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How to Politely Ask Relatives Not to Spoil Your Kids During the Holidays

HuffPost spoke to a couple of etiquette experts to find out the polite way to deal with family members’ tendency to spoil your kids during the holidays.

Discuss It In Advance

Don’t wait until the week of the holiday to make your request. “It’s ideal to be preemptive about this,” said Jodi R.R. Smith, president of Mannersmith Etiquette Consulting. “It’s not uncommon for grandparents, especially if it’s the first grandchild, to really go overboard.”

Don’t Be Too Presumptuous

“You don’t want to say you assume they’ll be buying your children gifts because that would be greedy and presumptuous,” said Smith.

She offered suggestions on how to bring up the subject without coming off that way.

“You might say, ‘I was reading an article about how it can be overwhelming for children to get too many gifts at once. It got me thinking, if you wanted to give the kids gifts for the holidays, these are the types of things I hope you’d consider,’” Smith said.

Suggest Options

It can be useful to offer family members a list of gifts you may want for your child or to talk about a big-ticket item they could contribute to.

Acknowledge Their Perspective

It’s important to understand that gift indulgence usually comes from a loving place.

“Be sensitive because these conversations involve people’s love languages,” Smith said. “Sometimes people say ‘I love you’ in gifts and pour a lot into the holiday season and gift-giving.”

Establish New Gift-Giving Traditions

Parents can keep the toy mania at bay by setting parameters and practices. Price and quantity limits are an option, as are fun new traditions.

“Just have a family exchange where everybody picks names,” Gottsman recommended. “That way there aren’t those expectations that everyone has to give gifts to everyone. You can even suggest a Secret Santa or White Elephant (gift exchange), including kids if it’s age-appropriate.”

Keep The Toys With The Gift-Giver

“If there’s a toy you don’t want in your house, consider leaving it at the gift-giver’s house,” Smith suggested.

For example, if a grandmother gives a few toys as gifts, parents can ask their child to choose one or two to leave at her house to play with there.

Don’t Forget To Say Thank You

Even if your relatives don’t heed your gift-giving requests and even if you choose to donate the presents, it’s still important to be a gracious recipient.

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