It is universally acknowledged that grandparents just love giving gifts to grandchildren.
Grandparents today are fit, fun, savvy and sophisticated. However, whether you are a Granny, Grandpa, Umakhulu, Utatomkhulu, Nana or Gramps, you probably have to think hard when it comes to buying your little grand-munchkins a meaningful gift or gifts, especially when you are probably also having to cope with an ever-decreasing budget.
At gifting time, one very importantly needs to consider the parents. Buying gifts for grandchildren can be surprisingly complicated and sometimes involves emotions and conflict – some parents might not want their childrens’ grandparents to spend too much money on gifts, for fear of “spoiling” the children. Some parents might feel that expensive gifts have expectations attached. Some parents might not want one set of grandparents to be seen to be buying more than the other set of grandparents. Let’s look at today’s rules for gifting to grandchildren and ensure that every gift is received gladly as an expression of love.
Check that your gift is age appropriate and think carefully before buying noisy gifts
There is nothing worse than having your gift tossed aside because it is something that your grandchild no longer plays with e.g. a gift suitable for a one-year old, being given to a three- year old. Lousy for both parties – grandparents and grandchild! So again, speak to the parents first, and when you buy the gift, check that it’s safe and appropriate for your grandchildrens’ age. Check with the parents first before giving a loud, musical gift like a drum kit! We might consider this to be appropriate payback, but you don’t want to be falling out with your daughter-in-law over annoying volume control!
Don’t upstage the parents – talk to them first!
This is a good, strategic move as it demonstrates that you want your gifting to be seen as supportive of their parenting choices. Also in today’s world of minimalist households, you don’t want to be seen to be adding clutter to your childrens home. And most importantly, don’t give your grandchild that special present that the parents have been planning to give. If it’s a big-ticket item, they may be happy to hand the privilege over to you but check first!
Find out what would be considered a great gift, based on your grandchild’s interests, abilities and play patterns. One grandchild might love a noise, active toy, but another grandchild might prefer a board game, a puzzle or book. Remember that “must-have”toy that they pleaded with you to buy for them six months ago might be dead in the water and no longer on the top of their wish list.
Whatever you do, don’t play favourites
Grandparents are usually pretty good at not playing favourites, but if you land up spending more on a teen’s present than a toddler’s pressie, then somehow surreptitiously let one of the parents, or everyone, know about the discrepancy in price. You don’t want to play havoc with celebrations with a taint of perceived favouritism.
Consider Gifts of Experience, especially for older grandchildren
Again, you need to consult with the parents before purchasing a gift of experience in order to confirm that what you are considering is age appropriate and aligned to their interests and abilities. Gifts of experience can be really enriching and a valuable alternative to a material gift. Think about how your grandchild could become super-excited about an outing to the latest Disney movie followed by a meal at the Spur, or a trip to Peppa Pig – the possibilities are endless. A trip to a sporting event, or a museum membership, or a subscription to a favourite magazine could be some options that you could discuss with the parents.
How about the Gift of Time?
If you cannot or don’t want to overburden yourself financially, speak to your son or daughter so that they understand the problem that you have, in order for them to explain to their children.
Opportunities to spend more time with your grandchildren, like taking them to the park, hosting them at your house for a “special weekend with Granny”, reading to them, gardening with them, cooking with them, singing with them, dancing with them etc. is worth a lot more than money or a gift could give.
At the end of the day, the gift of your presence and your attention is one of the most lasting reminders that your grandchildren will have that they are loved and that they are part of a beautiful continuity of family life, reaching across the generations.