There are a lot of articles making the rounds about Christmas and kids at the moment (for obvious reasons).

I have read a lot about why I should keep the magic of santa alive, why I shouldn’t lie to my kids about santa, the importance of the type of gift I attribute to santa, the true history of santa etc, etc, etc. Quite frankly I’m tired of Santa!!

Well that’s a bit mean! Sure Santa is a great guy and all that, and kids love the magic of it all almost as much as getting presents! Do we want to focus on getting stuff at Christmas? Is that what we want our kids to be excited about? All the stuff they get?

Christmas is here and real in the life of our family. Since our daughter was born, my husband and I have had conversations every year about Christmas. We feel drawn to the traditions of our families of origin (maybe they are embedded in our psyche even if we don’t agree with them?) but also want to create our own traditions and celebrate in a way that is enriching for us and our daughter. We feel that over the top consumption and spending is not enriching. Getting stuff for the sake of getting stuff is filling the pockets of greedy corporations and emptying the pockets of families who have better things to spend money on.

We feel that over the top consumption and spending is not enriching. Getting stuff for the sake of getting stuff is filling the pockets of greedy corporations and emptying the pockets of families who have better things to spend money on. We really don’t want to come across all grinchey and Ba-humbug-esque, but we are anti over the top consumerism.

So is there a balance? Can we still celebrate Christmas with our families, but incorporate our own values and traditions into the mix? How can we find a way to blend with those we love, not offend people but focus on the values that we want to instill?

I reckon we can just focus on the things important to us, and let others focus on that which is important to them!

Every family should do what feels right for them and what shares their values. Here are my ideas for fostering gratitude, empathy and a joy of giving over receiving this Christmas if those things float your boat 🙂

Gift making with kids. – This year my daughter and I are going to spend a day making gifts for the family we will see on Christmas day. I have a really lovely day planned for December 22nd 🙂 We will go to the market in the morning and get all of the produce we need (plus I will include my daughter in helping to choose the lovely food we will eat and share with family on Christmas day).

We are in London this year for a Winter Christmas so we will rug up and make it special by having a steamy hot chocolate in the market.

In the afternoon, we will be making jars of pesto and some yummy raw treats to give as gifts. We will also be making some Christmas Crackers with messages of love inside and some homemade crafty objects.

While we are making gifts we will talk about how much our family will enjoy their gifts and build excitement in the giving.

Do something nice for others – Volunteering at Christmas is a wonderful kind thing to do to encourage empathy and gratitude for kids but roles are not always suitable. This year my daughter announced that she would like to make some pictures or crafts and give them to people who look sad or unwell. She wants to go and stand in the street and give homemade gifts to random strangers (heart melt). The introvert in me feels highly anxious about this plan, especially in London :/ but hey I’ll be in it with her because that is what she wants to do. (The introvert in my daughter will have her selecting people and me having to do the actual giving!)

Getting your kids involved in giving to others through food drives, hamper drives, gift drives etc is also great, especially if again you talk about how the receivers might feel and the difference it could make to them.

Having a tradition of giving to goodwill, good things that our children don’t need or use anymore, just before Christmas is a good plan. Our kids learn that having heaps of stuff is not a status symbol and that others can use what we no longer need. I also believe in buying gifts from goodwill or second hand as a first preference too. The idea that kids ‘deserve’ a new and unused object, when there is a perfectly good one already out there seems strange to me. I know older kids might notice and complain but they are less likely too if it is already the norm in your family and they understand your reasoning.

Don’t over give – The more gifts Kids receive the more they struggle to appreciate them. When deciding on gifts, don’t forget to calculate in the gifts your kids will receive from extended family and others. If you work it out and you start to run out of fingers, then maybe things have gotten a little ut of control! If you want your kids to appreciate their gifts, give them less. You can always keep some things to offer up as surprises throughout the year.

Encourage kids to open gifts slowly and let them play with them or try them on or enjoy them, before moving on to the next thing.

Reconsider attaching gifts to good behaviour – Are you really going to hold back on gifts for your kids because they haven’t behaved in a certain way in the lead up to Christmas? No? Well don’t say it then!!

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