Before you know it, the holiday shopping frenzy will be starting. This is a great time to plan ahead if you feel that gift-giving for your children got a little out of hand last year. It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of the season and spend far more than we should on gifts. Parents often find that when their children receive an abundance of gifts, it creates higher and higher expectations each year. The more gifts received, the less children seem to appreciate each individual one. In addition, when excessive spending occurs, a great deal of stress for adults can follow when reality hits and credit card bills arrive in January.
For some families, the issue may be other relatives or family friends who “over-gift.” For others, they themselves are the source of the avalanche of presents. Take a good look at your feelings on this topic and create an action plan now so you can be better prepared.
First up, communicate with those friends or family members who buy gifts for your child. Tell them very directly that while you appreciate their generosity, you are trying to scale things back a little to help your child be more appreciative. Ask if they have something in mind already or if they would welcome a suggestion of something your child might enjoy. If the person lives near you, an alternative to a gift could also be spending time together, like a movie date or meal out somewhere that the child enjoys.
For yourself, follow your own advice and keep purchasing reasonable. Make lists and write down every gift purchased so you have a running list of what you have already bought. Set a budget for each person you will be shopping for and stick to it. Start early and take advantage of sales to make your budget stretch as far as possible.
Teaching our children gratitude and appreciation for the gifts they receive is part of good parenting. We are setting children up for failure and adding to a culture of entitlement when we shower them with excessive material things.