PARENTS

How To Tell Family And Friends To Stop Buying Too Many Gifts For Your Children

It can get overwhelming.

11/24/2017 12:21 EST | Updated 11/24/2017 12:21 EST

December is almost here, and already the malls are packed with enthusiastic shoppers. But for some parents, this can mean a nightmare come Christmas Day when their kids get piles of stuff that they don't really need (nor have room for) from well-meaning family members and friends.

Has the world gone a bit overboard with the gift giving? 100 per cent. And for many parents, the gift exchange between friends and family members has become just too much.

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Some people simply can't afford to reciprocate the volume, or match the price, of some of the gifts they receive, while other parents want to reduce the number gifts for fear of raising children who expect gifts or who are unappreciative. Others simply hate the entire consumerism perspective.

So how do we use our best etiquette to get our loved ones to give less to our kids, without hurting their feelings?

Discuss your position early

Some people will have already bought presents for this year, so why not use this time to thank them kindly for their lovely gifts and share what you are feeling.

For example, you can explain: "Spencer got 52 gifts this year. His eyes were glazing over from being overwhelmed by all the presents and he even pushed some of them aside. It's worrisome to me. I think next year I would like to do things differently. Can I ask you to help me with this by keeping the gifts to a minimum or give no gifts at all, until he appreciates what he is getting a bit more?"

You may be surprised who wholeheartedly agrees with you and are thrilled to change up the tradition too.

Be sensitive and non-judgmental

Thanks to Gary Chapman's best-selling book The 5 Love Languages, people are more aware of the various ways that people communicate their love.

For some people, it's the giving of gifts. It would pain them to not buy something for their nephew or a grandchild. They don't see gift giving as spoiling or over-consuming — to them it's love. Who doesn't want that?

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So, if you prefer your child experience love in a different flavour or language, tell your family member or friend that their way of showing their love is appreciated, but that even without gifts your child knows that they are loved.

Just don't make them feel badly for their particular choice of expression.

Request alternatives

People who want lavish gifts will still be champing at the bit to make some holiday gesture. You could tell them that your child already has lots of toys, but suggest an alternative such as tickets to go see The Nutcracker together, or a trip to the local children's museum. This way they're getting memories instead of "things."

Of course, if money is just burning a hole in their pocket, why not suggest setting up an educational savings account? Paying for university is a great gift to kids! A bit of money stashed into the account each year helps.

Charity

You can also let your friends and family know that many other families and children are without gifts this year. So, if they feel compelled to shop for gifts, ask them to consider gifting items to a family in need instead of your child who is doing very well in this department.

Let it go

Some people won't heed your request or they are too sensitive, so you are not able to bring up the topic. In that case, don't worry about your child being spoiled — material things don't make someone spoiled; it's the attitude of entitlement that defines a spoiled child.

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Use this situation to grow your child's appreciation and gratitude. Show how nice it is as a character trait to be kind and giving. The gifts they receive are an act of someone's generosity and kindness. Ask your child to make a similar expression. Who can they give a thoughtful gift to? How can they share their genuine gratitude back to the gift giver? Is there a charity they would like to donate to?

Shaping our children's attitudes happens all year long and one or two relatives who spoil your kids with gifts won't undo the good parenting you do all year.

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