Grandchildren: No More Toys!

The Issue: “No more toys for the grandchildren! We need to do something. We have way too much stuff, too many toys.  They’re everywhere!”

 toys forbidden

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Bet you’ve heard that from your grandchildren’s parents more than once! I have.  From both my son and daughter.

Living five hours’ drive from one family and just an hour from the other, I’m not always aware of what toys each grandchild has and don’t want to replicate a toy, activity or game they already own. And, then, there’s that plea from the parents: No more toys! Please!

 

Ok, Mom and Dad, I get it. I know most children wrote their holiday wish lists months ago.  And most of the items on those lists are….wait for it…TOYS! So, how to do I give a gift that will delight both grandparents and their parents? And, me! I still want each grand to open at least one present from me. A present, not just a gift card or gift certificate.

Here are some of my alternatives to no more toys – along with Mom’s thoughts about holiday presents (enough toys, already!) and how to wrap gift cards/certificates in clever and creative ways that are sure to please both parents and grandchildren!

  • Activity fees – sports, music, dance, karate, art, summer camps
  • Activity clothing, special equipment, supplies
  • Special outing with grandparent(s) – weekend or one day
  • Special event (theatre, movie, circus, ballet)\
  • Offset cost of lessons – cooking, art, music, photography, etc.
  • Membership you can share and enjoy together, the local YWCA or  geocaching
  • Annual Family memberships to a museum – think space, history, childrens’ – aquarium, etc. – be sure to include parking!
  • Share your hobby, time and knowledge

Purchase or put together basic supplies related to the gift card/certificate which you wrap as part of the present.  Include a note about the present and what you will do together with the items. You can provide your time and create wonderful memories for both of you, while teaching your grandchild how to:

…grow a garden; sew; fish, new art techniques; do carpentry; fish; golf; photography; ride horses; cook or bake their favorite recipes.

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Although I love the thoughtfulness of gifts, and kids love presents, I seriously thought about implementing a rule if you bring one thing in, take two with you!
We have way too many toys. Way too many. BUT…I understand wanting to give a gift that makes your grandchild’s face light up. I personally love the idea of doing something, rather than something that needs a place in the house.

 

Memberships or gifts of outings with mom and dad are great, especially now when some of those extras aren’t in parents’ budgets. Gift certificates to your grandchild’s favorite restaurant or activity (skating, bowling, movie) will bring a big smile to all.  You can make your own gift certificates using downloadable templates online or buying gift cards.  And for older grandparents, this can be a great way to complete holiday gift buying without a lot of time or stress. There are lots of creative ways to present these to make your gifts look extra special!

Magazine subscriptions are great – they encourage reading, kids love getting mail and they are easy to store (or pass along or even recycle!). Wrap a current issue as the present with a note about your gift subscription.

Some tips:

  • Talk to mom or dad first about gifts of lessons, memberships or outings to see if they can – or will – use them.
  • Many parents have rules about toys (such as no toy weapons or limits on technology/video games). Pleaserespect those rules …and ask for guidelines, if you don’t know.
  • Toys aren’t a BAD gift, just try to limit the number and size.

There are lots of fun, creative ways to wrap a gift certificate/card and you can make your own by hand or on the computer.  Wrap in multiple boxes, one inside the other with the gift in the last, innermost box.  Or, insert the gift card/certificate in these containers for a fun presentation:

-movie tickets in in a popcorn bag or box from Target or party store

-photo frame, a two-in-one gift

-mason jar filled with shredded paper or candy

-child’s beach bucket filled with jar of bubbles, jump rope

-sports gift card inserted in a sports wristband or headband

-a great water bottle

-a pair of mittens/gloves tied with ribbon and candy cane

-box of candy or treats, taped inside the lid

-a balloon,  then blow up just before gift giving, tying a ribbon onto the end

 

Attach your gift card/certificate to these:

-bake/buy large gingerbread man cookie, wrapped and tied with ribbon, gift card tied to the ribbon

-a large candy bar, wrapped in gift paper

-tie together with a small related item and a ribbon

Grand and Mom:

The holidays are all about family and special times.  Gifts from grandparents are part of those wonderful holiday memories.  There are many ways to surprise – and delight – your grandchildren without having to resort to giving more toys!  We hope you and your family have a wonderful holiday season!

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About Remy Agee and Blair Selby

Blair Selby is currently 'a parent in training' by her preschooler. In her former life, she taught preschool; facilitated parenting groups; and sometimes even slept in. Remy Agee, 'Gam ' and 'Grandma', a GRAND featured columnist on school readiness, continues to learn about life and this amazing world from her five grandchildren and about today's parenting from their parents.