I love this time of year when the white snow blankets the trees and houses and there is a peaceful stillness outside. It's great to cuddle up indoors under warm quilts, drink hot cocoa and listen to your favorite Holiday album. But this peaceful stillness and warm cozy moments turns into a frenzy once the advertisements begin to fill your mailbox and email inbox with the best Black Friday deals. One step into the store and you see the giant sign stating of how many shopping days are left until Christmas. All of this advertising makes you feel that you MUST buy, buy, buy and soon because time is running out! Every toy catalog features the newest, greatest toys of this past year and the special awards earned. You begin thinking that you MUST buy these items or else your child will be disappointed and wish they had different parents. Parents who purchased every single toy featured in the best toys of 2010 catalog.
I will admit that I love good deals and it is fun to shop for new things your children will enjoy but the real question is, "Does my child need more stuff?"
In Simplicity Parenting, pg. 22, "Too much stuff leads to too little time and too little depth in the way kids see and explore their world."
So what stuff do we want to give to our children during this Holiday Season? What is going to help them explore their world? What is going to enhance their imagination? This is a personal question that deems discussion with your partner/family. Some families are committed to only homemade gifts, some ban all toys that need batteries, or some say no to anything plastic.
A good friend told me that they just focus on 4 gifts for their children: something they want, something they need, something to wear and something to read. This framework of 4 gifts I think really helps to eliminate potential stuff that isn't needed.
Last week my husband and I were at Lowe's (our local hardware store) and I found a child-sized hammer and tool set. I was so excited! "This is the perfect gift for River, he can have his own tools and be a little wood worker just like his Papa," I thought. I quickly hid the tool set as I saw my husband, Eli, come around the corner with the kids. I took Eli aside and showed him the gift I was going to buy strategically so River wouldn't see. To my shock Eli said, "Why don't we just a wait until we know exactly what we are planning on buying." "But Eli CHRISTMAS is COMING! And what if this is not here next week!!" Then it hit me. I was totally engrossed in the "how many shopping days left until Christmas" coma. It took me a few minutes to wake up and realize that Eli and I haven't discussed together what 4 gifts we should purchase for River. Even if the tool set is one of the gifts we decide on I didn't HAVE TO BUY it right then.
So my advice to escape the shopping frenzy is to sit down and make a list together of the items you both think would be best for your children. Once you both have discussed what gifts you will be giving than hopefully you will be buffered from any future I-must-buy-this-now-because- it's-a-good-deal purchases. This way you can avoid buying gifts that are really... just more stuff.