The art of giving with small children

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christmastime

It’s that time of the year again. The silly season, a time when the retail trade goes into overdrive. We all get caught up in buying, buying, buying. The retailers are bombarding us with advertising, sales, enticing us to spend way too much money on thoughtless and often pointless gifts. Just for the sake of wrapping something up and putting it under the tree. And as parents we all want our children to have a face full of smiles on Christmas morning as they open their presents.

But have you noticed that young children can be given one or two special gifts and completely ignore the piles and piles of gifts sitting next to them? Or go absolutely crazy tearing open Christmas gifts then discard them all and go play with the toys they already have? Or spend the majority of the time exploring the empty box?

I have been a parent for almost five years now and I’ve learned that my three sons don’t need 21 gifts each to make them happy. They seem to be very happy with one or two very special gifts. And very special doesn’t need to mean expensive. It must be special to that particular child, to have meaning to them and engage their attention and imagination.

For example, my almost five year old is very much into superheroes this year. So Santa may very well bring him some sort of dress ups so he can fly around the backyard like Superman. And my two and a half year old loves things that are ‘real’. His gift may include a wooden spoon, a spatula and a special mixing bowl if his very own so he can bake cakes in the sandpit. Mr 6 months doesn’t really need anything other than a full tummy, a clean nappy and a whole lot of hugs!

While the children are little they don’t understand the monetary value of gifts nor do they care whether one boy got five gifts and he only got three. As the years go on I’m very sure this will change! It is very easy to focus on Christmas shopping and wrapping and making sure everyone has an even around of money spent on them and having enough under the Christmas tree. But I think we often forget that Christmas is a time for making memories, spending time with those you love and relaxing.

For now we will enjoy being a family at Christmas time, enjoy sitting around the table devouring our pudding and custard, and try to not get swept up in the commercial and quite superficial side of this time of the year. Instead of heading into the shops for those last minute gifts, take your little ones to the park and enjoy a picnic together instead!

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