A family member of mine, L, has this MIL. Yes, that kind of MIL. The MIL has always, always been heinous to L, despite her going way above and beyond what any sane person would do to encourage good vibes. It got worse (as it often does!) when L had a baby, C. Now, MIL is not of the type to smother the kid, try to "have her over" all the time, or even call her alot... She is of the "I prefer to buy love" school... And L is NOT. We come from a modest family. We are by no means poor, but we aren't exactly packin' Black Cards, either. We buy for the kids in our family. We buy for my Nana. And that's it. Their family, however, is a different story. C is the only person under 40 in their family. They buy for everyone though. And not just a $50 something. (Which to me, is still absurd. These are grown ass people with jobs.) Yet those people all have lists made by Thanksgiving. These lists are rather extravagant. (I've seen them every year since I can remember. All items are at least a bill. And those are the "cheap" things.) Maybe I could understand the expensive taste if they had money. Obviously, people with more "means" typically prefer higher end items. Okay. But, no. These are the same people who work the same middle class jobs that L's husband does. Yet they EXPECT L and her husband to shell out almost a grand on their gifts at Christmas. Need a visual? Picture this, if you will. MIL asked for a set of very expensive wrought iron patio chairs one year. Even after being told, "Look, MIL, we really can't afford those this year..." and her replying "Oh sure you can!", she still expected them. Christmas Day, MIL opens her gift of solar-powered driveway lights (that she had also expected to get, along with the patio chairs!), and said "Ohh! My lights! Wonderful! I guess my chairs are already out on the patio!!"... L's husband said "Well, no, MIL, I told you before that we couldn't really afford those this year" (in front of everyone)... And MIL says "You can't fool me! I just can't wait to see my new chairs!!" ... And goes out on the patio to look for them!! Seriously!
Well since baby C came along, they have also started piling on the gifts with her. Huge wooden playsets, furniture, computer, every "hot" toy you could think of, they got it for her. Hey, great. Thanks for buying the kid stuff. ... But L started getting really mad. Santa is supposed to be a big deal to kids. And when "Santa" started getting overshadowed by MIL+the rest of the IL's... It was on. L has opted out of the IL Christmas the past few years just because she gets so angry. (She feels like they "one-up" her on purpose. She's probably right.) This year, due to some IL's work schedules, they'll be doing presents Christmas Eve Day. And it's bad. Real, real bad. MIL bought C (who is now SIX) a... 32" flat screen plasma. For her bedroom. And that's not all, folks! C will also get a crap ton of other gifts as well. L called me tonight, in mid-meltdown, and asked what should she do?! My answer? After MIL's house, head straight to the Ronald McDonald house, or whichever other charity you'd like. Let C give away some of her brand new toys to kids who don't have any. Let her experience giving to other kids, and she will remember how good it felt to give than to play with that toy once.
Now, this is not a problem I have. Savanah's other grandparents buy her a ton of crap, but it stays at their house. Here, she gets what Santa brings, and about 4 other toys. Stella too. At B's house, they get a gift from his parents, brother/SIL, & sister/SIL/niece. Yes, they end up with too much stuff, but it's all small things, and no one spends over $25-$30 on them. And I still think that's too much. I have told L over and over that she just needs to speak her piece and stand firm... But what do y'all think? Is a TV too extravagant for a 6 year old? Then on top of that MORE toys? How does your family do gift giving?