Whether it is the holiday season, a birthday celebration or another special occasion, questions often arise when shopping for gifts for twins. What is the correct etiquette when buying gifts for twins?
Should you buy twins the same gift? Two different gifts? Or a gift that they can share?
It can be a very sensitive situation. Gift-givers want their gifts to bring happiness to the recipients, but when it comes to twins and multiples, jealousy and comparison often lead instead to frustration and disappointment.
Whether you are giving gifts to twins as a parent, grandparent v, friend or relative, there are some things to keep in mind. Of course, every set of twins is different, with unique preferences and personalities. Above all, keep that in mind as you select gifts for twins.
One for All, All for One
In some cases, the best gift for twins is a single gift that can be shared. However, apply this technique with great caution. The value of the gift should equal that of two individual gifts. Thus, if you would spend $20 on one child, a shared gift should be valued at $40 or so. A single, shared gift should also be something that the twins can play with cooperatively and equally, rather than something that requires taking turns. Acceptable: a board game, a play set, outdoor play equipment; Unacceptable: a doll, a model plane, a one-seat tricycle.
According to this poll, many families with multiples embrace the one gift technique.
However, I also observe plenty of opposition. Simply stated, “Two gifts - they are two different people.” according to Daphne, a mom of four-year-old fraternal boys. Another mom explains, “I wouldn’t like it if my twins were given one present to share. I would see it as someone being cheap and lazy about it.”
Similar but Separate
Another approach to gifts for twins is to give them similar, but unique items. The items can be the same thing in different varieties, for example, a blue truck and a green truck or two different video games. This seems like an equitable solution, but families with twins know this technique can backfire. With twins, the grass is always greener on the twin’s side ... no matter what one has, the other wants. One twin will very likely covet what the other twin has. The competition and fighting over gifts can be intense ... and miserable.
Twice as Nice
So, you might conclude that you can’t go wrong with two identical gifts for twins. This eliminates the possibility of jealousy or fighting, and maintains equality. However, it’s not always effective, unless the gift item is appropriate for both individuals. Clearly, you’d want to be more selective depending on the twins’ ages and genders. Gift givers should always take into consideration the recipient’s interests and tastes, and that definitely applies to twins. Don’t give two Barbie dolls to twin girls if you know that one of the twins hates dolls and prefers to play with stuffed animals.
Don’t Give Up
It can be difficult to come up with gift ideas that will please both twins.
Parents of multiples suffer through the process every time a holiday or birthday passes by on the calendar. Not only is buying gifts for twins an expensive prospect, but the attempt to “get it right” for everyone can be an exercise in frustration.
I often find myself caught in a vicious cycle of attempting to keep things “fair and equal.” For everyone gift I buy for Twin A, I am challenged to find something equivalent for Twin B. Ultimately, this can result in wasted money and needless extravagance. I have to step back and remind myself that everything doesn’t have to be exactly equal for my identical twins. I don’t have to spend the same amount to the exact penny; eventually, it all balances out. If I spend a little bit more on one at Christmastime, the excess will be applied to the other twin in a birthday gift a few months later.
Don’t give up. Buying gifts for twins might require more effort, but the results are twice as nice!
Strategies for Success
- Don’t worry too much about baby and toddler twins. They are fairly content with their gifts and aren’t as sensitive to perceived shortfalls. Save the stress for older twins.
- Encourage older twins to make lists ensure that they receive what they want. Distribute the lists to family and friends for gift-giving occasions.
- Recognize twins’ individuality when selecting gifts. While there are instances when duplicate gifts are appropriate, considering each twin’s personal preferences will produce more successful gift matches.
- If jealousy over gifts becomes an issue, leave some room in your gift budget for negotiation. After the holiday or birthday, allow an opportunity to trade in or exchange unwanted gifts, or use a gift card to buy something equivalent.
- For older twins, use gift experiences such as holidays and birthdays as an opportunity to educate children about gift etiquette and the joy of giving. Teach them to be gracious to gift-givers and appreciative of what they’ve received. Encourage them to experience the joy of gift-giving as well as receiving, but giving them the opportunity to make or purchase gifts for their co-twin, or other loved ones.
- For younger twins, it is always appropriate to check with parents about their children's’ preferences; they know their twins best, and can give advice as to what will be acceptable.