The one about Christmas gifts for kids

Yesterday, I wrote about my desire for a simpler Christmas this year. Today, I am writing about what will be the biggest challenge in this simplicity mission – gifts for my kids.

I am a gift-giver. It is who I am as a person. I have always loved picking gifts out for others, and when I became a mom, buying Christmas gifts for my children was so, so fulfilling. I loved creating magical Christmases for them year after year, mainly because my parents did that for me.

But last year, on Christmas night, my eyes were opened as I walked into my girls’ bedroom where they had been playing with all their new toys, and I found every single package ripped open and the contents strewn about the room. It looked like a bomb went off in the middle of a tornado. They weren’t actually playing with any of the toys. They were just opening one thing and going to the next. Dolls had already lost their shoes, puzzles had already lost a few pieces, and Mama had lost her damn mind. I was so upset that all of these brand new toys that made them so happy just hours before were nothing more than plastic shrapnel all over the ground.

I knew that no matter how much I thought I gave my children all they could ever want that I actually did the opposite – I overwhelmed them. I spoiled them.

When I saw the mess and the way they treated their brand new possessions, I got upset. I yelled at them. On Christmas. I felt awful, and I knew that this wasn’t the way it was supposed to be.

Fast forward to a couple months later when we did a playroom purge, and I was shocked that many of the items that they absolutely “had to have” in December meant nothing to them by February. Lots of like-new toys landed in the donate pile, which is fine because I am sure they are getting plenty of love from other children. However, a little part of me died when I realized that this was all a result of the kids having too much.

My children are good, grateful, sweet kids. They deserve to feel loved and adored on Christmas, their birthdays, and every day in between. For this reason, it is incredibly hard for me to show restraint in gift-buying. However, I have to honor the fact that watching my children become overwhelmed and oversensitized is not helping them to feel loved.

I have been thinking about how to transition our children to a simpler way of receiving gifts on Christmas. I honestly think that they will barely notice if we cut back on a few gifts, but I know it will be an adjustment for me.

There are lots of great ideas out there, and one of the more popular concepts seems to be the 4 gift rule, which is buying something they want, something they need, something to wear, and something to read. I think this is a great way to make gift-giving well-rounded and manageable. This might be what we try this year.

One thing we have tried to do is minimize The Santa Influence. In our earlier Christmases, Santa brought everything. Now that the kids are older, we have wanted to make sure they know that mama and papa gives them some of their gifts, and they can also pick gifts out for their siblings to open on Christmas morning. We are hoping that minimizing Santa will make it less disappointing for them when they realize that…well…you know.

On that note, we may have mama and papa give the “4 gifts” (want, need, wear, read), and then Santa brings one gift for each child – hopefully something at the very top of their lists. In addition to our sibling gift exchange, where they each are assigned one other sibling to “buy for,” this will give each child 6 gifts. We also like to do one family gift – something we can all enjoy together, whether it’s a membership to a museum, a family movie day, or just a game we can all enjoy together.

With four kids, that’s still 25 gifts under the tree, which really doesn’t seem that simplified, but I promise this will be an improvement in both the categories of intentionality and quality over quantity.

I think this seems very doable and like a great first step in streamlining our Christmas. How do you handle gifts for your children? Do you hope to simplify the process this year?


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