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Disparity between presents for DGC.

(30 Posts)
kittylester Sun 04-Nov-12 13:12:30

Dh and I are, dreadful expression coming up, comfortable in our retirement but the parents in law of our three daughters are not. Their husbands are all really nice men. Dh and I have a per person budget for birthdays and Christmas which we stick to fairly rigidly.

The problem comes with DD1's MiL who always announces to the room in general 'oh, I can't compete with that!' when presents are being opened

I am always really embarrassed but she seems to take great delight in drawing attention to the disparity. DGC will start to notice soon I fear. I should say that we get on quite well when we meet.

Should we say or do anything. We love to spoil the DGC at Christmas and birthdays but we are careful not to spoil them between times.

Has this happened to anyone else? Did you ignore it? Did you change what you spent?

soop Sun 04-Nov-12 13:18:50

Some people lack good manners...and I'm not referring to you and your husband. Ignore and wear a smile.

kittylester Sun 04-Nov-12 13:28:37

Thanks soop

I'm feeling a bit mean having posted. Thinking about it, she perhaps lacks imaginatio. How ever little you spend, there must be more interesting things for a four year old than socks.

whenim64 Sun 04-Nov-12 13:33:07

Ignore them kitty. They obviously measure being a grandparent by how much you can spend, and need to take a look at what they contribute in terms of time and commtment, relative to what they can realistically do. My daughter's MIL doesn't have much money, but is able to support their young family in so many different ways. We both appreciate each other for our commitment to our grandchildren. She takes them for more walks, as she lives round the corner, and can pop in to babysit at short notice. I make baby meals, bring nappies, help with feeding, and so on. What on earth does how much money you spend on the present have to do with anyhing? The children decide what they like about their presents, anyway, and often it's the cardboard box it came in!

Jodi Sun 04-Nov-12 13:33:51

I think you need to boost her self confidence kitty. Could you not rave about how practical, cosy and what a lovely colour the socks are? Would it be OTT to say that you wish you'd thought of something so useful? wink

granjura Sun 04-Nov-12 13:46:42

How about 'fixing' it, with the approval of your daughters. Buy a small present each to open - and get them another one to open on Christmas Eve, or Boxing day?

Nelliemoser Sun 04-Nov-12 13:57:16

It is diffficult kitty however careful you are about it, I can see how the in laws might feel that they are being outdone and might be feeling that you think they are being mean. It is not polite of them to comment on the disparity in that manner though. A bit more imagination than socks would not come amiss either.

I think jodi's point is a good one though. MIL is quite possibly feeling rather embarrassed or ashamed that she cannot compete. She sounds as if she is low in self esteem already. Could you speak to your daughter or SIL of your concerns about the situation?

I could be in a similar position to you and this has made me think!

Mishap Sun 04-Nov-12 14:22:56

Maybe make your Xmas present for opening on the day of a similar value and slip in extra treats during the year in the form of outings paid for etc.

It is difficult - some people make more of presents than others and this can cause a disparity, not just finance.

Mishap Sun 04-Nov-12 14:37:07

I have just lost this whole post so will start again!!

As an example my parents-I-L never gave presents of any kind to us or the children; whereas my parents made a big thing of birthdays and Xmas - the children could not fail to notice this disparity!

There were two exceptions, both of which occurred when we happened to be visiting them on a GC's birthday. In one instance MIL gave my 9 year old DD a book on the Queen Mother - great stuff!; and on the other my 6 year old DD received a birthday card complete with its cellophane cover and WH Smith bag - MIL handed it over, saying "I bought you a birthday card, but thought you might like to write in it yourself" - no wonder I found communication with these highly eccentric people difficult!

But also highly intelligent: both were linguists and were codebreakers at Bletchley Park. Luckily I had done French, English, German and Latin in the 6th form or I would not have been able to keep up with their conversation at all - they were conducted in a variety of languages and peppered with Latin tage and quotations from Shakespeare!

Greatnan Sun 04-Nov-12 14:53:34

I chicken out - I send money to my grand-daughter and gd-in-law and they buy what they want for my great-grand-daughters but make sure they know it is from Nannynoo. They send me photos on FB of the little girls with their presents. I have told both of them that I don't care if they don't spend all the money as the children are too young to notice how expensive a gift is, and both couples are struggling financially.
I think that many grandparents spend far too much on presents - no child needs a four foot high teddy! My daughter tried to out-do the other grand-parents and her daughter had to tell her to stop buying toys as there was no more room in the house. It would have made far more sense for her to open a bank account for them and put some money into that regularly.
My daughters' large toys were almost all found at jumble sales or second hand shops - I bought a lot of books, colouring materials, stickers, etc. which cost only a few pounds but gave hours of pleasure. When they were older, they had one Sindy doll each and got new outfits for them - my gd had about 30 different Barbies.
I noticed when I stayed at Christmas that an overload of toys was actually counter-productive - the children were overwhelmed and did not start to play properly with any of the toys for several days.

gracesmum Sun 04-Nov-12 14:57:56

kitty - this is a bit naughty - could you give something homemade, just once - it would silence them!

Granny23 Sun 04-Nov-12 15:26:06

Kitty surely the way round this is to ensure that presents are not opened with an audience! In our family, DGC currently 5, 5, & 3 yo, all presents come from Santa anyway so comparisons do not arise. There will always be discrepancies in how much GPs can afford or are willing to spend, not least depending on how many DC and DGC they have. My side of the family have always gone totally OTT at Christmas, my parents with 4 DGC gave them far more than DH's parents with only 2 (and far more disposable income). Our current fellow GPs will be totally unaware that we have spent 3 or 4 times as much as they have because the pyjamas for all, including Mums and Dads are left by Santa on Christmas Eve and the presents that the DGC 'buy' and wrap for their parents appear mysteriously via Santa's Little Helpers aka US!

I forsee many threads in the run up to Christmas as Grands grapple with etiquette issues as extended families try to merge differing traditions. This is such a pity and causes loads of stress at what should be a happy time. Wish I had advice to pass on, a magic wand to wave, that would solve these dilemmas. I do have two thoughts worth passing on - one is that 'Christmas is a Season, not just a day' meaning that it is OK to spead out parties, dinners, get togethers, present exchanges rather than cram them all into one huge day in one small house. The other is a rule of thumb which says 'Christmas is for Children, New Year is for Adults' which I interpret as postponing the big heavy sit down meal, raucous behaviour (and the excessive drinking) until New Year.

glitabo Sun 04-Nov-12 15:34:12

I agree with Granny23 I have 7 GC and all the presents come form Santa so no one knows who has bought what. I also buy presents in consultation with Sons and Daughters in Law so the presents may well be part of an overall theme. I also tell them my price limit so all are treated fairly. I have no idea how much the parents of my Daughters in Law pay for their presents.

JessM Sun 04-Nov-12 15:39:47

Tralalala, deck the halls, fallala, tis the season to worry bout presents . Ain't it a pain.
Suggest you talk this through with your daughter kitty

absentgrana Sun 04-Nov-12 16:32:16

My grandchildren, quit rightly, adore their lovely grandma (son-in law's mum in New Zealand). She has a sizeable number of grandchildren (lots of sons and daughters) and I have no idea what she gives as Christmas or birthday presents. I am quite a naughty spoiling grandmother on these occasions as I don't see my grandchildren very often. I know there have been a few comments about my being OTT – and I am the first to admit it – but what the hell. Interestingly, the children don't weigh up one set of grandparents against another – maybe because it is so different having them in different countries. We'll have to see what happens next year when we have emigrated. There will definitely be savings in postage. grin

jO5 Sun 04-Nov-12 17:37:34

Oh, she's a grown-up for goodness sake!

Don't pander to it.

Give DGC whatever you want to give them.

purplepatcat Sun 04-Nov-12 18:53:32

This year several of my grandchildren are getting toys which have been bought in charity shops or at NCT nearly new sales. I have also made quite a few little presents, such as hats and scarves, which I have customised to reflect the interests of each child(e.g., Hello Kitty). (one such hat given a few years ago proved to be such a success that it was only taken off at bedtime!!). I tend to buy each child several smaller presents than one large one, but this also means that I can spread the present buying out through the year, taking advantage of sales reductions. These are not always toys, but things like socks, pants and pyjamas which also helps the hard-up parents out with their budget.

I honestly don't think that the cost of a present is reflected in how much the child enjoys playing with it, I remember one year when my daughter was a child she spent all Christmas Day playing with a pack of multi-coloured pipe cleaners I had bought as a stocking filler, while more expensive presents got ignored until another day!!

I would say don't worry about how much or little you spend, if enough thought is given to the child's interests, they will love their pressies from grandma and granddad!!

nanapug Sun 04-Nov-12 19:05:19

I am firmly of the opinion that you should just carry on and ignore her. Why should you change your ways? These are you DDs children and of course you want to, and have every right to spoil them. She is clearly a bitter woman. So what if the GC notice, it's a fact that they will have to accept and learn to live with. Its her problem.

Bags Sun 04-Nov-12 19:11:21

I agree, jO5. I just thought "Oh, for goodness' sake!" Just as well I've never met such silliness. Soop's wise suggestion of smiling and carrying on is the course to take, I think.

crimson Sun 04-Nov-12 19:12:41

I don't think my grandsons have any awareness of what I've bought them over the years, which I do get a little bit upset about sometimes. They get so many presents for birthdays and Christmas that it's a bit overwhelming, but I put an awful lot of thought into what I give them that I'd kind of like them to know that it was from me. I'm not saying that meaning that I want them to think I'm wonderful or anything. It's just that I read the youngest one's baby book once [the sort of thing that people have time for with the first baby but not the second] and I hardly had a mention present wise, and yet I think I bought him something pretty much every week; couldn't go into town without buying him more toys or books. I know I'm sounding a bit pernickety, but I just wanted to get it off my chest [feel better for that wink].

Bags Sun 04-Nov-12 19:20:29

The more I read threads like this one, the more I realise how lucky I am. My daughter will send messages telling me what GS is doing with presents I have given him. So today, for example, I got an email saying he was marching about the house with the doctor's set I sent, saying "Are you poorly?" and treating various ailments. smile

Ana Sun 04-Nov-12 19:33:58

Lovely, Bags! My GDs and their mum come to us for Christmas dinner, around 2.30-ish, but by that time they've been to their Dad's parents where they've been inundated by presents from the other grandparents, and various uncles, aunts and cousins. Whatever they are given here seems to be an anti-climax, but that's the schedule and I can't really object!

Anne58 Sun 04-Nov-12 19:53:50

Mishap holding conversations in languages that not all present might understand is bloody rude!

kittylester , I have some misgivings about the "spoil them at Christmas and birthday" thing, to be honest. My mother would always end up buying the boys far too much, I think in the main it was for the pleasure she got from watching them open them, not much thought seemed to be given to where on earth it was all going to be stored!

I'm also against the idea that all presents come from "santa", apart from the fact that the very word makes me vexed.

Gifts from relatives should be presented as such, not included in the Father Christmas pile/sack whatever.

Jodi Sun 04-Nov-12 20:43:47

What happened to the season of good will? sad

whenim64 Sun 04-Nov-12 20:47:48

I just lump all my presents in with whatever arrangement each family has and drive round on christmas morning to catch as many as I can opening some of their presents. When they come to my house, they bring whichever toys they can carry and their treats are things like games, and pulling crackers over the course of a meal. The ones who are old enough thank me for the present that they know was sent by me, and parents thank me on behalf of the infants. I get a list beforehand from parents and tell them what I got. I don't aways know what in-laws have given. My grandchildren are fortunate to get lots of presents. There's usually a bit of a clearout beforehand, and toys and clothes given to charities or social services to give to families who will be able to use them.

I do wish acquaintances, work colleagues and friends of the parents would not feel they should buy for the children. It gets out of hand. Children really don't need as much as they are given these days. My 12 year old grandson is still learning how to work out the cost and value of things, as he's always had whatever he wants. Ex-DIL competed with other parents to show they had more than everyone else and it caused so much friction. My son spent last Sunday afternoon playing a 'guess how much this cost?' game with him, and showed him how to find bargains in the market the week before. Until they separated, my grandson believed that his parents could/would buy him anything he fancied. I didn't openly criticise, but my son says he could always tell when I disapproved.