Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Gifts for children's birthdays

I innocently said something here at work and EVERYONE was up in arms.

Who knew that this was such a heated topic???

Someone said that her son had a bicycle and a _______ and a ________ (I don't even know what all those things were), to which someone else said, "you spoil him!" and she answered and said he got all those things as gifts.

As if there was nothing she could do about it.

So then I said the thing that started mini World War 3, "but surely you can ask people to buy what he DOES need?"

Well, four of them let me have it. LOL

  • if you tell me to buy clothes, I'll deliberately buy toys (stroppy sort of person - no surprise)

  • I'll buy whatever I want; it's a gesture from my heart (she buys good gifts anyway so she would buy appropriate gifts :)

  • I could NEVER tell people what to buy
  • and one just laughed - she doesn't believe her kids need gifts :)

When they calmed down, we were able to have a nice conversation about it.

I think maybe my friends and family are just weird? Although I honestly never thought it was strange to ask what to get as gifts!

If I don't have a clear idea of exactly what I want to get (sometimes I have such a clear YES about something, it's easy), I ask what the kids need or want and get that.

And my family definitely does this.

Sometimes they disregard the ideas and do their own thing (especially D's sister as she thinks I'm a bit boring :)) which is fine.

But at least there's some idea.

Thing is now that I'm a parent I know what a big schlep it is to exchange clothes for the right size or season so I don't mind giving a gift voucher to the store so the parent can pick something in the right size that the child doesn't already have.

A friend (the same one who asked about the car seats :)) asked about pressies for the kids and I only had one specification - nothing from a particular store. I have nothing against the clothes IF they're the right size and the right season. But to exchange something there is SUCH a mission, it's just not worth it.

I decided that life is too short for me to sacrifice time with my babies to stand in a shop for 20 - 30 minutes because of onerous procedures with exchanging sizes and whatnot.

I'm not exaggerating as this is exactly what I did last week and it was not a once-off.

I sometimes think I'm going to be the most boring mother ever.

My dream is for my kids to grow up clutter-free and have experiences instead of stuff for gifts.

I cottoned onto the ideas of experiences a few years back and they are now my favourite gifts - massages, supper, breakfast, lunch, horseback riding and elephant rides (for my mother), etc.

I want D and I to do joint zipline (flying fox) experiences for our birthdays and when the babies are older, we'll choose stuff they can do too.

So do you just buy gifts? What kind of gifts do you like to get? And do people ask you what to get?


  1. Oh I am certainly all for experiences! I love that. But kinds can not remember yet - I think from about 4 you can go for experience type gifts.

    We ask often what kids need and give that and our friends tend to do the same. As a family we often do one big gift - like for the Lil Miss 2nd birthday all in the family contributed and we bought a jungle gym. For Hunter we all contributed for a drop-shot rod. My BIL got a new wetsuit. Great stuff.

  2. I think I've told you this before. We put a "No presents, just your presence, please" on the girls' birthday invitations. Next year, we will probably ask people to bring canned goods for our local food pantry for the poor.

    That being said, I do give gifts, and don't ask what to give, at kids' birthdays. I usually give books. If I know what they're into and know the parents aren't overwhelmed by toys already, I'll get a toy. This is usually for babies, though.

    My neighbours usually get my girls clothes, and always ask what size to buy, which I appreciate.

    I don't tell people what to get, but I appreciate it when they ask.

  3. We are very lucky that people do ask what the kids need or like. When it comes to the boys, I've often asked for pajamas or easy outfits for day. When it came to their 1 year birthday, I really wanted them to have some toys that they can push standing to encourage walking.

    The last time Phoebe had a birthday and people asked, I say crafty kits. She loves getting new drawing pencils, construction paper, paints and any kind of crafty kit. If we don't get to the kits right away, we save them for summer break to give her something to do on a rainy day.

    I think it's best to ask what people need or like. It makes it so much easier.

  4. We pretty much just let people buy whatever they want to get him, but that might change as he gets older. For now, we just take the toys from his birthday and christmas and those are his ONLY toys. We never buy anything. He always get clothes and gift cards too, so we are pretty good. I swear we never spend our own money on the child.

    Now, I usually don't make specific requests, but I did ask all three sets of grandparents for Savings Bonds for his college for his birthday. I thought it was a good tradition to start, and I KNEW he would get so many toys. They all did it, but also bought him a ton of clothes and toys.

  5. For most of my family members, they write on the invitation the size clothes that their kid wears and a few ideas for toys (like art supplies or Toy Story themed toys). Their suggestions are usually just a few ideas.

    I always buy gifts or pitch in with other family members if I have the means to. And I try to stick as closely to possible to their suggestions (since I know that I want what I ask for and not some trinket I don't really care for), but I pick out clothes that I particularly like or toys that I think are the coolest or most enjoyable.

    If nothing is listed, I try really hard to think about what that person may really like. I certainly don't want my gift to just be discarded or broken or unappreciated.

    If I were coming to K and C's party, I'd first ask you if you wanted gifts or what the kids need (knowing how minimalistic you are), and if you didn't want me to bring anything, I would respect that.

    As for Josiah's party, I've had a couple of people already ask me what I would want them to buy, and I don't really know yet.

  6. I am all about experience too! I absolutely hate all these toys, and according to everyone else they don't have enough toys. I am almost dreading their party since I didn't think to write in the invites what to get them. I guess asking for money isn't appropriate though.. LOL

    It's hard to ask for clothes because I've been buying clothes a year in advance when they go on clearance. They girls already have clothes for the next season and i would feel weird asking for clothes for next year.

    I'm just a hair jealous that elephant rides are part of your experience gifts. I would sell my soul to visit Africa and tour the entire continent. I am dying to go on a safari!

  7. Wow, I wish I'd known about the "No presents, just your presence, please" line before I had D's invites printed!

    I asked the grandparents to buy D a really good quality bottle of wine for her birthday to cellar for when she's much older. They think I'm weird for that request, I don't care.

    I do tend to ask people what they want for a present. When people in the family ask us and I say something practical like "wool singlets" or (for me) a new chef knife, they seem to get a little antsy like it's not a suitable gift. Weird huh? It's the stuff you actually want/need. I've specifically asked for no clutter/junk for any of us for gifts. I'm happy with nothing, or a goat for a family in some poor country (quite often give those actually) or a plant for the garden.

  8. I started writing you a comment, but it ended up so lengthy, I decided to do a whole blog post reply instead :)

    Please go read my thoughts here: http://boobahsmom.wordpress.com/2010/06/23/in-answer-to-123-blogs-question/

  9. Anonymous10:24 am

    Hey M, well honestly i believe in gifts or experiences whatever but kids live for birthdays/Christmas it is such exciting times in there lives. they love presents and making a mess with the paper and while they little they will take the gift out the paper throw it aside an play with the paper but one day they do enjoy there gifts but i do prefer to buy what someone needs or requests and i prefer people to ask me as well before they buy stuff which we have or really DONT want. Love Robz

  10. Depends on the personality of the giver and the getter. Some people just love the getting - and save everything they get. Some only like practical.

    For me, we are a fairly poor family. So giving what we NEED helps us a lot. Some people around us consider themselves poor - but really are middle class - think we are nuts. They want the gifts, go on trips, and discard their things like a used candy wrapper. In the trash!

    Anyway, I tell people, sizes of my child, their favorite things (Joel just had a party, I wrote - Presents are optional - if you insist, Joel wears a size 6, favorite colors are yellow and camoflauge, favorite things: yellow tractors, CARS characters, Finding Nemo, block/geometry puzzles, and DIRT. ... for more ideas, see his Amazon.com wish list). It's a bit wordy - but we ended up with T-shirts that he went gaga over, a few books on fish and jungles, a few dump trucks and race cars, .... And inevitably, people don't read or just give stuff at the last second laying around their house.

    Joel is one of those that loves everything. He's not picky.

    I'm starting to plan Esther and Marriana's party (turning 3 and 4 mid August), Butterfly theme. It should be fun.

    Tim buys all the gifts for our parties - I always cringe because he buys junk. But it's 8 miles to town and I don't drive and rarely have my own cash.


Thank you so much for leaving a comment and filling my love tank. I appreciate it!

I'd love to answer your email so please make sure your email address is enabled. In Blogger, go to Edit Profile, and under Privacy, tick the 3rd block and then Save Profile :)


Related Posts with Thumbnails