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How Not to Spoil Your Kids at Christmas: Our Top 6 Parenting Tips for the Holiday Season

It's the holiday season, children are making Christmas wish lists, and parents everywhere are racing to buy their kids the gifts that will spark excitement and peals of joy. At the same time, many parents are wondering how to keep the holiday spirit amidst the piles of presents. Though presents and gift giving are a large, fun part of many children's holiday, some issues arise for parents, such as: how to deal with present envy, how much they should spend on gifts for their kids, as well as how to ensure the children appreciate what they do get.

So, we thought we would bring you our top 6 tips for how these issues as well as the ever-present concern of how not to spoil your child during the holidays.

Open one gift at a time. Kids can blow through a huge pile of gifts in a matter of minutes, but they'll have no idea who gave them each one. Try to slow down the process and focus on one gift at a time. Talk to the child about the gift, who gave it to them, and what the child likes about the gift.

Spend time together, instead of spending money. Some parents find it helpful to change the focus of the holidays, from getting gifts to spending time together. That doesn't mean the kids shouldn't get gifts, it just means parents should emphasize spending time together as a family. Chop down a Christmas tree, bake Christmas cookies, watch your favorite Christmas movies, or go ice skating. You might be surprised to see how your children change their expectations when material gifts are not the goal of Christmas.

Set realistic gift expectations. Before the holidays, consider talking to your kids about their wish list. One way of imposing limits is to tell your kids they will receive 'x' amount of gifts - say, 5 presents from their list. Or, maybe let them know how much you plan to spend. Set the number at whatever feels right to you!

Emphasize the joy of giving. Getting kids involved in the gift giving process helps them truly understand the joy of giving, especially when the gifts are handmade or non-material. Consider helping your child create a handmade gift for Grandma or Grandpa, or make "coupons" for non-material gifts.

Set limits. Extended family, especially grandparents, can sometimes go overboard on gifts during the holidays. Setting limits, such as only one or two gifts per child, saves everyone money and keeps children from getting overwhelmed with gifts. Sometimes the piles of gifts lose their meaning when kids forget who even gave them that gift because they opened so many!

Help your kids recognize how much they already have. Many parents find that volunteering during the holidays, or giving charitable gifts can really open the children's eyes to how much they already have. When they realize how much they already have, they will appreciate their gifts that much more. Try volunteering at a local soup kitchen, participating in an 'adopt a family' program for the holidays, or giving charitable gifts through non-profits such as World Vision or Heifer International. Both organizations offer opportunities to purchase livestock, clean water, or provide education for needy children and families in almost a hundred countries.

We hope this post helps you find the balance between giving the perfect gifts to your children, and keeping the true meaning and spirit of Christmas intact!

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