Over the 20th century, Christmas has become a highly commercialized holiday and one that wasn't officially recognized in the United States until 1870. In fact, it was rarely celebrated at all in this country until the 1850s, as it was thought of as more of British holiday.
A Christmas gift during these times was often very simple. Children may have gotten an orange, nuts or candy in addition to one or two handmade gifts. Since fruit, nuts and candy were not an everyday treat, receiving them would have been special for most children of the day.
But times have certainly changed. Each year, every industry competes for your child's attention so that they can ask Santa, or their parents, for the next big thing that they think they absolutely have to have.
If your family doesn't have a lot of money or wants to go simple this year, managing expectations can seem like a huge challenge.
In this blog post, we'll discuss some of the ways you can ensure your child doesn't wake up on Christmas morning expecting something big, only to be disappointed.
1. Discuss the Meaning of Christmas Gifts with Your Children
A large majority of people in the United States are Christians. But, of course, not everyone is.
Originally, Christmas gifts were given to symbolize the gifts the Three Wise Men brought to Baby Jesus. Christian families may want to discuss this and rediscover the story of the Magi together.
Express to your child that the gifts the Magi brought Jesus were simple, but meaningful. Let your children know that you would like to mirror this in your own gift-giving. Instead of extravagant presents, discuss with your children the importance of giving presents from the heart.
You may want to decide to only give handmade gifts, or set a budget. Let your children know what this is, and state you'll be sticking to it. That way, they may be aware that certain items are off the table.
2. Discuss the Importance of Saving Up for Items
Your children may want an expensive doll, a computer, an iPhone or something else that you can't afford. Or perhaps you can afford it, but you don't want your child thinking they deserve these items simply because their parents make enough money.
Tell your children that if they want to buy something big, they'll have to save up for it themselves. You may wish to contribute to their fund for Christmas to start them off, but let them know they'll need to work for the rest.
If they're old enough, encourage them to get a part-time job, babysit or do yardwork for the rest of the money. If they're still young, you may wish to incentivize chores with an allowance. You can let them know that they'll earn a couple of dollars for everything they do around the house.
Or, if they receive money from grandparents or other relatives during the holidays, encourage them to put this toward their bigger purchase.
3. Talk About How Santa Doles Out Each Child's Christmas Gift or Gifts
The issue of what Santa brings to children can be a tough one. Children of rich parents may come to school with the latest iPhone or the most expensive or elusive toy everyone wanted that year. This may prompt your child to ask why Santa likes the other children in their class more than they like your children.
Tell your children that Santa doesn't like some children more than others. Instead, let them know that Santa discusses with each child's parents how much they'll allow him to spoil the kids. If the family wants to have a much smaller Christmas, Santa knows this, and gives gifts accordingly.
Nowadays, some parents are trying to ensure that children do not feel left out by having all parents who are giving kids expensive gifts to label them as from their parents. This way, children won't feel that Santa likes other children more. But, as you can't necessarily manage how other parents do their own Christmas, you'll need to find a way to ensure your kids know that Santa loves them just the same.
4. Take Inventory of What Your Child Has and Then Set a Budget
If your child has buckets of toys they don't even play with, or you have sacks full of items you've recently given to other parents or taken to charity, it may be time to be harsh.
Many children will only play with toys for a few weeks to a few months before they're on to the next. To avoid clutter, and your child feeling as though they can have everything they ask for, set a budget. You may wish to communicate this with your child so they're aware of what to expect.
If your child is still a baby, recognize that they won't remember this, so you can get away with a smaller budget and gift them some baby essentials.
5. Do Other Activities on Christmas Morning
Christmas morning doesn't have to be centered on gifts. Instead, you can focus on attending church, making Christmas treats or making a special breakfast. This makes Christmas about more than just the gifts and gives them a special activity to look forward to.
6. Visit a Homeless Shelter with Your Children
Your children may not realize how lucky they are to live in a home where their parents have to manage Christmas gift expectations. As such, taking your child to see that some children will receive far less for Christmas can make them understand that gifts aren't everything.
7. Participate in a Buy a Gift for Children in Need Program
Many local churches and community centers have drives to collect gifts for children whose families cannot afford to buy them gifts. Pick out some gifts with your children to help them understand that they are very lucky that their parents can afford gifts for them.
8. Discuss the Meaning of Christmas, Even If You're Not Religious
While we already spoke about how you can discuss the meaning of Christmas with your kids for Christians, what about non-religious folks who still celebrate? Most non-religious people can agree that Christmas is about generosity and giving. Discuss this with your children, and let them know that giving a gift can be just as fun as receiving.
9. Give Some Practical Gifts
Let your children know a portion of their gifts will be something they need, like our FeverMates stickers. These can help monitor their fevers, and keep them healthy all year-round. Additionally, give toddlers gifts that help them with their development, so that they can learn and play.
10. A Tip for Families Who Don't Celebrate Christmas: Make the Day Special
If your family doesn't celebrate Christmas, it can feel very isolating for kids. While you know the reasoning you've chosen not to do it, kids can have a more difficult time understanding it.
You may wish to buy them a small gift or two. You may also wish to have a fun celebration with your family anyway, that makes it special but not centered around Christmas. Maybe have a family night with a special dinner, go out to eat, go to a movie or play sports together. If everyone has the day off, you may as well make it a day to remember!
Avoiding Christmas Morning Disappointments
A Christmas gift can be something your children will cherish forever or something they end up tossing out a few weeks later. Try to buy gifts your children will actually both love and use.
In order to keep your kids and friends' kids healthy, why not consider the range of FeverMate products? They're a great practical gift for your kids and a lifesaver as an inexpensive gift for your parent friends.