Christmas, family

Christmas Gifts – Don’t Get Crazy

It’s time to start talking Christmas.   We probably should have started talking about this a few months ago but here we are.  By now, I hope your Christmas shopping is well underway.

(FYI:  This is NOT my tree or gift pile!) 

I’ve made good progress on everyone – everyone that is, but the littles.  On one hand, they are super easy to buy for but on the other hand, what on earth could a two and one year-old possibly need?  If there was a year where we could probably get away with very small gifts, this might be the one.

Nonetheless, buying Christmas gifts for grandchildren is different than for your own children.  It seems that there might be some sensitivities surrounding it.  For example, grandpa found a “kitchen” that he thought would be a great gift for the littles.  It was huge!  It was expensive.  I said absolutely not!

… and these two cuties are NOT my littles

I feel like it’s not our responsibility or our place to outdo the parents – which is an easy thing to do when the parents are just starting out and have a mountain in student loans.

I just might have some backup on this philosophy.  Here’s what I read over at

From the moment Dorothea Hover-Kramer’s oldest grandson asked her for a bike, she dreamed of Christmas morning — and the look on the boy’s face when he’d find the shiny two-wheeler under the tree. Still, she says, “it was kind of a big present, so I thought I’d run it by my daughter [the boy’s mother].” Her daydream was quickly dashed. “My daughter said, ‘No, we’ll get him the bike.’ I said, ‘He asked me for it,'” says Hover-Kramer.

Hover-Kramer was disappointed, but she backed off. “As a grandparent, I’ve learned to be the peacemaker and accommodator,” she says. Her daughter and son-in-law bought the bike while she chipped in for the accessories, including a helmet and a lock.

I totally understand this scenario.  I would definitely be the one wanting to buy the new bike.  But really – is it my place?  I think it’s good to ask permission to buy such a gift.

Here are some other ways gift giving can go – again from

  • They ask you to buy a big gift, but you can’t afford it
  • They demand you run your gift ideas by them
  • They forbid you from buying certain toys
  • They ask you to go easy, but you had big plans

Do any of those sound familiar?  I haven’t experienced this yet but with 5 children, their spouses, and any number of grandchildren, I’m anticipating every one of those scenarios at some point!

So grandmas tread carefully.  It is Christmas but take it easy.  Let mom and dad be the hero – unless they ask you to step in.

We’ll be keeping it simple this year.  Maybe a few books and some Hot Wheels cars. I am working on a fun project for them but shhhhh… it’s a secret.  Something from my own children’s childhood that I think they might enjoy.  This might be the only year I can get away with a sentimental gift as opposed to a gift from Target.

Grandmas – tell me what you think.  Is it tricky for you?



8 thoughts on “Christmas Gifts – Don’t Get Crazy”

  1. Time and experiences with the littles is the best gift. A co-worker today expressed her frustration about a Grandpa that has taught her son to be entitled to whatever he wants, whenever he wants it. Giving gifts should not be about being better than anyone.
    Gifts are just a token of our love – they are not a replacement for it. I think it is important to respect parents wishes, but avoid bearing the burden of providing every dream for the littles. My son & daughter-in-law stated that in their tiny home, they do not have room for more toys to pickup and store. Our littles play almost exclusively with duplo, wooden blocks, & dinosaurs. At Grandma’s they play playdough, sword fights with shortened pool noodles and duplo. But their favorite activity is to snuggle reading books, climbing/swinging and playing outside in all weather.


  2. We used to give savings bonds and two small gifts to open. Hot wheels were always a hit! We switched a few years ago because savings bonds are not easily obtained. Money is now deposited into college funds, with teenagers getting gift cars and still a gift to open and the younger ones two small gifts, usually books and something fun to open. Less is more! Studies have show that children with less toys are more focused and creative. Too many toys are distracting. Time spent playing, baking and reading are priceless gifts and make the best memories. Experiences are long lasting, stuff just fades……


    1. I like the sounds of that study. Playing, baking, reading – all things I hope my littles will love to do with me.

      Having just about wrapped up the child rearing years – a few savings bond to help with future college expenses would have been great gifts.


  3. As a relatively new grandma (second Christmas), I really appreciate the wisdom in this post. We don’t have the finances to make major purchases. So that won’t be an issue. But I can see where it could be. And it makes sense to allow the parents to make those major purchases.

    Hopefully the time I spend with my granddaughter will be the best gift I can ever give her.


  4. It has varied each year with each family. With the ages 4 and up lessons of many different kinds from swimming to gymnastics, to karate have been popular. Those are luxuries parents usually can not afford. I always ask the parents what they would like for their kids and I try to follow their suggestions. I sometimes sneak a spontaneous surprise in but usually stick to the plan. I have always thought the parents should get to give the most desired gift.

    Liked by 1 person

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