It can be challenging to talk to family members about what to get your children for a birthday or holiday. Gifts can be seen as an extension of the gift giver and many people show love to one another through gift giving. Telling someone that they need to change their planned gift can be upsetting. Luckily, there are ways to respect your own feelings as well as theirs by establishing boundaries.
The first step is to keep your extended family included on any specifics as to how you are raising your children. Are your children screen free? Do you follow Montessori principles? Are you focusing on sustainable and open-ended toys? Are you a minimalist? Any way you are choosing to raise your children is great, even if it is different from how others are doing things. When things are different, there does tend to be resistance but that mostly comes from lack of information. Don’t wait for the holidays to cue your family into what works best for your family.
Giving a gift is a generous act and it is great to be gracious. In my opinion, teaching children to be respectful and appreciative is a great learning opportunity. Once you have spoken your wishes, the ultimate gift decision is up to the gift-giver. Just because you receive a gift does not mean you are required to keep it. Free yourself of the obligation.
“The best gift is giving from your heart.”
Simplify the list of people you are exchanging with. We are really trying to focus on placing focus on the spirit of the holiday season instead of the gifts. Try to plan get togethers with family and have a gingerbread house competition, bake cookies for neighbors, decorate holiday cards to deliver to local first responders, or plan fun interactive activities. The memories we make with others last for years to come while gifts are often mixed in with everything else in no time.
Have a plan of action and be confident when you approach others. Know that you are not coming from a place of being ungrateful or trying to steal someone’s joy. You are instead placing emphasis on the person themself and respecting their expenditures.
Know your audience, there will always be some individuals that will want to buy an item from a store. Gather a list of suggestions and have it available early on. Compile lists of experiences, extra curricular activities, books, clothes and toy options. A great option is to keep an Amazon wishlist open year round and continue to add to it. You can easily share the list with family members and the items will automatically be removed once they are purchased.
Communicate openly, celebrate together and enjoy the season. Happy playing!