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11 Holiday Gifts You Need to Clear With Your Ex First

How to Be a Considerate Gift-Giver and Avoid Post-Holiday Stress

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You put a lot of time and energy into choosing holiday gifts for your kids. But what about your ex? Should you consult him (or her) before you make a purchase? If you plan on buying one of these holiday gifts, you should:

1. Cell Phone

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Technology purchases tend to be big-ticket items. (For that reason alone, it's worth mentioning your plans to your ex.) And with cell phones, you also need to consider who’s going to pay the monthly usage fees. Particularly if you opt for a contract that doesn’t include unlimited phone/texting/data, decide up front who will be responsible for overages –– you, your child, or your ex.

2. Handheld Tech Devices

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From handheld video games to iPods, handheld devices are a popular holiday gift item. Many of them allow users unlimited access to the Internet, too. For this reason, you need to discuss the purchase with your ex first. Talk about what limits, if any, will be put on your child’s use of the device, and how Internet usage will be monitored.

3. Computers/Laptops

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These are popular gift items, but they also allow kids to access the Internet without limits. Talk with your ex about why you want to purchase a computer or laptop, and make sure that you’re both in agreement about the decision before you make a purchase.

4. Anything Not Age-Appropriate

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Choosing age-appropriate toys is part of keeping your kids safe. Plus, toy makers are usually spot-on when they mark a toy "Not intended for children under three," or "For children ages 8 and up." If you feel that your child can safely handle something labeled for children much older or younger, discuss it with your ex first.

5. Pets

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Unless the pet will be living at your house, make sure you run this one by your ex first. Particularly if you share custody and the pet will be traveling with your child to and from each residence, you need to consider your ex’s feelings before making a purchase.

6. Trips

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Thinking about taking your kids to Disney or the Caribbean as a gift? Run it by your ex before you purchase any tickets. Consider your kids’ school schedules, too, and whether they will need updated passports.

7. Video Games

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It’s a good idea to discuss video game purchases with your ex, too, especially if your child wants a game that’s rated T or M or anything that’s particularly violent. Keep in mind, too, that some games release more violent or sexual content as the player advances through the levels of the game, so what seems like marginally-acceptable content initially may become more inappropriate as your child plays the game.

8. Piercings/Tattoos

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Being the one to surprise your teen with a new piercing or tattoo might make you the favorite parent for a couple of days, but it won’t do anything to improve your co-parenting relationship. Instead, talk with your ex about it first and make a decision together. Consider whether your child is responsible enough to properly care for the area afterwards, too.

9. Event Tickets

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Surprising your child with tickets to see a favorite band or sporting event is another quick-trip to being the more popular parent, but it’s also another item you need to run by your ex first. In particular, discuss the timing and location of the event, whether it’s on a school night, and how late you’ll be before buying the tickets.

10. Gifts Over $100

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If you’re considering anything super expensive –– particularly if you know it’s something your ex would never be able to afford –– it’s courteous to discuss it together first. Remember that holiday gift giving is not a popularity contest. If the gift is something you'd really like your child to have, consider splitting the cost with your ex or other family members instead.

11. Restricted Items

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You’re probably aware of items your ex doesn’t want your child to have. From toy guns to make-up, avoid buying anything you know your ex has said no to in the past. If there’s something off-limits that you’d really like to buy for your child, discuss it with your ex first and see if you can reach a compromise together.

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