A Drum Set?! Really?
Your five-year-old son wants a drum set on his birthday. Your dad thinks that’s just too funny . . . so it shouldn’t have been a shock to you (yet it was) when your dad shows up on your son’s birthday with a full-size drum set in tow. Now, all you can hear is bang-bang-bang for hours as your son has a ball with his new drum set. He’s thrilled. But you? Oh, your headache! Your headache!
Or how about your best friend who gave your pre-school daughter a finger paints set for no apparent occasion last year. That’s why you had to repaint your hallway walls. Remember that? Now, you’re just waiting ’til your friend’s only child is pre-school age . . . you’ve already purchased a fingers paints set, and now you patiently wait.
Your family members, friends or babysitter like to bring treasures to delight your children. However, some of the treasures, while very much appreciated by your kids, can be a big problem for you. How can you politely decline gifts or steer your family members and friends in the right direction? Read on to learn more from a mom who’s been there, done that.
- Set clear boundaries from the get-go. Make sure your family members and friends understand right up front what is and is not coming into your home. As soon as your son says he wants that drum set, tell your dad (and other gift givers) that you don’t want your little guy to have a set of drums at this age.
- If grandpa gives your son a set of drums anyway, politely (or with humor) state that the drums are a thoughtful gift that your son will love accessing while he is visiting grandpa. Then, have grandpa take the drum set back to his house so that your son will be able to serenade him with the bang-bang-banging. (Side note: if the gift can’t return home with the gift giver, there are always lots of other locations to which a gift can be re-routed. For example, taking the gift to your son’s daycare, with permission from the daycare, so your son can share his treasure with his little buddies.)
- In advance of gift-giving occasions, you may want to discuss with gift givers what gift ideas you suggest.
- A great gift idea is the gift of time: perhaps tickets to see Ice Capades, go to Disney on Ice, or have some other experience your kids will enjoy while spending time together.
- Another great gift idea is the gift of knowledge or creativity: finger painting classes at the local arts center, a book about kitties, an aquarium, science kits (tidy ones like home planetarium kits), a kiddie camera, a beginner’s computer, etc.
- For many kids, especially girls, clothes are a good gift idea: clothes are useful because kids quickly outgrow whatever clothes they already have, and kids (especially girls) often like receiving attractive clothing.
- Other items that are needed regularly yet desired by kids include: a bedspread (maybe your son wants an Incredible Hulk bedspread and his last bedspread is threadbare from lots of hard use as a tent in the den, a mat for kids’ wrestling, etc.), sports equipment (i.e., a soccer ball, ballet shoes, etc.), and food (a special treat that your kids really love such as granola bars, strawberries, or some other snack that can be parceled out in appropriate servings and not be messy or cause a sugar-rush-induced craze).
After you get used to establishing and maintaining gift boundaries, you’ll have fewer what-were-they-thinking gift ideas received in your household. No more paint-by-number sets, no more how-to-make-a-volcano-that-actually-explodes sets, no more gift bags filled with a gazillion little trinkets from a discount retailer (all of which will be lost or broken within the week). Just think of the time you’ll save in house cleaning, the money you’ll save on over-the-counter headache remedies, and the friends and family members you’ll be able to embrace with continued fondness. Enjoy!