Gift Giving: Is it OK for Grandparents to go Overboard?


Being a grandparent comes with the reputation that we spoil our grandchildren. We let them do whatever they want, eat what they want, and buy them too many gifts. Is it ok for grandparents to go overboard with gift-giving? Or maybe a grandparent’s math is like girl math. If you are a social media follower, you may have heard of it. Girl math became a social media trend that went viral on TikTok. Girl math has been described as spending more to get free shipping but believing you got a deal. Or walking into a store without spending money, and girl math says you walk out richer for tomorrow. 

Should grandparents use girl math?

What if, as grandparents, we created a girl math to get away with the spoiling? I’ll call it Mimi math, a new way grandparents can justify how they come up with spending on their grandchildren for the holidays. For instance, when a grandparent sees a B.O.G.O. free sale, they purchase extra items for each grandchild because they are free, and all grandchildren are treated equally even though the parents ask the grandparents not to go overboard with gift-giving. Or any trip to the dollar store with the grandchildren is free; items are less than $5, and girl math describes that as free.

Image: Children and their gifts
A December 1st gift can come in many styles!

Girl math (or Mimi math) is a bit of twisted logic. In real life, it doesn’t always work that way. Five dollars has a cost, even if it is only $5–that is not free. We can tend to tell ourselves that to justify the behavior. All joking aside, I follow some giving traditions when choosing gifts for my grandchildren. Here are some of the suggestions that my husband and I have incorporated since we began gift-giving for the grands at Christmastime:

My Top 5 Giving Traditions

  1. Start with the parents. The parents should be the heroes at Christmastime, so I want them to give that “one” gift the child wants. I communicate with my grown kids to see what they are getting for their children and what ideas the child may want or need.
  2. Each year your grandchild grows up, they come into their own personality and gifting. They begin to have interests and goals. It helps to learn what they are to help in the gift-giving process.
  3. Give that special gift of faith. When we add a new grandchild to the team, we give them a nativity set of their own. My heart wants them to learn about the true meaning of Christmas. I give them one age-appropriate that they can play with and not worry about ruining. As they get older, I can add a more grown-up style to their collection.
  4. You may have heard of the Jingle Basket (or December 1 box). I didn’t know it had a name, but I give my grandkids a gift bag or basket with some goodies at the beginning of December. The gift includes items they may need before Christmas Day and kicks off the season! Things like Christmas pajamas, socks, seasonal t-shirts, advent calendars, books, etc. 
  5. One year, I read an article on minimalism at Christmas time, and it mentioned getting only four gifts for children–something they want, need, wear, and read. Now, in all reality, I have not stuck to only 4. But I try to remember those categories when giving gifts. I try to stay within these four categories: toy, book, experience, and clothing. It has been fun to add an experience. It’s a gift that can happen anytime in the year to follow. We have gone to a play at the performing arts center, big truck shows, or Disney on Ice.

When we think of giving traditions, it is also good to teach our children/grandchildren to give to others also.  One more thing I would add which is probably the most important giving tradition we have is volunteering at a toy drive or delivering Christmas gifts to a children’s hospital. I always tried to find a way to teach my children and now the grands, that it truly is better to give than to receive. Whatever your giving traditions are or will become, from our family to yours we wish you a very Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays however you celebrate the season!

Looking for ways to give back locally? Check out our Nonprofits Guide or partner with us to provide snacks for children facing food insecurity in Miami-Dade.

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Holly Farver
Holly has built her life around the value of family first. She is a native of Miami and has lived between Hialeah and Cooper City over the years. She is happily married to her husband of 36 years. They have two adult children that are both married with a child each. Pouring into the next generation is a passion she and her husband share as they both work in local public schools. Entering the season of being a Mimi has been exciting and she loves the giggles of toddler grandchildren. Holly’s faith is very important to her and she enjoys serving her community through the local ministries led by her children. Holly also loves music, reading, traveling and sweet tea. Her heart is to share with other mom’s that the role of motherhood can be hard, but she is living proof of the great rewards to come. You are welcome to follow along her journey of faith and family @hollefarv on Instagram.