A Mom’s Guide to Christmas Gifts

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All too often in our society gift buying becomes an arduous process.  Mom’s on budgets often find themselves splurging and running up a lot of credit card debt in exchange for what they view as the perfect gift.  Stress can mount as items are out of stock or arrive late after the holiday.  Let’s take a moment to rethink our holiday gift buying.  I have some tips below and thoughts for you to ponder these last 49 days before Christmas 2020.

Buying for Teens

Buying for teens can be an emotional tug of war.  2 of my own 5 kiddos are now in this phase of life.  Part of my mom heart misses the old days where little John Deere tractors and Matchbox cars lit their little faces up with joy.  I struggle myself knowing what to buy my teen and also with the fact that so many of things they want are so expensive.  Teen gift buying seems complicated and that shouldn’t surprise us.  Remember, buying them immature toys is not a great game plan. 

 I’d advise a few things.  First set a budget.  Set a price that you can afford.  Nobody wins when parents charge high end electronics and pay way too much interest for a teen’s Christmas gift.  Second, make some lists.  Choose who you’re buying for and jot down some ideas for gifts.  Be forthright and ask your teen for some gift ideas.  In this age of technology ask them to text you the url links to the items they might like to make your shopping easy.  Third, be real about your own capabilities.  If you struggle with gift giving and you find it takes the joy out of the holiday just scale it back.  Simple things like cash in a card or a ticket to the local movie theater are just fine gifts.  Don’t do things that strip the joy out of your holidays and leave you with no energy to do the things with your teen that really matter most.

Here are an additional couple of suggestions.  Consider taking the teen shopping and make it fun day out.  Do lunch together with your teenager and tell them you have $30 (or whatever your budgeted amount is) to pick out a gift.  Let them choose the store.  Here’s another great idea.  How about taking them on an adventure to Goodwill or Salvation Army?  My kids have loved their shopping outings with their grandmother to second hand stores and come home with the coolest things.  Their allotted amount of money will go a lot further too.  Offer to apply $30+/- to a larger ticket item if they are willing to cover the difference.  Another idea is to simply ask the teen where they’d like a gift card from.  This goes back to knowing your own capabilities.  If you don’t have time to run all over town with a teen in tow then go the gift card route.  Sometimes adding a couple simple things with a gift card sort of enhances the gift so the teen actually has a gift to open.  Dollar store useable items like chewing gum, a king size candy bar, a magnetic money clip or a can of silly string spray can be paired up along with a gift card to make the gift extra special. 

Buying for Littles

Again we need to pull out our self-control and disciple when shopping for little kids.  I love to spoil my kids and it’s so fun when they are little to bombard them with all sorts of toys.  Remember a few things…  It’s actually easy to overwhelm little ones.  Too many options and too much hoopla can zap their joy.  How many times have you seen a little kid play with the box the toy came in and totally forget about the toy?  We have seen this over and over again at family Christmas gatherings when our kids were little.  More gifts isn’t always in your child’s best interest. 

Find toys within your budget.  Grandparents, talk to the child’s parents to make sure you aren’t giving more toys than will fit in their bedroom.  And kids don’t need 10 gifts.  The rule of 3 works great and it looks like this, 1 clothing item gift, 1 fun toy and then something useful that they need like a book.  There is also nothing wrong with giving a child a gift card.  My grandpa gifted us when we were toddlers U.S. Government Savings Bonds.  What a boring gift, right?  It may have been pretty dull but wow was it a smart gift.  Those savings bonds continue to earn interest today and as an adult I’m thankful that I had such a smart grandfather.

Buying for Adults

Lastly, moms we are going to discuss adult gift exchanges.  We still follow the same principles here about setting a budget, making a list and using common sense.  You can’t control other people.  You can only control yourself.  So if your best friend spends $50 on you when you agreed on $20 just smile and say Thank You.  Let’s discuss some actual gift ideas for those special people in your life.

First think about what you already know about your own mom, mother in law or best friend.  It’s very possible you know their taste in style and some of their dislikes.  Put that knowledge to use when gift buying.  I would avoid buying strong perfumes that you like for example and instead think about what they prefer.  Maybe they don’t use perfume and prefer natural essential oils.  If you know they love oils buy the oils.  Don’t try to push your likes on them through a gift.  This is a time to put your loved one first. 

I’d use caution buying clothing to make sure it’s a style they like and that you know their correct size.  Also unless they are crazy about collectibles I would not gift them more clutter.  Again, don’t forget there is nothing wrong with asking them for some gift ideas. 

Another idea for your mom, grandma, boss, aunt, friend or neighbor is sending them a pre-holiday gift.  Maybe a food item like a coffee gift set or meat and cheese set would be a good solution.  Another idea is to send a Christmas wreath that they can enjoy all throughout the holiday season.  Fresh Christmas wreaths also are disposable come the New Year and older folks don’t need another knick-knack taking up space on a shelf. 

Gifts are still a big part of the American Christmas celebration.  Remember to make the most of what really matters.  Those memories with family are irreplaceable.  The times around the dinner table and the conversations are not something you can put a price tag on.  Remember that gifts are just one aspect.  Give grace to one another, be kind and enjoy the holidays with all your friends and family.

Photo By: Jennifer McFadden – Christmas at our Minnesota Farm, What Matters Most People Over Presents

Article By: Jennifer McFadden – Jennifer McFadden is a mom of 5, farm wife and small business owner is rural northern Minnesota.  She founded Jen’s Wreaths and specializes in making holiday decorations out of fresh balsam fir boughs.  Her website is www.jenswreaths.com and her office can be reached by emailing:  office@jenswreaths.com

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Hi! I'm Sarah. My husband and I have a beautiful little girl; plus we’re anxiously awaiting the arrival of Baby #2, so this is a very exciting time for us. Throughout this amazing journey called Parenthood, I’ve learned so much and love sharing my experiences with other parents at SarahsLovelyFamily.com. I'd love to share my discoveries with you too!

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