Nothing squashes your desire to give a gift like the recipient acting entitled to it, all the more when the person in question is pint sized! Here is how my family tried to rein in the “gimmes” over the last few Christmases.
- Avoid temptation. First of all, we limit exposure to TV ads. We also don’t give them the catalogs that come in the mail. Lastly, we avoid the toy aisle.
- Don’t overindulge in other areas. A junk food and sweets free-for-all where your kids are up late every night and all sorts of other routines are lax, will have some repercussions. Enjoy the season, but keep to your regular routines and rules as much as possible, or else your kids won’t understand the limits of the holiday.
- Attend events unrelated to gifts, such as tree lightings, sledding, craft fairs, or singing carols.
- Watch a classic! Both the Grinch and good ol’ Charlie Brown directly discuss the deeper meaning of Christmas.
- Sort and donate. Go through the old toys and books together. Consider passing down old favorites to special younger children, such as cousins or neighbors. Have your child help you drop off the items.
- Consider a “Secret Santa” swap. If you have a large group of children, either in your family or circle of friends, consider a swap that dramatically reduces the number of gifts, and thus your child’s expectations.
- Spend more time on a giving list. Aid your children in deciding what to give the special people in their lives. Then, help your children make gifts or raise money to spend.
- Focus on traditions about family. Maybe its new pajamas and reading The Night Before Christmas. Maybe its attending midnight mass. Maybe its driving around to look at the lights singing carols in the car. Whatever it is, keep the focus on the togetherness of family and the special experiences of the season.
- Keep final gift lists reasonable. I keep an Amazon wish list for all wishes to share with family what my kids need and want. But, my kids aren’t privy to that. At four, my daughter’s focus is on the letter to Santa. We pin point the letter to just one or two items. She knows the other presents are an uncertainty, but feels secure knowing the toy she most wants will be there Christmas morning.