December 15, 2016

Children and gift giving: How many presents are too many?

A friend of mine commented today on Facebook, posing the question: “How many gifts do you buy your children?
It occurred to me in reflecting on that simple question, though, that when I first had my son (the first grandchild and only grandchild on one side), gift giving was very different than it is now, seven years later.
In my attempt to stay organized and to keep from being drowned by and ever mounting pile of infant and toddler gifts, the Christmas my son turned 10 months, I requested that family members buy only a single toy and either consider clothing or a contribution to some type of savings plan — be it bonds or college-fund contributions. This lasted all of two months, though, since when his birthday rolled around, he received enough gifts for 14 one-year olds!
The second Christmas (and birthday), I tried to re-emphasize that one toy was sufficient. I also reminded everyone that my son was more interested in the empty boxes and wrapping than many of their gifts. That seemed to help. Some. Except for my brother-in-law who considered “one box” with many toys a single item since "they were so small."
By his third Christmas (and my daughter’s first), our families discarded any suggestions to cut back on toys about as quickly as a Bugatti Veyron. Both children received piles and piles of toys. Then within the next two months, received two more rather substantial piles. (Their birthdays are in January and February) We might as well have lived in Toys R Us!
Young children are often more interested in
the wrapping than the gifts and don't know
what they received or didn't receive, so
how many "toys" do your children receive?
Now almost seven years later, when asked the question of “How many gifts do you buy your children?” I found myself unable to answer. Luckily for me though, the requests to Santa this year from my children were rather manageable. Typicalyl each child gets a small box that includes several new outfits and jammies, one “large gift” (this year both kids are getting two-wheeled razor scooters) and several other smaller gifts.
In general, I can’t say that I have specific gift-giving philosophies, except that any money they receive has gone into their respective college funds. Friends and family often find it humorous when my children cheerily shout “college money!” when they open a card that includes cash or a check, so I suppose I have done something right!
What gift-giving philosophies do you have? Do you spend a certain amount or buy a certain amount of gifts? I read with interest this one writer's gift-giving philosophy to children and realized that subconsciously I follow many of the ideals that were jotted down. Do you have similar hidden ideals?
What happens when your children receive too many gifts? For the first three or four years, I actually hid 50 percent of what my children received to allow them to open the boxes at a later date. The excitement was still there, and they had a “new toy” to occupy their attentions.
What about gifting your children cash or bonds for their future? Does your family consider being fiscally responsible with their gift giving, or do they consider early estate-planning as “gift giving”?