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Christmas Presents for Grandchildren

(61 Posts)
Lyndiloo Sat 05-Jan-19 01:42:03

There's been a simmering row going on all over Christmas between my daughter and her husband and son-in-law's mum. She has been widowed for 6 years. Every year she buys loads of presents for our granddaughter (aged 5 now). This year, another little (adopted) boy joined the family, bringing with him toys from his foster home. My daughter expressly asked us not to buy too much, as space is scarce in their house.
Well, Christmas Day arrived. My husband picked up daughter's MIL, and there were 14 Christmas bags of various sizes, plus bigger toys which would not fit into a bag. So much stuff in the (estate) car that there was no room for me and my 3 bags of presents, and hubby had to come back for me!
Plus there is a huge wooden train-set still awaiting collection from her house that just would not fit in the car. This train-set is so heavy that it's in a box with castors on it! Distressed Daughter: "Where the f--- are we going to put that?"
Opening presents was an absolute nightmare. They covered the whole of the lounge floor, so that nobody could move!
She is very generous, and lovely - but just won't listen!
Then, on New Year's Day (our house), she told daughter and son-in-law that they had bought too many presents for the children! You could have heard a pin drop before son-in-law exploded!
I don't want this to escalate into a huge row, but fear that it's likely to.
(She was asked, before Christmas, to buy just a couple of presents, and if she wanted to, put money into the children's bank accounts.)

agnurse Sat 05-Jan-19 02:34:13

Really, your daughter and SIL need to not accept the gifts from her MIL. They need to tell her that they will NOT be taking that pile of packages home, and that she can pick two or three things for each child out of the pile. The rest is to be put away and will NOT be shown to the kids.

Their children, their rules. MIL can buy whatever things she wants. Doesn't mean they are under obligation to accept them.

Apricity Sat 05-Jan-19 07:45:48

I know a family with the same problem. One grandmother persists with a mountain of unwanted Xmas presents for the primary school age children despite multiple discussions with her about the issue. She will not listen.

Last year the parents were frustrated that even local charities did not want the brand new toys after Xmas. The reality is that charities are inundated with unwanted gifts post Xmas and either refuse them or are highly selective about what they will take and many just end up as land fill which costs the charities a great deal of money.

The parents had discussions with the children this year saying they could choose a very limited number of the gifts before they were unboxed and the rest would go to various charities as not only brand new items but still in their original packaging so they could be distributed later in the year as needed.

Some people may see the grandmother as generous in wanting to give her grandchildren so many gifts but it can equally be seen as very selfish behaviour as it is all about her needs and does not respect the wishes and needs of other people.

That is without even considering the broader issues of excess rubbish, plastic pollution and the impact on the environment. The very best gift we can give our grandchildren is a sustainable and clean Earth not a lot of plastic rubbish that will take thousands of years to degrade.

BlueBelle Sat 05-Jan-19 08:11:16

I m so sorry to disagree about the charity shops Apricity at least you may be quoting your particular area or particular shop but we (and I ve contact with other charity shops) never ever refuse toys or unwanted kids items, never and we NEVER send to landfill We share with other charities or other shops in our own charity group and only ever throw away really broken or dirty toys We are an extremely busy shop and get well over 100 bags of donations nearly every day but never refuse anything unless it’s very big furniture (which we can’t house) or vhs tapes
The rest of your post I agree with

sodapop Sat 05-Jan-19 08:33:36

I don't think you should get involved in this Lyndiloo leave it to your son in law to deal with his mother. As for the surplus gifts could they not be rewrapped and given to a charity for this Christmas.

Apricity Sat 05-Jan-19 08:54:07

Unfortunately Bluebelle the specific experience at the large internationally recognised charity is based on an actual experience after last Xmas. The wider issue of unacceptable donations to charity shops and the huge costs of disposal has been well documented in the Australian media with pleas to the public to consider what they donate or often just dump. We are talking about millions of dollars a year in disposal costs which of course reduces the funds available for the real work of the charities. I wish it were different.

Both the young mother involved and I both work, or in my case worked, in the health and welfare sector for many decades.

Poppyred Sat 05-Jan-19 08:55:21

How about suggesting that she keeps the mountain of presents in her own house for when the children visit or as has been said - rewrap for this years charity.

Cabbie21 Sat 05-Jan-19 08:59:08

Your son in law should have put his foot down and not allowed all this stuff in the car, let alone to be unwrapped in his home. If this lady wishes to be generous, she should put money into a savings account for the child ( ren). He may need to arrange this, take her to the bank or wherever. It is his mother, not your problem, though I sympathise.
For what it is worth, my grandchildren’s other grandparents spend far more on them than I do, and they are overindulged.

M0nica Sat 05-Jan-19 09:12:20

99% of grandparents will ask advice, take a hint, shop under formal guidance, but now and again you get a grandmother like this and the only thing you can do is take measures that in any other circumstances would appear rude or brutal.

Have a big box in the garage or in a shed and put most of the presents straight in there unopened and unseen by the children then feed them into the charity shop in small numbers during the year. Alternatively, as the presents are all in their original boxes and wrappings, sell them on ebay and put the proceeds into the relevant child's saving account.

Another suggestion, if this lady has to be collected from home each Christmas, is to tell her that once she has filled the boot of the car, no more presents can be taken. - stick to that rule (unless you have an estate cargrin). Do not let her into the car if she is carrying anything else and if push comes to shove, drive away and leave her at her own home.

Institute a rule that no child can receive more than two presents from anyone, bar a few cheap stocking presents without attribution. I think that is quite sufficient anyway. Then use the methods suggested above to make this lady stick to the rules.

M0nica Sat 05-Jan-19 09:15:44

Oh, and make any other toys she still has stashed, unacceptable at any other time of the year, bar on a birthday, when the same rules apply (2 gifts per adult per child). Make it clear you will sell or dispose of anything else received and do so in her presence ('Put that parcel straight in the Charity box.')

Lyndiloo Sat 05-Jan-19 15:02:51

Oh no, I shan't get involved at all, sodapop. No way!

Jalima1108 Sat 05-Jan-19 15:21:56

I agree with Bluebelle about the donation of gifts to charity shops - I do not think they would ever refuse brand-new toys - toys seem to sell well in our local charity shops and those that are not sold are apparently sent on to shops in other localities.
I do know though, Apricity that some of the donated clothes etc are not fit to be put out in the shop but then the 'ragman' comes to buy them by weight. The same with books, especially cookery books apparently - I saw bags and bags of books being taken away probably to be pulped sad.

It's now up to your SIL and DD to sort this out with his mother, Lyndiloo and I agree with you - I would stay firmly out of it.
Perhaps they could choose the very best of the toys and put some on one side for later in the year, then bring them out, and send the rest to the charity shop.

Barmeyoldbat Sun 06-Jan-19 09:17:34

Another charity is the Baby Bank, a bit like a food bank for stuff that babies and young children need. Plenty of them around

Jaycee5 Sun 06-Jan-19 09:22:45

The fact that there was no room for you in the car gave them a good excuse to say that they couldn't fit it all in. I would have been a bit miffed about that - although I agree with people that are saying that you need to leave it to them. At least them seem united and it is her own son who has challenged her which makes a nice change from many of the situations that are posted here.
She seems a bit obsessive and it is very hard to deal with that as buying the presents is obviously a big part of her life. The whole thing is very sad but I can't see any kind way of stopping her. It will be overwhelming for the children though and for their sake, they can't just get a living room full of toys.

mokryna Sun 06-Jan-19 09:31:55

Suggest she pays for an outing or classes like I do.

Hm999 Sun 06-Jan-19 09:37:35

www.buddybagfoundation.co.uk is a lovely charity providing a bag for children who have been displaced with no belongings of their own - those children in a women's refuge, refugees, children who've suddenly removed from their home/taken into emergency care etc. In the bag they put toiletries, pyjamas and a soft toy.
If with all these extra presents there are some unwanted soft toys, please do pop them in the post

The Buddy Bag Foundation, PO Box 8229, Swadlincote, DE11 1GA

Teddy123 Sun 06-Jan-19 10:07:49

Hopefully she will have realised that the glut of gifts went down like a lead balloon ......

I give each of my grandchildren just 3 gifts each, none lavish or particularly expensive. Having seen the amount of clutter they each possess, I made a conscious decision not to add to it! Mean??? No!

Am surprised by this grandma's lack of real thought. Premium Bonds are the way to go. I did that for their last birthdays with a token parcel to unwrap. The children don't even notice as most of them receive far too much.

I'm guessing she's bored and perhaps lonely so gives her something to do! Maybe next year ask for receipts and return for a credit note & put the money in a bank account . Far more useful ......

Daffonanna Sun 06-Jan-19 10:37:06

Our family operates a secret Santa for adults and for children . This year DH and I joined in . We gave the grandchildren each a book and some clothes but then only had to get one present each for one child . I really enjoyed putting some real thought into buying my one present , under guidance from dil , rather than trying to second guess what they already had and add to the mountain .

Granarchist Sun 06-Jan-19 10:46:47

Absolutely Daffonanna - just like us - presents kept to a minimum and usually clothes, books, or an outing - all 3 DDs and their other halves and the outlaws are onside and for the past few years Christmas has been brilliant. This year we have started reusing wrapping paper or using brown paper with pretty ribbons. The smallest children have always preferred playing with the boxes more than the presents anyway. Adults get food or bath goodies - clutter is forbidden!

gerry86 Sun 06-Jan-19 10:53:51

Rather than buy things that would be looked at for a day or so and then set aside, this year we brought our grandchildren a falconry course each. It's one day a month for ten months through the year. They learn how to handle the birds, make the jesses, how to feed them and so on. they had the first day yesterday and loved it. A present that will last nearly a year and won't clutter up the house. In previous years we've contributed to different things like swimming lessons.

allsortsofbags Sun 06-Jan-19 11:12:46

DD and SIL suffer from this not listening and over buying then DGD ends up having to choose what to keep either from existing toys or new one and they are all distressed or stressed but it.

It is space that's the main issue in their house but also they don't want DGD to grow up thinking she gets everything she wants.

They do leave lots of gifts at Grans and we have toys here too but even so MIL's continuing to over buy is still as high after nearly 8 years.

I leave it to SIL to say anything to his mum, they do keep asking her to keep to DGD's list and only pick a few things but ...

I do try to calm things down by telling them I think in this case his mum is trying to give DGD the childhood she wanted and couldn't have.

Then DGD and I go through her things old and new to sort out what goes in what directions.

I have a friends who is involved with a Woman's Refuge so I can almost always find a home for any toys/clothes with some use left in them.

It is a difficult situation and sadly the people who don't listen to the parents don't realise how hard they are making things at the time and how much damage they do to their relationship.

But I do think leave it to the AC to deal with it and just manage things as best you can.

Ashcombe Sun 06-Jan-19 11:15:06

This year I paid for a year's subscription to a magazine called Aquila for my two grandsons (aged eight and 10) one of whom lives in Australia, where the company will deliver. These have been received enthusiastically.

For my granddaughter (6) I’ve paid for some of her dance lessons this term, which delighted her. I sent her an email to explain this which she read with relish to the family on Christmas Day.

All three also received a few small personal gifts from us to open. DD1 in Australia says that DGS (10) appreciates these novelties almost as much as the larger presents he has.

Legs55 Sun 06-Jan-19 11:19:53

I only buy 1 main present from a list of suggestions which DD gives me, 2 books (Nan always gives books) & a stocking with silly bits & pieces. My DM (Great Granny) puts money in their Building Society Accounts which she set up with my DD. I adore my DGSs but DD has a very small house & lots of toys, my time spent with them & occasional treats during the year are just as important as presents at Christmas & Birthdays

Jayelld Sun 06-Jan-19 11:36:56

I have 4 GCs and my daughter and I discuss what i buy each of them for christmas and birthday, usually a main present that she knows about then a maximum of 5 smaller, inexpensive presents, like toiletries, stationary etc. The same applies to my DD and SiL, they tell me a short list of what they'd like, in a price range I can afford, then they also get 5 small presents. I am not ashamed to say that I often buy from charity shops, especially gift sets and toys.
Back when my daughter was around five, she was inundated with presents from my mother, 3 sisters and two brothers and assorted aunts and uncles. What child needs a toyshop for christmas or 30 easter eggs!
I put my foot down, very forcefully, and insisted on a limit of 2 presents per person, talk to me about large presents, and buy clothes etc.
After the first year I noticed that this would apply across the family, at christmas, birthdays and easter. My daughter would get clothes 3 times a year, current fads in toys were kept to a minimum and I didn't need an estate car to get her and her toys home! Result!
As to charity shops, as a volunteer, and ex manager of a charity shop, new, good condit ion toys, clothes, shoes, books, media and bric a brac are always welcomed with a smile. Clothes, shoes, bags and soft toys not suitable for sale are collected and the shop is paid per bag. Bric-a-brac, and broken, incomplete toys are, unfortunately put in the skip.
(To be fair, this represents about 1% of all donations over the year!).

PECS Sun 06-Jan-19 11:50:02

oh dear..granny seens to be equating love with stuff! One gift of a toy etc, a piece of clothing and half a dozen silly bits in a " stocking" which stay st my place for use during the year. More than enough and nobody loves their DGCs more than I do 😆