“Momma, I want this! Daddy, I want that!”
Get ready to hear it a lot over the next two months. But do your kids really want it? Do they really need it?
So often the actual act of opening the gift brings a child more excitement than the actual object that is immediately discarded minutes after they open it.
So if you want to make sure you hit a home run with your kids this holiday season, there are simple ways you can have your kids consider more about what they want. Christmas shopping for kids can be easy, if you follow these ideas all year long:
Take a Field Trip 1 of 7
Go to the toy store and plan to spend an hour on a Saturday or Sunday or a day after school. Go through the whole store and let them push the buttons, play with the toys and then watch and see what truly captures their imagination.
They may scream "I want that!" when a TV commercial comes on, but once they see it in person are underwhelmed. Spend the time road-testing the toys and take notes.
Cut up Store Flyers 2 of 7
Our boys are 3 and 6. On weekends, when the paper comes, Mommy and Daddy flip through the news and we hand the kids the flyers for the toy stores.
Here they get to work on penmanship as they circle what they want. If we really want to get crafty, we'll hand them scissors and glue and have them make collages of their wish lists. This is excellent on so many levels - the kids are quiet and crafting on a Sunday morning while we sip coffees, and they're actually working on those fine motor skills they need to hone.
Keep Track All Year Long 3 of 7
Our grocery store has a toy section right inside the front door. Whenever I take the boys out shopping, they always ask to go there first. When I see them click with something, I take a picture of it and offer to "e-mail it to Santa" so he knows what they want. Be it April, December, or July, we "e-mail Santa" all year long. In reality, I've now got a great archive of their wish list.
Now that relatives are asking for what they want, it's not a last-minute rush to fill out a list, but I can go through my photo archives to find the toys that matter.
Oh, and e-mail is far less dramatic than asking Santa directly, isn't it?
Follow the Hints 4 of 7
Kids will give off hints about what they want all the time. When at a birthday party for a friend, you'll know when they are envious. You can use buying birthday gifts for others as a test to see what they would pick for themselves, too. This year, at the start of school, Zacharie was obsessing about Beyblades as he would watch other kids on the playground play with them before school. His enthusiasm never waned, and the "Switch Witch" eventually brought him one.
Talk About It 5 of 7
Once you've taken the pictures, done the field trip, and had the craft time, talk to them about their choices. Help manage their expectations by explaining that we don't get everything we want, and have them narrow down the suggestions to see what will be the true hits. If you want to be clandestine about it, have the conversation in the same room as your Elf on the Shelf so they can report back to the big cheese.
Charity 6 of 7
At Christmas, I have the boys buy gifts for the Toy Bank with their piggy bank money, and we drop them off at the firehall. I tell them to pick out exactly what they want for Christmas so the other boys and girls will be as happy as they will be on Christmas morning.
One year, Zacharie picked out the last helicopter in the store for a little boy believing it was the very last one and Santa would be unlikely to come back and buy it for him. His selflessness was rewarded with that very copter on Christmas morning.
Give Less 7 of 7
They don't need to have a dozen things on Christmas. Give them the usual dose of socks, underwear, and pajamas and then limit "the toy stuff" to the bare minimum. Maybe one or two? Most kids have a toy room filled with gear and gadgets they haven't touched in months, give them the one thing that will make their day best, not everything on their list.
How do you find out what your kids really want for Christmas and still keep it a secret?