PORT WASHINGTON, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Tacky or terrific? There is divided opinion on the growing popularity of gift registries for kids.

Cynthia Litman — a mother of two — recently explained to CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff, that she has put an end to the guesswork of gift giving.

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When her daughter recently turned 9, she told friends and family exactly what she wanted, and returns the favor.

“I’d rather spend money, and know it’s something the child actually wants, and the mother actually needs,” she said.

Other mothers are going even further — replacing good old-fashioned hint dropping with a formal gift registry.

No longer reserved for wedding gifts, the registries are showing up on children’s birthday party invitations.

“To avoid returns, and kids get what they love, and moms don’t have to worry about getting fifteen of the same toy,” Holly Magelof said.

Giant chain stores are registering kids’ picks online. Giftster gives users gift preferences, or can link to an actual store and item.

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It’s founder said unwanted gifts waste billions of dollars every year — this is meant to save time and money.

“People find that actually having an idea of what a child needs or wants seems to far beat the idea of settling for a gift card or racking their brains, or buying the wrong size,” Giftster founder Ron Reimann said.

The Dolphin Book Shop in Port Washington is one of the many toy stores bucking the trend, because the owner said the art of giving is about putting thought into the perfect gift.

“It’s not a reflection of you. It’s not you giving to them, it is just fulfilling a need or an interest,” Judith Mitzner said.

Psychologist Dr. Susan Bartell said ‘ask and you shall receive’ sends the wrong message.

“Getting a gift that you want has nothing to do with people putting thought into it, and caring you. It’s about the convenience, and it’s about your desires being met instantly, with no hard work,” she said.

Etiquette experts said they get the convenience factor, but a kid’s birthday party can be a teaching moment — that gifts are supposed to be about giving, not getting.

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A Princeton University economist estimated that $4-billion is spent on unwanted gifts each year.