Gifts. I am blessed with so many – family, faith, friends to name a few. This article, however, pertains to the material kind. With three daughters, three sons-in-law, six grandchildren as of now, a husband, and other family and friends, it seems that I am always searching for a gift. I usually have suggestions from my daughters for something they would like and help with my sons-in-law, but as the grands get older and their interests change, gifts for them are getting harder.
When our first grandchild was born, it was easy to find a gift – after all, she didn’t have siblings that already had been given something that she could play with, wear or use. When her brother came along, the same held true – he certainly wasn’t going to wear any of her outfits, and he definitely preferred cars and trucks to baby dolls. It became harder when their younger brother made his appearance. Toys began to take over. Their mom and dad put a limit of one each on Christmas presents from the grandparents, but, in a way, that made it more difficult. Why? Because I am one of those crazy even-Steven people, and finding three gifts in the same price-point isn’t always easy.
Now, when it comes to birthdays, it isn’t a gift limit issue, it is finding something they don’t already have. This is especially difficult with my grands. I am competing for suggestions with their aunts, other grandparents, Godparents and close friends. I also hear from their moms not to go overboard as they already have too much as it is. Looking around their rooms and playrooms, I really have to agree with them. As they age, so will the price of their desired presents. When multiplied by the number of grandchildren, the even-Steven issue will add up to quite a healthy sum. So, what’s the solution?
After giving this a lot of thought, I have a couple of answers that may work for all concerned. When it comes to a gift, I have a set amount to spend. If there is a toy they have their hearts set on that falls within that range, then, by all means, they will have it. If this is something their parents planned to give them, I won’t steal their thunder. If there isn’t a second much-wanted present in that same range, then I will move to plan two. I will give them something that costs less that they still want and make up the difference with a check to cover some or all of the cost of an activity or class such as swim lessons, dance, music, art, sports, camp, etc. For the younger grands, if there isn’t an activity, then a check for their savings account. This can also be for the older ones, too. However, when they get to an age their parents feel is appropriate, the cash or check goes directly to them.
As a teenager, I loved getting money from my grandparents. It taught me to be responsible for saving for something important instead of wasting it on a passing fad. My mom came to realize this with her granddaughters. She got as much pleasure seeing what they would use it for as they did in deciding what to do. In the long run, our grands will always have everything they need and most of what they want. The opportunity to contribute to a learning experience, a fun activity or a savings account for future use is something that will stay with them longer than the discarded toy.
Another option is to couple the material item with the gift of you. As my daughters point out, the grands don’t know, at least at their current ages, what something costs, only that they want it. They do remember our being there for, and with, them. I find out more about what’s going on in their lives, what they are into at the moment and their likes and dislikes during these times. Whether it is taking them for a special treat, making cookies, doing a craft or playing a game, the being together and listening to them are special memories for both and the best gift of all.