Social Question

JLeslie's avatar

What do you think about children making gift registries for their birthdays?

Asked by JLeslie (46168 points ) December 19th, 2013

I saw a spot on a morning show recently where they were discussing children making a registry for their birthdays. Most of the hosts on the show thought it was appalling. The line voice in favor of it was Dan Abrams who thought it made perfect sense. He basically kept saying, “then the kids can get what they want.”

What do you think? The naysayers felt it was either too entitled or took the fun out of gift giving.

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46 Answers

Seek's avatar

I feel gift registries are for bridal showers and baby showers, where the recipients have likely already got established collections or preferences, and have already researched what will fit into their lives. If the couple getting married already have a favourite china pattern, they can let people know, or if the parents to be have a small nursery, they can register the crib they know will fit. These are all for situations in which people conceivably need the things they’re registering for as they move into a new phase of their lives.

Gift registries for birthdays of any sort are entitled and disgusting.

There is nothing in the world an 8 year old needs from Toys R Us.

tedibear's avatar

Ugh! I dislike it as much as I dislike the “list” from our sister-in-law for our niece. Up until this year, I would ask my SIL if she had any ideas of what to get for her. I would get a detailed, approved list to choose from. Last year I went off the list a little bit and she didn’t look happy. This year, I didn’t even ask for the list. I was at Disney, she loves Toy Story, therefore I went with the theme!

In general terms, I’m with Seek. It’s ridiculous and greedy. To me, there’s a difference between a child making a list and hoping to get something and going to the store and picking the specific make, model, etc. Unless it’s a Red Ryder BB Gun…

ibstubro's avatar

I have to agree that I think it ridiculous. Mom and dad are, effectively, Santa Claus and should secretively determine which gifts are most important to the child and see that they get the top 2–3 picks. The rest of the gifts are life experience: being surprised my something you never thought of and love and being gracious when a well intentioned gift misses the mark.

I know, this year you can start the kid a Christmas Club Account, pass out deposit books, and ask for pledges. That way next year little Susie and Johnny can go bite and scratch and claw for their own Black Friday bargains. Teach them the real meaning of Christmas!

Katniss's avatar

Pretty damn tacky.
I’m sure it’ll be huge with Yuppies and their spawn.

fluthernutter's avatar

Depends on what they have on it. Are they big, expensive items or specific ones?

The latest must have item of the season.

A certain Lego set. It lets me know they’re not as into Mega-Blocks, Playmobil or some other brand of building toys. And it helps me avoid buying a double set.

But, really, get a gift receipt and call it a day.

longgone's avatar

I think they make sense for people who don’t know the kid well. Just makes things easier for the parents. As to a child feeling entitled: That’s a different issue, I’d say. And anyway…Christmas wish lists are basically the same thing, aren’t they?

That said, I would never insist on people choosing from the registry.

JLeslie's avatar

I think it is the same as writing up a Santa list also @longgone. All the negativity surprises me, but I find it interesting.

fluthernutter's avatar

Santa lists are about hope.
Wish lists are about expectations.

jonsblond's avatar

A Santa list is for the parents. A birthday list would be for family, friends and classmates. They are not the same. A birthday registry sounds like something for the well-to-do. I can’t imagine any of my friends or family ever listing a registry on a birthday invitation. It does reek of entitlement.

JLeslie's avatar

@jonsblond I can’t imagine anyone ever listing a registry on any invitation. Wedding, baby, or otherwise. I am very pro registry, but not listing it in an invitation. Tacky.

longgone's avatar

@fluthernutter “Santa lists are about hope.Wish lists are about expectations.”

While that is so nicely written that it makes me want to agree…why?

I know an eight-year-old who loves Lego. He’s very smart and maybe even slightly OCD, so he writes down what he’d like, complete with pictures and the respective catalogue page. Hours of dreaming for him, easier gift-giving for the grandparents. It’s pretty awesome.

johnpowell's avatar

Remember how everyone was snorting bath salts and killing cops? Total outrage.

Or not. Just the 24 hour media making shit up again for bullshit outrage.

Pachy's avatar

I say let ‘em buy their own ?^%$ birthday gifts.

jonsblond's avatar

@JLeslie I guess I’m not invited to that many parties or weddings. I thought the registry information came with the invitation. Am I wrong?

filmfann's avatar

Why not? How many times did Grandma and Grandpa who live far away buy their Grandchildren stuff the kids had out grown?

Gee, Gramps. I’m 12. I don’t like Star Wars any more.

JLeslie's avatar

@jonsblond Not in my circles, but possibly people do it.

To me it is impolite to ask for a gift and telling someone where the registry is withut being asked would be akin to asking for gift. I have seen invitations that specifically say no gifts please, or in lieu of gifts please donate to a certain charity. Having a registry is not asking for a gift in my mind, it is there for people who want to give a gift.

I picked my SIL’s name for Christmas and today I agonized about going back to the stores (I bought two things at two different stores) and returning them and rebuying them with cash so if she wants to return them she can get cash and not be obligated to spend the money in that store or credit back my credit card. I want her to have something she likes, and you know, I’m Jewish, I don’t want to waste money on something that will sit in a closet. If she had a santa list with specifics it would have made things easier.

Her children told me she wants a wine aerator. There are many different aerators. The one I bought is rather fancy, and I worry she would prefer a less fancy smaller one since she lived in a small apartment, but she also tends to like the most expensive thing money can buy a lot of the time. The price difference is only $15 more or less, so I splurged and got her the snazzy one. I also bought her my favorite long sleeve t-shirts for the cold weather, because she is always cold. So, one gift is basically what I think would be on a registry if she had one, and one is my own personal addition. I wish she had a registry with exactly what she wants. Save me time, worry, and also her time if she winds up needing to exchange it.

For kids it’s the same for me. I want to get them what they want. What they will actually wear or play with. It can even be cash if they want to save for something, I don’t care what it is. I care what they want. However, I also understand that sometimes adults buy gifts they believe will be interesting for a child and the kid may not even know to ask for it or have ever heard of it before. That’s good too. Children are limited by their experiences of course.

janbb's avatar

I like what @fluthernutter wrote and agree with it. Asking the parents for suggestions is very different from being presented with a list.

Blackberry's avatar

The gift card industry will take over! Expect us.

JLeslie's avatar

I think gift cards already have taken over to some extent. I say go back to the green stuff. I always give my husband’s niece and nephew cash. When they were very little I gave them toys. Now that they are becoming adults it’s different, because my husband’s family decided to do the pick a name out of a hat and give and receive one gift. My niece and nephew were treated as equals, which I don’t agree with since they are still in school. I still am inclined to give them some cash in addition, we’ll see.

augustlan's avatar

My initial reaction is that it seems tacky and excessive. But it really isn’t much different than a birthday or Christmas ‘wish list’, which most of my children’s relatives ask for anyway. I guess I’m on the fence about it.

jca's avatar

I haven’t read the previous posts.

I never heard of this. I think it’s tacky and horrifying.

fluthernutter's avatar

@longgone If you read my first response, our examples are pretty similar. I really have no problem with that scenario.

Also, I think OCD and neurotic list-makers are a particular exception because they enjoy making these lists. A wish list is simply a by-product. Therefore, intent changes.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with expectations. It’s the what, who and how of it that matters. But there’s definitely a difference between a list to Santa and a gift registry. Heck, there’s a difference between a gift registry and a wish list.

@filmfann That’s crazy talk. I’m 35 and I still like Star Wars!

ragingloli's avatar

What be this fabled gift registry thou speaketh of?

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

Send the impudent little bastards to the work farm every December.

JLeslie's avatar

@ragingloli I missed the beginning of the conversation between the newscasters. I assume it was just about children doing a registry at Toys r Us or some other store? I really don’t know for sure though. For a while now I have been drawing up plans for a registry idea, but haven’t followed through yet, and I found it interesting people were so negative about it for children. My idea is not specifically for children though, but still I found the discussion enlightening.

filmfann's avatar

@fluthernutter I still like Star Wars too. I was using that as an example.

Cupcake's avatar

Well… this is similar to the question about practical gifts, in my opinion.

I have lists on Amazon for my kids. If the grandparents (or anyone) ask, I will tell them where to look. This is a way for specific requests to be made, such as “I would like to own this specific book and read it in the upcoming year”, or “This is the brand/color/size jeans that I want to wear.” I have diapers and cloth wipes + cleaning solution on there, as well as organic body wash. These are not extravagant gifts. They are specific (and vetted by me) things that my children could actually use and appreciate.

I grew up hating Christmas/birthday/gift giving. It seemed so impersonal. “Here are stretch pants in random sizes and colors all given to the cousins for Christmas” is ridiculous. Gifts should match both the giver and the recipient. I hate waste. I hate impersonal. This way, gifts can be practical (wanted or needed) and not wasteful.

I don’t think it’s different than a list. I would never list the wish list on an invitation. I think they can be practical and should have a number of not-expensive items. I don’t think the link or information should be given out unless requested.

I think the hate and assumption that making a list implies greed is overkill.

longgone's avatar

@fluthernutter I hadn’t read your first response, that scenario really is similar to mine.

“There’s nothing inherently wrong with expectations. It’s the what, who and how of it that matters.”

Yes, that’s exactly what I think, too.

“But there’s definitely a difference between a list to Santa and a gift registry.”

There is a difference between a registry and a wish list to Santa, yes. Because for one of them, you have to be young enough to believe in Santa. Even then, there are children who basically order Santa to bring them a doll house, bike and a puppy.

Anyway, I wasn’t talking about Santa lists, but just a simple birthday wish list. Are you against those? Because to me, a registry is just a more specified wish list. There’s a local toy store around here, and I’ve seen children running around in there, choosing what they’d like for their Birthdays – so happy. One girl (about nine) was especially cute, she kept asking her dad whether she had chosen too much. There is no reason to think any of these children will throw tantrums on their respective birthdays. If they do, I doubt that a wish list could have prevented them doing so.

JLeslie's avatar

@Cupcake You reminded me that some people hate to be told what to give and find following a list very impersonal. The opposite of what you are saying. I should mention that I agree with your take. I remember when I was getting married a friend specifically told me she doesn’t want to buy on my registry and get lost among all the people who are buying me registry items. I think that is ridiculous. I got the feeling she wanted her gift to be more “special” or something?

I think there are many reasons people don’t like to buy from a registry though, not just wanting to stand out. Some people think it takes away surprise or creativity. All sorts of reasons. Many people like to give what they would want themselves (I never understand this way of thinking) rather than give what the receiver really wants. Sometimes that can be fun, receive an unexpected gift and you find you just love it and would not have bought it for yourself. Most often for me those gifts get regifted, put in a closet, but they still can carry sentimentalness (probably not a word) which count of course.

@longgone My dad a couple of times told us, my sister and me, that we each had $20 to spend in the toy store and we could pick anything we wanted. The rest of the money we could keep if we didn’t spend it all. He saw it as an exercise in spending and saving and of course getting something fun. It was great.

My husband, who since we have been married feels every birthday and Christmas is anticlimactic, because it just isn’t like when your a kid; when he was a kid he was given tons of gifts. About four years ago when my parents were visiting they took us to the navy base, and I dragged my husband along, he usually didn’t come with us. It was Christmas time and he wandered off in the store in one direction and I in another. About a half hour later I found him and he had a small shopping cart full of underwear and socks and a shirt and a wallet and when he saw me he was all excited and smiling and made me come with him to see some sort of bottle water thingy that interested him. It was funny and surprising to me how happy it made him. I dare say that shopping trip where my parents paid for whatever he picked out was his best Christmas gift giving experience as an adult. It could have been his birthday, it would have been just as good.

Seek's avatar

Remember that old expression “It’s the thought that counts”?

I really prefer my own personal tradition of the Tuesday Present. Sometimes I’ll be out and about, and see something that really makes me think of someone I care about. One time I was in a used book store, and I saw an antique book of Tennyson poems, that made me think of my friend Jill, who really loves The Lady of Shalott. That, wrapped in some old lace, tied with an old silk ribbon, with a handmade (by me) quill pen in the bow, was her Tuesday present.

You just can’t give a gift like that off of a registry. Oh, I thought of you completely randomly while I was searching for your wish list on Amazon, Sorry I didn’t pay extra for gift wrap, but I promise the mailman won’t damage it too much when he drops it at your door.

Cupcake's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr I agree. Your kind of gifting comes with a level of personal knowledge of a person that I think many people lack these days. So my suggestion was instead of a gift card or “standard” gift. But your very thoughtful and personal gifts would be preferred.

I think that there is room for both kinds of gifts, especially when the recipient is not well known by the giver.

JLeslie's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr That is my favorite type of gift also. :). I call it getting a gift for no reason. That gift you know the person and something you see reminds you of them. In a way those gifts are the ones most often given in my family. I get money for Chanukah and my birthday still, but randomly I get something my mom knew I would like, and I do the same for my parents and other people I know. I like those gifts not only because it shows thought, but also because it doesn’t have some sort of implication the person has to reciprocate. If I give a Christmas gift or a birthday gift, that person might feel like they have to do the same for me, but a random gift is so random and unique I think there is less pressure. I never wanted to start any gift giving traditions with friends regarding birthdays and Christmas, I think it can get out of control.

Registries do not interfere with that. Registries make it easier for the gift giver who doesn’t know what to give, and an event is coming up where they want to show up with a present or send one. Let’s say your son is invited to a classmate’s birthday party and you don’t really know the kid. You can ask his mom of course what he likes, that is basically the same as a registry. The registry idea may not work or be useful for very young children, but into the teen years when kids get pretty specific about what they want I think it could be useful. In fact, for very young children it would probably just me more work for the parent to get on line or go to the store and make a registry, because the child can’t do it alone.

KNOWITALL's avatar

Like @longgone, I think it would be helpful. My nephews in another state wouldn’t have to tell their parents, and the parents tell me.

Maybe not just kids, but everyone. I like the idea.

poofandmook's avatar

I don’t see the big deal really. I have been asked to make wish lists for Christmas and birthdays since I was old enough to speak. It, at the very least, gives the giver an IDEA of what to get, if not the exact item.

For instance… my sister would love nothing more than books, all day every day, for every birthday and holiday. Except she’s got so damned many, that without that list, we’d have no idea what she was reading at the time or what she already has or has read already.

Nowadays Amazon has replaced the list, and their Wish List function really doesn’t act any differently than a registry. I still am required to make a list for myself every Christmas, and now for my husband as well… my grandmother hounds us for it starting in September.

And honestly, I feel like if one is “offended” at the idea of being “told” what to give by a list… they really need to get their panties out of that knot and lighten up.

gailcalled's avatar

I call them “unbirthday gifts” and give them out all the time.

longgone's avatar

@JLeslie I bet you and your sister loved that. Did it work?

JLeslie's avatar

@longgone It was a treat. I think what worked most when it came to spending and saving was observing my parents over time and how they thought through spending money. I used to get money for Chanukah and birthdays from relatives and I don’t remember once ever spending the money on anything, I always put it in the bank. As I got older my parents gave me information on how they paid their bills and financial goals they had for the future.

longgone's avatar

@JLeslie Well done, @JLeslie‘s dad! :)

JLeslie's avatar

We also in my family always buy off the registry if there is one or give money. I can’t remember my parents guessing what to buy someone except for when we travel and we want to bring back a trinket for someone. There wasn’t much gift giving in my family, and I am very bad at it. I am bad at giving and receiving, although much better than I used to be.

cheebdragon's avatar

“You get what you get and you don’t throw a fit.”

Seek's avatar

So, my son’s little friend’s fourth birthday is in a couple of weeks. I’m giving her a handmade apron/painting smock and a canvas and a little set of acrylic paints. Hope she didn’t expect me to check the registry first!

cheebdragon's avatar

↑ That’s a cute gift idea. Is acrylic washable?

Seek's avatar

Nope! Not after it’s dry anyway. That’s what the apron is for. ^_^

cheebdragon's avatar

Right, I figured that much, but what about the rest of the house?

JLeslie's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr The last gift I gave was homemade cookies in a very pretty tin. So? And, my favorite cooking apron is one my MIL gave me. She got it for free from a vendor/wholesaler. My husband periodically tells me it’s ugly and asks why I wear it. I tell him his mom gave it to me, and I like it. What do you think? I have no appreciation for homemade gifts or that the thought counts?

I still wish my BIL and his husband had registered somewhere for their wedding so when I was shopping yesterday it would have been easier. I probably spent more money than if they had had a registry, and my husband wasn’t even keen on buying a gift at all because they got married without telling anyone (they were planning a wedding two years ago and it was cancelled because one was diagnosed with cancer) and now that they did sort of elope they never told us, we found out through my MIL.

I would love that apron you are making if I was the little girl. Plus, like I said, it usually gets harder as kids become teens. I also don’t like anyone feeling obligated to give a gift at all. Their presence is gift enough. I don’t invite people to get gifts. I don’t like the ritual of opening gifts in the presence of everyone at a party, which I think creates pressure and competition. I bet a lot of people would be upset if their gift was not opened in front of everyone though.

longgone's avatar

^^ That’s how I feel. Why does it have to be either/or? If I have an idea of what the recipient would like, of course I’ll buy that. If I don’t know them very well, I’m grateful for some help. And if my kid expected anyone to check the registry – instead of just being happy someone thought of him – , I would worry about my parenting skills.

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