Things to Do - 7 Ways to Ward Off the Gimmies This Holiday Season

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Every year my friend Tara puts together this amazing event called the Gifts That Give Hope gift fair, where kids can "shop for unique and meaningful teacher and grandparent gifts personalized by your child, learn more about 15 locally based nonprofit organizations, enjoy festive holiday music and refreshments, visit with Santa, enjoy facepainting and kid's activities, all while teaching children the true meaning of giving by shopping at our Children's Gift Fair."

Usually, we're out of town for the fair, but this year we can't wait to participate. If you're interested, Gifts That Give Hope will take place this Saturday from 10 am til 2pm at Calvary United Methodist Church (2315 S Grant St. Arlington VA 22202).

In the meantime, check out Tara and Katherine's wonderful article about how to avoid the holiday gimmies.

7 Ways to Ward off The Gimmies This Holiday Season

For many of parents, the kids’ first glimpse of the glistening holiday display at the mall ushers in a side of the holiday season that triggers a pounding headache: The kids come down with a case of The Gimmies.

It’s hard to blame them. The television, the radio and—good grief—even the mailbox are full of ads for items add to their ever-expanding wish lists. “I want a bike,” “I need a Transformer,” or “I’m going to ask Santa for an American Girl doll.” Often, the appeals come from kids who would never nag for a toy, outside of this increasingly amped-up season draped in snowy wonder.

In the age of thoughtful parenting, many of us wrestle with how to deal with it all — not just the gifts, but how to merge family traditions without making the whole month of December into a celebration of decadence and spoiling. What none of us want is a collection of rotten kids to live with for 11 months of the year, when the guests have gone, the Elf on a Shelf has moved back north and the family routines return to normal.

Here are seven ways to ward off The Gimmies, many of them borrowed from friends and loved ones who, like us, are wishing for oodles of holiday joy, but hoping we can get through it without create little monsters.

1. Make the holiday season about more than presents; make it about experiences. These don’t need to be elaborate, Facebook-ready photo-ops. Instead, put away your to-do list. Slow down. Take a holiday light drive. Bake cookies with the kids, and then sit down to enjoy one yourself. Be sure—throughout the month—to talk about gratitude for all that you have and all that you can do.

2. Get rid of the catalogs. They fill your mailbox, pile up on your counters and are menus for The Gimmies. Instead, steer kids—and gift givers—to activities like skating lessons, outings and other memory-makers.

3. If you have indulgent family members, ask them to limit gifts. This can get tough. However, at the end of the season, mom and dad have to be the Curator of the New Toy Collection. Muster all your diplomacy and ask for their support. Hopefully, they’ll understand that you’re doing your best to raise good-natured and appreciative children.

4. If you wind up overwhelmed by generosity, tuck some gifts away, if you can do it without hurting anyone’s feelings. Save them for the summer—or even a big spring snowstorm—when they won’t get so lost in the holiday deluge.

5. Let the giving be the receiving. Have the kids help pick out presents and talk to them about giving thoughtfully. When it makes sense, help them make
some gifts, even simple ones. (Read: Don’t look at Pinterest first. Construction paper snowflakes and glitter are still adorable.)

6. Talk about the meaning of the holidays. If you are Jewish, teach your children about the miraculous menorah that burned for eight days. Explain the significance of eating delicious food cooked in oil, like latkes, and invite friends over for dinner. If you are Christian, make Advent and the coming of Jesus a significant part of the December narrative. Get to a Christmas pageant or see a live Nativity. Think of ways to get through to the little ones: Why not bake a birthday cake for Baby Jesus? Whatever your beliefs, use them to start a conversation with your kids about the traditions of your holiday.

7. Be generous yourself. Talk with your children about adopting a family or contributing to Toys for Tots. Remind your kids that not everyone has a lot. We adore the charity Gifts that Give Hope, which hosts alternative gift fairs online and in the United States and Canada. There, shoppers can purchase acts of kindness for loved ones, rather than another sweater. These conversation pieces at the holidays can remind everyone—young and old—about the value of supporting charities that help the homeless, sick children and others who need a hand.

- Tara Bibb and Katherine Shrader are Arlington, Va., moms, and board members at Gifts that Give Hope. They are doing their best to discourage The Gimmies, but know there will be plenty of moments that test them between now and New Year’s.

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