Author Topic: How do you handle X-mas presents with your kids?  (Read 767 times)

Frugal Vegan Mom

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How do you handle X-mas presents with your kids?
« on: November 18, 2021, 09:11:44 AM »
When mine were smaller and still believed in Santa, I would wrap up a bunch of thrift store items and put them under the tree to find in the morning.  Back when the unwrapping was as important as the gift!

Now they are 7, 10, 11 and know that parents are Santa.  They already have so much STUFF they seem to constantly get gifts from multiple sets of grandparents, other parents (blended family), etc.  Last year we got them a typical amount of gifts because we were all stuck inside due to Covid, but some of that they didn't even play with because they're so happy with the stuff they've already got. 

So, question - how do you scale it back?  Lower the expectation of a PILE of presents x-mas morning?  I cringe at the thought of getting them stuff they don't even need or might not even play with, just because gifts are expected on x-mas.  My husband is more traditional in this sense so I have to have a good plan to get him on board too...


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Re: How do you handle X-mas presents with your kids?
« Reply #1 on: November 18, 2021, 09:17:52 AM »
We do the tried and true: One thing you want, one thing you need, one thing to wear, one thing to read from Mom and Dad, a couple toys from Santa (always a bigger thing like bikes or roller skates, this year it is bean bag chairs), and we ask our family for our experience-type gift cards for the kids.

Each year we've just tried to have fewer presents to open: not by a ton, but a natural draw down as they age.
« Last Edit: November 18, 2021, 08:08:01 PM by StarBright »


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Re: How do you handle X-mas presents with your kids?
« Reply #2 on: November 18, 2021, 07:33:44 PM »
We go with: something you want, something to wear, something to read, and something to share. So in reality they get 3 gifts each and one shared present. Once they got a bit older we also had them get a gift for each other too (with a low budget). Add in a few treats for the stockings and it is a relatively small amount of gifts.

But grandparents still go overboard. The kids have just learned that I am likely to donate some of those gifts from the grandparents a month or so after Christmas if they arenít loved/used.

elaine amj

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Re: How do you handle X-mas presents with your kids?
« Reply #3 on: November 19, 2021, 12:00:20 AM »
Have you tried talking to them to ask what they want to do?  Maybe it's time to shake things up and do one small present each and do something as a family?

When my kids were little, I got away with not giving them present at all (I was overwhelmed already by all the grandparent presents). When they got to school age, I started buying them a $20-30 present each. Then they decided Santa probably existed (I still maintain they knew better but were smart enough to play along) so I had to add Santa presents.

Now they are young adults and I am tempted to do away with presents altogether (I don't particularly want them to give me anything). But it is still kinda fun to unwrap a few things on Christmas morning. I better decide soon!

At one time I was thinking maybe each of us buy each other something from the dollar store or thrift store between $1 and $5. DH and I don't do gifts for each other unless we happen to buy something for the other at that time of year and then it becomes a "Christmas gift".

For their birthdays I didn't give presents - but they got to choose one thing for us to do as a family together. One year gokarts, another year laser tag. Stuff like that.

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« Last Edit: November 19, 2021, 12:03:11 AM by elaine amj »


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Re: How do you handle X-mas presents with your kids?
« Reply #4 on: November 19, 2021, 06:05:44 AM »
We barely get out kids anything ourselves (or 'from Santa') for that matter. We deliberately try to choose things that will have lasting play ability - kinetic sand, magnatiles, LEGO, books, board games, etc.

Of course and somewhat unfortunately, they end up with a pile of gifts from our extended families. They are 6,4,2 and thankfully this is the last year where they will be the only grandkids/nephews. Next year there will be new additions in the family. Being the only members of the next generation we constantly field questions about what they will like. We've gotten a lot better at communicating that they don't need much but I can point to numerous bins on our basement with toys that they seldom play with (most of which have been gifted by family).

Because our kids only get 3-5 (at most) gifts under our home tree, I think we're setting their expectations appropriately for the future. Something we've talked about is, as they start to become cognizant of where things actually come from at Christmas, we'll reduce it down to one significant gift for each of them plus a notable amount of stocking stuffers.


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Re: How do you handle X-mas presents with your kids?
« Reply #5 on: November 19, 2021, 08:02:36 AM »
We have three kids (6, 3, and 1) and they get inundated with gifts from extended family, so we don't end up gifting them much from ourselves. While I try and get family to pare back, we mostly gift experiences as a counterbalance. A museum membership, tickets to something, a subscription like kiwicrates or a magazine, or even food. This year we're taking the oldest two to Legoland and calling it good. Santa brings a small gift for each, usually thrifted or received via our Buy Nothing group. Our town is doing a toy swap for the first time next week and I hope it becomes an annual event.

I've tried to get family to give experience type gifts but they insist on nothing but toys, maybe a book. After everything gets opened (which sometimes takes two days) the kids get to pick one or two things to play with, and everything else gets moved out of sight into a closet. Then the new toys come out slowly. Very slowly. And any duds get regifted or donated asap.

My MIL has been restricted to four gifts per child (want, need, wear, read) and if she still can't hold back, then I'm putting my foot down for future holidays. I love Christmas but I'll be a scrooge if I have to.


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Re: How do you handle X-mas presents with your kids?
« Reply #6 on: November 19, 2021, 11:32:39 PM »
We get our kids to write a list of what they want, and we'll choose a couple of things from that list. Then add if a surprise or two (book, clothes, posters).

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Re: How do you handle X-mas presents with your kids?
« Reply #7 on: November 22, 2021, 08:22:16 AM »
My kids get so much stuff from the Grandparents for Christmas. So when they were little, I'd only buy them a couple of gifts (the toys they wanted most)

from "Santa." However, it was a sad set-up with just a few presents under the I gathered toys they already had and set them up in fun ways

under the tree. I set up lego towers, lincoln log houses, car race tracks...So when they woke up on Christmas it made it more exciting. Also, we would give

them all of our attention and just have fun and play (which on Christmas with hosting, cooking or preparing gifts for the rest of the family didn't always

happen.) The stocking stuffers are practical but a step up from the norm (fun snacks, kid themed soaps, toothpaste etc.)

As the kids got older the Christmas gift became a family vacation. Last year, since we could not travel I gave them gift cards (which I was able

to get from credit card points.)

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Re: How do you handle X-mas presents with your kids?
« Reply #8 on: November 22, 2021, 08:39:01 AM »
Also, I'd sell the toys and things they no longer used on ebay before Christmas and use that $ to buy the gifts....(they'd never even notice but it made room for the new stuff coming in.


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Re: How do you handle X-mas presents with your kids?
« Reply #9 on: November 22, 2021, 08:22:38 PM »
I usually get my kid one $20ish toy and then one thing that I actually legitimately want her to have because it aligns with my values. For her birthday I got her a koala toy she wanted, and got her a skateboard because I think being physically active is important. For Xmas I got her a bee suit (I'm a beekeeper and she'd love to be involved but has to go inside when I work with the bees right now) and got her a bee stuffed animal.

I don't know what to do about relatives. I let her make a wishlist for them and make sure some more practical things are on her list in addition to toys. I do make her donate toys with some regularity, but still. She has definitely excessive amounts of toys!

Chris Pascale

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Re: How do you handle X-mas presents with your kids?
« Reply #10 on: November 23, 2021, 05:31:45 PM »
4 kids ages 10-20.

The 6 of us pick a Secret Santa. Last year my daughter got me dessert spoons. They're awesome. For this year, whoever I pick is getting the latest "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" book (we all read them, but usually hang on the library wait list to get it), unless I get my wife, then I'll get her some skin care stuff from Estee Lauder.

We also get a family gift. One year it was a Nintendo Switch. Another year it was a TV.