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Messages we send our kids through the gifts we give

Original post made by Joanna, Crescent Park, on Nov 13, 2006

The boy who lives behind me got a new AirSoft gun for his birthday. I know this because he's now aiming it into my back yard to "tag" my squirrels.

"All the kids have them now," one parent explained to me by way of excusing the gun and, apparently, the boy's behavior.

With holiday season upon us, it seems like a good time to start thinking about the gifts we choose for our children, and what those gifts say. In the case of the air guns, are we telling our kids that destructive, aggessive behavior is OK, as long as we only aim at squirrels and birds?

I'm setting a goal for myself this year, and I'd like to throw it out for consideration by other parents. What if this year, instead of the high-priced phones or MP3 players or, heaven forbid, cars, what if we focus on *experience*? Give them something they won't grow out of, they won't leave lying around the living room, they will remember for years to come, and, probably, none of their friends got one just like it.

I'd like to give suggestions, but it comes down to individual preferences and values. I'm going to give my son a potted apple tree that he can plant wherever he wants, and nurture and grow up with. I'm also thinking that I will take him to a homeless shelter where we'll help serve dinners, so he can see how lucky we are.

One mom I knew said that, each holiday season, she and her husband would give their child $25 to give to the charity or nonprofit of their choosing. They would then make a project of it -- what type of nonprofit most interested the child? Once the beneficiary was identified, the child could (optionally) go on a matching campaign, where aunts, uncles, friends, etc. could match the child's contribution. The final donation was usually significant.

Let's teach our children it's not about having, but experiencing, giving, and sharing. I bet you, as their interested parent, can think of a great way to make it enjoyable and memorable for them.

P.S. Don't tell my son about the tree -- it's a surprise!

Comments (29)

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Posted by natasha
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Nov 13, 2006 at 2:00 pm

Great idea! I've been having my siblings give my kids "gift certificates" for individual alone time for holidays. My kids have enough stuff, and I pointed out that what they really love is getting a period of one-on-one time. Big success. Long after they've forgotten most of their presents, they still talk about the time they went for a picnic on the river in Santa rosa, etc.

I would like to throw out another suggestion for parents of over-saturated children. When my kids turn 8, they stop having everyone bring them a gift to their parties. Instead, they think about what they want to give. The guests at last year's party each (if they wanted) brought a present for a homeless child their age, with the thought that this would be each child's one special toy. The children had to think about what toy would be special to them, had to think about the fact that some (many) children only do have one toy, and I didn't have to deal with more overstuffed shelves. A classmate of my daughter's had a party where the family asked everyone instead of a gift to give a donation to an anoimal shelter their child had chosen. The family matched the guests' total $ donations.

I see in our area a lot of hurried children who want to be sure they get their "share" -- whatever that is. I like giving my children the opportunity to give back and recognize and appreciate what they have instead of thinking about how much more others have than they. The Dalai Llama actually lists this as one of the essential stepping stones to happiness.

Not to get too woo woo here, but this has worked well for us.


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Posted by Gary
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 13, 2006 at 2:01 pm

Joanna,

How sweet. You say "...it's not about having", but you live in Crescent Park in Palo Alto? I think what you mean is that you, persoanlly, alredy have too much, and you want to give back, in some small way.

Maybe your son actually wants a BB gun (to shoot whatever), and you are projecting your own emotions on him. It is called guilt, in case you don't know.

Lighten up! You son needs help....


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Posted by natasha
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Nov 13, 2006 at 2:17 pm

Wow, Gary! I'm surprised at the vehemence of your tone, and at your hostility to the idea of someone's wanting to give back and teach her child to give back. I don't get why Joanna's suggestion is objecionable.

And in case you think *my* kids need help, too, I can assure you that their teachers unanimously comment on how kind, thoughtful, empathetic and *whole* they seem -- on their own and compared to the kids we know who get a whole lot and are always looking for what they "need" to have next. From my perspective, thinking about others and our environment, etc. is a message that is always appropriate for everyone -- child and adult-- to take to heart.


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Posted by Joanna
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 13, 2006 at 2:25 pm

Gary,

Before anyone gets carried away with your comment, let me clarify. If you saw the little cottage that I rent in Crescent Park (and I'm not talking the "big houses with sweeping lawns" part of Crescent Park), you would laugh wholeheartedly at your mistake -- as I am now.

As for my son, he's young and impressionable and, like all our children, he learns his values from his parents. If I said, "Hey, you'd enjoy this BB gun more than you'd like a tree," then yeah, he'd probably like the BB gun. He'd probably also prefer a Ferrari and a chocolate factory (which, incidentally, are NOT in my budget), if that's what I as his role-model parent presented to him as "good choices."

Think what you like, Gary. I appreciate what the commentor befor you had to say: : "I like giving my children the opportunity to give back and recognize and appreciate what they have instead of thinking about how much more others have than they." It's all about modeling our values.


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Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 13, 2006 at 2:37 pm

I like the comments here. I don't think my children are over-indulged with too much stuff as we are very careful about this. They have to pay for their own cell phones, etc. out of Christmas or Birthday money they receive from grandparents, etc. and we make it a point that they don't get everything they want or get everything everyone else has. They don't get as much of an allowance as most of their friends either. So, they do feel hard done by and I won't give my name as they are quite likely to see this post here and die of embarrassment if their friends see it.

However, one thing we have always done is to show them that it is much better to give than to receive. Our Christmas lists are the lists of people we want to give to. This list includes teachers, neighbors, crossing guards, etc. etc. and we make it a family thing of doing the shopping togther. They are also expected to buy/make and wrap something for their siblings and close family members out of their own money. These gifts are rarely expensive, often home made, but thoughtful and given in the true spirit of the season. I have seen tears of joy from a crossing guard when presented with his box of cookies and pure delight from neighbors who are filled with wonder at the fact that my children have taken time to decorate special cookies for them. We also make sure that they participate in giving to charities, by taking canned goods to drives and toys for toys for tots or similar. We also participate in the shoebox giving at our church where we prepare a shoe box gift for a needy child somewhere else in the world, with toys, school supplies and basics like socks and toothbrush & paste, together with a school picture of them and a message to their recipient signed by my child as their friend from America. This has become a part of our holiday traditions and as much fun as the excitement of opening of their own gifts on Christmas morning.

I think that no matter what type of programme you adopt, the fact that your family is thinking of others is the best lesson for all children to hear and the more that they can do for themselves to get involved, the better. This way if all of us do a little something, we make the whole community feel the spirit of the season.


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Posted by Gary
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 13, 2006 at 3:06 pm

I you all want to give to your kids, give them your time. I don't mean "quality time", I mean time. Listen to them (endlessly), then learn to tell them "no", without making excuses about it. Also say "yes", when it is appropriate. But DON'T make them feel guilty about being selfish!

If your son wants a BB gun, because its the current rage, then your answer should be just "yes" or "no", because you are the parent. If you make him feel like he just gave up his budding manhood, in order to satisfy your emotional guilt, he will become resentful. And burdened with your guilt.

My wife and I raised four kids, two boys and two girls. Guilt is the WORST thing you can teach your kids! Let them develop empathy (and guilt) on their own. You will be surprised how generous they can become.

Just don't make it a choice between the BB gun and the homeless.


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Posted by highschoolparent
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 13, 2006 at 4:48 pm

As a parent of high school students, I really would like to understand the parents here who feel it necessary to give their son/daughter a brand-new BMW (sorry -- bimmer). Yes, I see them regularly at our high school. Somehow I prefer it when kids drive 2nd hand cars at first. Soon we will be making the decision about wheels.


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Posted by RS
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 13, 2006 at 8:47 pm

How about a nice bicycle?


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Posted by anonymous
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 13, 2006 at 9:13 pm

I thought squirrels were protected in Palo Alto. Maybe Mountain View and Palo Alto can get some these Crescent Park kids to reduce the agressive squirrel population:-)


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Posted by trudy
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 14, 2006 at 11:17 am

I picked this post off something called backfence, after I said to myself, it can't possibly be legal to shoot bb guns in a residential area, and googled for bb guns palo alto:

Toy Gun Replicas are Unsafe
Crime Log, by Sergeant Sandra Brown, on 10/24/06 at 10:21 AM
TOY GUN REPLICAS ARE UNSAFE

Airsoft toy guns or similar type toy weapons which replicate real guns have become very popular amongst teenagers and young adults. Airsoft guns are produced in models similar to the Smith & Wesson, Beretta and Glocks, and look like semi automatics and revolvers. These "toy" weapons shoot plastic bb's with the help of spring action mechanisms, gas cartridges or electrically charged batteries and are produced with orange safety tips which in many cases are removed by the consumer.

The Palo Alto Municipal Code, 9.08.010, prohibits adults as well as minors to possess, discharge or fire an air rifle, air-gun, BB gun or pellet gun by means of elastic force, such as sling shots, by air, gas or any explosive substance. These weapon replicas are all referred to as "firearms."

The Palo Alto Police Department has responded to approximately 41 reports of Airsoft type guns, bb guns or bb rifles from January 2005 to October 2006. A majority of these calls involve juveniles with either Airsoft type weapons shooting out windows with bb's, shooting at each other in war games or exhibiting these replica weapons to others in public places. Police officers must make instant decisions when faced with emergency calls involving suspects with firearms. In many instances, one cannot tell the difference between the toy and the real gun. For the safety of residents and the public, the Palo Alto Police Department encourages all residents to be aware of the above Municipal Code that prohibits the possession and use of air guns.


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Posted by trudy
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 14, 2006 at 11:20 am

So, call the police before he harms wildlife or puts someone's eye out with that thing.


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Posted by DJ
a resident of South of Midtown
on Nov 14, 2006 at 12:29 pm

Someone we know, send us an email asking us to donate to our favorite charity for her son's 6th birthday, instead of bringing the son a gift. As parents, we thought it was such a great idea ! So 95% of the invited kids went to the birthday party with an envelope/receipt of the charity that their parents had donated to ...

The mom (I should say the appropriate word here will be boasted) wrote an email to all the other parents emphasizing on the introduction to charity at a young age and how her son was totally fine with it.

The party was fun, everyone had a good time. When all the kids left, it was time to open the presents and there were none. The little kid was really very much disappointed. He did not relate to what it meant for him when he agreed to donate to charity.

So, donating to charity - definitely an excellent idea. But to all those parents over there who are thinking about it - consider your child's age and the fact that s/he may not really get the real meaning of it, till until after they have donated and realized that there isn't anything left for them.

All of us like to get a present / gift once in a while; Children are no different. In this day and age we are all caught up in doing the 'right thing' that at times we tend to overlook that the kids need to indulge to enjoy their childhood too !

My kids usually have a laundry list of the items that they want for special occassions. They start two months in advance and modify /re-modify the list, god knows how many times, until it is time to buy the things. Do I buy all of them - definitely not ! We set a limit on the number of gifts that they will get. There is a cost limit too (no, I cannot afford iPODS and $300 video games ).

I go through the list and try to understand why the item is important to the children. Sometimes it is - because Jennifer has it or at the other times it is - I think that is cool. Once we start going through the list , the children themsleves eliminate 50% of the items -- this is a good family-time exercise. Usually at the end of it, we have agreed on what they will get for the occassion ... then at times, Santa throws in one more item into the mix.

Now in all this, how do we teach them charity - by picking out tags off the wishing-tree in YMCA that fit into our budget. The budget is usually the same as the $ the children get for their own gifts. I encourage the kids to make cards for those children who are going to get these gifts. There isn't any competetion - its not like the charity association got more and I didn't get any or I got less. We got equal - so its a win win situation for all. My kids are in elementary school right now - once they are a little older, they probably will want to donate their entire allowance to the charity sometime (I hope! )

I like the idea of a tree ! Never thought of that one before ... thanks for sharing .. thats definitely going to be our 'family' gift this year !


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Posted by natasha
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Nov 14, 2006 at 12:51 pm

I really liked your comment, DJ. The age issue is something I do take into account with my own kids, and why I waited until they were 8 to do the birthday party present thing. They also know very well that they are inundated with presents from grandparents and other relatives and friends at that time, so not getting another 15 presents is ok. We also try to model this for them ourselves in big and little ways. The YMCA tree is a great thing to do and brings the issue of having a lot or not home for them.

Also, giving your children the power and control to write an outrageously long list and then go through and prioritize on its own is a GREAT teaching tool -- empowers them to make decisions and differentiate between immediate gratification of a temporary whim and receipt of a meaningful present.

As for the boasting, well, some people understand that the point of charity is to do something without being praised for it. Others really need to be seen as "good". It's part of human nature, albeit not one of its better elements.


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Posted by susie
a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 14, 2006 at 2:49 pm

Why not give Product Red items to children for Christmas? There is a website and you can see all the products. Or something from WWF or Humane Society? Try to get things that either help the planet or human beings save the planet?


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Posted by RS
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 16, 2006 at 3:53 pm

I do have one question on the tree idea.

Since you rent, where will he plant it?


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Posted by Joanna
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 17, 2006 at 7:53 am

Good question, RS. We're hoping to buy a home soon, possibly the one we're in. Planting the tree here may be a leap of good faith -- that apple tree may have to live in a big pot for a while.

While I'm on the subject, it's worth noting that my son is only in first grade and had "his own" tree in the past (at our previous home) -- he fully bonded with that tree and loved watching it grow as he grew. But I'm aware that idea wouldn't work for every child.

Bicycles, as you suggested earlier, are among the best possible gifts you can give kids of any age, I think. Give the child a bike and you give him/her a hobby, a cool toy, and liberation, all in one neat package.

Joanna (original poster)


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Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 17, 2006 at 10:22 am

A rose bush may also be a nice idea. If you think you may move, you can always put it into nice planter.


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Posted by Laura
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 17, 2006 at 3:40 pm

Thanks Susie, for your reminder about searching for gifts from charitable organizations.

I don't have children myself, but as a resident of Palo Alto, I am surrounded by them! One gift I often give, that works especially well for very young children - a $ gift to Heifer International, along with a small toy. The toy solves the 'problem' of feeling the need to give a small plaything to a little child, while also planting the seeds of the value of giving to others.

You can fund a flock of geese, a hive of honeybees, a llama, or even a cow, and provide a family in another part of the world with both the animal(s) and the training to care for it. For the child here at home, I colorfully wrap a stuffed bee, or a big handful of plastic farm animals that you can get rather inexpensively from the bins at PA Toy & Sport.

Young children get a little gift which they can enjoy at that moment, which of course makes them happy. As they grow and can understand what the toy signifies, they not only have a small collection of animals, but a reminder of the gifts given to a family in another part of the world.

Of course, you could pick any organization and give a small toy that is representative...give one book and correspondingly a $ gift to RIF, a small lego fire truck set and a gift to the Red Cross, etc etc.

happy shopping!


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Posted by JulieAnn
a resident of Southgate
on Nov 18, 2006 at 1:34 am

I was intrigued by Joanna's original posting, and DJ's approach reminded me of what we did when our daughter was young. She started getting a monthly allowance when she was about 10-- it was not connected to monthly chores (she had to do those regardless), and it was divided into segments: 10% to savings, 10% set aside for friends' birthdays, 10% for charity, and the rest for her discretion.

So, if she got $30.00 a month we would give it to her in bills so that she could put them in separate envelopes, which all went in a little bank she had. The birthday money would add up so that she could get a friend a nice gift, and she would accumulate the charity money and decide where to donate it usually once or twice a year. Her savings went into a real bank account, that she could use for big expenditures if she wanted-- usually she hated to spend it and liked watching it grow. Sometimes she added more into the charity pot.

As she got older, her monthly allowance went up (COLA), and she was responsible for her own clothing purchases (except for shoes & coats) as well. This turned her into a VERY wise shopper, who really appreciates the value of a dollar. She also discovered the joys of shopping at Goodwill. :-)

To this day, she continues the practice of putting aside part of her earnings in savings, and giving to charity at least once a year. We often get together in December and look over the Heifer catalog to see what we will "give" each other for Christmas from it...

I'm indebted to another mom who shared this allowance method with us-- I'm so proud of the way my daughter, now in her 20s, manages her money and understands its real value. And that she learned the practice of giving to charity, without guilt or tears. (which was no doubt bolstered by her experiences at church, helping w/meals for Hotel de Zink, collecting food and toys for a family through Ecumenical Hunger Project, etc.)

On a related note: I see kids in middle school all the time because of my job, and it's so common for them to lose cell phones or iPods one day, and then come in to school with a brand new BETTER one the next day, that was bought for them. They brag and show it off, oblivious to effects on peers or their own accountability. If they had to pay for the replacement themselves, even half of it, I'm sure it would be a different story...


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Posted by CAMD
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 18, 2006 at 4:46 pm

The best way for parents to teach their children generosity is to make the children aware of the parents' own giving. The most effective way to teach children anything is to model the behavior themselves. They can educate the children as to their own donations and frequency even if they choose not to discuss the amounts.

Depriving a 6 year old of birthday presents he might rightfully expect based on his experience is more likely to teach him to disregard the needs of others based on his mother's depriving him of things he believed he was entitled to.


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Posted by A.J.
a resident of Green Acres
on Nov 19, 2006 at 3:19 pm

This is just an aside --

This is a cultural thing, but I'm extremely uncomfortable about opening gifts at a party, unless it's a baby shower where the whole point of the gathering is to ooh and aah over the gifts. D.J. made the comment of one experience where it came time to open the gifts at the end of the party -- without diluting D.J.'s main point, I just wanted to say that there are many people who find opening the gifts at the party (or in front of the giver) to be impolite or even crass. As I said, this is cultural, and I think most people who go to parties are just quiet about how other people do things even if it is different. But opening all the gifts at a party can lead to comparisons and envy later in kids (with younger kids, it can happen right there, I've seen meltdowns of little ones).

That said, my son is excited to see his friends open and appreciate the presents he picks out for them, but more one on one.

We have had a couple of huge birthday parties that doubled as family gatherings, and if everyone brought gifts, it would just be too much. One time we said no gifts, but if people wanted to they could bring gifts for a children's non-profit -- and it worked out really well. Closest family spontaneously brought gifts for both our son and the non-profit, and we open our gifts at home anyway so our son had the gifts from us, too -- it was really just right and he and we had a wonderful and very different experience from the party described above.

But for a smaller party of just kids I wouldn't do that, kids do need to know the experience of giving AND receiving, especially in their peer relationships, they need to know how to appropriately thank other people for their generosity, know how it feels to receive so that they appreciate what they are giving to someone else when they themselves give a gift, etc.

Everyone has to find their own way, though, I think it's important that we support each other as parents and not be so critical. It's the extremes on both ends (extreme deprivation which I don't see any above or extreme spoiling as was described above in a few places) that cause problems. When I grew up, birthdays were downplayed, I think I only had one party at home. Yes, this was disappointing, but I got over it! :-) I grew up with a strong sense of generosity and no hang ups about birthday parties!

One of the things I most treasure about this area is how involved and caring parents are -- and one of the most "dangerous" things about electronic communication is how easy it is for things to seem negative in print, when the person is not there to clear up simple misconceptions, or laugh to lighten certain points that aren't really that heavy, or see that something has been taken negatively and apologize the minute it happens so that there are no hard feelings, or get instant feedback to adjust HOW to state a disagreement so that it is part of a positive dialog. I have a feeling if all of the above parents had a conversation in a room, the thread would probably be more supportive.


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Posted by Fu Chai
a resident of Stanford
on Jan 1, 2007 at 6:34 pm

I know this is an odd way of thinking for some of you, but my family has BB wars on the weekends. ;-) . It's an excellent and fun bonding activity/opportunity. We welcome the neighbor kids to come, and many of them do, and it helps us be better neighbors to each other.

We've had many discussions about the appropriateness of using guns of any kind, and how they should NEVER be used. We've also discussed violence in general. I know from personal experience, that watching shows such as Batman, Spiderman, Power Ranger,s and most 1st grade shows teach violence more than the other things.

Also, it's not highly unusual for kids to be interested in guns. (see: a Christmas Story). They've been interested in them for ages.

I apologize if I sound sarcastic, and I'm not trying to be sarcastic at all. and actually the tree idea sounds really, really nice, especially for a first grader. I tried to plant apple seeds from an apple when I was in first grade... it didn't quite work out.

:-) but anyway, just shedding a thought from another perspective


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Posted by Michelle
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 2, 2007 at 7:02 pm

Nice site!
Web Link | Web Link | Web Link | Web Link | Web Link


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Posted by Judy
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Sep 2, 2007 at 8:49 pm

I want to pick up on A.J.'s discomfort about gift-opening ceremonies. I also am very uncomfortable when that happens. Comparisons are unavoidable and I find myself relieved when someone else's gift turns out to be more modest than mine. It is not only the glorifying of consumption that I find unattractive but I don't like how it makes me feel inside.
I am as vulnerable to greed as anyone else and I don't like myself when a ceremony that is supposed to be positive makes me experience the greed and competitiveness that is being shared. I feel that way at showers too. I experience them a little bit like extortion though I smile my way through, like everyone else. Things things things, and stuff and more stuff. way too much.


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Posted by Mother of generous kids..
a resident of Los Altos Hills
on Sep 3, 2007 at 8:59 am

I believe children learn generosity of spirit from the generosity of spirit of their parents. If they recieve generously from their parents, and see their parents give generously to others, they will grow up to give generously also.

Forcing them to think in all or none, nothing for me or everything for me, as in the example of the 6 year old ( or frankly, 8, 10, 12, 16 ..any childhood age)who gets nothing for himself so he can feel the "greatness" of giving will only teach him to

.... never enjoy the gifts given to him by generous folks in the future, because his guilt will be saying "I don't deserve this, I have too much, nobody should give me anything, everything I have I should give away"

.... resent all giving to others, since it is a "them or me" mentality.

Better to teach a sense of fullness, gratitude and blessing in all the gifts he receives, and as he grows he will return it all 10 fold. He needs to be able to enjoy his OWN gifts as well, to learn the pleasure he gives others with his gifts.

Question to all you parents who do this to your kids...do you give away every present you receive? Do you refuse to give yourself the pleasure of receiving? Of opening gifts? If not, think about what you are really doing, which is projecting your desires on your children. If you are not an ascetic monk or nun, if you received gifts growing up as children and still managed to become empathetic, giving creatures, please re-consider your positions.


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Posted by natasha
a resident of Meadow Park
on Sep 3, 2007 at 9:19 am

My daughter went to a party last week where the kids did various activities for 90 minutes and then spent fully 30 minutes watching the birthday girl (10) open her presents. I thought it was a drag. On the other hand, I don't like to have parties where my children receive oodles of presents because they don't need them, they get plenty from us and their relatives, and we don't have room. On the other hand, we now invite only a few friends for parties (my daughter is turning 10) and I think that is ok.

I will state that I hate goodie bags. Hate giving them, hate my kids bringing them home andhte little stuff going everywhere and then into the trash -- seems like wasteful, needless consumption. I have heard children who were receiving them at other parties comparing them with each other. Hello, this is not a party for you so why are you expecting a cornucopia of gifts in your goody bag?


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Posted by Palo alto mom
a resident of Professorville
on Sep 3, 2007 at 10:26 am

A "goody bag" can easily be just one thing, preferably related to the party. A squirt gun that you play with at the party and keep, a ball, a flowering plant, etc. Cookies you decorate and take home, etc. More fun than a bunch of little stuff.


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Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 3, 2007 at 11:13 am

I hate the gift giving ceremonies, including showers. This is a particularly American habit and it can be avoided. You can easily leave the gifts still wrapped on a table and then open them later. I have sometimes had one friend stay late after the rest leave and the gifts can be opened then with the one friend. I always make sure that family gifts are given at a different time.

As far as goodie bags are concerned, when they are small and they have a Panata (sp?) that the candy is shared around and put into goody bags which they take home. Older kids do not have goody bags, but I have seen my kids bring home coupons for play dates to be redeemed within a month of the party and then make sure that these play dates happen.

We have also received invitations with instructions that the gift should be no more than $5 in value. If you know that everyone has the same limit then it really helps.

The biggest problem now is that the kids are getting gift cards from friends and they can go to whichever store to spend on what they want. Quite honestly, these cards are often worth the amount of money that can buy them the things they have on their birthday list from us. As a result, I tend not to get them things they have asked for that they are able to buy themselves with the gift cards. I like them to be able to used the gift cards for what they really want rather than to go somewhere and buy just because they have cash and there isn't really anything they actually want.


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Posted by Anamika
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 3, 2007 at 6:59 pm

I like the idea of sending a note ahead of time saying that the gifts should not be worth more than a certain amount; thats very neat. I am definitely going to attempt sending out this note

re: Goodie bags - its all junk that gets lost. I know a couple of families who set a $2 on the goodie bag and then try to cram as many things as possible within the limit .. in the end, half or more of the stuff is broken before we make our way to the car.

I have started limiting to just one thing - I prefer buying age appropriate books (buy them ahead of time and buy them online - you can get really great deals). I buy an entire series and spilt it - one book per child. This has never gone wrong - kids 'remember' the books for a long time !


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Grab a Bowl of Heaven soon in Mountain View
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