My wife and I are a little overwhelmed with the number of gifts we’ve bought for our two sons. Again, despite our best efforts, it seems the volume of wrappings under the tree will be a little embarrassing.

Our children are three and one, they have more fun with an empty roll of toilet paper than anything with batteries and lasers – yet still we spoil.

Here are some of the ways we’ve been trying to bring the spirit of the season back in our house.

Give To Receive

In order for Santa to come and bring new toys, there needs to be room. We encourage our eldest to go through his toys and find the ones he’s not playing with to pass on to others. Some we’ll box up for our younger to grow into, others we have donated to goodwill, daycares, libraries or will pass along to others with younger children who can use them.

We involve our son in the delivery of the packages to those in need to make sure he understands that helping and sharing is important.

Set a Number Budget

Sure, we all have a dollar amount we’re going to spend at Christmas, but what about a number budget?

We have tried to set a number of gifts for each child. The excitement of Christmas is more than enough and half a dozen parcels plus a stocking should be get any toddler wound up for hours.

Foster Appreciation

We already buy presents for our kids all year long, just because. Legos when it’s on sale, shirts because they’re cute, a book because he wants it.

For the most part, we’re a prosperous society that gets presents for our kids weekly or monthly and not just at Christmas or birthdays. Our parents or grandparents may have craved a bike for years before being rewarded – our children whine for a few minutes, hours or days and usually receive.

Apart from the ethical nature of trying to limit our spoilage this time year, the less they receive, the better chance everything they do receive they will actually enjoy. We’ve all seen the birthday party with a dozen children where each gift ripped open is tossed immediately aside while the birthday boy/girl seeks out the next surprise.

The same can happen on Christmas.

The climax for younger kids is not the playing with the toy, it’s the finding out what’s inside the wrapping. By limiting the number of wrappings, hopefully we’re placing more value on the packages and teaching them to appreciate what they have and what they’re given instead of dismissing it to look for the next source of gratification.

How are you keeping your kids aware of the spirit of the season?

This post was originally published on Man of the House in December 2010.

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