General Etiquette > Holidays

Expensive gifts for children OK?

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wellisawstar:
At Christmas, my DH's family uses a Secret Santa system for adult gift giving. Only one of the siblings has children. The kids open gifts from their grandparents and their parents. Sometimes the aunts and uncles give the children gifts, but not always.

When asked what his children might appreciate as gifts this year, DH's brother responded with an email listing some very expensive gifts for the kids. All four of them are into sports. Each kid has one to two major gift desires, and each gift request is probably about $300 but he didn't really specifically say how much. DH's brother asked all of us how much we wanted to pitch in, saying that he and his wife would pitch in the rest.

The email feels weird to me, and I don't know where to pin it on the etiquette spectrum. On the one hand, I think the grandparents and any willing and able aunts and uncles will pay what they would have for another gift. On the other hand, do the kids really only want extremely expensive stuff, or is that the stuff that the parents are hoping someone else will fund?

I'd love some insight into this.

AylaM:
I think it is a little strange, but not too bad.  I'd have expected the parents to send a list of ideas with varying price ranges, as that is what I usually receive.

I've rarely met a kid who only wanted one or two things.  I'm thinking the parents are limiting the list to this.  Either by not passing on other information or by telling the kids that if they want "big ticket item" they are going to have to ask for less.

But I consider that to be better than some scenarios.  Last year my uncle asked some people to buy each of the kids laptops and others to get them things like cell phones and ipods.  This year the kids could really use a tablet.

So in comparison the response you got isn't too out there.  The parents seem to have realistic expectations.  They are asking you to chip in, not fully fund it.  And the kids may need the equipment in order to participate in a sport.

And you can always get them something else if you want.  It doesn't sound like the parents asked you not too.

CakeEater:
It depends on the age of the kids. I'd be thrilled to do this for 10+ because I have no idea what to buy them, and yes, they probably do mostly want things that are pretty expensive.

For younger kids, I'd be more reluctant to do this.

MindsEye:

--- Quote from: wellisawstar on December 06, 2012, 12:08:12 AM ---When asked what his children might appreciate as gifts this year, DH's brother responded with an email listing some very expensive gifts for the kids. All four of them are into sports. Each kid has one to two major gift desires, and each gift request is probably about $300 but he didn't really specifically say how much. DH's brother asked all of us how much we wanted to pitch in, saying that he and his wife would pitch in the rest.

The email feels weird to me, and I don't know where to pin it on the etiquette spectrum. On the one hand, I think the grandparents and any willing and able aunts and uncles will pay what they would have for another gift. On the other hand, do the kids really only want extremely expensive stuff, or is that the stuff that the parents are hoping someone else will fund?

--- End quote ---

I agree... that feels weird to me as well, and the bolded is why it feels weird to me.  If your BIL and his wife are asking you and your DH to "pitch in" and they will "pitch in the rest", then who exactly is the gift going to be from?  It sounds like your BIL and his wife want to get their kids some expensive stuff, and want you and your DH to help them fund it.  :/

Personally I hate the "pitch in for an expensive gift" trope because A - it means that the gift is not really "from" me, if you know what I mean, and B - it means I am going to get pressured to pitch in much more than I would have otherwise felt comfortable giving. 

JenJay:
I would find out where the item is going to be purchased from and give a gift card in whatever amount you are comfortable with. The child can use it toward the item or, if someone else purchases it, an accessory, spare part, etc.

We've never asked family to purchase the big gifts outright. Once, when the kids were 2, 3 and 5, we asked if everybody would contribute cash toward a swing set instead of a wrapped gift. Nobody had a problem with that and the amounts varied from $25 to $100. Another time my nephew wanted a gaming system so bro & SIL asked everyone to send a gift card or game for that. Games ranged from $20 to $60 so that was no problem.

In our family my bro & SIL spend about $20-$30 on each of my kids and I spend the same on theirs. Grandparents will buy gifts in the $20-$75 range and there will be 1-3 gifts per kiddo depending on what they spent.

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