Most people enjoy springtime cleaning, but in our house December is the perfect time to clean out the playroom and practice some giving. Yesterday was the big day to go through every nook and cranny to weed out the old toys and bring in the new ones for this holiday season.
As my children and I collected piles of items to recycle, throw away, and donate, the most important discovery was how quickly all that stuff became irrelevant and unimportant to them. It was really quite sad how so many of the birthday and holiday gifts they received over the last couple of years could so quickly be put into one of those piles.
There are several lessons from this experience that we can share with our children about how to balance receiving with giving:
Appreciate What We Have And Give To Those Who Don’t
Cleaning out the playroom is such a meaningful ritual this time of year. No matter what gifts my children receive, they know how important it is to choose some that they no longer play with to give to children who may not get any presents at all. This is a habit that everyone can easily add to their holiday traditions. When the children choose from their own pile of toys, they gain a powerful hands-on experience to learn about that balance between giving and receiving.
Less Is More
How many dolls does one little girl really need? As I dug through my three year old’s toys, I was taken aback by how many of each item she had: multiple puzzles, games, art supplies oh my. In contrast, my seven year old son is now at the stage in which he is narrowing his interests and is thrilled to have one handheld video game system.
I think it is important to teach our children how to pick and choose a few special gifts they would like and to not go overboard. It is unnecessary and reduces the interest value of each toy very quickly.
This concept also gives us the opportunity to focus on purchasing some items for those in need. This year, we participated in several holiday toy drives. My children really enjoyed picking out toys for children who truly would not have them otherwise.
Choose Experiences Over Stuff
Research over the last decade shows that experiences make us happier than possessions. This is a great tip when considering the gifts to give our children. I recently read a clever article by Carla Naumburg that includes a fabulous poem to inspire the types of presents that children can receive for the holidays. It provides a broader perspective of what makes a gift special. It goes beyond just the obvious toys that children typically want, allowing both parents and children to be more creative with gifts.
Something you want, something you need, something to wear, something to read.
Something to see, something to spare, something to cook, something to share.
I followed these guidelines for my children this year. For something to wear, my daughter picked out a new pair of sneakers. I bought them tickets to see the new Peppa Pig Live show for something to see. For something to share, I gave them some art supplies so they can get creative together. Finally, something to spare is all about donating gifts to those in need, such as how we cleaned out our playroom and gave toys away. This is a really fun way to find more innovative, meaningful gifts without collecting too much junk that will end up getting tossed away in a year or two anyway.
How do you balance receiving with giving during this holiday season?