My wife wrote this, but I remember it like it was yesterday.

By Nancy A. Pritchard, Life Mastery Consultant


The Not So Big Christmas – Day 9

                                   Setting Limits for Children


Adam’s First Christmas

My son, Adam, was our first child. He was also my parents’ first grandchild and my sister’s first nephew. For his first Christmas, all the adults excitedly purchased and wrapped an embarrassingly large number of presents from ‘Santa’ for my son.

After opening new gifts for several minutes on Christmas morning, “Come on, Adam! Let’s open this one! What is it?” Adam reached the point of overwhelm. He pulled away from the crazy adults, crawled over to a bin of his old, familiar toys and started playing with THEM.   Poor Adam didn’t have any idea what all the fuss was about. Hanging out with his family, enjoying his familiar toys and taking an afternoon nap would have suited him just fine.

My son was only ten months old that Christmas. What were the adults in the room thinking?!


If your kids (or grandkids) are very young, you can put a halt to the gift-mania before it even begins.

If they’re used to dozens of gifts awaiting them on Christmas morn, and you’ve decided to curb that practice, it’s time to have a talk with them. You can approach the conversation from any angle that feels right to you:

“Gift giving as we’ve done in the past has become too expensive.”

“Christmas has become too commercial. We feel that our family has lost sight of the true reason for the holiday.”

“An overabundance of gifts adds too much clutter to our lives, and to our landfills.”

“Our holiday has become far too Santa focused. Let’s create some new Christmas traditions that are not so ‘gift’ centered.”


Our children need us to lead by example. So, set limits for the number of gifts they will receive from you and/or Santa for the holiday. If you like, ask them to create a Christmas wish list and then have them choose their top three, or five, or whatever number of gifts that feels right to you. Most parents report that only a few ‘high value’ toys actually make it into regular playtime rotation anyway.

If your children have been overindulged for years, it’s a safe bet that they may not appreciate the newly applied gift limitations. Nevertheless, they will adjust. In the long run, they’ll thank you for teaching them to set limits one day, when as adults they’re not carrying tens of thousands of dollars in consumer debt on their credit cards.