Grandparents-to-be are throwing parties of their own. Since millennial parents are returning to work soon after having a baby, grandparents are taking a more active role in caring for their grandkids. They are often stepping in as babysitter or nanny; 72 percent of grandparents take care of their grandkids on a regular basis, according to grandparents.com. With this new responsibility comes the need for a Pack n’ Play, stroller, and high chair for grandma and grandpa. Enter the grand baby shower. These parties can be co-ed, to celebrate both grandma and grandpa, and involve registries, gifts, and decorations similar to a standard baby shower.
Some parents find these parties unnecessary since grandparents already had a celebration when they were expectant parents. Others see it as a fun way for grandparents-to-be to prepare for their grandchild’s arrival. We want to know, Would you encourage your parents to host a grandma or grandpa shower? Take our poll, and then share a comment below — it could appear in a future issue of Parents.
Christmas is a time of giving and a time of magic, which is why I’ve made it a tradition to participate in the U.S. Post Office’s Operation Santa program where everyday people can help fulfill the holiday wishes of less-fortunate local kids. As far as I’ve been told, the letters that qualify for the program are selected by postal workers based on the return address on the envelope (think the projects, really poor neighborhoods)–so they really are coming from kids and families in need.
My favorite part of Operation Santa is that you get to read through as many kids’ letters as you like before choosing the ones you want to “adopt.” Some of these letters are flat-out funny. For instance, one little boy admitted to Santa that he actually hadn’t been good all year, and that he’d done a few naughty things, but that he tries to be good, and that he’d help out an old sick man “if his dad said yes.” Many are sweet and come from little ones wanting things like “doctor sets” so they can practice to be a doctor when they grow up. Others—the biggest tear-jerkers—come from older kids not asking for anything for themselves, but hoping that Santa can bring a toy or a warm coat for their little brother or sister.
And then . . . there are the Xbox letters—or, to be more accurate, they’re the Xbox Live, iPhone 5, iPad mini, laptop letters. As you can imagine, they go something like this: “Dear Santa, Please bring me an Xbox Live with these four games. I’ve been good all year.” Or, “Dear Santa, Please bring me an iPhone 5. I’ll leave cookies by the fireplace.”
If you’re like a lot of people, you’re probably rolling your eyes and thinking these big-ticket letters are coming more from a place of greed than a place of need. But the truth is, that these kids aren’t asking for expensive things to try to work the system—they’re asking for them because they want to feel normal.
Most young kids—especially kids who have little to nothing at home—really don’t understand the difference in price between, say, a playset or doll that might cost $40 and the latest tablet that can cost hundreds of dollars. Why? Because their family likely can’t afford either. To that child, both are equally out of reach.
Plus, it’s only natural for a kid to want the things other kids at school have and talk about–and right now, a lot of those things (not all of them, though, thank heavens for Rainbow Loom, right?!) are seriously expensive. In a needy kid’s world, getting an Xbox Live or an iPhone 5 would take a work of magic—the kind of magic kids think only Santa Claus can provide.
TELL US: Do you give gifts to needy kids at the holidays? Would you be upset if an underprivileged kid asked for an expensive toy or gadget?
To learn more about Operation Santa (you don’t have to choose an Xbox letter unless you want to!) click here.
My daughter just celebrated her 7th birthday. As the guests arrived, my mother collected all the gift bags and wrapped boxes. When do you want her to open the gifts? she asked. Oh, I said, We don’t do that anymore. She looked at me like I had two heads: But it’s a birthday party!
Indeed. When I was a kid the absolute best part of my birthday parties wasn’t the cake. Or the song and dance from Chuck E. Cheese (god help us all), or the pizza. It was opening the presents from my friends. Sitting at the head of the table, gifts piled in front and all my friends gathered ’round, I’d rip through the paper, read funny cards aloud, and squeal at whatever came out of the box — because it was so silly, so funny, or just so perfect. And everyone would laugh along. At least that’s how I remember it.
Isn’t that how so many of you remember it too? So why did we abandon opening gifts at birthday parties? I imagine it’s for one of these reasons: 1) We don’t want to make a kid feel bad who didn’t bring/couldn’t afford a gift as nice as someone else’s, or 2) We don’t want another kid to feel bad if the birthday kid makes a face or says, I already have that/don’t like that (which, yes, is a possibility).
But for sake of a few (possible) hurt feelings we are missing the point of giving a gift in the first place. When you separate the gift giver from the receiver, your child doesn’t connect the gift with a person, their friend. Instead it’s just another thing without meaning attached to it. It’s a great opportunity for kids to learn to say thank you — and mean it! (On a practical level, it’s also harder to keep track of who gave what; cards and presents frequently get detached or mismatched.)
Opening gifts together is also better for the gift-giver: The child who gives the gift gets to see the look on their friend’s face. How wonderful is it to see your friend happy because of something you picked out? Kids will take more pride in giving gifts and likely want to give gifts that they know their friend will like. (Even if they are small — we all know that little kids love cheap things. Hello Squinkies and Rainbow Loom bracelets.) I’d venture that most kids now don’t even know what gifts their parents picked out for their friends — so the gift really isn’t a gift anymore. It really is a just a thing. A thing you do. A price of admission to the party. Is that what we want to teach our kids?
So who’s with me? Can we bring back the gift-opening ritual?