What to do when your kid gets a gift you hate

Dec. 20, 2012 at 12:59 PM ET

It's the thought that counts... but some gifts might make you wonder, "What were they thinking?!" TODAY toy expert and co-founder Stephanie Oppenheim offers tips for keeping your holidays happy, no matter what surprises are under the tree.

1. Plan ahead.  Grandparents, aunts and uncles are usually well-intentioned on the gift giving for your kids but they don't always know your child's interests or remember how old they were when they got certain toys they remember fondly. As a result you end up with the Barbie doll for your “I-don’t-play-with-dolls” girl or a potentially dangerous chemistry set for your 6-year-old.  Give them a list of things to choose from or suggest they contribute to a big ticket item.

2. Not in my house. There are certain toys that you may feel are completely inappropriate for your child and family. Our suggestion is not to make a big deal about it when the toy is unwrapped if the gift giver is present.  There’s no reason to spoil what should be a happy family moment. If your child is old enough to understand, then at a later time you can discuss why that kind of toy is not in keeping with your family’s values.  Your child may not be happy, but that’s part of parenting.  Next year, give that family member a list of toys your child really wants (and you have no problem with).  

Grandma get junior a drum set? Have her keep it at home, so he can play when he visits her.
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3. Grandparent toys. We’ve all been there. It’s a super loud obnoxious toy and you dread taking it home. Try this:  “Fantastic, we’ll leave that here at grandma’s house so you can play with it when you visit.”  This has a high percentage success rate!  

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