With Christmas less than 40 days away, and retailers offering their “Black Friday Pricing” already, the stress of holiday gift giving has arrived. And while there seems to be endless good parenting advice around food or discipline, there seems to be a true lack in guidance when it comes to bestowing gifts on our children.
As parents across the country begin planning their holiday shopping, I have a timely opportunity with Sue Groner, nationally renowned parenting expert, entrepreneur and author of the forthcoming book, Parenting with Sanity and Joy: 101 Simple Strategies (The Collective Book Studio; On-Sale: November 10, 2020) who can offer her 7 Rules of Gift Giving to alleviate any disappointment for parents and their children. Sue’s thoughts and tips have appeared in Real Simple, The Wall Street Journal, and Sue has appeared on national television and radio sharing her simple strategies to keep parents sane during uncertain times.
Before becoming a mother, Sue was a marketing executive with a degree from the prestigious Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. As a new mom, she worked tirelessly to adapt to a new, and unfamiliar landscape, before founding The Parenting Mentor and the CLEARR™ method of parenting.
“In our attempt to be good parents, many of us fall into the trap of feeling as though the gifts we give our children need to be useful – or at the very least, utilized! I don’t know about you, but this idea usually leaves me feeling stressed or disappointed, two feelings I try to avoid during the holiday season whenever possible,” Sue states.
In an interview, Sue can offer her 7 Rules of Gift Giving, to ensure parents and their children feel happy and grateful this holiday season.
- Create Guidelines – Whether it’s the number of gifts, or the budget for a particular holiday, knowing what your guidelines are up front allows for more clear decision-making. Share the guidelines with your children so they know what to expect when they make their wish list.
- Avoid Judgment – Kids don’t feel good if they think you don’t like the things that they want. If you have a concern or question about a particular item on the wish list, try asking your child about it. When you invite your child to talk about what they want, you’re helping them to think through their choices.
- Make Peace with Impracticality – Most parents try to sneak a little practicality into some gifts – that winter coat he needs anyway…or those new drum sticks. However, part of the fun of getting a gift is receiving something you don’t necessarily need. If your child does need some new, practical thing, maybe let them pick out something a little out of the ordinary. For instance, instead of a plain pair of new sneakers, let them choose special ones – pricier or more whimsical — that you wouldn’t buy for them otherwise.
- Give Without Expectations – Imagine how you’ll feel if that beautiful sweater you bought your daughter ends up in a ball on the floor of her closet. If you imagine yourself angry, that’s an expectation. A true “gift” is something the recipient can do with what they please.
- Respect What’s On Their List – If your child wants a blue truck, just do your best to get her the blue truck. It doesn’t matter that the red truck will go better with her bedroom rug. She doesn’t want a red truck, Mom. She wants blue.
- Consider Experiential Gifts – In my family, we often use gift-giving as an opportunity to do something special as a family or for the kids to try an activity they’ve never done before. Obviously this year can be a bit different with COVID-19 restrictions, but there are still a lot of experiences you can give that offer safe and memorable fun. Coupons for spending special time with mom or dad and/or “pod” friends. Ideas can include a bake-off, a fun sleepover, a special picnic, a dinner date, ice skating, etc.
- Give Gifts that Give Back – Maybe each child gets to choose an organization and you all make a family donation to a good cause. This is a great way to help your kids to grow their gratitude muscles and think about how to help others (a known recipe for long-term happiness). Help younger kids find organizations based on things they care about.