Can you get too many gifts for Christmas?

Never mind regifting, are we guilty of buying kids too many gifts for Christmas?

By Tudor Robins

How to save money this Christmas by cutting back on gifts
Forget the enduring controversy over regifting; I have been guilty of the much worse crime of holiday over-gifting. Last year the boxes and wrapping paper in our home constituted a fire hazard and, far from bringing joy and delight to my children, by the end of the day both were teary and frustrated – my older son actually ran crying from the room when confronted with one-too-many gifts.

Apart from avoiding meltdowns, there are concrete reasons to curb your spending (and that of friends and family around you).

Don't give too many gifts for Christmas, and your kids will be healthier for it
Dr. Maggie Mamen, a clinical psychologist and author of The Pampered Child Syndrome, says lavishing too many gifts on children leads to several problems:
Lack of gratitude. Children learn to expect a certain level of gift-giving and can become demanding and ungrateful for what they receive.
Competition. Trying to give a child the biggest or the most gifts sends a dangerous message that love is measured by the size or generosity of gifts given.
Overstimulation. Studies show that babies learn better when they can absorb one thing at a time – too many toys actually prevents them from focusing and learning.

Overgifting hurts your finances
In a 2005 survey the Retail Council of Canada found the average adult anticipated spending $1,357 on both gift and non-gift holiday expenses. Just imagine what you could do by redirecting some of that money.

Here's how to avoid giving too many gifts for Christmas
Cutting back can be harder than it sounds so we asked parents across the country for their best tips on paring down presents during the holidays.

• Have a Plan
Our parent experts say planning is key. Here are some of the strategies they use:

Set limits
. Decide on the number of gifts your children should receive. There are no hard-and-fast rules, and everyone is different – the important thing is to decide what’s right for your family.
Make a list. Check it twice. And stick to it.
Draw names. In bigger families gift-giving can get out of control (and expensive) if everybody buys for everybody else. A family draw means fewer, and likely more meaningful, gifts.

Page 1 of 2 -- Don't know how to pare back your holiday shopping? Find expert tips on page 2

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