I was going to write a post about sibling gift giving, and invite ideas for group parenting advice. Then I decided I knew in advance what everyone was going to say, so I decided not to bother. Now I find I am still thinking this over a great deal, and in cases like that, I need to write it down just to get it out of my head, and so be it.
Question for parents of multiple kids out there: do your kids give gifts to your other kids? If so, how does that work?
Our kids do. Each of my kids gets four gifts on Christmas morning – one from us, one from Santa, and one from each of their siblings.
When they were little, this was easy for me to control. I just bought stuff on behalf of each kid, then presented it to them: “Look, I got you this Lego set to give to your brother!” kind of thing. They’d wrap it themselves but they had no part in the selection, or shopping, or paying.
This is actually pretty much how I still do things. Before putting together my list and doing the actual shopping part, I do ask them now if they have any ideas for their siblings (and their dad, too); and if anyone does, then I incorporate that.
Sometimes they have an idea or two, sometimes not, but I LOVE giving gifts and I LOVE making lists and so filling in the gaps has never been a problem or a chore for me, it’s a delight to make a big list for each kid and then shop away and then decide who is giving who what, like I AM AN ALL POWERFUL SANTA, thank you.
But this year I started thinking that perhaps it is time to relinquish some control to the kids themselves – not because they feel slighted or are begging to be involved or anything, but because Christmas budgeting is a skill, and thinking of a good gift for someone is a considerate thing to do, and this is something they might want to/need to/be forced to do in the future.
It is already too late for this year, but I am thinking now of how I can make this work more inclusively next year. Some ideas:
- I take the kids to the mall and give them a budget for each of their two siblings and set them loose to find something suitable in the right price range. This is the most free-range idea.
- I ask them to brainstorm an ideas list for me, possibly doing online research for prices as required, then pick something from the list. I would also ask them to walk through the online ordering process if this is an online order, or come with me to the store if it is a local purchase. This option sounds like homework, I can tell right now I am going to have trouble getting the oldest, at the very least, to take this on.
- I can give them my own ideas list, and just have them pick something from it before I shop (rather than having me choose, which is what is happening right now). Then get them to do the actual shopping part as well (online or in person). This is probably the most hand-holding way to do it, but it feels more like something I could get the older kids, at least, to do – Little Miss Sunshine is a GIFT GIVER, all-caps absolutely required, so she would probably embrace any of these options.
What do you think? What works for you and your kids?
Oh, and one more thing – when did you take your kids off-budget and have them move to doing their own shopping altogether? I could say that, at age 18 say, they need to do their own shopping – but for the Captain, at least, that probably translate to no shopping whatsoever. Or I could continue to fund them and shepherd them along until they are out of college, or no longer living at home.
Or possibly until they are collecting Social Security. Sigh.
I guess there is no way to force a kid who is no longer a kid to WANT to give gifts or to CHOOSE to give gifts, so at some point I am going to have to let it go and just move on. But when? When is this magical moment? I guess I will know it when I see it? Hm.