While our family is on the light green side of eco living, we really do our best to have a green holiday – particularly when it comes to buying natural, handmade gifts and wrapping and decorating. But it seems as though no matter how green we try to go over the holiday season, my in-laws have the amazing ability to completely undo it with their 10 tons of wrapping paper, battery operated and electronic toys, not to be topped by the tiny little plastic gifts and bags of candy. Basically, it’s like they buy out the entire Dollar Store and stuff it in my kids’ stockings.
You’d think that because they live far away from us and aren’t able to join us for the holidays, it would be easy to handle. However, they send over three boxes worth of gifts for everyone (including us) and then bring more when they do come to visit around New Year’s. And while both my husband and I beg them to just purchase gifts that they kids have asked for (read: ones that we want), they just don’t listen. We appreciate their giving spirits, but when most of the items are things we’d never ever purchase (for various reasons), it becomes difficult to be thankful.
So, here are some suggestions on how to stay green with the grandparents:
1) Make an Amazon list and always “blame” the kids. “Well, Johnny realllllllllly wants that wooden truck. He can’t stop talking about it.” They’re generally swayed more if you tell them that it’s the kids who want the “boring” wooden toys.
2) Ask for gift cards. Granted, our in-laws are morally against gift-cards (giving and receiving them), so if that’s the case, ask for gift cards for yourself. That will at least cut down on a few gifts and several pounds of wrapping paper. Some grandparents will give their kids cash so that they can do the shopping themselves. Sounds dreamy…
3) Think outside the box. Most grandparents want to see their kids open the presents, but if you live far away, or have open-minded grannies and pop-pops, ask for something like a museum membership. The kids will get far more long term enjoyment and you’re not adding to the pile of toys in your house. Then just make sure to invite them along (if they live close) or take pics of the kids having the time of their lives and send them.
4) Ask them not to wrap. Okay, don’t laugh. I know it can be nearly impossible to convince grandparents not to wrap presents, if you tell them it allows the kids to play with them more quickly, sometimes they will oblige. If you’re feeling ballsy, then lie and tell them you’ll wrap the gifts for them. Of course, this really only works when you live far away, but what they don’t know won’t hurt them. If you feel bad, then wrap the gifts in homemade wrapping paper or other recycled paper products.
5) Barter hard. If they have to wrap and send ridiculous amounts of useless things (even after you beg and plead – believe me, we’ve been there), then tell them you and your husband just want a charity gift card. Donate it to your favorite green charity and go have a big drink.
How do you deal with not-so-green grandparents? Do you make a list? Do they stick to it? Do you save all the wrapping paper? Do tell.
[This post was written by Kristen Chase.]