Giving the Gift of Minimalism
What if one of the greatest gifts you could give your child is the gift of minimalism?
With the holiday season being right around the corner and lots of opportunities to buy your children piles of gifts, what if we stopped for a moment and thought about giving the gift of minimalism instead of materialism?
This really dawned on me when I took Andrew to his first birthday party from a friend in his class. Andrew and a couple of his little friends sat “crissed cross applesauce” in the front row to watch their friend open a pile of gifts. The birthday boy opened his first present, took a 5 second look at his new batman towel and two new Hot Wheel cars, and proceeded onto the next gift.
All he wanted to do was go from gift to gift to gift.. to gift. The first gift he opened probably did not even exist in his mind when he finished opening his last.
I’m not saying this is a bad thing, because who doesn’t want to open up a pile of presents?
And trust me, I’m guilty of doing this for Andrew as well. It’s hard not to spoil our children by loading them up with gifts and watching them squeal happily as they are ripping open presents.
But I had a moment to view this whole scenario from the outside looking in and it made me wonder — is this subconsciously teaching our children to lack appreciation and value for gifts or things in general?
I mean, our children have so much already.
What does a pile of gifts teach?
What if a child only had three gifts to open? Wouldn’t the child appreciate his three gifts much more than a pile of gifts? Of course any child would prefer a pile of gifts, but what about the long term effect?
It seems like the whole notion of “wanting more” is beginning at such a young age and unfortunately is often carried on through our adult lives. Wanting more leaves most people with feelings of dissatisfaction and yearning for something much more than any material item can offer. When does “more” stop?
With the way our world is now (“more and new” mentality), I often think about how I will teach Andrew to understand the importance of value, how money doesn’t grow on trees, and that we don’t need “things” to be happy. How will I teach him to be content with what he has and not fall into the trap of always wanting the “latest and greatest?” How do I raise him so he has the will power to not succumb to his peers, their needs of always wanting more, and following in their paths?
I want my child to grow up and appreciate life and it’s natural beauties, have respect for everything around him, be strong enough to make his own decisions and USE his brain to do so, and to value what he has.
For this reason, Scott and I have decided to approach our holiday season with a minimalist approach by giving one gift that we need, one gift that we want, and a gift to read. I’m going to focus more on giving homemade gifts rather than store-bought and include Andrew in the process of making them. Lastly, I am going to brainstorm ways to make Christmas morning much more than just opening presents and create a much more meaningful tradition.
Truly, the greatest things in life cannot be bought, so why not teach our children this at a young age? Why not give the gift of minimalism which will ultimately provide confidence and fulfillment in our children’s lives so they don’t feel the need to succumb to the “I need more” mentality.
They will be free in more ways than we know!
What are your thoughts about mountains of gifts? Am I looking too deep into it?
I love this. I too am taking this approach to Christmas this year. But my kids are older and unfortunately I’ve already spoiled them on piles of presents in the past…which were absolutely less appreciated and less valued in the long run. So I broke it to my kids early this year…as soon as the topic of Christmas lists came up. They were disappointed…absolutely. But that is already wearing off and they’re putting a lot of thought into what they want the most. We are doing 3 “useful” gifts (no toys or junk, stuff they can really use) and 1 just for fun. And we are planning many “experiences” to be enjoyed throughout the holidays.
I agree, it’s hard to go “backwards.” But I think if we can start to cut down each year and put more focus on quality vs. quantity then it will all work out. What type of experiences are you guys planning?
So I saw this article in my news feed…read the whole thing…scrolled down to the comments and realized I read this last year and commented too! Lol Well one year later and this is still the goal 🙂 This year I decided we would do away with wish lists. Every year the kids make a list of stuff they want…and I feel like that starts the obsession with what they will get. It also creates a situation of stress for me if I cant afford what they ask for and creates the potential for disappointment Christmas morning. I don’t think the Christmas season should be spent obsessing over what you hope to receive. Of course we all like to imagine what gifts we might get, but shouldn’t gifts be gifts…and not an answer to a request? Gifts should be the result of long hard thought about that person and what makes them special and a celebration of them. The kids were a bit concerned but I assured them that Daddy and I (and Santa of course) have been paying attention all year long…and since we know them, and love them, we will find the perfect gifts. So far so good. Everyone is focused on the joy of the season and thinking about others rather than themselves 🙂
Love this Loriel, and agree completely. It really bothers me. I remember talking to my brother-in-law before we had children, and he is laughing telling the story about how my nephew couldn’t even get to the tree there were so many presents, and then he was too tired to even finish opening them. It really upset me, and since having kids have really tried to limit the amount of ‘stuff’.
We have always tried to really limit the number of gifts… Santa brings 1 gift in addition to a few things in their stockings, and we give them 1 gift. Where I struggle is with grandparents and extended family. Although we tell them the kids don’t need anything and to keep it small, it still ends up being way too much. So now I try to direct them a bit in terms of what to buy… clothes, books, board games, or things we can do together as a family. Still too much, but at least it is things that will hopefully have a bit more staying power.
Ugh, that is so sad! Children don’t learn to appreciate their things if they can’t even finish opening up all their presents. Too much stuff.
I think you are making a smart decision by sort of guiding your family with what gifts to give. Andrew will receive a couple cars since that’s his “thing” but it will be mostly educational and ways to make his brain keep working.
For the past two years, we have only gotten our children one large gift each for Christmas. They haven’t complained one bit and have really appreciated the gift they received. They do still get gifts from the grandparents and a couple of cousins though, so they still come home with quite a bit.
You know I am all over this 🙂 We do the 3 gifts thing as well. This year is a bit different as the big girls need a few other things for some school things that we are adding to our collection now that I am doing preschool from home and Chloe has more things she needs for practicing a few concepts from her montessori school <3 They are minimalistic in nature though 🙂
Absolutely. I think if we are simply just AWARE of it all, it makes a huge difference. It’s hard to not want to buy your kids loads of presents but I think if we can minimize as much as we can, it will impact them in a good way.
I LOVE this! Such a beautiful gift YOU are giving to your sweet little one. I love the need, want, read idea. So great!
Thank you! I totally can’t take credit for that. We were over at a friend’s house and they said that’s what they do for Christmas. That’s when the idea sparked for me.
I think this is a great idea. We tend to go all out at Christmas (within a reasonable budget) But that’s because it’s the tradition for Chad and I. One of my good friends does exactly what you are talking about and it works really well for them. Merry Christmas!
Yep, I totally agree. It’s hard to change what you are so used to it.
We only give stockings to our kids for this reason. Different solution to the same American problem. Our kids get TONS of gifts from their grandparents. We thought, ‘they won’t even think ours are special’… ‘they’re truly being spoiled’ etc. So we LOVE finding very special treasures for their stockings. This time first thing Christmas morning has become everyone’s favorite. We savor it and take our time, one stocking at a time. Thanks for your post. It’s so lovely to be intentional, to make home made gifts, to do what the Little Women did and bring gifts to those in need and to talk about all this with the kids in a cheerful way. And to give books. YES, my favorite gift! <3
I sure my hubs and I saw eye to eye on this. He grew up well…poor. And to this day he has a need to over give to our kids. I preach less is more, he believes wholeheartedly more is more.
I can imagine that would be hard Linda.
This is such an important article. This is something that is very much in my awareness and it is so important to bring up for others who may not have considered the importance of minimalism. We teach our kids way more by not subscribing to commercialism and materialism. Wonderful post!