If you don’t want your kids to be materialistic, quit buying them so much stuff.
You’ve probably seen me say this before. Don’t feel badly though if you’ve fallen into the consumer vortex and got a little gift-happy this year. I’ve been guilty of this too! Sometimes we all need a little reminder.
We all want to teach our kids to be grateful for the things that they have and more importantly, the people in their lives. But you know how Christmas is. Their friends at school are talking about their Christmas lists… and what they want. They’re going to want stuff! Chances are the grandparents and awesome aunts and uncles in their lives are going to get them stuff, too. If they got a bunch of stuff last year… how quickly did that thing end up in the corner of the closet never to be played with again? How fast did they lose that vital piece? How soon were they onto something else?
That’s why it’s important for you to help your kids understand what Christmas is really all about.
How do you do that?
You have to lead by example. If your kids see you getting all frazzled and excited over Black Friday sales and Cyber Monday deals, then they’re probably going to get excited and start talking about these things too! But if you take the time to talk about how important it is to spend time together and build cherished family memories by experiencing the parade, checking out the lights on your street, or baking peppermint cookies and making hot cocoa, they’ll be excited for those things too.
No one is going to give a Christmas toast about you that says “She has a designer couch and really expensive earrings.”
I love waking up on Christmas morning with the excitement of Santa MAGIC. I love when the boys open their stockings. But the absolute best part of the day is when the stockings and the small items inside are all put away and we get to head to the beach as a family to have a sand castle building competition. We forgo big gifts and set aside money all year long to go on a family vacation. Yes, it does require money to do this, but spending time together does not.
When I was a kid we would volunteer as a family at the Santa’s Anonymous warehouse. We spent the entire day freezing our butts off and packed HUNDREDS of hampers. I don’t remember every gift that I unwrapped. But I remember the faces (rosy red and cold) of the people who came together in community to do this cold task every year.
These are experiences I’ll never forget—and they had nothing to do with a gift that was given to me. It was all about spending time with my family and giving to other people.
This Christmas, I hope that you’ll teach your kids how important they are to you, and how much you cherish the time you spend with them. I hope they learn that their worth as a friend and human on this planet is FAR more than the brand-name sweater they wear or the shiny new bike they ride. Here are some practical examples of how you can build your family bond this Christmas season:
- Volunteer as a family. You might sing carols at a nursing home or build a gift basket to donate to a family in need. You could volunteer at your local soup kitchen or church. Talk to your kids about why you are choosing to spend time this way. That will make for some memorable and rewarding conversations!
- Take your kids on a gift-buying date, individually. Give them each a small amount of money and have them buy thoughtful gifts for their siblings. Ask them questions about what their brother or sister really likes and what is really important to them. On Christmas morning, let them unwrap these gifts one at a time and have the buyer explain why they thought of their sibling when they bought it. You’ll get a special one-on-one date with each child and the joy on Christmas morning will warm your heart, I promise!
- For every gift your kids receive, have them give something away. You’ve got to give them a heads up before Christmas morning so that they know what to expect. Get them involved in choosing which toys they want to give away. This will help with the after Christmas clutter storm and encourage your kids to value generosity.
Don’t get me wrong here… I do NOT disagree completely with giving gifts. I just think we need to be more mindful of the reason WHY we are giving gifts. I do not believe in feeling OBLIGATED to spend money that I don’t have on people that don’t need or want what I’m giving them. I think that sometimes the best gift you can give someone is to release them from that culture-created obligation of gift giving in the first place.
So if you DO want to give someone a gift, make sure that it’s something really special. Something that’s not a fad. Something that will be cherished. And remind them that there is so much more to this world than material things.