Why We Don’t Give Our Kids Christmas Gifts


Picture1 Children breathlessly tearing through wrapping paper with stars in their eyes. Excited gasps and yells of glee. Babies playing in the boxes and tissue paper left behind. Tears filling a grandparent’s eyes as they look at precious handprint ornaments. Beautiful moments, brought to us by thoughtful gifts.

Gift giving is a large part of the holiday season in most homes, including my own. Our list of names is long and detailed, including cousins, grandparents, godparents, aunts, uncles, and close family friends. We participate in book exchanges, Chinese gift exchanges, and name drawings. We craft, make personalized calendars, and do large amounts of googling to come up with ideas. My kids are involved in many gift purchases and are always involved in any artistic endeavors.

However, our Christmas gift list has three noticeable omissions: our children. We have never given our children a birthday or Christmas gift.

Our children are not giftless. We are blessed with a large extended family and very close friends who do buy our children gifts. They get to experience receiving gifts and being appreciative and grateful. Since we also give many gifts, they also understand the joy of giving. I do believe these two sides of the gift coin are important experiences for children.

One of the reasons we haven’t given our children gifts is because they already receive so many. My family loves to buy gifts, and I don’t want to take that away from them. While I want the boys to experience the magic of opening a present and thanking someone joyfully, I don’t want them to have everything they could imagine. One way for us to curb an onslaught of new items is to abstain from giving them gifts ourselves. Instead, we buy our children items throughout the year — new clothes, new books, occasionally a small toy (thanks Target dollar spot). When they need something, we get it for them, and it is always a great feeling to see the smile on their faces that comes from a random surprise. Because we do this throughout the year, we feel it’s okay to step back a bit on holidays and let others experience the magic of sparkling eyes and sloppy thank-you kisses.

Picture2Another important factor in our decision is wanting to embrace simplicity for as long as possible. Children are naturally excited by small things. When I asked my twins what they wanted for their birthday this past year, they told me they wanted M&Ms. When we didn’t get new socks with our new shoes last month, they had the idea to ask Grandmommy for socks for Christmas and were very excited about it. I know this won’t last forever, but I feel like by keeping gift piles small. It helps them appreciate what they do get, as opposed to always wanting more.

Now, my children are still fairly young. Our twins are four years old and our singleton is two. While they do go to preschool, we haven’t entered into the elementary school scene where you compare holiday loot. I have to say, currently they’ve never noticed that Santa doesn’t bring them gifts, or that neither do Mommy and Daddy.

Our children will grow up. In school, they will learn from their friends about other holiday traditions. Possibly, our gift giving policy will change. Santa will probably never bring presents, but maybe Mom and Dad will join in on the fun one day. Maybe not. What works for our family right now is to let others give the gifts, but that can always change. The beauty of being the parents is that we can create our own traditions. In our house, holiday gifts may look a little different, but the meaning behind the gifts is the same. The love and the laughter are still present.


  1. Weve Never given gifts either. My kids are 6, 5, and 3. I’m curious if that’s changed now for you now that your children are older?


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