Monday, December 11, 2006

What do you spend on kids at Christmas?

This was the question asked on a group I belong to and here is my answer. A lady didn't have much money to spend on gifts this year and did not want to disappoint her children.

I would LOVE to hear how much you spend AND some of your holiday traditions!

We usually don't have a set amount that we try to spend on each child. My
husband and I try to keep it under $25 for each of the kids. We get them
something we know that they will enjoy. Yes, That usually means only one of
two gifts. I remember growing up with at least 20-50 gifts each Christmas. I
rushed through unwrapping them and usually only ended up playing with one or
two anyways. I know growing up my parents spent the same amount of money on
both me and my sister. We don't do that. If we find something that is
meaningful to one child and it costs $10 that is what is spent on her gift.
Especially if we cannot find anything else meaningful for $15 or less.

Plus the kids need to realize that life is not fair, and Christmas (or
birthdays) are not about getting. In fact, Jesus was not brought gifts on
His birthday. The wise men did not show up till He was a toddler, and even
then, they were not gifts celebrating His birth, but foretelling of His
death. We are not ready to give up giving gifts at Christmas just yet, but
we definitely do try to foster a more giving and being grateful attitude.

There is a story book that is illustrated Christmas story using KJV
scripture. I LOVE IT! We got it from rainbow Resource. We read that book and
the children each go through the story with the nativity we have (Fisher
Price has a nativity AND a shepherds in the fields kit that are perfect for
little hands!). I know that the older the kids get, they might not want to
do that, but I hope that they have the grace to sit joyfully through it and
encourage the younger ones. Then we have a nail (like the ones nailed Jesus
to the cross) hidden in the tree. I am sure you know the Victorian tradition
of hiding the pickle in the tree. We hide a nail and all the children look
for it. The one who finds it gets to tell the reason behind the nail
(completing the story of His birth --- He came to live and die). They also
get to grab a candy cane off the tree.

Then whoever found the nail gets to GIVE the first gift. They look under the
tree and find a gift that does not have their name on it and give it to that
person. We all wait as that person unwraps the gift. Than that person gets
to go pick a gift and give it and so on and so forth. Yes, that makes
Christmas last MUCH longer, but we LOVE it! Growing up, everyone's gifts
were distributed and then we rushed through them. This way you get to see
the joy and surprise on everyone's face. I remember when my daughter was 18
months. It was the first Christmas she was old enough to unwrap presents.
Daddy handed her a gift from Uncle Jeff and she took the bow and put it on
her head. Then she slowly unwrapped the gift and when she got to the stuffed
animal inside, she hugged it and then got up and gave Daddy and hug (kind of
thanking him for the gift). That memory will last with me for as long as I
live. I would have missed it had we opened gifts the way we used to.

Maybe this is the year to teach your children about giving? I know that I
have been working on mine with that this year. They are actually wanting to
give all their presents to the shelters this year to children who would not
get toys otherwise.

I am trying to move more and more away from giving lots of gifts, and giving
one or two meaningful gifts. A CD or DVD that your child may be wanting is
definitely under $25. I understand you not wanting to disappoint them, but
hopefully they will understand and be appreciative for any gifts they give.
And maybe you can fill the rest of the time that they would have spent
opening more gifts doing something special together. Maybe you bake and
decorate cookies and take them to the nursing home. Or maybe you volunteer
downtown at the soup kitchen and hand out meals to those who wouldn't
otherwise have?

I was reading an article about a woman who was watching in horror at how a
little girl was opening her presents. Just ripping through them,
disappointing looks when she didn't like what she was given, etc. She
compared that to another little girl who opened each card first and read it
and smiled thanking the person for the card. Then she opened the gift and
thanked the person who sent it saying what she enjoyed about the gift and
how excited she was to use/play with it. She also mentioned watching a funny
video on the TV. The girl was so excited about her present that she went
tossing out all the tissue paper and accidentally threw the dress out with
it. When the little girl got to the bottom, there was a hanger, and the
little girl squealed "Oh it's a hanger!! Thank you thank you thank you!" And
it was so sincere! I pray that my children would always so so content and

Anyways, I am sorry to ramble on. Just some thoughts.


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