Friday, December 2, 2011

How much is too much?

Christmas shopping this year has proven to be quite the challenge!  I've asked my children repeatedly what they would like for Christmas this year.  My daughter sent me a detailed list of items that she wants, but there's only about 7 things on the list.  After splitting those 7 items between Santa, my parents, and my brother, there's not much on each of those lists.  My middle son picked out a skateboard that he liked, along with some extra wheels and bearings for his other skateboard.  He asked for some shoes and some clothes, but he hasn't asked for any other toys (he's only 9! Surely he hasn't outgrown toys!).  My seven year old has the largest list of the three.  I thought I was doing great with him, until he told me last night to "erase all the toys off the list and tell Santa that I want an XBOX 360, the white one, for my bedroom".  Ummm....I don't see that happening.  How to you tell a 7 year old that Santa doesn't do exchanges when it's barely the 1st of December??

My question is this:  When you have more than one child (heck, even if you just have one child), how do you decide how much to spend on gifts for Christmas?  I'm a firm believer that everything should be fair (same dollar amount on each child, or as close as you can possibly come), but that's kind of hard to explain when they are more likely to count the number of packages under the tree.  Trust me...these kids really do not NEED anything material.  They have plenty of toys...from the Wii, to the XBOX, to the DS3's...bicycles, (my boys have bikes at my house, dad's house, and grandma's house!).  They have tons of books, clothes, etc.  The oldest two both have an iPod touch (which they received for their most recent birthdays).  If anything, they have too much.

I don't want these kids to be disappointed at Christmas, but my mom made an interesting point when I talked to her about it.  She reminded me that Santa will be visiting them at their father's home and at my home, and they do have two sets of natural grandparents, a set of "step" grandparents, and plenty of aunts and uncles on all sides that will be showering them with gifts.

This has gotten me contemplating the idea of opening up an Education Savings Account (like a 529) and contributing to that for their birthdays and Christmas each year.  It seems that it would be going towards a good cause, but I'm not so sure that children would really appreciate it at the time.  Does anyone have any thoughts?


  1. I feel like it's Christmas and it's the one time a year that I go a bit overboard.

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  3. We have two 'children' they are adults now, 23 and 20, and when they were young we knew they counted packages, so we made sure we spent the exact amount in addition to making sure the number of packages matched, we did some fancy wrapping tricks, trust me! Once there was no dealing with Santa they knew we spent the same amount but we still matched the packages (and I still try to have them open the same amount of boxes).
    Now,For many years they only received three gifts each and this happened while they believed in Santa, we explained that we spoke with Santa and told him we believed that Christmas was not about gifts. We based it on our Christian (Catholic) belief that Jesus received three gifts and they would receive three gifts too, just like Jesus. To be honest, we are not overly religious but we felt that Christmas was getting out of hand and we wanted to teach our children that Christmas was not just about receiving gifts and we thought this would be a perfect way to justify our new policy (yeah, kind of bad using God and all lol).
    In addition, they never get everything on their list. They make a list, we get a few items from the list and then we get things OFF OF the list. We feel this teaches them how to be gracious gift receivers.
    What is funny is they have told us over the years that many times they enjoy the gifts we choose for them way more than the ones on their list.
    So sorry to ramble but I hope I have given you some ideas and just passing it along from a mother who has 'been there and done that!' I know and feel your frustration all too well! Good Luck!!!

  4. We kind of have a similar situation with my 9-year-old daughter. There are so many people in our extended family that buy her gifts that nearly everything on her list gets taken care of at Christmas. (And yes, like your son, she has pretty much outgrown "toys".)

    Since she gets everything she wants or needs from other people for Christmas, we normally try to take her to do something fun and unique. Something memorable. The experience is more exciting to her than getting yet another Wii game. :o) Hope that helps!!


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