Why We Don’t Buy Gifts for Our Kids

Christmas time is coming, and I’ve already started our gift list. It’s a detailed color-coded spreadsheet with everyone we need to buy for added. Enneagram One life, am I right? But you know who isn’t on there? Our kids.

kids in Christmas pajamas in front of treeWe didn’t really plan to not buy gifts for our kids. Our oldest was born almost five years ago, and has a birthday right by Christmas. That first year we got her nothing because she was still in loaf of bread stage, we were just trying to figure out a newborn, and it just didn’t make sense. That didn’t stop all of our friends and family buying things anyway. 

The next year we started planning for birthday/Christmas. And we knew she would get so much. Like an influx of things. The kid is the eldest grandchild on both sides, and was the first niece/nephew for our siblings as well. Plus friends, cousins, and other random gifts. It was a lot when it all added up. And so the tradition began. Here’s why it has continued to work for us even years later.

I Curate the Gift Lists

Gifts are my love language, and I spend time throughout the year putting together a list of things I know my kids will like based on their interests, online research, and what they ask for. Come gift giving occasions, many people ask for a list, and we can just share it for them to choose from. Watching my kid open a gift that I had a hand in them getting makes me feel like a part of the gift giving process too. And a lot of mental and practical labor goes into that list y’all. 

It Helps Control the Stuff

As I said, we have three sets of grandparents, aunts and uncles, godparents, and a smattering of other family members and close friends who love to buy things for our kids. Our generous village is wonderful, but it also means the stuff accumulates fast. I am a person who likes a home where everything has its place, and am constantly battling toy organization. The less stuff my kids get, the less we have to manage, so I don’t feel the need to add to it myself. 

We Don’t Do Santa

In our family, we don’t do the whole “Santa brings the presents” thing. I didn’t really feel into it when we had our first kid, and then she was terrified of people in costumes for the first few years, so the thought of telling her a strange dude in a costume would sneak into our house in the night to bring presents sounded like it would, let’s say…not go over well… Now Santa is just a Christmas thing. Another story and character like Rudolph or Frosty. But side benefit, we don’t have to get gifts “from Santa” to give our kids!

We Get Them Things Throughout the Year

If I am running errands and see something inexpensive one of my kids will love, I’ll pick it up for them, no occasion needed. We will also sometimes get things after holidays or birthdays if there was something on their list they didn’t receive that we know they will really use or like. I love gift-giving, so surprising my kids with a little something is a joy all year long.

Will this continue forever? I don’t know. It might come crashing down one day when our kids look at us with puppy dog eyes asking why they didn’t get a birthday present from us. Or maybe it won’t. But it works for us right now. So if you are trying to cut down on the gifts this holiday season, maybe consider taking yourself out of the running when it comes to your kids.


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Lindsay G. was born and raised in Fort Worth, Texas, and she and her husband headed south to Spring in June of 2016. As a clinical social worker, she works full time with families growing their families through adoption. Lindsay met her husband John when they were both camp counselors. They welcomed their future little campers G in December 2017 and R in 2020. Lindsay is constantly reading, researching at least one new thing, and attempting to organize her life through bullet journaling. Her first book, Parent Goals: The Millennial’s Guide to New Parent Preparedness will be published in November 2021. In her free time, she enjoys binging Gilmore Girls on a loop, baking, and running in the Houston area’s beautiful parks. Check out her website www.lindsaygarrettlcsw.com for parenting prep, support, and more.


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