We love our children and would do just about anything to make them happy, right? Advertisers know this and use it to their advantage, especially during the holiday season. Those holiday commercials pull at your heart strings for a reason — emotional appeal sells! Not only are you being bombarded with messages that gifts equal love, your children are also viewing lots of advertisements enticing them to try out the next colorful toy or fancy gadget.
All of these ads, pressure and parental guilt can add up to an expensive holiday season, additional debt for you and a sense of entitlement for your children. Over-giving at Christmas sets the bar higher and higher, so that you’re in competition with yourself to give bigger and better each year. It’s time to break the cycle of giving too much so that you can truly enjoy a stress-free, debt-free holiday. Here are some tips for reigning in holiday excess for your children.
- Give less from the start. If your children are very young, they don’t care about receiving a truckload of the hottest toys of the season. Young kids are usually more fascinated with the box the toy came in or the bow on the wrapping paper than the gift itself. If your kids are young, start them out with less so that you start with healthy gift-giving habits.
- Give to those who have less. Explain to your children about families who are less fortunate. Go together as a family and adopt a child or an elderly person from an angel tree and shop for them. Explain that this person may not receive any gifts without this gesture. Volunteer your time and bring your children along to help (if they’re old enough).
- Give experiences instead of things. Instead of giving your children more plastic toys that you’ll eventually step on without your shoes on (ouch), invest in a fun family day or a weekend away. It gives everyone the best gift of all — quality time together. Choose a family-friendly lodge with an indoor water park, a show (or a show on ice) with all their favorite characters or a trip out to their favorite restaurant followed by an animated movie. It doesn’t have to break the bank – it just has to be fun. If you’re working with a smaller budget, you could even have a family stay-cation where each child gets to choose an element of your meal, you cook together and have an indoor picnic and play board games.
- Hand-make special gifts for one another – Have a top-secret crafting session with each child when you work together to make thoughtful, handmade gifts for family members. Create handmade gifts for your children on your own. Gifts you make with each person in mind are so much more special and your children will appreciate them, perhaps even more than their favorite video game or gadget.
- Stick to a single big gift – If you want to splurge a little on your kids, have them choose the one toy on their list that they absolutely love and set a dollar limit. Give them that one toy and a few little stocking stuffer items and a few necessities like a new outfit or pajamas.
- Spend time prepping for the holidays together to take focus off gifts – Bake cookies, put up decorations, create crafts, serve your community, go caroling. There are so many ways to celebrate the season that aren’t related to gifts. Make it fun so your children won’t be so focused on what gifts they’re receiving.
We know it can be difficult to resist the pull of sales, especially during the holiday season. But doing so really will help your child (and you!) in the long run. For questions on how we at Sparkles! approach the holidays and gift giving, contact your child’s teacher.