Smarties, meet our new blogger Jenna Michael! She’s a mother of four, who is passionate about parenting, fitness, reading and writing. You can also find her work at parenthoodandpushups.com.
By Jenna Michael
Hey Smarty Parents! It’s officially the season of giving which means it’s’ also the season of gift buying.
Buying presents can quickly become overwhelming, both mentally and financially, and take the fun and joy out of the entire process. A few years ago my husband and I sat down to develop a gift-giving strategy for our family. Yes, we really did. I was not the one in favor of starting this, but it has revolutionized our birthday and Christmas purchasing. As parents of four young kids, we want to make things special for our kids while also enjoying the celebrations ourselves, but the stress of what to buy was overshadowing the joy of gift giving. Now our gift giving standards are a set of agreed-upon qualifications that make our gift buying decisions simple. We have a clearly defined purpose for how much we spend, what we purchase, for whom. Once we determined what our parameters were, the rest was history!
Every family is different so your plan may look different than ours, but here’s how we decide what gifts to buy for our kids
Make a list
Throughout the year, I keep a running list on my phone of gift ideas for each member of our family. If something comes up in conversation, our kids show interest in something unique, or I think of something brilliant in July to give in December, it’s all kept organized in a little list. As Christmas or a birthday approaches I take a look at the list and determine what we want to give and what would be a great gift from someone else looking for gift ideas.
Four Gift Giving Categories
1. Something they need
2. Something they want
3. Something to read
4. Something to wear
I’m sure you’ve heard of these categories before and honestly they really work! Each of our kids gets a gift from the four categories from Mom and Dad for their birthday or Christmas. This doesn’t count for what Santa brings, and they also receive gifts from extended family members. If they received everything we could think of to buy, plus gifts from Santa, plus gifts from other family members, times four kids-our house would be overflowing with gifts every Christmas.
Having specific categories makes shopping much easier because I can be very intentional. I was hesitant to try this method because I was afraid four presents wouldn’t seem like enough, but kids love to open presents just as much as they love to see what is inside. Gifts are wonderful but the experience of gift opening is just as magical as what is inside the box. We love to prioritize experiences and books over toys if possible which can make the magic of receiving a gift last even longer.
Books are one category we never turn down or limit. Our family loves to read and sharing our love for reading with our kids has been so much fun. Each of our kids gets at least one book from us for a holiday or birthday, and I love leaving little messages or having others do the same in books we give or receive as gifts. Seeing who gave what story and when we received it is a fun way to commemorate a special occasion.
We all knew this one was coming, but yes we set a budget. With four kids we try to keep things relatively even although we know it’s never going to be perfectly fair. We set a spending maximum for each child that allows us to comfortably purchase our intended gifts without feeling like we need to take out a second mortgage to finance Christmas. As special as it is to have a tree loaded with gifts underneath, it’s more rewarding to know it was done affordably and responsibly.
When you have a clear purpose, the decisions become easy. As with all good plans, there’s room for evolution and adaptation to make adjustments as our kids age, our budget evolves, or our priorities change. Having a plan is just as important as what the actual plan is. Whether we are buying for a great aunt or one of our kids, having a gift-giving strategy takes the season of stressful purchasing back to the season of joy.