Holiday, Parenting

Curbing Christmas List Overload

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I have had to put a cap on the wishes and lists for Christmas present and future.  A couple of  years ago, my daughter’s tastes and desires began to get outrageous.  Who knew that a tiny little Nintendo system could cost so much?!?!  It is crazy how expensive tiny little electronics can be – and then there are the accessories.  How are normal, middle class families supposed to afford all of this and not go into debt?

After doing some soul searching of my own, and trying to figure out how I was going to limit the sheer over the top wishes and lists, I realized, I don’t have to keep her from asking, I just have to reframe what she is asking for.  I saw an adorable 5 part Christmas list on Pinterest (isn’t that where everything is?) a few years ago and put it into practice.  Revolutionary!  REV-O-LUTIONARY!!!

       Each child gets to ask for:

  1. Something they want.
  2. Something they need.
  3. Something they will wear.
  4. Something they will read.
  5. One special wish.

Helping my darling girl think in terms of one special item, and wants versus needs was a big step for her.  Yes, this is her Santa list.  Yes, she does get more than these five items for Christmas, but this list made her prioritize what she really wanted so that she didn’t ask for 10 things and only really want 2.  She didn’t treat the list as a budget negotiation or a compromise.  Once I didn’t give in to the PLEEEEEEEEEeeeeeeease, can’t we have just one more line?  In the first couple of years.  Now she doesn’t even ask – she just prioritizes.  If Santa brings anything else, it is what he things she will enjoy, and completely at his discretion…and he’s a complete and total softy where she is concerned, so he always comes through.

I have started to implement this list with my youngest child now as well.  He has to replace items on his list as he finds a new item (thanks to commercials) that he wants.  Right now, his are pretty manageable, but all too soon they will be just as expensive as his sister’s.  Nobody needs that!  Like Barney Fife – we’re doing some bud nipping now.

Christmas can be a time of wonder and joy, of excitement and anticipation for children – and for adults.  I don’t want one minute of that time squandered on material possessions that lead to entitlement when a child is over indulged.

Hopefully, teaching my children to make strategic requests, for items that they really want, will help them value the item more.  I am trying to teach them about quality over quantity, and view time spent with family as a commodity. This is one of those items that I won’t see until I am old and gray, busily crocheting from my rocking chair beside the fire, but if I can get them in that frame of mind as adults, it will make my heart sing.


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