Many grandparents revel in their unique role. They get all the enjoyment young children bring (trips to the zoo, birthday parties) without any of the messy responsibilities (changing diapers, staying up all night). No problem there. Anyone who has achieved the rank of grandparent has earned their privileged status.

However, free from the financial responsibilities of raising their own kids and prompted by the joy of giving, some grandparents can overdo it in this “all-the-fun, little-of-the-work” phase of life, especially when it comes to giving gifts.

That point was brought home in a recent discussion with other parents of young kids. When talking about the importance of putting limits on what we buy for our kids, one couple lamented that despite their best efforts, they’re having a difficult time reining in the grandparents, who delight in spoiling their grandkids. According to the parents, their kids want for nothing, except perhaps a bit more gratitude and the discipline to save for things they want to buy.

With Christmas fast approaching, what’s a well-meaning grandparent to do? If you’re considering more than a small gift that fits under the tree this year, here are two suggestions.

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