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Managing Holiday Gift Expectations

By Kimberly Haugen, Ph.D., L.P.

Managing Holiday Gift Expectations Thumbnail image

Pr​ior to the holidays, parents can have conversations with their children about the meaning of the holiday. Regardless of religious beliefs, parents can focus on the values and traditions of the holiday. For example, families may focus on spending quality time together as part of the holiday tradition. If your family values giving to others, your family could:

  • Donate gifts to a needy family
  • Participate in volunteer activities
  • Have children donate one of their presents to a child in need
  • Anonymously pay for another persons’ meal at a restaurant
  • Donate food to a food bank

The more involved children become in these activities, the better they will learn the meaning of the holiday, and the less they will focus on their wants. For your own holiday gift giving, parents may want to let children know ahead of time what they intend to provide for gifts. This could involve telling children that they can expect to receive (and what they will not receive from their wish list). We can all learn from young children, who often enjoy the packaging of gifts as much as the gifts themselves!​