Article posted Thursday, August 22, 2013 8:11pm

Dear Mary Pat,

My mother-in-law keeps buying me, my children, and my husband presents. Every time she visits – which is two or three times a month – she feels she needs to bring along a gift for each and every one of us: calendars, knick-knacks, toys, dolls, socks, towels, dishes. It’s overwhelming.

Not only do we not have the space for all these gifts, I know she doesn’t have the money to be spending $50 or more each time she visits. My husband says that’s just the way she is, but I feel it may be time to put an end to it. Any suggestions?


Gifted Out

Sturgeon Bay, WI

Dear Gifted Out,

Your mother-in-law is trying to be thoughtful, but it sounds like maybe she’s going a little overboard. If she can’t afford it, it is best for her to make that conclusion on her own since she is an adult. You, however, do have some say in what comes into your house.

You might want to approach it from the angle of not wanting your kids to be spoiled. If you say to her, “The kids love seeing you, but we don’t want them to expect gifts from you every time you come. We want them to value just spending time with you.” Try saying that the next few times she visits. If she still insists on bringing gifts and your husband doesn’t think it’s an issue, it might be best for you to just say “thank you” and let it go.

And if the gifts pile up so much that you really can’t use them, you should make a donation to charity and have your kids participate in selecting which things stay and which things will be given away. That will teach them the value of sharing, not to mention the value of de-cluttering!

Good luck,

Mary Pat