By Krista Ehret
Gift giving is a fun and well-intended part of the holiday season, but has unfortunately evolved into a greed-driven scheme of the marketing world. It arguably is also one of the biggest stress inducers as we circle the mall parking lot and break our budget to find just the right item. Online shopping has definitely made the crowds no longer an issue. But what about the glorification of “stuff” that comes with this pricey territory? Do we really need all of the “stuff” to have a fun holiday? It’s not that we care as adults about lots of gifts, but we want the kids to be happy. So, the question arises, how do we not deprive our children of a fun Christmas morning but keep the material goods at bay?
I believe a balance can be found between the “stuff” and creating experiences. If you think about your childhood and your favorite Christmas memories, you may remember one or two gifts that were really coveted and exciting. The rest of the good times were likely traditions and fun things you did with your family. Baking, caroling, watching holiday movies and decorating the tree. These are the moments we wish we could relive with our loved ones. However, in the moment you can’t very well explain to a five-year-old that these memories are so much better than that silly old doll house she wanted and didn’t get. As a new mom, I will be faced with this challenge for the first time this year; granted my six-month-old will be thrilled with the paper and lights and could care less about what Santa brought.
Still, the precedence of how we will do Christmas starts early. I know some parents who limit the number of gifts and tell their children to list three things that they really want and that’s what they get. Good in theory, the problem arises when the kid is sixteen and their short list includes a convertible and new Prada bag. I know other parents who do a few gifts but then ask family and friends to refrain from sending additional items. Another one that’s good in theory, but I’m not going toe-to-toe with my mom and her fun to shop for her first and only grandbaby. Others go on trips versus buying gifts. I love the idea of this as you are definitely creating memories for the family, but I am nostalgic and still get giddy waking up Christmas morning to gifts under a tree. So unfortunately, we’re back to phase one with no universal solution.
Everyone has to find a system that works for them. Personally, I shop early and mostly online. I create a budget and do not allow myself to go over it. Items are not put on credit cards, because that makes overspending way too easy. I believe in quality over quantity especially for the adults you shop for. Baked goods are the only gifts given to friends and extended family and I stick to the same simple recipes. As new items come in, old items go out. Charity is very important and will continue to be a staple especially as I teach my daughter the true meaning of giving. Experiences such as zoo memberships and tickets to sporting events, concerts or plays always make great gifts and give the recipients something to look forward to.
Living intentionally and being present is so important this time of year. Create a game plan, but give yourself grace to avoid stress. Recognize when you are being pulled into a marketing scheme and remember that more is not always necessary to make your loved ones happy. Your time is more valuable than anything tangible and adults and children alike can recognize when you are truly engaged and in the moment. Focus on creating those memories and leave all of the other “stuff” behind.