Q: What’s the best way to tell someone that certain gifts are off-limits for your kids without seeming ungrateful?


A: This should not feel like an awkward conversation at all. A healthy relationship is rooted in trust and respect. An open, honest conversation like this one shouldn’t pose a threat to either party. You could simply say to your friend, “Just giving you a heads-up before you buy presents for the kids, we’re trying to cut back on (sugar, video games, whatever it is) this year.”

In a healthy friendship, your friend would respect your openness. If you feel you can’t be transparent and worry your friend would be offended or upset, then it sounds as if the friendship has bigger issues.

DANA KERFORD, friendship expert and founder of URStrong


A: Be sure that you have a plan that’s known by all family members for things that you don’t allow in the home. Remember, every family has its own unique and specific situations.

Start with a conversation about what types of gifts the other person/family might like and what types of gifts don’t work for them. Then go into gift ideas for your own kids and, similarly, what wouldn’t work. Start with the other person first.

Keep in mind that there are always going to be unexpected gifts that we don’t necessarily want that come our way. This is when we focus on the generosity behind the gift and graciously accept it, and it’s important to teach your children how to do so, as well. Take the time to role-play this valuable life lesson, and don’t assume kids inherently know how to graciously accept gifts they have no interest in — that sweater that they wouldn’t be caught dead in that Aunt Sara spent an hour picking out, for instance. Let them know that there’s a later time when you can discuss it further (after the giver isn’t present).

FAYE de MUYSHONDT, founder of SocialSklz