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My kiddo is definitely into the holidays...and by into the holidays, I mean, she has a full-on case of I-Want-That-itis. Whether it's an ad for some new game involving a plastic rotating pig that you stuff food into or a mini pillow in the shape of a kitty, she wants it. All of it. She puts it all on her list to Santa and is extra good...so, she thinks she is getting all of it.

But she isn't. We simply just can't buy everything she wants and nor should we. But, this time of year, it is easy to get sucked into getting more than you really need to for your kids. We all have bought a few more presents than we should, and some definitely end up in that pile in the corner, played with for maybe an hour and then maybe another 20 minutes three month from now. Not a good use of that money, right?

So how do you not disappoint your kiddo when not everything on her list arrives Christmas morning? By prepping her ahead of time and enlisting Santa's help. Try some of these tricks:

-- Have her prioritize her list. Yes, that list may be long, but have her narrow down her top three or top five super-duper wants and put them at the top of the list. Tell her that Santa sometimes checks with mommys and daddys to be sure there is room under the tree for certain things and to get the parent stamp of approval for presents.

-- Use magical thinking. Explain that the sleigh is only so big, the elves only have so much time to make and gather the gifts, Santa has a budget (which also has to pay the elves and buy food or the reindeer) allows for two presents per child...or whatever you can come up with. Use some of your good storytelling-magical thinking muscles and create a scenario that will make sense for your kid.

-- Be upfront about it. Be honest about the amount of presents, especially if one she really wants isn't going to be there. If she really wants an iPad or an American Girl doll, and you know that isn't in the cards, then tell her that. Refocus her to think of other things she wants, and explain that perhaps in a few months or for her birthday, she may get that special gift.

-- Remind them what it is all about. When Santa's list gets too long, when "I want" starts every other sentence, and you hear  "Pretty please, Mom!" for the 23rd time, remind your kids that this time of year is about presents and toys, yes, but more importantly, it is about family and giving to others. Maybe for every toy they have on their lists to Santa, they can do something good for someone else (see some of my hints over on Healthy Habits on easy charity things to do with your kids).

How do you manage your kids' gift expectations at holiday time?

by on Dec. 13, 2011 at 12:00 AM
Replies (31-39):
by on Dec. 18, 2011 at 1:46 AM

When ever my 4yo tells me she wants something I tell her I'll make a note of it and we'll see for birthday or for Christmas. 

by on Dec. 18, 2011 at 1:48 AM

Yup Yup Yup all that

by Jessica on Dec. 18, 2011 at 5:37 AM

Quoting sweettigeress:

When ever my 4yo tells me she wants something I tell her I'll make a note of it and we'll see for birthday or for Christmas. 

sounds reasonable

by on Dec. 19, 2011 at 11:42 AM

My daughter (4) is only allowed to ask Santa for ONE item that she REALLY REALLY wants and then Mommy and Daddy will try and get her a few of the other little items that she wants, same with my twins (though they aren't quite old enough to grasp the concept of Christmas and Santa).  Santa brings one big item (and by big I don't mean costs an arm and a leg I mean what the child wants the most and is reasonable).  And then they get 2-3 other items they wanted, and maybe a few tiny items (many can be stuffed in the stocking).  That way present buying doesn't get out of control! And we don't end up broke! This year my daughter asked Santa for a Princess Baby Doll (and lip gloss/finger nail polish for her stocking).  That's all she wants from Santa.  She also asked Mommy and Daddy to get her a Barbie and a cute curtain for her bedroom window (we've been redoing her room).  Very simple requests from a 4 year old! Her brothers are getting a mini drum set like a rock band uses (what was I thinking LOL) and a really nice race car track, as well as numerous hot wheels. They'll be getting a great big wooden melissa and Doug floor puzzle a piece, as well as some other puzzles, some lacing boards, a DVD, and a family board game. 

by on Dec. 19, 2011 at 11:43 AM

LOL My daughter would probably be worse on the whole "I want" thing but we don't have cable, and she never sees the toy magazines when they come in the mail, so the items she sees is limited.  If we take her down the toy aisle, she gets excited and loves everything but will usually see ONE thing in particular that she absolutely LOVES.

by New Member on Dec. 19, 2011 at 1:17 PM

I tell my kids that for every new gift Santa brings them, they have to donate a toy to good will. That cuts way down on their" but mom I have to have this," list to santa.

by on Dec. 19, 2011 at 6:36 PM


Quoting PrissyT:

i always tell the kids when they are doing there list.. they can put whatever they want but just b/c its on the list does not mean they will get it... santa can only give a certain amount of gifts to each child, and that there are lots of other kids he has to give gifts to aswell

by Member on Dec. 21, 2011 at 3:09 PM

We haven't come to that bridge yet

by Member on Dec. 21, 2011 at 3:10 PM

Quoting sweettigeress:

When ever my 4yo tells me she wants something I tell her I'll make a note of it and we'll see for birthday or for Christmas. 

That's a great idea.

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