Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Christmas giving and receiving

There's always lots of talk around this time about the cost of Christmas to families, the pressure on parents to buy the latest toys, the power of advertising on both children and adults and such like. I read an interesting article, Christmas, Materialism and Toys that had some good advice for parents. It's slightly lengthy so I've selected a few bits from the article that I particularly liked:

Help develop their imagination:
"Simpler toys like dolls, construction kits, train sets and cars, ‘house’ items like kitchen sets provide the richest experience for children because they can use their own imagination more".
We have bought our son some Lego for Christmas, just the basic building bricks, so I was especially pleased to read this next bit. He has been given special sets where you follow instructions and I hadn't thought about it before but indeed, the scope with those is so much more limited:
"There has even been a change in Lego from simple bricks which allow the child to create and problem solve to sets with specific dedicated pieces and instructions which dictate what should be made. If children get spoon fed everything, even in play, their imaginations close down, they don’t develop the ability to pursue sustained thought and they get bored easily... "
The concern of over-indulgence: My son had his fourth birthday yesterday and had so many (arguably too many) presents, mostly due to all the friends who came to his birthday party. It was really too much for him to take in, appreciate and value so I can definitely relate to the following:
"Many parents are concerned about falling into the trap of over-indulging their children, fearing that their children will grow up to be overly acquisitive and never satisfied, unable to appreciate the true cost of things or differentiate between their needs and their wants."
Children learn by example - we always need to remember to practise what we preach! If we want to encourage all things in moderation, then as parents we need to be moderate in our gift-giving and think quality over quantity. Likewise, to teach our children about giving to others, we need to show them it in action, not just in words.

Encourage your child to enjoy the act of giving. The article offers some good tips for engaging your child in giving at Christmas time, such as thinking of non-material gifts (homemade cookies, a story or picture they've created etc), giving to those less fortunate in your local community, having them help select a gift for a particular person and talking through the process (what the person likes, cost etc).

Some of the advice sounds obvious perhaps, but if nothing else it's a good reminder of what our responsibilities are as parents to help instill the kind of values that are important in our own family. Have a read and let me know your thoughts in the comments.
photo credit


  1. I've been thinking a lot about this over the last week or so. We've had to scale Christmas right back this year as we are having to get by on just my husband's salary at the moment (and it's not easy). We simply can't afford to go overboard so have a very strict limit. So strict that my daughter will get her first bike (a bargain with money off) but nothing else (bar the helmet). We've had to say to friends, please don't buy for our daughter as we can't afford to reciprocate.

    But aside from money issues, you're right. It's all just too much these days and I see in my own extended family a lack of appreciation of the value of things. It becomes casual want-fuelled acquisition - 'this is the new gadget coming out - I must have one' Cue all the family scrambling around to afford to buy it. Ridiculous. I remember those Lego sets too - the child is not able to be creative and once built they are often forgotten about - great at £80 a pop (and this was 8 or so years ago)

    Interesting article and lots to think about in terms of trying to rebalance. x

    1. Ooh, forgot to say in all that ranting...

      A happy belated 4th birthday to Little Boy Zen! :)x

    2. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Good on you for being clear to others that you are not in a position to buy for everyone and making it clear that they shouldn't buy for your daughter. I think one great present like a bike for your daughter is perfect. It will make her Christmas and it's a gift that will last.
      Oh and thank you for the kind belated birthday wishes...Little Boy Zen - that made me smile :-). Merry Christmas! xx

  2. Couldn't agree more! It is a balance and so important I think. This year I am trying to focus on getting a few things I think my kids will enjoy, and not buy things just to have lots of gifts (which I have done before!). I hope they can grow up to appreicate this. As they are getting older it is becoming so important to foster their love of giving special home made gifts, cards, pictures. I want them to know that to me that means more than anything!

    1. Hi Tiffany, thanks for your comment. I like your approach and am sure your children will indeed grow to appreciate having a few fun gifts rather than an overwhelming amount. You are so right that the special home made gifts mean more than anything to family and friends and it's lovely to encourage those I think.


Thank you for reading. I'd love to have your comments and thoughts!