The holiday season will soon be upon us. If you find yourself stressed out every holiday season by financial and time demands, now is the time to decide that this year will be different. Now is the time to decide on a giving holiday. Not only will you benefit, but your kids will as well.
Last time we talked about teaching your kids to give during the holidays, and this time we’ll talk about the second part of creating a giving approach to the holidays–teaching your child to have reasonable expectations for presents.
Years back, the holidays weren’t simply a time to get-get-get. As a girl, I loved reading Little House on the Prairie, and I was always amazed by how delighted Laura was by the simple presents she received. One year it was a tin cup and an orange. Another year it was a corn cob doll. Now, our kids receive oodles of presents and still demand more and are disappointed when the present opening is over.
How to Set Reasonable Expectations
If you’re the parent of older children and you previously gave them too many presents, you might sit down with them well before the holidays and let them know that they won’t be getting as much this year. You can explain that you want to focus more on giving rather than receiving. Plan on some resistance, but if you hold firm and continue to treat holidays this way, your kids will adapt.
If you’re children are younger, you can start the tradition of a simpler Christmas now. Your kids may express some resentment as they age and see how much their peers are getting, but if it’s your family tradition, they will likely understand.
How Many Presents to Give
You and your significant other will need to decide what works best for your family.
Some families decide on a dollar limit per child and don’t go over that amount. This is the way that my mom always handled Christmas for my brother and I, but she carried it a step further and made sure that we each got an equal number of gifts, too.
Other families say that Jesus received 3 gifts from the Wise Men, so they give their kids 3 gifts for Christmas. Another take on this is to give your child 3 specific presents–something they want, something they need, and something they’ll wear.
In our family, we are blessed with grandparents and godparents that give our children many presents. So, we buy our children very little for Christmas. The one time we did buy our kids a lot of Christmas presents, they simply received too much.
Finally, some families take an extreme approach and don’t exchange presents at all. Instead, they donate all the money they would have spent to charity.
If your children are already used to lavish holiday celebrations, scaling back may be difficult, but it’s not impossible. First teaching children to be givers and then scaling back may help ease the transition for your child.
How do you determine how many presents to buy your child? Do you worry about going overboard with gift giving?
Original photo credit: Theresa Thompson, on Flickr
Melissa is a writer and virtual assistant. She earned her Master’s from Southern Illinois University, and her Bachelor’s in English from the University of Michigan. When she’s not working, you can find her homeschooling her kids, reading a good book, or cooking. She resides in New York, where she loves the natural beauty of the area.