10 Commandments of Grandparent Gift Giving

How sweet was yesterday’s Kelly post about Henry and Meredith’s snow globe?  Today it’s my turn again as I bring you day six of:

Partners in a Pair Tree – Kelly and Mo Celebrate December

In the almost 15 months since I became a grandmother, I’ve come to realize a few things about grandparent gift giving. Now remember, my 10 Commandments are just my thoughts and suggestions and are not meant to come across as bossy.

Although calling them commandments definitely reads “BOSSY” in all caps.

Oh well, here goes.

Grandparent Gift Giving

1.  Parents get veto power – always.

As noted in my grandmother manifesto, this is the golden rule of grandparent behavior.  Sometimes we think it is our prerogative to spoil or grandchildren and buy them things their parents say no to.  Not a good plan.

Please seek input from the parents before buying a drum set or a chemistry kit or some toy with 10 million pieces.

2.  Follow the age guidelines on packages.

Of course we all know that our grandchildren are profoundly gifted and capable of tasks far beyond their years but keep in mind those age ranges are put on toys for a reason. It might be that there are small parts that would be dangerous in little hands or the toy might require assembly that would create unnecessary frustration without the right level of fine motor skills development.

3.  Always include batteries.  

Actually this should be a guiding principal for all gift giving.

4.  If thank you notes are important to you, let the parents know.

Writing thank you notes is a wonderful and valuable skill to learn.  But it’s up to the parents to teach and encourage that skill. Don’t blame the kids if they’ve never been taught. And maybe don’t make thank you notes a condition for future gifts. That’s a little passive-aggressive, no?

5.  Quality not Quantity is important.

Your grandchildren will not measure your love by the number of packages under the tree. What’s important is your thoughtfulness.

6.  Don’t play favorites.

I know that girls are easier to shop for than boys and that younger children are easier to shop for than teenagers but that doesn’t mean that you should shortchange your 16 year-old grandson in favor of his 3 year-old sister. No favorites – even if you really do have a favorite – which you shouldn’t.  (Boy, the bossy-meter is really lighting up on this one.)

7.  Time with you is sometimes the best present of all.

Consider a gift of a special day with grandma and grandpa. Maybe you can start a new tradition of a trip to the zoo or out to lunch.  Your grandchildren get your undivided attention and their parents get a little time to themselves. It’s a gift for both.

8.  Consider a gift for the future. 

Does your grandchild have a saving account? Or a college fund? How about contributing a little to that each year. Even at today’s super low interest rates, money left in a savings account for 18 years will grow and grow.

9.  Start a gift tradition.

As my kids were growing up, Peter’s parents gave them an ornament each year.  Each one is a sweet reminder of their childhood. My friend Nora’s sister gave each of her nieces and nephews a set of Christmas pajamas every year (and not the pink fuzzy bunny footie pajamas that Ralphie’s grandma gave in The Christmas Story). These are the kinds of traditions that are appreciated by children more and more as they grow up.

10.  Whatever you do, do it with love.

No matter your budget, no matter your circumstances, all that is really important is the love you show for your grandchildren. They will feel it and it will bring them great comfort and joy.

Love, comfort and joy.  Isn’t that what the holiday season is all about?

Did I miss anything? Be honest, was I too bossy? Do you have a gift tradition in your family?

Partners in a Pair Tree

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  1. Great post, Mo!!! I just sent your link to two of my soon to be grandmother friends… My fave is… always include batteries. Do you know how many Christmas Eves my husband and I spent frantically looking for AA’s??? Have a wonderful weekend!

    • Batteries, or should I say lack of batteries, has been the source of more than a few Christmas morning disappointments – and not just for the kids! Thanks for passing my post along to your friends. Hope you are staying cozy warm this weekend in Boston!
      Mo Lux recently posted…Partners in a Pair Tree – Day 5My Profile

  2. SO, yeah, I got to number 7 and burst into tears. I wonder if I could send this post to my dad with that part in bold. Because, yes, Mo, time is truly the BEST gift of all. And honestly the only one my children really want. LOVE this post so much. :)-Ashley
    thedoseofreality recently posted…Pinterest Nightmare #327: The 2013 Holiday Style GuideMy Profile

  3. I was hoping this was a guide on WHAT to buy grandparents. I can never figure out what to get my Mema. I usually end up getting her notecards or an old film on DVD. So hard!
    Kate recently posted…Escape to the moviesMy Profile

  4. Great post, especially as I become a parent for the first time and my parents become grandparents. I anticipate #7 being a big one for them! 😀
    Bev recently posted…How do you keep the creative fires burning?My Profile

  5. Great tips, Mo!! No grand babies yet for me, but all good things to keep in mind!

    Have a fantastic weekend!! xoxo

  6. Oh Mo – you really nailed it this time. I love this post. While I hope to put off being a grandparent for perhaps a little while yet (!) I shall pass this comprehensive list on to my sister. She is due to become a grandmother for the first time in the Spring.
    Kelly McKenzie recently posted…Tree Day!My Profile

  7. YES YES YES! time is the most important gift! i didn’t grow up with gifts, so naturally my parents (the grandparents) do not dole out gifts no matter how much they love their grandkids. i wonder if i’ll need to explain this to my kid or whether my kid will simply know how much their grandparents love them, even though they are not gift givers. this (i must point out) is the complete opposite of my husband’s side of the family so this will be a big test!
    catherine gacad recently posted…Bloggers: Are you 100% confident your readers are getting your responses to their comments?My Profile

    • It can be tricky when the two sides have differing approaches to gift giving. But babies can feel the love no matter what!
      Speaking of time with grandchildren, mine are visiting for the weekend and their flight back home was canceled so I get them for a whole extra day! Pure bliss!
      Mo Lux recently posted…The Mall of MomMy Profile

  8. On my daughter’s first Christmas my parents gave her an ornament that had a recorder in it and they recorded a message to her. It is really special to her, I can’t listen to it without crying. When she was about three we sent daddy her favorite books and he recorded them for her, she would go to sleep at night listening to her Da read her a story. As far as buying presents, daddy gave us money to buy what she wanted and we would let her have, it really made things easier.

    • What a treasure that ornament is! I can just imagine your dad, the consummate story teller, recording the books for her granddaughter. I bet there was some fabulous expression in those tales! Thinking of you and him, especially today.
      Mo Lux recently posted…The Mall of MomMy Profile

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