I know, I know - how cliché. We've just finished Halloween and immediately everyone turns to the topic of the Holidays. The stores have already had Christmas decorations creeping out of corners since school started, but now that the orange and black is on clearance, the red and green is going to be more and more prominent, and on people's minds. I'm not suggesting you should sing carols or put an inflatable Olaf on your lawn just yet, but in terms of planning for presents, the earlier you begin, the better. Here's why:
Some have been shopping since July, some are starting to listen hard to what your saying to get ideas, some are just dying to spoil your little one with all kinds of toys and clothes... And that's not even getting in to Aunts. I know, I am one! I see things I want to buy for my niece on the daily! This is not a bad thing by any stretch of the imagination, but it is a complicated scenario for a mom. You want to be surprised, but you need to have a certain amount of control over the things that are bought for your child. I'm not even talking about finger paints and beads here people, I'm talking about sizing, preferences, and moral beliefs.
Your kids are going to receive gifts you may never have bought yourself, and that's a good thing, so it's not worth hurting someone's feelings if a gift is not 100% your taste. A gift is a gesture of love and appreciation, and the giver wants you to be happy, so here are a few strategies to finding a middle ground.
What: A Christmas "Needs" List
When: For close family, and your own reference.
It's good to have, even if it's not the holiday season, so that you can capitalize on sales and are prepared for a growth spurt! Go through your child's wardrobe for the size they have now, and the size that they will next grow in to. Make some notes on their sizing and the gaps in their closets, and have this available. Needs are things like underpants - not fun to receive, but necessary. The older your child gets, the more they dread things like clothes, so it's not as desirable for the giver to buy. Sure, people might want to buy cute pajamas, or fun little outfit, but don't count your list being met in its entirety.
What: A Christmas "Wants" List
When: Your child is old enough to have preferences (ie: a letter to Santa) or you're being asked by friends and family.
This list is the complete opposite of the above. It's not practical, it's the wow-factor. Family and friends love buying things like toys, movies, and other entertainment items because of the fun they are to buy, and the fantastic reaction you get from the receiver! It's true of parents too, so you can hardly blame them! If people ask you what your child wants for Christmas, try to give a variety of options, thinking a little outside the box.
- Books, books, books - if your child has a favourite television show, try encouraging their love by combining it with reading rather the DVD or other media. Remember to ask for some books that are ahead of your child's current abilities so they have room to grow.
- Outside, literally - your house is probably packed with stuff, so why not some outdoor toys? From bigger gifts like bikes, sleds, and wagons, to smaller items like chalk, beach toys and hockey sets, lets encourage some fresh air!
- Fun experiences - lessons, classes, and family passes are a great gift for the holidays. If your child likes fish, a day at the aquarium has much more impact than a goldfish in a bowl, and no animals will be harmed!
What: A Christmas "Don't" List
When: You feel strongly that a gift is inappropriate.
This is not meant to be a power trip; maybe you try to have toys that are not battery powered, you prefer organic materials, you discourage screen-time... whatever the case maybe. For the holidays, it's okay to receive a few treats that can be stored away separately and enjoyed within limits. What you should make people aware of, politely, is something that prevent you from allowing your child to use a toy, even on a sick day or special occasion.
An example that sticks out in my mind is weapons. Sure, older kids might want to play aggressive or war like games, but I would draw the line at having toy guns and archery material in my house. I feel strongly about this issue, but not everyone in my life thinks it's problematic, or knows I hold this view. It's okay to casually mention this limitation if giving a list. It will save a lot of awkwardness if a gift you feel is inappropriate is purchased by stating your case ahead of time.
Do you worry about holiday gifts? How do you deal with presents that are inappropriate?
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