Is a Kid Gift List a Good Idea? Or Just Plain Tacky?

Posted on Dec 12, 2011 by 6 Comments
Is a Kid Gift List a Good Idea? Or Just Plain Tacky?

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that your gut reactions was…TACKY!!! Encouraging your kids to ask for stuff is just plain wrong, right? But as KJ Dellantonia points out in The New York Times online, can those of us who have ever participated in making a wedding or shower gift registry really get upset over this?

If you have children, you inevitably get the question “what does little Johnny want for his birthday/Christmas/Hanukah/just because he got good grades” gift? And you rattle off a list of things that you think little Johnny needs or wants and it’s done; in a way, you’re already handing out a kid gift list.

But what happens when grammie goes shopping and she forgets what you told her? Little Johnny gets a Pillow Pet when what he really needed was a new pair of snow pants or what he wanted was a new set of Legos. The Pillow Pet ends up kicking around your house for years without being used or donated and it’s one more thing that’s shuffled from closet to closet. The kid gift list is designed to cure this problem — for both you and your kiddo, without becoming a greed-filled list of thousands of dollars worth of merchandise. Seriously.

First of all, what the heck is a “kid gift list”? This pretty much functions the same way that a wish list does over at It could potentially be hosted anywhere — your blog, Elfster, Amazon, Toys ‘R Us,…basically, anywhere that people can shop for gifts. In fact, there are many “gift list” sites available on the Internet. This is the new version of the old pen and paper we used to write to Santa back in the day — and my version includes some parental input, which is a totally good thing.

For example, lets say your kids want a bunch of toys you know they will never play with after the first three days. Or toys that you find outrageously expensive and over-the-top? After having a discussion with your kids about why such requests are just not appropriate, you can work with them to remove those items and replace them with something more reasonable. In my head, this is a great way to help them set realistic expectations.

You know your kids better than anyone. You can help them walk through their list and focus on things that they need as well as want. You can help them find a healthy balance between the two.

Now, on the flip side, I know some of you are thinking that getting gifts you don’t totally love is also a lesson in showing gratitude — even when you’re not necessarily feeling it. And I get that, I really do. And I appreciate that lesson as well. But it’s hard for kids to do this. Heck, it’s hard for adults to pretend they like a gift that they actually loathe and for the giver of the gift, it can actually be a disappointing experience. Why not save everyone the trouble?

I know not everyone will agree with me on this. But I do think the kid gift list is a particularly good idea. Especially when you have relatives that live far away that will always buy a gift, even if you tell them not to.

Here’s a prime example. A few years ago, my grandparents purchased snow gear for my oldest daughter. The problem? They bought stuff from a local store that was far too small for my daughter. We couldn’t use it and we couldn’t exchange it. In the end, my grandparents wasted their time and money. And when they asked how it worked out, what was I supposed to say? “Oh, well, thanks. But it was three sizes too small.” Uh, no. I told them it was fantastic and thank you so much! Then felt guilty for weeks for lying to my 85-year-old grandparents.

What are your thoughts on the kid gift list? Is it a good idea? Or just completely tacky?

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Posted in: Mommy Stuff, Parenting
Stacie McClintock

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