Avoiding the Holiday Gimmees…A Few Things We Do

Do your kids find Christmas more than a little tempting when it comes to making lists of all the toys they just have to have? It’s hardly surprising when you consider the fact that these days, the trees are up in September and the advertisers have been working on their festive campaigns for months. So how do you control pester power? Here are some top tips to help you.

It happens every year.

We don’t even have the turkey and stuffing wiped off our lips or digested from our tummies and out come the holiday catalogues and blinking Christmas lights and sales on all the toys that ever were.December is barely able to make her debut on the calendar and Christmas specials and Holiday parades and Santa classes start popping up everywhere.

And if you have children?  Everyone starts asking, “And what do you want for Christmas?” “Have you been good?”

Luckily for me, my oldest is three and he doesn’t remember how obscenely spoiled he gets at the holidays thanks to a big extended family that loves him so much they can’t help themselves. But soon he will.  And before he starts rubbing his hands together like a greedy villain, I want to make sure he knows why we celebrate Christmas in the first place, so here are some things we have incorporated into our family’s holiday traditions.

Limited access to stores.  This time of year it is way too easy to get sucked into all the displays and blinking lights around the toy departments in stores.  I have stepped around many a child throwing a tantrum in the doll aisle or Lego aisle because he/she could not have a toy RIGHT NOW.    I also witnessed this conversation:

Boy of about 7 or 8: Grandma?  This is the Lego thing I want.  It says it’s $47.95.  Will you buy it for me?
Grandma: Well, that is more than Grandma can really spend.
Boy: But it’s my Christmas present and I want it.

Kids don’t have a concept of money and budgets.  Don’t put them in a situation where they can “pick” just to tell them no. Fits will be thrown. Perspective will be lost.

Advent Calendar. We have an Advent Calendar this year, although it is not one that gives a treat each day.  Ours is a set of cards I string up and we take one down each night at dinner and read a Bible verse. We use the days to tell our kids why we are doing all these things in the first place.  Why the waiting is just as important as the actual day.

Give in front of the kids.  I am a high school teacher, so this time of year brings food drives, blanket/hats/coats drives, Toys for Tots, and many more ways to help the less fortunate.  My own students and their families benefit from these drives since I teach in a lower income district.

This year, I had my oldest (3yo) help me choose the gifts for toys for tots as well as the gift for his baby brother.  Before going in to the toy department, we reviewed that we were there for others and not him. He could tell me what he liked, but I wasn’t buying anything for him.

He took his toy choosing for others very seriously. He also watched as I sorted out our old coats, hats, mittens, and scarves to donate.  He watched as people came to our door with boxes of blankets for me to take to school.

Talk to your kids. I think the biggest reason we don’t have a child who is expecting an avalanche of gifts at Christmas is because we talk about everything.

The other day I asked him if he knew why we give each other presents at Christmas.  And we talked about Jesus being a gift. We talked about how it’s fun to pick out the perfect gifts for others to show them we love them. We even talk about how Santa helps God bring happiness this time of year to everyone.

Yes, he still tells me, “MOM! I WANT THAT!” when he sees a toy on TV.  Yes, he asks if any of the presents locked in our bedroom are for him and if there are “lots and lots.” I mean, he is 3 years old.  It’s ok to want things.  That is natural. But hopefully we are teaching him that being kind and giving are even more important. 

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