photos and give hugs and teach the children to write thank you notes on paper with real stamps and make personal phone calls to Grandpa or Auntie. Tell them how much the giver loves them. Don't kid yourself that your child doesn't see your disapproval or pursed lips and "not again" or hear you talk about your complaint blog. Teach them love. Teach them grace. Teach them gratitude. Teach them to give. Teach them to donate. What an amazing opportunity a "bad gift" gives! Give your children the gifts of gratitude and encouragement and grace. When you catch yourself complaining, ask their forgiveness. Watch Pollyanna. Take a trip downtown with a bag of wrapped, warm, new socks (!) for the homeless. Go sing for the elderly in a care home. Send packages to unknown servicemen. Then model joy when you and they receive "bad" gifts.

    Just two cent's worth from an old Grammy. You can use them or regift them. ;)

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    1. Wonderful words of wisdom. Thanks Kim.

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    2. Well said. I must say I'm only 4 1/2 years into this whole parenting thing, so I feel the way I do right now. But I can see your point and how mine might change over time. I'm in the trenches right now- no sleep, tiny house, 2 young kids, constantly digging my way out of all the 'stuff'. I struggle to explain to the people in our lives that we just want them to spend the time with the kids, not the money. We're getting there :)

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  83. To all these idiots, yes idiots, that say Lulu is either ungrateful or selfish or should graciously accept any gift given. Fine, I'm buying your stupid kid a pet rattlesnake and a throwing knife set.

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  84. So an example of "giving" today...last week Anna (my daughter) and I spent a day making candy cane crafts...we made the cute little reindeer ones, along with some others crafts. Anyway, this morning, the gardener that comes each week to care for our yard, Salvador, who we dearly love, was outside...Anna knew it and asked if we could go out to see him. So we did...but before we went out, she ran and grabbed one of her reindeer canes. We went over to Salvador and she said hi to him and then held out the reindeer cane and said "Merry Christmas!" to him. He took it, bent down to her level and smiled really big, told her "thank you, it's beautiful" and she beamed so happy that he liked it...she then told him she made it for him and gave him a big hug. We chatted for a few more minutes and she told him "I love you Salvador" and we went back inside. Now the candy cane was a silly little thing, I am sure Sal wasn't going to be heartbroken not to get one...and it may very well end up in the trash. But the point is that the moment shared when she offered him her small gift and his thanks in return was priceless. Its not only the receiver that is made to feel love when a gift is given, it is also, and sometimes more importantly, how giving makes the the giver feel love.

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  85. Phew, I just came across this on a friend's facebook, and having just bought Christmas presents for my partner's niece and nephew I am REALLY relieved I didn't go the massive stuffed toy route because it was tempting, let me tell you! I went for the art supplies that their grandmother suggest instead, but it was a little hard to stay on track when I was surrounded by all these big exciting gifts in the kids section. I'll keep this article in mind for the future, as person with no children whose friends are starting to have them I'm very glad for the advice! Thank you!

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  86. I agree with some of your points but also adore it when my kid's uncles give them inappropriate gifts. Wacky, fun and slightly rude stuff. Also there are plenty of institutions such as schools, nurseries and orphanages which would benefit from the "mistakes" your well-meaning friends make.

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  87. My parents were friends with a childless (by choice) couple who always combined 1 and 7 for my sister and I so we always got TWO of them. We were in high school at the time!

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  88. Something that hasn't been mentioned -- While it's certainly ok for a child to be surprised by what gift they've received, I don't think a parent should ever be surprised by what someone is buying their children. And that goes double if it's something the parent might need to set rules for or limits on. Parents shouldn't have to come up with rules on the fly.
    It's important to ask a parent, "I'm thinking of getting Janey a xxxx -- is that ok?"
    I'm childless by choice and I really appreciated the suggestions in this post -- Posters saying it's "ungrateful" to want people ask before gifting don't seem to realize that in today's economy, they could be gifting children with expensive toys and oversized stuffed animals when those children could be going without shoes or school clothes or school supplies. (People don't always announce when they've fallen on hard times.) Just asking what the parents want or need for their children avoids so many pitfalls.

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  89. I love this article and wholeheartedly agree with it. I don't understand how, according to some of these comments, that makes me unappreciative or spoiled. I am grateful that my children have so many toys from people who love them. However, I know that these people expect their gift to be used or played with, and the reality is that doesn't always happen unless people ask first. Also, most of my relatives and friends would be insulted if they bought something for my child and I donated it right away. So instead it sits being unused and taking up space. Of what use is that to anyone? Or what happens when a well-meaning person buys something for my child that we have absolutely no room for (we live in a small place)? Why is it so insulting to some people when someone wants people to buy their kids things they need or will use?

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  90. I'm not going to lie... this article really bothered me.

    I was immediately turned off by the title "A message to those without children..." IMHO, the worst thing you can say to a non-parent is something to the effect of you don't have children so you just won't understand... before I was a parent, this drove me crazy. I don't think you have to pop an 8 pound baby out to understand the point of the article... cluttering your house with gifts you cannot use is yes, annoying and wasteful. Yes, as a parent I understand that extra PJs are like gold, but sometimes my non-parent friends are more thoughtful. (As a friend of mine would say there are two types of people... people who think about themselves and people who think about others...)

    I love it when people ask me what my son needs... don't get me wrong... but I'm not going to turn away a gift. I'm also not going to create a rule book on how someone should buy a gift for my son. I think you had the best intentions, but I find the concept behind the article a little sad. I think as a society we have sorta forgotten what giving is about... it's the thought that counts, remember. My brother last year bought my son the fugliest looking summer outfit in the wrong size. I thanked him and then donated it.

    There is an alarming number of children globally that do not have access to adequate nutrition or clean water, and it's just makes me think "hey, is this what we're really worried about?" What are we teaching our children? What message are we sending them when Christmas is about creating an amazon wish list? Just sayin...

    Anyhow, this article just struck a nerve... I think the suggestions are great, but the whole concept behind creating guidelines for gift giving just doesn't sit well with me.

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