Gift Strategies for 2013

December 29th, 2012

I went a bit over-board on gift buying for my kids this year.  And while I didn’t commit the cardinal Christmas sin of credit card debt, I wasn’t happy with the avalanche of presents under the tree.  It was just too much.  Literally – there were more gifts than our kids could really process or appreciate and I felt like the bonanza of presents didn’t quite jive with the message we’re trying to send about Christmas being about Jesus and charity and other warm-and-fuzzy-and-not-battery-operated ideals.

I’ve got a few thoughts for how to do better next year.  Learn from our mistakes, friends!

1) Only wrap real gifts.  This one mostly applied to grown-up gifts this year.  My family has always like wrapping up lots of little silly things and I continued that tradition by wrapping a package of Reese Christmas trees for Josh.  And a little placard made of construction paper that said “I’m glad we moved to Kentucky.”  Cute, right?  Absolutely.  But that was two more wrapped packages under the tree, adding to the sensory overload.

2) Spread it out.  We should have spread the gift-opening out a bit.  My family always exchanges ornaments and we used to do them on Christmas Eve.  I’m going back to that.  An ornament apiece from my parents, a family ornament, one or two from us to them…it adds up and adds to the Christmas morning chaos.  And, to be honest, the kids blew through them pretty fast.  They probably would have appreciated them more the night before.

3) The fun factor is critical.  Christmas presents for pre-schoolers should be cool and age-appropriate.  Period.  When you optimistically wrap gifts that you the adult love and are hoping your Christmas-crazed little one will fawn over, you’re bound to be disappointed.  At the end of the day, no matter how you feel about princesses, this is the gift your four-year-old will treasure.

The awesome hand-carved wooden math puzzle you convinced your mother to buy your daughter?  Well…

Also: I’m not wrapping up any more books for a while.  Don’t get me wrong: my kids love books.  We read all the time.  But they’re so used to books appearing in our house (either from the library or the store) that a new book doesn’t quite feel like a “present” on Christmas morning.  They ripped them open…then went looking for more gifts.  Neither wanted to take the time to actually read a new book in the midst of the frenzy.  Our book presents just added to the under-tree clutter.  I’ll still buy them books — of course! — but will probably just dole them out throughout the year.

Next year, I’m going to try to focus on finding a few very cool presents I know my kids will love…and then sternly admonish myself not to buy eighteen more gifts after that!

3 responses to “Gift Strategies for 2013”

  1. Mandi says:

    I wholeheartedly agree!! He unwrapped two of them, found a firetruck and went off to play with it. For an hour. We had to almost hold E down to get him to open the rest…which I eventually did for him. Just too many. He would have done well with 3 from each grandparent. And maybe since Mom was in town, we should have done those on Christmas Eve.

    I also like the idea of unwrapped things. Going to mull that one over a bit for next year.

    Thanks, Kate!

  2. Isa says:

    I need to cut back on the clothes. This year she didn’t care, but most of the presents were socks or sleepers or whatnot–i doubt that’ll fly next year and I don’t need all of the wrapped things, either. She loved her one toy, but this is the year when the paper was really the star of the show. I’ll be following your advice about ornaments getting added to the night before pile (along with pjs)!

    • Kate says:

      Yeah, next year she’ll be more interested in “stuff” than toys. But then she’ll boomerang back to clothes. It’s all cyclical!

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