What to Give a Little One?

I’m going to be an uncle in July.  Although I have two nephews, I “inherited” them when I married my wife.

The way we generally give presents is to buy things separately for our own families.  This method seems to result in fewer arguments over spending more or less than we think the other should spend (I’ll let the readers figure out what that means 🙂 ).  So, this new little one will be my responsibility to buy for.  My issue – what do I buy?  I find a lot of baby stuff to be unpractical, such as toys and clothes (no matter how much fun it would be to put the child into a ridiculous outfit) that will be grown out of rapidly and then be useless.  I see so much stuff being given to babies that is either barely worn or used and is either added to a stash in the basement or given away.  So, I think I have come up with a plan for gift giving for the new little one on the way:

For when he/she is small:  I think I will talk to my brother and find out what he really needs right at the moment rather than buying things that really aren’t needed.  I would much rather buy practical things such as diapers, food or other needed supplies rather than the previously mentioned toys and clothes that seem to be popular items.  The way I see it, the small person doesn’t know what they’re getting, and really doesn’t need anything at this age anyways.

For when he/she is older: My wife’s nephews are this age now and really really like to get toys.  It drives me crazy on Christmas and birthdays to see the amount of “stuff” (crap) that they get – it just seems so wasteful.  I am not really a Grinch, and I really don’t mind giving presents to kids, it just seems so useless to add to a massive pile.  I think once my new niece or nephew is old enough, I’ll probably end up getting them something small and putting a portion of money in a savings account for the child to use at some point in the future.  I would feel better knowing that I am not adding to a pile of stuff during holidays, and also knowing that at some point I can help my niece or nephew with something they perhaps really want or need.

At the end of most holidays people have basically just traded money around in the form of goods and the only people that really win are retailers.    I have been told (by my extremely patient wife) that I am not allowed to negotiate a no present holiday because people don’t look at things the same way I do and it would be rude to impose my views for holidays and birthdays.

So, this is what I decided to do.  Do you spoil your nieces and nephews?  If not, what do you do?

11 thoughts on “What to Give a Little One?”

  1. Dave,

    I can so relate to that. I’m looking for a present for my youngest who is turning two shortly. I don’t have a clue what to buy him. He doesn’t need clothes, or toys.

    Don’t under estimate doing a little bit of both. Buy some clothes, because they do out grow them fast (go with a bigger size and let the kid grow into it) and then some cash to put away for the little one’s education. Or if you want to get a book for the little one. Reading is a HUGE benefit to kid, so if you can make reading to the kid easier for the parents you are doing something good.

    Just some ideas,

  2. for new borns I really like diapers, especially if you can get a group of people to get them some it is hugh load off the parents that they have a pile of dipers and are not spending that money on them.

    For some of our friends when they had twins we all bought diapers and they had at least a 6 month supply! What a relief for the parents.

  3. I agree. For my two nephews (age 5 & 3) I buy them a toy from the dollar store to open and then put the rest I would have spent into a savings account for them. At this age they don’t know that the toy you bought for them only cost a few bucks.

  4. A new baby doesn’t really know whether you get him/her a gift or not. I typically purchase a cleaning service for my close friends and family when they have a new bundle of joy. So many people come over during those first few weeks to visit the new baby and the parents will be way too tired and busy to clean the house (and will be stressed about the state of it when people are there).

    I pay for a couple of hours and the new parents can schedule it at their convenience and decide what household chores they would like to have done.

    Sometimes I buy a manicure/pedicure for the new Mom and then babysit for her while she goes to get pampered for a couple of hours.

  5. As a new dad and a long time Uncle I completely agree. When my daughter was born we were given so much stuff, much of it not needed (30 stuffed toys?). The best gifts were the hand-me downs from friends, and the gift certificates. People gave GC’s to Superstore, Toys R Us (who actually sell a lot of baby gear), The Bay, Sears, etc. These are useful as you can wait to use them. For instance we recently bought a travel crib, 6 months ago when she was born we had no clue we would ever need something like this.

    If I were to do it all over again I’d really like to get money towards an RESP for her, then I can use our own money to buy what we need and limit the pile of stuff we acquire.

    As for my Nephews, I try to give them experiences, so I’ll go visit and take them to the zoo, or out to a museum. Gifts are usually home made or very useful (ie bike helmet).

  6. In my younger years I thought people were joking about cardboard boxes as a better present than what was actually inside the box. Then I had kids. I found the big cardboard boxes got much more use than any other present. The kids received crappy toys that were rarely used, that I stepped on, that took up space, that didn’t provide any imaginative outlet and of course, created lots of garbage. Lego, hotwheels and the wooden train set were the exceptions. Now that the kids are older, I have convinced family that cash is the best gift. Cash is like giving two gifts – the cash itself and the fun the kids have when they go shopping with it.

  7. Dana, you are a Saint. And I wish you were our friend 🙂

    Experiences are also great for slightly older kids – and for the parents too if YOU take the children (to the zoo/amusement park/whatever the child is interested in).

  8. Jumping in a little late here.

    As a parent, I like when my kids get experiences as opposed to toys.

    Museum memberships;
    subscription to the Symphony for kids; subscription to children’s theatre;
    season tickets to a local team if sports is their cup of tea.
    Magazine subscriptions (quality ones, not ones full of ads, may need to dig a little).
    Lessons! Our oldest takes music lessons to the tune of over $1K a year. Having relatives contributing to that has been great.
    Good books.

  9. Thanks everyone for all of your suggestions – I will keep them in mind when he/she comes this summer!

  10. Here’s a couple suggestions…

    Get Mum a nice spa experience – she’ll love you for it, especially if you offer to stay home with Dad and help 🙂

    If the parents are going to use disposable diapers, the Diaper Genie is a godsend! It’s not the most environmentally friendly (then again, neither are the diapers) but it will stop their entire house from smelling like a used diaper! Yuck!

    Enjoy the time with your new nephew/niece!

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