Being a grandparent is great. We get to have all the fun, then go home and sleep at night. It’s easy to spoil grandkids with presents, too. However, before you run out and spend a fortune on the latest and greatest for your grandchildren, there are some important things to consider.
BUDGET: Don’t overspend on your grandchildren. In most cases, your attention is every bit as important as material goods. Parents also might have concerns about the amount spent, so make sure you have a discussion with them before making a large purchase. Remember that time babysitting your grandkids is a great gift for them and for their parents.
VALUED TIME: Spending time with your grandchildren, whatever their ages, is just as important as getting them a gift. Instead of automatically thinking of material items, think of something enjoyable you could do with your grandchild, such as going to the zoo, or to museums or concerts. St. Louis has many options for families with children of all ages, with many of them free-of-charge.
AGE: Because you might not be around them daily, it can be difficult to know what interests your grandchildren. When they are young, check for labels for appropriate age ranges, as these are very helpful. If you get something that is too advanced, it may not be used. Toys with long cords or sharp edges are dangerous for small children. Please also be wary of toys with small parts that could be swallowed.
ASK FOR RECOMMENDATIONS: It is OK to ask the parent what their child may want or have children make a list for Santa for ideas. However, especially as they get older, it might be better to be direct and ask what they’d like. That way, you’ll give a great gift and your grandchild receives what he or she actually wants.
COLLEGE SAVINGS ACCOUNTS: While most children won’t get immediate gratification from receiving a directed gift to a college savings account, they will appreciate it when they reach college age. Perhaps more important, this type of gift will be remembered years later and is much-appreciated by parents who often bear the brunt of college expenses. However, as both a grandparent and parent who has paid for college educations, I’d advise you to consult with your tax adviser before making substantial, direct gifts to your grandchildren.
COMMUNICATE WITH PARENTS: If you want to see your grandchild open your gift, make that clear to Mom and Dad. Life can be hectic. Parents might not always consider that you want to watch your grandchildren open your gift. If your grandchildren live out of town, consider Internet and cellphone applications, such as Skype or Facetime, which will allow you to be part of the gift-opening experience.
Lastly, don’t make gift-giving a competition. This should be a happy time of year. Whether consciously or not, some grandparents want to be remembered as the ‘fun’ one. This mentality can lead to relationship problems between grandparents and parents who are caught in the middle and don’t want hurt feelings. It can spoil the holiday season for everyone. Hopefully, these tips will help you during the holidays. Here’s to a happy and drama-free season!