The Toddler Birthday Gift Registry–Do or Don’t?

DSCN2602Recently, some of my extended family has started to use gift registries for their kids for major holidays. I’ll be honest, the first time I got an email asking to purchase from the list at a specific retailer, I cringed. The traditional part of me just could not get on board with offering formal gift suggestions. I mean, wasn’t that being a bit presumptuous?

But by the number of people who use them now, my guess is there not a lot of stigma around using them.  Gift registries of the past were primarily used for weddings and baby showers, but in the last few years that has grown to include kids’ birthdays, Christmas, and special occasions. Thanks to retailers like Target, Toys R Us, and Amazon it is easy to create kid wish lists for a multitude of special occasions. The next time your child brings home a birthday invite, don’t be surprised to find a link to the gift registry site or information on how to access the registry at the store.

Here is a list of pros and cons of gift giving registries for your kids.


  • You won’t receive multiples of any one gift. Having a registry can alleviate the chance that your child receives the same item and this will save you from the hassle of returning the duplicate items. Once the item on your registry is purchased, it falls into the fulfilled category and is no longer listed as available.
  • Friends and family who live far away may not know the child very well. With the help of a gift registry, they can choose a gift that they know will be well received. This is especially helpful for aunts and uncles or other extended family who wish to send a gift in lieu of money.
  • Older family who may not be in touch with the “hip” items for kids can use the registry as a guide. This is a bonus for grandparents and can help alleviate unnecessary time looking for a gift.
  • There are perks for parents who set up the registry accounts. Most retailers offer a percentage off of the items that are left on the registry after the closing period. This can save you money on items you were thinking of purchasing, maybe even for gifts to give at a later date.


  • It can seem presumptuous. There is no way to tell if everyone who you extend the gift registry information to, wants to give your child a gift.
  • It can make people feel like they are “forced” to give a gift that is out of their price range or not what they would have chosen. It can also put added pressure on the gift giver, making them feel awkward if they didn’t chose to purchase something from the list.
  • Having children pick out gifts themselves takes away from the surprise and can give children a sense of entitlement.

Even after all of the evidence towards the convenience of registries, I haven’t been converted yet; I still tell family that my kid would like “anything”. But, I do have a better understanding of why people use them. At the end of the day, the method of gift giving is a personal decision, just like the gift itself. Children are typically just elated to receive something that was chosen with them in mind.

Tessa Wesnitzer is a stay at home mom extraordinaire, an organizer, and lifestyle coach who lives in Salt Lake City with her husband and two boys. 

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