Etiquette Help for the Holidays
Overindulging the Kids
Q. We have family members who buy our children an obscene amount of toys. Is there a way to tell them to cool it on the gifts—particularly the noisy ones?
A. Hooray for generous relatives! As problems go, it’s not a bad one, but your irritation is justified, especially if the presents come with screeching sirens or high-pitched voices (ahem, Elmo). So try to channel your family members’ goodwill in a different direction: “Bobby and Susie have so many toys. Here are a few ideas from their wish lists, but what we’d really like is for you to give them an experience, like piano lessons or a trip to the zoo.” You could also request books to build each child’s library. “One year we asked for stories that people loved when they were young and we got amazing things inscribed with personal notes,” says Smith. Of course, grandparents (being grandparents) may well ignore your wishes. If that’s the case, there’s no rule that says all the toys have to live at your house. “The kids need stuff to play with at Grandma’s too,” says Smith. “We left a really annoying stuffed Barney at my mother’s and that’s the last time we got a toy without an off button.”