Do your kids need less "stuff" this holiday season?

Toys! Toys! Toys! The holidays are full of magic, fun, wonder, and toys. The toys come under the tree. They come from grandparents, friends, and even the fat man himself. It’s not long before your house is filled with toys. Along with the “stuff” can come an overwhelming feeling. You're tripping on Legos. Toys get broken and forgotten. In those moments, it’s easy to want to swear off the holidays entirely. Although no one wants to be the Grinch and buy less gifts, but it’s also not helping your kids when you buy them everything from their wish list either. Your kids need less “stuff” this holiday season. Here’s why, and what you can do instead.

More isn't more

If your kid has a holiday list that's a mile long, you should rethink purchasing everything on the list. Kids who get everything on their lists are less likely to:

  • Be able to prioritize wants and needs. If they always get everything they want, there's no need to learn to prioritize their desires.
  • Manage the emotions that come from disappointment. Not getting everything on their list teaches kids to deal with being disappointed from time to time.

Not only are your kids suffering from too much stuff, your wallet is too. Nearly 45 percent of parents report that they try to get everything on their kids holiday lists, no matter the cost. This commitment to giving your kids everything they want comes at a high price. Many parents dip into emergency funds, neglect saving for retirement, and even go into debt to finance these holiday wishes.

How to be intentional about holidays

  • Although it’s easy to get sucked into the madness that is holiday shopping, there are ways you can be more intentional with your holiday giving. Being intentional with your holiday shopping means:
  • Communicating with your kids. Let them know that they won’t be getting everything they want. Ask them to write a list and prioritize that list. Not only will this help you as a parent know what to buy, but it also means that you won’t be purchasing things that you kids don’t care for. 
  • Setting a realistic budget. Going into debt for holiday stuff only increases the stress in your home. Establish a budget for your total family holiday spending, and then break it down by individual. This will help guide your spending, even when surrounded by holiday sales.
  • Plan it out. When the holiday frenzy hits, it’s easy to let the best of your good intentions die. Having a plan in place helps. For example, some families only buy 3 gifts for each person at Christmas, to represent the gifts the Christ child received. Other families buy 4 gifts per person: something they want, something they need, something to wear, and something to read. 
  • Choose experience gifts. Gift your child an experience they will never forget. Spending time with your kids is something that can be impactful far longer than the latest toy. Experience gifts might be as simple as:
    • Going to the movies
    • A special parent/child date
    • A class where your child can learn something (taught by you or someone else)
    • Aquarium tickets 
    • A season pass 
    • A vacation

Giving your kids less “stuff” this holiday season doesn’t have to ruin the fun of the holidays. Being intention with your time and money will help you enjoy the holidays without taxing your wallet. It’ll also help you curb the clutter and chaos in your home.