Christmas Gift Overload and Your Children: Expectations vs. Reality
The Christmas shopping season has begun! There’s no denying it. While you may not hear music playing just yet, there are heaps of Christmas trees, ornaments and other sparkly things to draw your attention to the upcoming season. The gift displays are snazzily done up, and toys and gifts for children available are as abundant as ever. What’s your say on Christmas gift overload?
When it comes to buying Christmas gifts for your children, you can’t flip through a flyer without seeing pages of toys for sale. For the first time, my five year old has started to notice these ads and the toy sections in stores…not to mention a certain toy store! Since he’s our oldest, this is our first exploration down the “I want” avenue, something very present in this age of materialism and entitlement. Since we have three children and don’t want to encourage the “I want” behaviour, and we have a budget to consider, my husband and I knew we had to create some method for reigning it in. Let’s face it, children get a lot of toys and Christmas is a biggie!
Call me naive, but I never really used a budget in Christmases past. It wasn’t so hard, as the kids were young enough not to really notice what they received. A couple of years ago I scoured Kijiji and bought “like new” toys and supplemented those with a new toy. That’s it. Easy peasy and I was proud of myself for behaving frugally. Last year, we bought new toys but also bought one big used item for our boys to share. This year, we have three children – one is a baby whose birthday is just days after the big holiday. We also share the joy that is Santa, which means we buy an extra gift or two and fill stocking stuffers for each child.
“Want, Need,Wear, Read”
This year, I heard from a few other moms who were following the “WANT, NEED, WEAR, READ” rule of gift giving. Right away I loved that idea! Loved it! I want to spend frugally again and really be aware of what we buy. Getting a new set of PJs and a book to read are so easy, something we do every year. The “need” part of the equation could be something for school, an experience (like swimming lessons or the like), and I’m sure that our five year old at least won’t have a problem telling us what he “wants”.
I’ve yet to figure out how to incorporate the Santa end of things into this gift giving routine, but for us, this is a reasonable approach we can follow. We KNOW these won’t be the only gifts our children receive . I’m not someone who shops all year round for Christmas gifts as I generally shop sales during the month of December and hope for the best.
In the end, I want to focus on Christmas traditions, both new and old, to make the season fun and alive for our children, not just another venue to get gifts. I want them to feel that “feeling” that I used to have on Christmas mornings and also learn about giving back. I know we have so many more Christmases to come, and hopefully by setting some sort of standard we can continue the joyous season for what it is and not for what we get.
As a parent, do you have a plan for buying gifts for your children this Christmas? What tips do you have for celebrating Christmas and buying gifts within realistic limits? Share your secrets as I might just borrow them for next year.