You can read my introduction to the “Surviving… No… Thriving in the Holidays” mini series here
Today I want to examine the idea of gift giving (with the emphasis on giving gifts to our kids) and how you can thrive through a typically financially stressful season. Not giving gifts is not fun. Be honest. We have had several years where we weren’t “doing gifts” and found a way to do something small. Much like we will do this year. I’ve heard great plans and strategies in which families save year round to be able to “do gifts.” Don’t get me wrong, I think no matter how you “do gifts,” doing them debt free is important.
I want to keep Christmas small, meaningful, full of tradition, and about His generosity and therefore in turn our generosity.
Have you ever wondered about the “stress” gift giving/receiving can be for young children? Have you wondered about how to handle your kids when they are so into one gift they have received that they really aren’t ready to move on to opening another or that they express such gratitude for the ‘beloved gift’ but not over the funny stuffed animal from Great Aunt Nancy they received or the weird humored gift from cousin Billy? Have you wondered how to decide how your kids should “ask” for gifts? How to handle genuine “needs” they may have?
I have thought of these things and so many more and my first born is just going into his second Christmas.
We decided, through lots of discussion and great input from a class we just took – to be intentional. We have decided on a “system” that we think can work for the “wish list” “asking” aspect at least.
Our kids will get to write a list for 5 things. A need, a want, something to wear, something to read, and something to give (away). We will let them decide this completely themselves when they are older, and for now they will receive some guidance from us.
So for this year Cashel’s list was created by us, with his interests in mind.
- A need – a 11 gallon garbage can with step and lid to use as his cloth diaper pail. I genuinely hope we can encourage our kids to really think about their needs (as compared to a want)
- A want – a toy musical instrument (we added a toy guitar and piano to his Amazon wish list after he LOVED them at a friend’s house.
- Something to wear – footed, zipper pajamas
- Something to read – Duck and Goose books (we thought they might be fun as soon there will be a little brother and these are great books about friendship)
- Something to give – this year as a family we will fill a shoe box for Operation Christmas Child a ministry of Samaritan’s Purse to give to a little boy overseas.
A fun extra this year. Our Mainly Music class was doing 2 collaborative boxes so we just brought our contributions and added them to what they were gifting. We hope to do shoe boxes with Operation Christmas Child annually, but will also give Cashel the option to pick a cause or “gift” to give to someone in need.
We had a lot of fun picking out things to add to a box for a 2-4 year old boy and totally different items for a girl. Seeing the boxes fill up is always magical to me. I have been doing a shoebox almost every year since I was in 8th grade.
This year Cashel even helped pack the boxes!
Back to our five things list. We will try to communicate this list to family – grandparents, aunts and uncles, etc. and hope that it can guide them too. That was another take-away from our parenting class. Communication, over-communication, is critical year round, but especially during the holiday season. Whether that be in relationship to gifts, schedules, traditions, or other expectations.
Of course we are grateful for anything our family and children receive! And want to model that too. But we just wanted to find a way to keep things under control during a season where it is fun to get gifts, but even more fun and meaningful to give them.
I also think that focusing on the “thank you’s” and enjoyment of gifts
is one of our priorities. I think by keeping the number of gifts down this makes it easier. Taking time, not plowing through, spreading the day’s festivities throughout the day. Communicating with the other adults in our child’s life, being honest when conflicts surrounding gifts arise, and modeling grateful and generous behavior
for your children is key.
I wil do an additional post about giving gifts later in the series, but would love to hear how you approach this topic with your kids.