You, Me and Baby makes Three for Christmas
Christmas with a new baby can be magical… seeing things through their eyes for the first time – all the lights and the man in red, the music, the tree, the gifts… overwhelming and mostly incomprehensible for a little one, but magical all the same.
However, there’s a lot of stress that goes along with it. As well as trying to squeeze in seeing the grandparents (generally two sets, sometimes more even), plus other family and friends all in Christmas week, figuring out nap/feeding times around normal Christmas activities, and having to do all the crazy Christmas shopping and prep work with a baby attached, one of the main issues I thought I should address is the ‘present issue’. No that’s not about revelling in the present moment (although that’s often a problem when you’ve not slept in months) but instead refers to the sheer volume of pressies often bought for baby by well-meaning gift-givers (normally the grandparents).
This can often be problematic for many different reasons, but the main three cited over and over are a) you want to be the one giving your child the most presents, b) you don’t want your child to grow up greedy and expecting that many gifts (and taking away from what Christmas is all about), and c) you just don’t have room for that many new toys/clothes/books. However you also don’t want to seem rude or ungrateful, or to deprive your child, so what do you do about it? To follow are a few tips I’ve collated from various parental web sources – some wise words here…
Firstly you could suggest (as tactfully as possible) to the gift-giver(s) in question that less is more, and that perhaps they could spend more money on smaller/fewer items, if they aren’t willing to spend less overall. It’s a sad case in our modern society that we are made to feel that the more we love someone, the more we should spend on them, and also the way to make a child happy is to buy them lots of things – so it’s worth clarifying with them that you don’t feel this way, and don’t want your child to grow up feeling that either.
Another suggestion, again if they’re willing to agree that less is more in terms of quantity (but not spend) then a great idea is for them to put some of the money they would normally spend on presents into savings for the baby instead, that can be added to each year, and will help your child with their future (e.g. University days, or their first car, or foot on the housing ladder) and will then forever appreciate that person – way more than they possibly can at this stage in their young lives.
Alternatively, if they’re adamant they want to give that many gifts, you could try and push them towards buying books and clothes (which are easier to store and more useful overall), plus ‘experiences’ for baby and family such as days out (eg tickets to Winter Wonderlands or a family weekend in Centre Parks), or maybe even a voucher for baby massage or baby play.
If your tactful request for less gifts expenditure and quantity is rejected, then the best suggestion would be to leave a portion of the larger gifts at their house – especially the big/noisy toys, for when they’re babysitting or the whole family are staying over.
And finally, whatever agreement you come to, one thing you could do, to help the child grow up appreciating the generosity of others, is to teach them, not only to say thank you in person, but also to write thank you letters mentioning specific gifts they were given. Obviously as babies this won’t be possible, but as they grow they can start first by drawing thank you cards, and practicing their writing skills as they develop. In addition to this, as a young baby grows out of most things very quickly, be sure to take stock regularly of what they own and give what is now unneeded/unused to charity. That way, your family and friend’s generous giving can help the needy too.
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