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At What Age Do Grandparents Stop Giving Gifts to Grandchildren?

Giving your grandchildren gifts can be the most satisfying feeling a grandparent can have. The feeling in your heart when you see those happy faces is not only heartwarming but gratifying knowing you made them happy. And as the grandchildren get older, or the number of grandchildren grows, or even if your financial circumstances change, the question may cross your mind, “At what age do grandparents stop giving gifts to their grandchildren?”

Research gathered from message boards geared toward seniors finds about half of all grandparents feel a grandchild is never too old to receive gifts from their grandparents. The other half think gifts should stop at some point. About half of those that think gifts should stop feel an age around adulthood is appropriate. The other half feel the gifts should stop when grandchildren stop appreciating the gifts or stop communicating with them.  

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Ages Grandparents Stop Giving Gifts

I have young grandchildren and it’s hard for me to imagine not giving them gifts for their birthdays and Christmas. But I thought there may be some varying opinions about the subject, so I decided to do some research.

First, I went to Google. There I found several message boards and question sites that gave me data. I have a Facebook page for Grandkid Lovin’ that has 5000+ followers, so I posted the question there. And lastly, I ran a sponsored ad on Facebook targeting senior interests and asked the question.

Below is a table of the results.





At 18

than 18
When they Stopped
Saying Thank You or
Stop Communicating
Quora15  14
Gransnet2 252
Senior Forums1344711
City-Data Forum13 131
Total w/o Facebook43471618
Grandkid Lovin’ FB Page16   1
FB Ad Targeting Seniors16    

The percentage that said never was about half of the respondents. The other half agreed that at some point you can stop giving gifts, but the reasons were varied.

In my final conclusions I did not include the responses from my Facebook page and ad. I noticed the respondents to my Facebook page seemed skewed to answer NEVER, in fact, it was almost 100% NEVER! That may be because the page attracts grandparents who are active and close to their grandchildren by using cute memes and photos that are endearing. The ad seemed to do the same, probably because the photo I used was of a cute baby on the beach. So, I decided to not include those numbers.

Reasons Grandparents Stop Giving Gifts

It was so interesting to read through all the posts on this topic. There were many reasons given to stop giving and many to never stop.

Some grandparents just don’t have the financial means to buy gifts. Either they have a low and fixed income, or they have a LOT of grandchildren. One poster said he had 27 grandchildren and purchasing something for each one was a stretch. He cut them off when they were teens.

Some lived far away and as they aged it was hard to ship a gift, but many sent money or gift cards instead. And others felt as grandchildren grew to adulthood, they didn’t need or even want a gift. As great grandchildren were born, a lot of grandparents preferred to send gifts to them instead, and that was usually perfectly fine with their grandkids.

Speaking to my daughters about this, they both said they always loved getting gifts from their grandmother. Each year she would send them a Christmas ornament that they looked forward to getting. They never mentioned that she stopped sending birthday money when they were teens, opting for just a card. I bet they never missed it, and now that they’re grown, they didn’t even realize it when it stopped. They just remembered the ornament and still hang them on their trees. Now that their grandmother is gone, those ornaments are special and will be handed down to their daughters.

As I read through the posts, many stories surfaced about why to stop giving gifts to grandchildren but the one that was most mentioned was that the grandchild never said thank you or gave acknowledgment of receiving a gift. And quite often there was no communication at all. In these instances, the grandparent was left feeling hurt and somewhat resentful.

It’s hard giving gifts when there’s no acknowledgement. Not receiving a thank you can lead you down a path to feeling unappreciated and unloved. But from what I could gather, most often those who felt this way were giving to teens who had other interests and forgot to respond. We all know how teens can be disengaged when it comes to family, and the older and farther away the family member, the more disengaged they seem.

I hope in the instances where teens have forgotten to thank their grandparents that the grandparents realize the season the teens are living and not let it hurt them. If grandparents give with the underlying motivation of love, this season in your teen’s life will pass and the relationship will stay intact. The grandparent is the adult in this situation and must continue to act like one. After all, the reason we give a gift is not to receive a thank you or appreciation, it’s because we love the person we’re giving to. Keeping that perspective is very important.

Grandparents That Go Overboard

Can giving gifts to your grandchildren go overboard? Absolutely!

In my research I came across situations where grandparents purchased a gift or surprise for their grandchildren every time they saw them, and sometimes, that was quite often. Or they gave gifts that were overly extravagant, were age inappropriate, or had strings attached. In these situations, it can become a concern for their parents in ways the grandparents hadn’t considered.

Some of the reasons parents might prefer less gifts include:

  • Parents don’t have enough room for storage, especially toys.
  • Toys with a lot of pieces get lost, are not age appropriate, or make too much noise and the parents end up hiding them.
  • Parents don’t want the relationship between grandparents and grandchildren to be based on receiving something every time they see them.
  • Parents don’t want their children to think that love is only expressed by giving gifts.
  • Parents want their children to be less materialistic and understand the environmental impact that items have.
  • Parents don’t want their kids to develop a disposable ideology.
  • Parents want to teach that holidays are about traditions and family, not extravagant gifts.

When giving gifts to your grandchildren beyond Christmas and their birthdays it’s best to have an honest and respectful conversation with their parents. There could be many reasons that being overly generous with your gifting could cause problems or come in conflict with values they’re trying to teach. Understanding the parent’s thoughts on gifting will help you make better choices.

Gifting Ideas for Your Grandchildren

Choosing gifts for your grandchildren isn’t always easy. First, they may be a wide range of ages and have greatly varying likes. Knowing each of them well will help. Secondly, they may live far away and knowing them well may seem harder than you’d like. If this is the case, try having a conversation with them about it. And last, if that doesn’t work, have a talk with their parents.

The easiest gift to give is money or a gift card and is a better choice for older kids. But is money truly personal? Is it something they will remember? It may not always be feasible but if you can, taking them with you to pick out their own gift would be a fun outing that’s more personal and allows you to spend some time with them.

I found the term ‘disappearing gifts’ in my research. These are gifts that kids love and remember but do not include a physical product. It’s a great way to avoid sending money or a gift card. Instead give them a gift membership to a place like the children’s museum (or regular museum if a little older), the zoo, or a local science center.

If you want to have a gift or surprise for your grandchildren every time you see them and you see them quite often, consider simple or disappearing gifts like a small bag of their favorite snacks (check with parents on this one). You could give them something small and simple, an item with just one piece like a small doll or a book. Or you can give them something that can stay at your house, that way your grandkids will have something play with when they come over and the parents don’t have to deal with it at home.

In closing, buying gifts or not buying gifts is a very personal decision that depends on many things. Sometimes knowing what other people think helps us justify our own thoughts, other times it just makes us feel better that our decisions are the popular view. In the case of when to stop buying your grandchildren gifts, I say to do what’s best for you and don’t worry about what other people do or think. We are all individuals and doing what we want is the foundation of our freedom. Don’t let others and what they do determine what is best for you.

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