Holiday Gifts for Grown Kids: What to Do?

6 years ago
Small pink gift box on edge of table

Maybe they’re not into Santa anymore, but grown-up kids still need presents. That’s not easy. There are reasons -- lots of them -- why shopping for adult offspring can give you palpitations, especially when they live across the country or the Atlantic or some other version of far away.

  • They have a significant other with strong opinions, and you don’t want to force a kid to defend mom’s taste in sweaters or tablecloths or garden tools.
  • They’ve moved to a new place and you haven’t even seen it yet.  What color?  What style?  Do they already have a Brita pitcher or fireplace tools?  Do they even have a fireplace?
  • They have a high-end, grown up interest.  Foodie kids have strong opinions about kitchen tools; athletes on brand and style; gadget freaks on what’s essential and what’s dumb consumer junk.

We all either have or have been adult children (or both), so this isn’t a bulletin but it sure is a problem.   AND it probably isn’t any easier for them to buy gifts for us.  So what do we do?

At Squidoo, Heather Katsoulis has several great simple and green ideas in her “Simplify your Holiday” feature. 

For extended families, office parties, or families with grown children, the usual custom of getting a brand new gift for each person on your list can be excessive. Try one of these fun ideas for reducing the number of material gifts while keeping the fun spirit of a gift swap.

Mothering 21 blogger Mary Quigley spotted a nice generational conversation about gifts for grown kids at Parent Dish -- both blogs are worth checking.

Side One: As a young woman in my 20s, I have come to rely on my parents for much more than just annual birthday gifts or wrapped boxes on holiday mornings. But I really can't think of anything more exciting than receiving a gift from the two people who love me the most -- my mom and dad.

Side Two: By not teaching our children the true value of hard work, we do them a great disservice. And teaching financial independence through a lack of gifts or indulgent purchases is the way to start educating them.

Cathy H. Jones writes at Stacie’s Gifts about going with her kids to buy a few Toys for Tots -- and what that example meant to them as adults.

My grown children still comment about helping less fortunate kids at Christmas time. Every year no matter how cash strapped we were, we always took them to the store and had them pick out some toys to donate to Toys to Tots.

Our own family has several solutions.  Some years we’ve donated to charity and given token gifts -- or none at all -- over the holiday.  Sometimes we wait until we’re all together and go shopping for a gift they choose.  Much of the time we give gift cards -- Amazon or iTunes. You can't have too many books (well you can but that takes a few more years).

For us, the best gift of all is, of course, their presence and despite the cost in work days and plane fare, they come when they can.  Gathering together is our favorite holiday gift and I’m pretty sure they love it too.

Happy holidays to all -- no matter how grown-up you are (or feel!).


Cynthia Samuels, Managing Editor, and Partner Cobblestone Associates, LLP  Don’t Gel Too Soon

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