Dear lovely, gorgeous and generous friends and family. I love that you want to buy my kids a present for Christmas; It’s a small window of years when they both understand Christmas and also celebrate wholeheartedly in everything. We are smack bang in the sweet spot and it is parenting bliss. Thank you for wanting to be part of that, thank you for loving my kids. And thank you for asking what you think they would like for Christmas. My first response is, you really don’t have to buy them anything, but I know you won’t listen and that you truly do want some suggestions (you keep asking me for them) so I’m going to be really honest.
PLEASE SHOP FROM SMALL BUSINESSES
I once read this thing that said, when you buy from a big company you’re helping a CEO buy a second-holiday house, when you buy from a small business you’re helping a mum and dad pay for dance lessons. Or something to that effect. I would love if the gifts you give my kids helped someone pay for ballet classes. Ballet classes are really expensive.
PLEASE CONSIDER CHARITY GIFTS
My children are lucky and safe and slightly spoiled. They have beautiful clothing and super cool toys and borderline wanky diets. They even have chickens that lay them fresh eggs every day. So many kids do not and I can’t think of a better time of year to start teaching them about giving to others. So please buy a family in a third world country a chicken, or a goat, or some clean water. And if they don’t understand the gift? I will explain it to them, if they scream, WHERE’S MY CHICKEN, I will remind them that they already have three.
PLEASE GIVE THEM QUALITY OVER QUANTITY
The box of toy cars is spilling over, my daughter literally has 8 different lip balms in a bowl on her shelf. We cannot fit all the shoes those four tiny feet own in two giant baskets. A $15 wooden car will be treasured, it will last for long enough to be enjoyed by other kids long after my two are driving real cars. It may seem little, it may look less exciting than the 20-piece garage set that is the same price but it will be special.
PLEASE OFFER THEM EXPERIENCES
A potted plant, some air-drying clay, a card that promises them a train trip or an ice cream date. These are the type of gifts they will remember, that can teach them something and that is really what I want for them.
PLEASE GIVE THEM A JOINT GIFT
Something that they have to play together, work together, think together to enjoy. Something that no one can pull rank over, something they have to negotiate to enjoy.
Christmas is a really expensive time for everyone, I hate the thought that wanting to buy my kids a present might add to the pressure you’re probably already under. Do you have something in the present box? Can it be wrapped up in something that they can tear open? My children are four and two*. You could wrap up some spoons and two tubs of yogurt and they would be excited. Please don’t put anything on a credit card. Please be cheap!
PLEASE MAKE THEM SOMETHING MEANINGFUL CHRISTMAS
The most loved gift my daughter ever got was a picture book about her, made by her aunty. It was just photographs taken off Facebook and contacted onto a second-hand board book, with a simple sentence printed out and stuck under each image. We read that book every day for a year. It was a birthday gift and there was also something else in the parcel. You know, so it didn’t seem like she was cheaping out. I seriously have no idea what the other thing was, no recollection at all. But that book is a prized possession.
*this article was written a few years ago, my children are now 10 and 12 (when did that happen?)