Holiday Stress Survival Guide Tip #3: Manage Post-Gift Letdown


Help your kids be thankful for their gifts, take responsibility, and keep the excitement all year long using these suggestions for setting post-gift expectations in advance.

There’s a mound of wrapping paper in the middle of the floor. Boxes and ribbons are scattered around the room.

Your kids are happily enjoying their new toys.

Or maybe not…

Maybe your 17-year-old is pouting because she didn’t get the designer handbag she wanted.

Maybe 15 minutes later, your son is complaining that he is bored.

Are your kids fighting already?

And no one even said, “thank you.”

All of the shopping, planning, wrapping and anticipation is over.   This is the post-gift letdown.

Of course, it doesn’t have to be a letdown.   It could be a time of plan-full parenting, thankfulness and a reminder of what is important.

There is still time to prepare your kids for what happens after your children open their gifts!

Here are 7 Tips to Help You Prepare for the Post-Gift Letdown

1. Thank You Cards: Help your children appreciate the gifts they received by encouraging them to write thank-you cards.   If your children are resistant to handwriting a note, encourage them to use the RedStamp app, draw a picture, create a video or send an email. If you can’t get them to write a card for every gift, focus on a few key people or especially generous gifts.

2. One-In/ One-Out Rule: If you are overwhelmed by the amount of toys in your home, begin a one-in/one-out rule.   Encourage your children to give away one toy, book, video game or clothing item for each gift they receive. This can be done prior to Christmas.

3. Media Contracts: Are you giving your kids a video game, iPod, cell phone or computer?  Decide on a media contract with your child. If you cannot do it before Christmas, get together and do it as soon as possible.

Things to discuss:

  • How much time/access will your child have on a daily basis?
  • Where will it be stored? Can the child take it to school? Can they have it in their room at night?
  • What is the password? Clarify that parents will have access to passwords and will periodically monitor use.
  • Who is responsible for replacing the device if lost, stolen or damaged?
  • Who is responsible for buying games, apps, and monthly usage fees?

4. Rotate Toys: Even the best and brightest new toys become “old” with a little time.   Help your younger children play with all of their toys by starting a toy rotation system.   Start by putting some of their old toys into a bin, away in the garage, or in a closet.   When you notice their interest in the new toys waning, pull out the bin of “old toys” and switch.

5. No Replacement Policy: Do you find your child’s toys broken, left in the yard or destroyed? Clarify that all damaged toys will be thrown away and mistreated toys will be given away. Create a safe place, a bin for small pieces or shelf for storage. Let your child know that you will not be replacing broken parts or pieces that are lost due to misuse.

6. Cash for Gift Cards: Some children spend money impulsively. If you are concerned about your child’s spending habits, offer to pay them cash for gift cards so they can visualize how much money they have to spend.   Talk through their options and review how much, if any, would be left over. If your child receives cash for Christmas, and you are concerned that they will spend all of their money on pop and candy, purchase gift cards to their favorite hobby, toy or clothing store in exchange for their cash.

7. Happiness does not Equal Gifts: Gifts tend to take center stage on Christmas.   If you find the mood in your house is becoming sour, change the focus by putting on some upbeat Christmas music, singing a silly song, making hot cocoa, going sledding, watching a movie or playing a board game together. Gifts can give you a temporary feeling of happiness, but it doesn’t last.   Focus on building and maintaining the relationships in your family.

What tips would you add? What have you found to manage the post-gift meltdown in your family?

How can I help you?

Do you have some parenting goals for the upcoming year, but feel overwhelmed and unsure where to start? Parent Coaching may be your solution.   We will work together to create a plan, using positive parenting tips and strategies, to make the changes you want to see in your family.   Contact me today for more information!

Nicole Schwarz (couch 3)

Welcome! I'm Nicole Schwarz.

I'm a Parent Coach, Licensed Therapist and Author of It Starts with You. I help stressed, overwhelmed, confused parents find calm, confidence and connection with their kids. No one is expecting perfection here. But, if you’re willing to examine your parenting, find encouragement, or try something new, this is the place for you.

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