Present buying is such a hot topic of debate for parents of multiples this time of year. I’m talking about whether you should always buy your twins two separate gifts or one gift to share. This past month, the online parenting twins forums have all been abuzz with this question.
Ugh! The decisions we have to make as parents of twins!
Personally, I avoided this sticky situation for the first year of my twins’ lives as we didn’t buy them any Christmas presents at all! Sure, I bought a few baby’s first Christmas ornaments to hang on the tree but that was it. No gifts from Santa. Nothing from Mom or Dad. I figured it was the one time I could get away with being a Grinch. And I was right. They never knew what they were missing. Besides they were more interested in getting their hands on my glittering table-top tree or playing with the wrappings of the few gifts my husband and I had for each other.
By the time they hit their second Christmas, however, they were nearly two years old and had figured out that something special was going on. No more Grinch; I had to pony up. But being the über aware, ultra sensitive mom of twins, I felt I had to buy separate toys. After all, they were two separate kids, right?
Problem was they weren’t even two years old yet. That meant not a lot of time had passed for either one to develop individual interests or skills. It’s not like one was a budding artist while the other was hanging out on the basketball court after nap time. They were both developing at the same pace and still found banging a frying pan with a wooden spoon wildly entertaining.
That year I eased into the separate gift giving strategy and bought them group gifts such as the biggest set of building blocks I could find as well as individual gifts that were in the same genre but slightly different, like two, contrasting riding toys. It worked well. There were enough blocks so that sharing was painless and tantrum-free, and the slightly different riding toys made me feel as though I had done my job as a mom who was in tune to her twins’ individuation.
By the time my twins reached elementary school, however, we were finally in the thick of their fight for individuality and both of their Christmas lists were vastly different; one was into magic tricks and science, the other into joke books and making his own movies. Although I was happy to buy each boy his favorites, now I felt compelled—as nearly all parents do—to keep the gift count the same. On the other hand, I was never big into keeping the cost of said gifts exactly the same—if one wanted a $100 camera as his “big gift” while the other asked for a $50 watch, so be it.
The early school years were also the time that I regularly reminded friends and relatives that it was preferable to give each boy his own gift. Sharing one basketball from Aunt Jane just wouldn’t cut it. Yet some relatives never seemed comfortable with buying each boy a completely different toy (perhaps they felt their individual gift choices would show favoritism or maybe they just didn’t know each boy’s individual personality?) so they resorted to the same-genre-different-style or same-toy-different-color approach.
Now that my twins are in high school, it seems we’ve come full circle as they’re back to craving the same gadgets—think iPods, cellphones, laptops. At least with gaming consoles I can once again get away with buying just one and having them share. With two controllers it’s once again painless and tantrum-free.