How To Not Spoil Kids At Christmas

If you’re wondering how to buy Christmas gifts for kids in a way that makes them feel like the most special beings in the world without them turning into entitled brats, you’re in the right place. This post has practical tips to help you see how to not spoil kids at Christmas!

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In general, spoiling children should not be a huge concern. As I mentioned in my post about how to become a good parent, it is important to build a loving, trusting relationship with your children.

But I also understand wanting to raise grateful kids who don’t expect the world to fall at their feet.

Gratefulness is important for our children and ourselves. A well-rounded person appreciates what they receive, even if it isn’t exactly what they want.

Here are some practical tips that will help you meet your goal of not spoiling your children this Christmas:

1. Set a spending limit

When you already have pre-defined spending limit, you cannot get any and every thing that your child desires. Even if you’ve got all the money in the world, it’s always a good idea to ensure your child knows that they can’t get everything they want.

Having a spending limit also helps them use that awesome brain power they have to prioritize which gifts they want most from their list.

2. Set an item limit

Many parents feel obligated to make sure the Christmas tree is packed to the brim. You can do that by wrapping empty boxes and your Christmas photos will look just as amazing.

You don’t need to get 5 dozen gifts just to have that “Santa Claus came to town” look!

Best of all, not going overboard with gifts allows your child to truly appreciate the few they actually do receive.

You are more likely to buy the most thoughtful gifts you can find that will bring the biggest, brightest smile to your child’s face!

You’ll save money. You can also check out this related post on how to buy Christmas gifts for kids on a budget.

You’ll also cut down on clutter. Ahem.

3. Put Jesus First

Jesus is the reason for the season. Read and watch films about his birth and death.

Read about the wonderful acts of kindness and miracles he performed, without expecting anything in return.

Ensure your children know that we celebrate because of the miracle of Christ, and what he’s done for us.

4. Model Gratitude

Start a gratitude routine that you can include your children in! This is a great practice not just for your children, but also for you.

When you are regularly faced with all the things in life that you are gracious for, you will be happier and healthier as a result!

One way to start a gratitude routine is to say something you are grateful for during a family meal. It could be every day at breakfast, Fridays at dinner, or even just a weekend lunch time thing.

You might do it as a part of an Advent Calendar during the holiday season, but modeling gratitude year round is ideal.

The important thing is to verbally affirm how much you are grateful for everything in your life, including the little things, including your children, including the things you don’t necessarily like.

Find a positive for everything. For example, you might not like your job, but I bet you like the fact that you get a paycheck for the work that you do!

You might not like the ugly sweater your great aunt bought you, but you probably appreciate the fact that she was thoughtful enough to bring a gift for you. Or maybe you loved the fact she made it by hand, spending hours toiling away at a custom gift.

Model gratitude and help your children come up with things they might be grateful for if they are having difficulty thinking of things. Even the warm heat of summer or the beautiful snow of winter are awesome things to be grateful for!

5. Don’t Just Buy Toys

Some say you should buy a toy, an outfit, a game and a book.

Others say to buy experiences, not things.

Those are both great ideas if you want to offer your child things other than just toys.

I personally love buying my son books for Christmas. I can’t say he’s always thrilled about it, but it gives him a chance to practice expressing gratitude for something he didn’t particularly put on his list. He also always ends up loving the books and he’s now an avid reader. It’s especially fun when there’s an accompanying film, which also makes a great gift.

Experiences can be a great gift for Christmas. These emphasize the importance of family and usually promise loads of fun! Some experiences that make great Christmas gifts include zoo passes, theme park passes, cruises and all-inclusive vacations to different Caribbean Islands.

You can choose what works for you based on your budget and situation.

You might find the following posts helpful to avoid spoiling your children on Christmas Day:

6. Encourage Charity

The gift of giving is amazing because two people feel good. Or in the case of watching your children have a joyful heart when giving, many people are positively affected!

Charity is something we can encourage in our children by modeling and inclusion.

We model charity when we let it be known that we are giving to those in need. Explain to your children why you have chosen the organizations you choose to give to.

Even if you are giving money or an item to a friend, let your children know why you decided to do so, and how amazing it makes you feel that you are able to help.

Show your children disadvantaged children all over the world, including in the United States. Not everyone is dealt the same deck of cards, and children will gain an understanding that not everyone has everything they need. Once they realize this, they will understand how much of a blessing it is to not only have what they need, but to also get some of the things they want.

Some ways you can encourage a charitable spirit in your children includes:

  • having them pick out toys and clothes they no longer wear to donate
  • having them adopt a family and shop for the things on their Christmas wish list
  • volunteering to help neighbors with tasks such as yard work, gardening, unpacking groceries, shoveling snow, etc.
  • visiting pets at the shelter
  • setting aside money from their allowance to donate to a charity of their own choosing
  • giving them the choice of donating to families in need instead of doing Christmas presents this year (have alternatives ready, and respect their choice without judgment if they prefer to get gifts)
  • help prepare or hand out food at food pantries
  • bring cards and/or gifts to first responders such as firefighters and police officers

7. Broaden Their World View

Many adults don’t realize how big the world is, so imagine how much more difficult it is for a child to have a broad perspective.

Through videos and books, we can introduce foreign countries and different cultures to our children from the comfort of our own homes. We can also educate them about disadvantaged people all over the world.

While some people feel that showing kids the sadness that exists in the world can be traumatizing, I don’t think so. It gives them a healthy dose of reality in a controlled environment. It helps to build character and can help your child understand the importance of not being too self-centered.

Have your children help come up with ways they can make a difference in the world.

Maybe they’d like to adopt a child, fill shoeboxes of gifts to send to kids overseas who wouldn’t otherwise have a Christmas, or start their own fundraiser.

Our world leaders of tomorrow are children now. We must do our best to foster a spirit of entrepreneurship and benevolence.

8. Focus On Family & Togetherness

The importance of family cannot be understated.

Stress the importance of family and find ways to show that togetherness is your priority this holiday season.

Some things you can do include:

  • participating in holiday events such as parades, train rides, and feeding the hungry
  • holding Christmas movie marathons and discussing any lessons learned from the film
  • visiting different Christmas displays in neighboring communities
  • reading your favorite Christmas books
  • creating homemade ornaments together
  • baking holiday cookies and drinking hot chocolate (or cold milk) once the cookies are ready
  • writing up Christmas cards for family near and far
  • taking family Christmas photos whether at home or professionally done
  • attend different Christmas plays, most years we attend two Church holiday events and we always have a great time!

9. Discuss Kindness & Gratitude

Discussions with our children are very important.

We can’t expect them to understand the hard things when we don’t also include them in discussions about the good things!

Let them know how much you value kindness and gratitude.

Encourage them to keep a gratitude journal. Maybe the family can start a family gratitude jar where everyone puts in something they are grateful for every week or month throughout the year. Wouldn’t it be awesome to read about all the things your family is grateful for on New Year’s Day?

An ongoing conversation, and of course supporting action, is crucial to raising thoughtful, kind, and gracious children.

Final Thoughts

Christmas is a time that’s generally filled with so many expectations. Our children sometimes have unrealistic expectations for gifts. This can be a result of discussions with their friends, TV shows, or other types of media.

We sometimes have expectations of ourselves to deliver extravagant, super magical experiences.

We sometimes feel we must post pictures on social media of Christmas trees that are drowning in the gifts surrounding them.

Free yourself of these expectations. Show your children with your actions that an overwhelming abundance of expensive gifts is not the reason for the season.

Then you will no longer have to worry about how to not spoil kids at Christmas.

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