Ways to Avoid Spoiling Your Kids This Christmas

11 Ways to Avoid Spoiling Your Kids This Christmas

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Updated 2/13/2019

TRIVIA: How much money does the average American spend on Christmas gifts and treats? Scroll to the bottom of the post to find the answer!

My daughter is just getting old enough to really appreciate Christmas.

It’s really exciting- Santa finally means something, she’s getting involved in decorating and making cookies, and she’s really looking forward to Christmas day.

That being said, I’ve realized that with her age comes a new challenge for me. I’ve always heard it said (and I strongly believe this) that you can’t spoil a baby. They cry for what they need, and adults fill their needs. Done.

But as children get older, moms and dads have to think a little more. We have to get more intentional in our daily interactions with our children.

Parenting becomes more than just filling their needs.

So I’ve started to ask myself this question- “How do I give my little girl an amazing, magical Christmas… without spoiling her rotten?”

Of course, I don’t have all the answers… So I’ve been conducting a poll of moms that I trust and respect. This list of 11 great ideas to avoid spoiling your kids came from women much wiser than me.

I hope their advice helps you like it helped me!

What do you do to avoid spoiling your children at Christmas each year? Comment below!

shallow focus photography of red bauble on christmas tree

1)Giving As Well As Getting

Even the youngest children can give at Christmas.

Helping a child learn to share love and joy teaches them what Christmas is really for. Here’s a few ideas to get your child involved in giving:

  • Donate old toys to a hospital, homeless shelter, a church, or to needy families.
  • Allow each child to make something to give to their siblings, for their parents, or for neighbors.
  • Make treats and bring them to friends and neighbors.
  • Give each child $1-5 to spend at the Dollar Store for siblings, a friend, teachers, church leaders, or neighbors.
  • Leave food, clothes, toys, and household items for needy families– without them knowing who left them! It’s great for children to learn to give even without any recognition.
  • Sing carols to the elderly at retirement homes or to sick children in the hospital.
  • Participate in 25 acts of kindness, one each day of December until Christmas Day.
  • Help mom and dad in Christmas preparations.

assorted cookie lot

2)Give Experiences

Who says gifts have to be things??

I’ve heard some awesome non-item presents that brought amazing memories. Some even taught valuable skills for long-term benefit!

  • Give classes or lessons to learn a new skill. Someone in your family could learn:
    • how to cook,
    • how to play a musical instrument,
    • how to play a sport,
    • sewing,
    • canning,
    • gardening,
    • blogging,
    • parenting,
    • birthing class,
    • etc. Give the gift of knowledge!
  • Give a family vacation. This could be a trip to Hawaii, tickets to Disneyland or Six Flags, a cruise, or go see the Grand Canyon!
  • Give a new experience. Try snorkeling, snowmobiling, participate in an escape room, or a science kit- something you’ve never done before!
  • Give supplies needed to try a new skill. This could be charcoal or acrylic paint to try a new medium, or a scrapbook, or a sewing machine, or track cleats, or football pads.
  • Give something that the family can do together every day. Maybe a board game, or a card game, or a trampoline, or soccer goals, or Corn-hole, or camping gear.

girl playing beside body of water during daytime

3) Limit Filler Gifts

I had no idea how many “filler gifts” I buy every year.

Filler Gifts are the things that don’t really matter… they are just extras to fill a stocking up to the brim. They aren’t really necessary, and they are the quickest things to be forgotten after the holiday is over.

Who needs them?


Save your pennies. Instead of buying filler gifts, use the money somewhere useful.

You could:

  • get your child one more meaningful gift,
  • donate the money to a charity,
  • use it to help a neighbor who can’t afford much this year,
  • use it for a fun family experience,
  • or just save it for a rainy day.

four red-and-white Christmas stockings

4) Family Gift

If you want to treat your kids to something fun… but expensive… like a trampoline, or a basketball hoop, or a ping pong table, go for it!

But there are problems with gifting large presents to just one person. If you give one person a big expensive gift,then you’d have to get something big for each person, and that gets expensive and overwhelming fast.

Instead, make it a gift to the whole family! Something everyone can use and love!!

More Great Reads: 

Mamma’s Turkey Tips for Beginners (Like Me)

Gifts For Kids (Ages 0-18) That Will Meet Their Developmental Needs

When Life Is On A Parent’s Side- Taking Advantage of Natural Consequences

Creative Ways to Save Money

Mom and Daughter Spa Day!


5) Something To Do, Something To Read, Something You Want, Something You Need

This is an awesome rhyme that organizes types of presents into categories.

I hadn’t really thought about it before, but there are tons of categories of gifts you could get a person. Something they wear, something they create, something they eat…

There are lots of variations of this, but the concept is the same.

It’s a great help to moms and dads to remember that presents can be more than just the “something you want” category. By purchasing gifts in many categories, you fill many needs and still fill some wants.

6) Add The Wow Factor

Remember Christmases from your childhood?

What are your favorite memories?

For me, I can only remember one or two actual gifts. Most of my memories are of the special things my parents did to make Christmas exciting!

  • I remember the Christmas countdowns that built excitement and suspense for the big day!
  • I remember making cookies and writing notes to Santa.
  • I remember hearing jingle bells outside and wondering if it was Santa Claus!
  • I remember decorating the tree, hanging stockings, putting lights on the house, and creating an ambiance of Christmas.
  • I remember making ornaments and crafts. I was so proud to see them hanging on the tree.
  • I remember going to the forest to choose the perfect tree to bring home. It was a lot of hiking in the snow, but we loved every second of it!
  • I remember sledding and building snowmen on Christmas. Then dad would always start a snowball fight. 
  • I remember the books we read and the movies we watched every year– like Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer and Frosty The Snowman.
  • I remember acting out the Nativity scene every Christmas eve.
  • I remember the big meals with family and lots, lots, lots of treats!

I guess the point is that Christmas gifts can be more than just things.

One mom told the story of a Christmas scavenger hunt! Her mom left her clues throughout the house that led to one special toy that was hidden. She couldn’t remember what the toy was, but she remembered the scavenger hunt!

One mom told the story of various colors of string looped all over the house. Each child had one color of yarn to follow. They had to wind and climb and loop and twist to find their special Christmas surprise at the end of the string.

Experiences add to the wonder and fun of Christmas, without breaking the bank!

Santa Claus riding snowboard

7) Make Gifts Special

Keep gifts special and exciting by limiting gift giving during the year to special occasions, like birthdays and holidays.

The novelty wears off if children receive gifts frequently. It’s like eating a family-size bag of M&M’s. It’s delicious at first, but the more M&M’s you eat, the more used to them you get, until eventually you’ve had enough M&M’s and you want something different to eat.

Now that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t buy that special thing when you see it (especially if it’s on sale!!!)

Some parents buy presents all year long and keep them hidden until birthdays or Christmas! This spreads out the cost- making Christmas less of a financial stress so that you can just focus on the joy of the season.


Click the Images Below!

-6 Pair Christmas Socks

-A Pentatonix Christmas

-How the Grinch Stole Christmas (Book)

-Merry Christmas Burlap Banner


-Children’s Nativity

-Merry Christmas Door Sign


8) Set a Dollar Limit or Limit the Number of Gifts You Purchase Per Person

Everyone loves to give and give and give.

It’s so exciting to see something in the store and imagine how your child’s face will light up when he sees it!!! It’s almost irresistible.

Setting a reasonable limit for your family will help you keep yourself in check. It also keeps things fair between each child.

person holding red and brown gift box infront of Christmas tree inside the room

9) If You Can Help It- Don’t Backpedal

Each parent has a chance while their kids are little to make Christmas a magical experience no matter if the child gets one present, ten presents, or no presents at all.

That being said, it’s tough to give a child twenty presents one year and then have to cut back to fifteen- or ten, or five- the next year.

The child might not understand what changed and why. If you can help it, it’s better to find a happy medium early on and stick to it.

person holding ball

10) Things Don’t Spoil Kids, Parenting Spoils Kids

This is my favorite bit of advice that I received from these wise moms.

The gifts you buy don’t have to spoil kids- as long as parents teach them the value of the things they have.

  • Teach them to take care of the gifts they get.
  • Teach them to be grateful.
  • Teach them how blessed they are to have people who love them so much that they give them gifts.
  • Teach them that those people worked very hard to get the money to buy the gifts.
  • Teach them to say, “Thank You”.
  • Teach them to become generous themselves.

boy holding Holy Bible

11) Don’t Worry About It Too Much

Christmas is so magical for cute little kids!

And they’re only young once.

So they might as well have some wonderful memories.

Of course, there’s a balance. No need to break the bank or get so much that your kids are swimming in Christmas barf.

But have some fun too.

What do you do to avoid spoiling your children at Christmas each year? Comment below!

green and red Christmas tree near yellow neon light

Enjoy your Christmas this year- and enjoy your sons and daughters while they are little!


Mrs. S

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Trivia Answer: The average Amercian spends $700 on Christmas gifts and treats.

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4 thoughts on “11 Ways to Avoid Spoiling Your Kids This Christmas

  1. Lovely post! I totally agree with you, often we are spending so much for nothing. Often kiddos remember the simple things like you said like letters to Santa and snowball fights 🙂 Especially the bit where you said we gotta teach children to appreciate the money and time that goes into gifts is so crucial! Children won’t know what goes into gifts unless they are told! Awesome post, wishing you a wonderful Christmas 🙂
    Nanny M x

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