What to do with an age inappropriate gift? Advice needed.

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abacaxi's picture
Joined: 02/27/10
Posts: 363
What to do with an age inappropriate gift? Advice needed.

Help me out here. I've had an ongoing conflict with my parents over appropriate gifts for Rowan. They like to spend way too much money and get her tons of things that she doesn't use and that we don't have room for. DH and I decided to put a stop to it and told my parents they had to limit it to 2 small gifts for Christmas. It led to a huge argument and my mom isn't really speaking to me right now because she thinks I'm infringing on her role as grandmother.

Anyway, a package from my parents arrived today, and there were two gifts in it for Rowan. Of course, I unwrapped them to see what they were, because I know my parents and I'm not taking any chances. And one of them is an American Girl doll, which is supposed to be for ages 8+. Also, there is a dog in the box, which is apparently a pet that can be bought with the doll. The dog looks like a stuffed animal, but is not at all soft or cuddly.

I don't think this is an appropriate gift. She's 2!!!! And now I don't know what I should do. It's not like I can return it or exchange it. I was thinking of setting it aside until she's older, but how long do I have to store this thing? Am I wrong in thinking that a toddler doesn't need this kind of doll? It's not for cuddling and dragging around, which is what she does with the dolls she has.

I was also thinking about getting Rowan something different and just pretending it's from my parents. Or maybe just giving her the second gift (a necklace my mom made that is age appropriate and that I know Rowan will love). I figure she won't miss it if she doesn't know there was supposed to be something else.

What do I do? Advice, please?

gardenbug's picture
Joined: 03/12/07
Posts: 2025

I had this problem with my daughter (now in her thirties) years ago, but it was my sister who was the giver. She too sent a huge stiff and expensive doll that was not to be played with. To add to the problem, DD had zero interest in dolls, even ones you could dress or cuddle.

We kept it on a high closet shelf (for when she was "ready") and eventually gave it away. You see, my sister never was able to visit and lived far away, so this worked. Do they ever visit Rowan?

Personally, I worry about necklaces on small children, so that would be my problem! But the big question is how to handle the gift giving.. and that I am not sure about. I can't fathom being insulted or refusing to speak to my daughter over anything. I love keeping in touch and watching the kids grow! Would your mother be insulted if you gave her a list of items to choose from that Rowan was ready for next time? Maybe send her a page from the web of age appropriate items?

Another way to go might be to say you would love help with a contribution to an education plan for Rowan's future.

This is so dependent on the people involved! I hope you figure out a way to make everyone happy during this crazy season.

Joined: 11/03/05
Posts: 748

I have this issue with both grand parents. MIL told DH she needed to get DS a 'big gift' and wanted ideas. We have a Christmas list on Facebook with her, that was started back in June.
I know she got a vanity for DD, complete with hairdryer. I fear Chrsitmas.
With my sibblings, who are the God parents, I have talked them into paying for swimming lessons for their respective Godchild.

I let the kids unwrap the gifts, and in the confusion of picking everything up, some go missing. I hide them, and pull them out a few months later, or never. I found some paint and a role of paper that MIL gave DS when he was 2 or 3.

If I were you, I'd let Rowan have the American doll for a bit, take a few pictures then put it away for safe keeping until she is older.

Maybe next year, you asked that you parents give her books and clothing, along with just two toys.

Hugs, I know how you feel. I also have the problem that MIL likes to give us a lot of candy. DS does not really like sweets, DH is diabetic, DD is too young and I don't need it. A few months later, I end up tossing out a large bag of candy. It is wasted money. On our list this year I put 'NO CANDY', but told her she could get Tassimo hotchocolate cups for DS. We'll see if she got teh message.

Joined: 06/22/10
Posts: 5602

Luckily we don't have this issue, would your parents be ok if you gave them a list of "approved" gifts that they could pick from?

mama_to_peanut's picture
Joined: 08/14/10
Posts: 215

:lurk: This year I made "wish lists" on Amazon. It is quite handy!

TiggersMommy's picture
Joined: 02/14/10
Posts: 6043

I so don't have this problem at all. My Dad doesn't give gifts. If he does its something he grabbed at the grocery store 30 minutes before seeing Teagan. My Mom always calls and asks what I'd like Teagan to have. Everyone else has decent taste regarding suitability and size. My GMIL has issues with sending clothing in the size I ask for (a size up) and then angrily sending something else in her current size after seeing in the pics I take that it doesn't fit. :rolleyes:

There was one time my SIL sent Teagan a little wooden set of blocks that resemble the sky line of Paris. Its ADORABLE but has tiny pieces and clearly says its for ages 4+. She sent it for her 1st birthday. I took a picture of Teagan holding it and stuck it up in the closet.

I'd do what Louise does. Make it about your storage issues. Tell your Mom that you're having very serious issues storing all the WONDERFUL gifts they send and that having a cluttered playroom just leads to her ignoring all her toys. Make up a wish list of items. Does Etsy have a wishlist? Tell her that you and Rowan both would much more greatly appreciate gifts that would compliment the toys she already has and fit into your space. As for this American doll, I'd do one of two things. 1) Take a pic and store it either until Rowan's old enough to play with it or until your mom has forgotten about it and you can put it on Craigslist. 2) Let Rowan trash it and use it as a teachable moment for what age appropriate means.

jperry5683's picture
Joined: 02/13/10
Posts: 525

I took the steps this year to send wishlists for this reason. I know its about the the thought that counts but for birthdays and Christmases so far we have ended up with inappropriate gifts or repeats.

Since its too late because the gifts are already here.. for me I would keep the gifts.. photograph her with them and put it away. I personally would not just not give it to her because I make ds say thank you to every person for every gift regardless if he likes it or if he''ll use it..

I'm sorry I know its frustrating...last year I was mad because I asked mil to limit amount of battery operated toys because it seems like she gets the noisier loudest ones on purpose. She didn't listen...

alwayssmile's picture
Joined: 08/26/07
Posts: 14483

I do the Amazon wish list thing for my parents (and being able to add stuff from other sites like etsy is great!). It's really helped a ton there. My ILs pick age appropriate gifts, but they're usually things I hate (think annoying battery). I've returned a couple of their gifts before and used that money to get something that I don't mind having around the house. They've never said a word about not seeing the gift around the house when they visit. Or even why it wasn't in pictures being unwrapped. Thank God! Usually they send us unwrapped gifts, but this year they came wrapped so I'm a bit concerned. Ha.
Do you mind her having the doll when she's older? If not, take some pics and put it up on a shelf in her room or in a closet for later.
At least it wasnt' plastic junk that breaks after 30 seconds? Wink

BuckeyeK's picture
Joined: 10/23/06
Posts: 3087

I'd put the doll up until she's old enough to appreciate it. Unfortunately, I'd say that's not going to be until age 6. DD1 actually wants an American girl doll for Christmas (she's 5 1/2) but I'm not getting her one until her 6th birthday because I think she's still not quite ready for one.

abacaxi's picture
Joined: 02/27/10
Posts: 363

"BuckeyeK" wrote:

My mom upstages us at Christmas. She has more money to spend, buys wonderful gifts and way too many of them. Our Christmas with the kids seems pitiful in comparison.

This is part of the problem, and the reason I told my mom she had to limit it to two small gifts.

You all probably don't remember this, but my mom bought Rowan an ipad this summer. She really likes to go over the top. And I'm pretty sure part of it is that she wants to be the favorite grandmother. She has made that very clear in the past (also to my brothers who have children). She is unhappy that we live over 1000 miles away, and I think she is jealous that Dh's parents live in town and see Rowan at least once a week. I think she sees expensive gifts as a way to 'win' over the local grandparents (who, incidentally, have always respected our wishes in regards to gifts, except once when MIL brought over something without reading the warnings all over it about not actually touching the product due to dangerous levels of lead exposure).

Erin, I tried making it about storage issues, and reminded my mom of the giant easel she bought for Rowan's birthday that is now in the shed because there is no room for it in the house. And that's also an example of what my mom does when I tell her specific things - I told her to get Rowan art supplies like paint and markers, because we had just finished her art table. And she did get her paint, but couldn't possibly stop there, because paint isn't big and expensive enough.

I don't want to give Rowan the doll at all, even for pictures, because I don't think it's appropriate for a two year old, and honestly, I don't think she'll like it. She has three dolls that she loves and carries around, and they all have soft cuddly bodies and are sized right for a toddler to play with. I kind of think that if I send them pictures of Rowan holding the doll, they'll take it as tacit acceptance and continue to send her this kind of thing.

Is it bad if I only give her the necklace? I can maybe save the fight about the doll for after Christmas when they ask what Rowan thought of it.

ange84's picture
Joined: 12/28/09
Posts: 6564

My brother is great at age inappropriate gifts, then again he is a single male with no children. Last year for Christmas he bought Ronin a fishing rod, this year he wanted to buy him a quad bike ( yes a real one), his first birthday he bought him a dog without asking me then rang me drunk at like 2am to tell me. Thankfully that got sorted. Last year my Dad bought him a remote controlled car. I just put it aside until he was bigger and Dad had expected that but he found a good deal on it and that's why he bought it. My Mum constantly tells my brother ( he doesn't reveal his ideas to me but runs them by Mum thankfully) that Ronin is a bit young for xyz but he still wants to get it anyway, we just store things, but we have the space.

My aunt is bad for expensive gifts, she said she is never likely to get grandchildren so spoils Ronin rotten instead, he is getting a battery powered quad bike for Christmas. My brother was thinking of a bike, which Ronin already has, but seems stuck on a balance bike now so it won't surprise me if there is one under the tree for Ronin

alwayssmile's picture
Joined: 08/26/07
Posts: 14483

Oooo I had forgotten about the iPad! I think you need to have a serious conversation to her about this, weather it's now or after Christmas.

jolly11sd's picture
Joined: 02/02/05
Posts: 3327

Yes, so agree about putting the doll up until she is older. Those dolls are not cheap and are great for girls when they are much older. Like 1st grade through 4th grade. We put gifts up in our closet in those circumstances and pull them out as the kids grow into them. If your parents NEED a pic you could always have her unwrap the gift, snap a pic, and they distract her with the other things while whisking the doll into hiding. If mom asks tell her honestly that Rowan didn't dig the doll at this age but probably like it more when she is older and you have it kept nicely for her.

We also do wish lists using MyRegistry.com - All Stores, One Registry? Gift Registry, Gift List, Wishlist which is really nice because you can add things from tons of different stores or places that you choose. It might even let you add from etsy but I'm not super sure. I love it because I've added stuff from cloth diaper places to Waldorf specialty toy shops and have it all on one list for the kids. Everyone seems to really like having us set it up and getting the things the kids really want. My dad, however, still get the pointless gifts headed for the shelf for elsewhere.

Also just a though. If she really wants to drop money and great kid stuff to be awesome grandma, try redirecting her into a more constructive spending lane. I love the college savings thing but I'm sure she wants to purchase some tangible as well. You could always push for some really nice high end, space saving toys, that you'd welcome into your home. Here is a link to one of my favorite toy places: Home page | Nova Natural Toys & Crafts that carries really well made toys that last and are more along the lines of things I dig (not sure if your into the same stuff). They are pricey though so I usually add things from here as gifts for the kids. But she could have spent a lot of $$$ on a doll from there that R would have probably loved to cuddle. KWIM? Just an idea Smile

gardenbug's picture
Joined: 03/12/07
Posts: 2025

Here's another site with lovely expensive ideas listed by age. A map shows where there's a store near you. Heck, they don't even show prices!

I like these....

AnnaRO's picture
Joined: 07/06/08
Posts: 7033

Donate the doll to "Toys for Tots" or some other charity that gives Christmases to children in need. Tell you mom that the labels with the age on it are on there for a reason and she needs to, at the very least, stick to the age limit on the packaging and if she doesn't you'll just donate the toys to charity if you don't have the storage room. If she's already mad at you anyway, then it should get the message across loud and clear.

I don't have that problem, but my MIL and SIL tend to buy huge amounts of clothes at garage sales in sizes they won't fit into for 3 or 4 years and then I'm left feeling obligated to store them, but don't really have the space. Most end up a Goodwill. I'm not crazy about garage sale clothes anyway and definitely don't want to store crap that I'll forget I have stored anyway.

AnnaRO's picture
Joined: 07/06/08
Posts: 7033

I wish I could to a wish list anywhere. My IL's aren't online at all and anyone else who is would never look at it. Both my wedding registry and my baby registry went completely ignored. Never again.

cactuswren's picture
Joined: 10/19/09
Posts: 4658

If you really don't think she'll be into it anyway, I agree that you should just let her unwrap it and then put it up in a closet right away. That way you don't have to lie or make any excuses or get into an argument about going over grandma's head. She opened it, it's not appropriate for now, it's in storage.

Maybe if she's simply determined to buy ridiculously expensive gifts for a toddler, instead of fighting it OR accepting things you don't want/aren't appropriate, just try to come up with some ridiculously expensive things that are actually appropriate to suggest? Like, if I had this problem (I don't) I'd pick some super awesome all natural dollhouse that costs $400 or a really great playhouse for the yard or something like that--KWIM? It's not like there aren't some fabulous super high quality toddler appropriate toys out there...no, Rowan doesn't NEED them and I totally get how the whole situation is irritating, but...to me that would be the closest to win/win you're likely to get here.

(I just noticed that Joy had basically the same suggestions...so yeah, I agree with Joy! Lol

redneckgirl82884's picture
Joined: 12/17/08
Posts: 955

I would def. keep it and put it up for her later. While it's not a great gift now they are very expensive dolls and Rowan will probably love it when she's older.

I would give her the necklace and if Mom asks, just tell her that the doll isn't such a good idea right now but thank her for it and hopefully that will be the end of it.

Like others have said, make her a list on amazon, or mail her a list of things to get Rowan.

If she wants to drop a lot of money on her, suggest opening a savings account at a local bank for her college fund.