With the holiday season, how do you stop children from getting the ‘gimmies?’ It’s not all about Santa and presents under the tree, but to enjoy a real sense of family, traditions, religion, and gifts that last a lifetime.
Give the present of time.
Kids definitely understand a gold-wrapped package with a big shiny bow, but trust in how they would also understand some family time at an event- a movie, the ballet, a festival, or game nights. We can’t see my fiancé’s family til January, and even then each child- there are 5 kids!- will be getting a small present and then Stephen and I will be taking the kids to a museum and lunch in the DC area.
I even know some adults who still have amazon wish lists who send forceful email reminders…and at 38 it’s not cute anymore. This also works with adults- not many adults want more stuff around the house, and it’s more meaningful to enjoy a dinner or an afternoon out with each other over the holiday season.
Still, some kids can still beg and plead for a gift and most parents I’ve discussed this with have said that one big present is the way to go and a few smaller ones. Hanging stockings up and filling with a few small treats, a few little games in a shoe, or a holiday scavenger hunt are always fun.
When holiday shopping with your kids, take time to appreciate the scenery. Don’t act like shopping is such a chore (unless you are alone!). Point out the decorated malls or halls, listen to the carols- even if you are on holiday overload. Go local and go to a farmer’s market, church bazaar, or a holiday community fair.
Family Pollyanna (or round robin, secret Santa gifts, etc) Whatever you call it, buying a few gifts for one person rather than an entire family is lots of fun too, and shows the younger family members that each person is special.
Take a break
And if you are starting to get stressed from the crowds, the heat, the lines, and prices, chances are your child is too. Ditch the shopping and grab some lunch, enjoy the car ride home pointing out holiday décor, or take a cozy nap on the couch. Your child will enjoy the family time more than standing in line for 3 hours just to tell some guy in a red suit what else they think they should get for Christmas.
Some traditions- like Christmas Eve midnight Mass, a family meal or a holiday walk- are priceless, but forcing your 2 year old to sit on Santa’s lap when she is hysterical or when your 4 year old is throwing a tantrum may not be the be use of anyone’s time. I have yet to see a child sit on Santa’s lap that isn’t hysterical and need to be calmed. Some of the greatest pictures I have seen this year is Santa standing behind the parents holding the child, and that makes for a cute holiday photograph.
It’s hard to slow down and enjoy the season, so I say slow down and enjoy the moment you are in the best you can! What traditions do you have with your families?