It's important to get family and friends on board with your efforts to control gift-giving:
Be specific. For people who love your children – and love to spoil them – a vague request to "reduce" might not be enough. If you want only one gift from each set of grandparents, say so. Consider putting your thoughts in writing; explaining why you want to reduce this year and asking for cooperation.
Provide guidance. To avoid the "shotgun" approach where Grandma buys five gifts in the hope your child will adore one, try the following:
Create wish lists – either hand-written or online.
Establish a theme – it can be something as specific as "dinosaurs" or something broader like "gifts that encourage physical activity."
Start a collection – and with it a tradition – as your child looks forward to seeing what interesting trinket Aunt Jane sends each year.
Ask for contributions to a large gift, such as a new bicycle, or gifts to go with it like helmet, water bottle, etc.
Do the legwork. Offer to pick up gifts on behalf of relatives, especially those far away. They may be happy for the assistance and you can control the number of gifts and the expense.
• Spread the joy
So much excitement, consumption, activity and sugar packed into such a short period of time is understandably overwhelming. Here are tips for distributing the goodwill of the holidays throughout the year:
Pace yourself. Let children open gifts at their own rate. Seeing relatives over a series of days can make things easier as your children can open presents in front of the person who bought them.
Make it last. A subscription to a children's magazine or a monthly care package (you can make your own or sign up for Happy Mail) makes a great year-round gift. Other possibilities include museum memberships, paying for activities or lessons or financing an outing or vacation together.
Space it out. Suggest having Grandma and Grandpa buy gifts that can stay at their house for the children to enjoy whenever they visit.
• Consider the alternatives
The best gifts often don't come wrapped up in bright paper. Some different ideas for holiday giving include:
Invest in the future. RESP contributions or savings bonds are a gift that will outlast the current season and can truly make a difference for your children's future.
The gift of time. One more toy in a sea of toys is easily forgotten. A special outing with Grandpa or a cookie-baking session with Grandma may be remembered forever.
Share the wealth. If they would normally send two gifts, ask relatives to send one and direct the extra funds to charity. Get your children involved by asking them to donate toys they no longer use to children in need.
• Give thanks
Since positive reinforcement is the best way to influence behaviour make sure to thank people when they make the effort to scale back their gift-buying. Dr. Mamen says a personal thank-you from your child will show the gift is appreciated while sincere thanks from you will show appreciation for the gift-giver’s restraint.
Are you giving too much? Why not cook gifts from your own kitchen?
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