8 of the worst gifts grandparents could give their grandchildren

The holidays are upon us and so are the days of receiving bad gifts gracefully. Nearly everyone I know has at least one holiday gift horror story. Usually it involves noise and size. Almost always, kids fall instantly in love with the gift their parents absolutely hate, making it nearly impossible to send it off to a “better” home without tears. Here’s a rundown of some of my favorites. Grandparents: take note! If you want to revenge on your once obnoxious kids, this is the list for you!

1. Anything that reads “oversized,” “giant,” or “life-sized.” Like that 6-foot tall giraffe that you just knew your 3-year-old granddaughter would love. These gifts are instant favorites and pack a big wow factor but quickly become a space and dust burden to their owners.

2. Drum set. Enough said.

3. Age inappropriate Lego set. Now I love *cough* Legos as much as the next mama, but nothing is more irritating that watching a 3-year-old fling crumb-sized pieces all over your house in the name of building a set. Legos are labeled by age for a reason. Anything beyond a year or two older than the child’s age means that an adult will have to do most of the work.

4. Holiday outfits opened on the day of the event. The implication here is that you expect your children to abandon their chosen outfit and put their children in yours. It’s annoying to the parents of those now-naked children.

5. Movies, media, and games that have not been approved in advance. Grandparents, I know you mean well here, but parents are saddled with the task of approving content before a child watches it. Giving a movie that might not yet be age appropriate or a video game that has violence or other questionable content just creates conflict between children and their parents.

6. Complex art kits. Someone once gave my daughter a bead necklace kit that was way over her head. She became frustrated quickly. Art is an amazing gift; just make sure it’s easy for children to use on their own. Kids want to be independent!

7. Anything noise amplifying that requires batteries. A big shout out here to my own in-laws for the microphone with built-in laugh track that my daughter went nuts over. Pass the migraine meds, please.

8. Some assembly required. Unless you are the ones willing to assemble, stay far away from these toys! Children want to use their toys NOW, if not sooner, so bring them assembled or be darned!

So what’s a well-meaning grandparent to do? Consider asking your children what they would really like for their kids. They often have a short list that can really be helpful and will guarantee that your grandkids are thrilled. Otherwise, think simple, classic toys; wooden puzzles, building blocks that are easy to use, balls, and pull toys have withstood the test of time for a reason. Of course, simply spending time with little ones will give them a lifetime of memories and give parents a much-needed rest—a gift to parents and children alike!


What’s the worst gift your child has ever gotten from a grandparent, relative, or well-meaning friend? Share them in the comments.

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About Dr. Sara Connolly, Board Certified Pediatrician

Sara Connolly, MD, FAAP, is a Board Certified Pediatrician who practices in Palm Beach County, Florida. She completed her residency at Jackson Memorial Hospital at the University of Miami, where she served as Chief Resident. She has a passion for child advocacy and has worked on the local, state, and national level to increase access to care for children. Her interests include nutrition, breastfeeding, and parenting skills.


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