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?