Gift Giving

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I’ve become a master at pretending to adore any gift given to me. Thermal pajamas with giant M&M’s on them and a set of matching flip flops? Absolutely love them thank you very much. Recently a friend came to me needing advice. Her mother in law had purchased her children a set of plastic toys that they coveted, and she wanted to know how she should say “thanks but no thanks, we don’t want this..”  I was at a loss for words – sure she hates plastic, but kids are smitten with the gift. Should she make an exception? Should she say the gift isn’t going to work?   As a mother myself I can totally understand the dislike of possible lead-filled toys entering my home, but a gift is a gift. In today’s world of educational, wooden, fair trade, buythisyourkidsgetsmarter coveted toys, it’s hard to remember that we should be grateful for any extras that enter our homes.

giftgivngOver the years my daughter has gotten presents I haven’t approved of. In a perfect world she would only receive beautifully illustrated children’s books, museum passes and wooden toys for the holidays and birthdays, but the world is far from perfect and some years we get Barbie. We’ve learned to grin and bear it when it comes to the holiday’s These presents all came with warm wishes, and we were grateful every single time.

So what is going on with todays parents? When did giving gifts for the holiday’s become a lesson in mind reading? When did it become totally kosher to say “we don’t DO Leapfrog, so you can have this back..” instead of saying thank you? Eco-friendly toys are expensive, plastics aren’t the devil, and your world will not shift if someone gets your son or daughter something you would never have bought.

So what can we do with all those “thanks but no thanks” toys we get? And how do you avoid them in the first place?

1.  Make a wish list for people, but avoid getting preachy. Amazon is a great place to start because it’s well known, and you can find virtually anything on there. Let folks know that you’ve created a wish list to make gifting easy this year, and they can check it out at ___ if they need gift inspiration.

2.  If your kids get something you can’t stand, don’t fret. Donate it, or free cycle it. There are plenty of needy kids out there who don’t have the chance to huff and puff about presents, so ship them their way.

3.  Try to return items. Many stores will offer a credit if you don’t have a receipt and the item is still new in box…you can use that to get another item that’s going to work for you and your family.

4.  Re-gift those toys you don’t want! Someone is bound to love them, and you can save money in the long run

The most important thing? Don’t sweat the small stuff. Say thanks, and remember that a gift is a gift is a gift. There is no great plot to overrun your house with unwanted toys, and keeping with the generous holiday spirit appreciate all that comes.


About the Author

Tracy Alverson is an aspiring urban gardener, bookworm and momma. Parenting inspired her to start her own blog, and she often writes about motherhood and it’s issues for local and online publications. She also writes passionately about sustainable living, animal husbandry, and her experience as a fair weather feminist.

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