family · mom life

When parents disagree on Christmas gifts

It’s suppose to be the jolly season, but it brings along some silly. Okay, a lot of silly.

One of the aspects I dread about the festive season is the cleaning up afterwards. Taking down the decorations, packing away the tree. And the dishes, the damn pile of dishes.

While it’s considered to be the silly season, it also highlights another word starting with the letter S – Stress. There’s so much to be done, especially if you’re going big (thank goodness we keep it small or I would most probably cancel Christmas. Just kidding… But also, not really.) This is the time of the year where most of us dive into spring cleaning, make plans on how to keep our kids busy during the summer holidays and some are busy prepping for holiday guests. It’s a busy season as is so you try and cut out as many unnecessary stresses as you can.

Here’s a silly argument for the silly season: parents disagreeing on Christmas gifts for their kids. I know, it sounds ridiculous because how difficult can it be to decide on what to buy your kids if they’ve let you know EXACTLY what they want?

Yet you’re reading this, and nodding in agreement. I’m sure every parent out there has sat with this dilemma. You’ve got the list, you’ve got the idea but neither you or your spouse can come to a decision on what to buy.

Been there, done that and now I’m sharing the lesson learned as well as how to work around it.

Hubby Byren and I think along two different lines when it comes to buying gifts for our kids. Last year we reached a good compromise and these are the points I’ll be sharing in this post with you.

One of the biggest influences surrounding our decisions was finances. Christmas can be expensive without the gift buying phase, and you’re often left comparing and compromising to make everyone happy.

In truth, I don’t believe in spending thousands on gifts for our kids:

  1. They break their toys within the first month
  2. They lost half of their toys within the first month
  3. They lose interest in their new toys within the first month

You see where I’m going with this…

No judgement from my side if you spend whatever amount you do on gifts for your kids, it’s everyone’s personal choice and I’ll leave it like that. My mindset changed when I realised that we were actually throwing money down the drain, indirectly.

Yes, sure, the kids, it’s for the kids, it makes the kids happy, blah blah.

I get all that, but I’m also being realistic. I don’t believe in buying expensive gifts for my kids anymore. Until they are of age where they understand to look after their things and appreciate what they have and take care of it, those expensive gifts can stay behind the store’s window.

I remember when Monster’s craze for Star Wars just started up and we wanted to get him a Lightsaber for Christmas. We found the only proper ones sold at Hamley’s and they were pricey but we bought it for him. All went well for the first month until he broke it in half and it worked only when it wanted to. I wanted to cry because all I could think about was how much we paid for it, and because when it broke, he lost interest in it. I eventually threw it out two years later because it reached the end of its lifespan in our home.

During the holidays, I’m planning to declutter the kids’ toys. They’re everywhere; under the bed, under the couches, under the carpets, in the garden. I’m kind of tired of walking past the overflowing toy baskets and thinking that my kids need all these toys.

One of our summer vacation activities is to donate clothing and toys to one of the shelters in our area, so I’ll involve the kids in helping me declutter their toys so they can choose which of their toys they want to donate, and of course, everything broken is going into the trash.

So the point I’m getting at with all that, is that I’m against buying a crapload of toys again.

Here’s what we did last year for Christmas gifts and what we’ll be doing this year again.

We decided on buying each of our kids only two gifts and then invested in buying family boardgames for the future. Sure, not all of the games are age appropriate for the kids right now BUT by buying two or three games each year, we’ll have a whole collection by the time the kids reach a certain age where we can all sit and enjoy them together. The boys were still very happy with fewer gifts than what we gave in the previous years and never complained about more.

The compromise on this decision came in last Christmas when I needed to rethink the way I thought about Christmas gifts. I’ll explain my reasons below in the points.

So if you and your spouse are having some difficulties agreeing on Christmas gifts for your kids, here’s how Hubby Byren and I go about deciding and agreeing on this subject.

Make one list

Last year, the boys’ ‘wrote’ letters to Santa about what they wanted to Christmas. Of course, the letters consisted of drawings which Hubby Byren and I deciphered to see what they wanted and then went to the toy stores with the boys for a casual walk around to see what caught their attention as well as give us an indication of prices. So apart from what they drew in their letters, we included what they spotted on the shelves as well and made one list to work with and decide what we were going to buy. Before you can start choosing what you’re going to buy, you need to complete the next point as the two go hand in hand.

Set your budget and stick to it

Like with almost everything in your life, making a budget simplifies your life and helps you sort your finances in a structured way. The same applies when planning on buying Christmas gifts. If you’re not careful, you could spend a lot of money without realising it. Yeah, it’s that easy to lose track. We’ve decided on the same amount for each kid to keep it fair, and when we’re deciding on what we’re going to buy, we keep to that amount for each kid. I’ll be honest, we don’t go over R300 for each kid, because of above reasons. If you spend thousands, that’s okay as it’s your choice and your reasons, as we have ours. Once we have our budget, it’s then easier to work on our master list and sit and decide what we’ll be getting the kids.

Share opinions on your choices

You don’t agree with your spouse on THIS gift because you reckon THAT one will be there. And they feel the same about your choices. It happens, we differ, so do our opinions. Share your reasons with each other about why you might be leaning towards some gifts more than others and involve each other in the decision-making.

Be prepared to make compromises

Sometimes, you don’t win an argument. Sometimes, you give in to end it. You don’t need to do that without getting a win for you. You can compromise.

  • Your spouse can choose one gift that they like and you can choose one – if your budget allows it
  • Your spouse can choose the gifts this year and you can make the decisions next Christmas.
  • Your spouse decides on Christmas gifts while you’re in charge of birthday gifts or vice versa.

At the end of the day, there’s no argument that can’t be solved, and this one is no exception. By following through the above few points, you’ll be able to get to a middle ground where both parties are happy, and the kids will also share in the joy once they’ve unwrapped their gifts.

How do you go about deciding on gifts for your kids?

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