Dilemma: my grandchildren get too many toys

Jo Brand / 18 October 2018

A reader wonders whether a day out with grandchildren is an appropriate alternative to giving yet another gift. Jo Brand is on hand with advice.

A reader asks

My young grandchildren have too many toys – half of which they don’t use. I think I might just take them on a day out for Christmas, but it may cause offence. What do you suggest?

Jo Brand's reply

I understand where you’re coming from… we’ve all seen those pictures of babies virtually buried under a mountain of teddies and dolls, which to me seems so sad when you think how many millions of kids around the world probably haven’t even got one. Then, as they get older, we progress on to enough plastic to fill a small beach in Dorset – so I admire your sentiments.

I think one way to avoid giving offence is not to mention that you’re doing this because you think they have too many toys. However, if you’ve said this to your son or daughter several times, it will be a bit of a giveaway!

I think a day out is a great idea, and you could reframe this as an opportunity for the parents to have a bit of a day off.

Every child seems to get loads of presents for Christmas from many relatives, and there is also very often an element of competition in families to see who can give them the most.

Result: a child who knows the price of X, Y, Z - you know where I’m going here.

Also, depending on the ages of your grandchildren, if you choose something for them it’s so easy to get it wrong anyway. Present-giving to me has become a somewhat cynical process in which children are just given exactly what they have asked for and there are no surprises any more, which is half the fun of present-opening.

Maybe you could give them just a small gift worth no more than a few quid on the day, so they’re not disappointed by the complete lack of a ‘present present’ as it were. And I think a day out is a lovely idea, providing you don’t take them to a Hoover museum or a lecture on fiscal responsibility.

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