I Spoil My Kids for Christmas & No, They Aren't Brats Because of It

Megan Zander

There's a growing trend in Christmas gifts for parents to pare down on the explosion of presents from Santa under the tree. Some families even go so far as to adopt a measly four-gift per child rule: something to wear, something to read, something you want, something you need. While I love a good rhyme in my life, and I'm usually a big fan of getting only the essentials from the store, I just can't get on board with the idea of a small holiday. When it comes to Christmas for my kids, we spare no expense. Yes, I'm one of those moms who buries the tree under a mountain of gifts for her kids every year, and I refuse to let anyone Grinch out on me about it.


The tradition of giving my twin boys a big Christmas started on their very first holiday, when they were just 11 months old. I'm not the type to give the kids random toys throughout the year just because, but I'm a sucker for a good deal. So when I saw something on clearance that I thought the boys would like (hello, cheap stacking blocks) or something I thought they could use in the nearish future (like baby floats for the pool on clearance in the fall), I bought it and stashed it in the closet until December rolled around.

More from CafeMom: This Mom Wins the Holidays for Her Brutally Honest Christmas Card

Then I wrapped everything and tucked it between the tree and the baby gate that was protecting said tree from four curious hands. The result of my bargain hunting was a mountain of gifts that reached halfway up our artificial seven-foot fir. There were so many gifts to unwrap that the boys actually got bored on Christmas morning. We had wrapped Christmas gifts lying around well into March, and would pull one or two out for the boys to tear into on a otherwise boring winter afternoon. 

Megan Zander

You'd think that first year would have been a lesson to my husband and me that we should scale back, but if anything we've only upped our gift game as the boys have gotten older. We still stuff their stockings with small toys and candy, and we start grabbing up small items on sale over the summer to stash away in the closet for Christmas. We actually have the boys write their lists to Santa on Thanksgiving and use Black Friday weekend to grab a few last bigger, "hot gifts of the year" so we can spend the rest of the season enjoying each other instead of in the stores.

Why do we go all out killing a small forest worth of trees for wrapping paper and buying tons of plastic toys that will likely end up under the couch at some point? Because it reminds us of when we were little. We both have fond memories of Christmas being this amazing, magical time of year, and running downstairs on Christmas morning to see the room transformed with brightly wrapped packages. Doing the same for our boys allows us to relive a little bit of our own childhoods through their eyes. 

Plus, our boys are still young and innocent enough to believe in the magic of Santa Claus. Soon enough they'll know the truth. I'm enjoying giving them these fun memories that they'll have to look back on one day, to remember when they really did believe all these boxes made it down from the North Pole and through the chimney just for them.

I recall how once I got old enough to learn the truth about Santa and wanted the latest iWhatever more than toys, Christmas became somewhat transactional. My parents would ask what gadget I wanted that year, I'd tell them, they'd get it, and I'd impatiently wait until the 25th to open it. It's logical that gifts get fewer and more practical as you grow, but right now I really like seeing my kids burst into giant grins as they unwrap their pile of small surprises.

Megan Zander

It's truly no one's business how any family decides to spend their own funds, but I understand those who think that going big on Christmas can come across as bragging about what you have. That's not my style. My kids are well aware that Santa Claus doesn't visit every kid's house, and that even among the houses he goes to, the type of and or number of gifts he leaves varies. In other words, they know not to go running into school bragging about what they got for Christmas. But I'm not going to let other people dictate how my family celebrates the holiday. We don't let other people's situations factor into other areas of our lives, so why should Christmas be any different? Should we not swim in our pool just because not everyone has one? Of course not. Presents, please!

Having a lot to unwrap doesn't necessarily mean I'm dropping Kardashian levels of cash. Let's get real -- my kids are 4. They're just as excited about a $40 toy as a $1 package of stickers. Frankly, sometimes it's the giant box the toy comes in they start jumping up and down about. And a lot of what I give them as part of the holiday is practical gifts, like art supplies, clothing, toothpaste -- things that might have their favorite characters or colors on them, but items that they also need too.

More from CafeMom: The Easy Way Your Kids Can Get a Letter From Santa With a North Pole Postmark

Megan Zander

And giving them tons of gifts on Christmas isn't turning them into tiny Gimmee machines, either. If anything, it's helping them learn the Christmas lessons I love the most. The Santa theory is partially based on karma: Be a good person and you'll get rewarded. I live my life by the principle that you should put good into the world if you want to see good come back to you, and giving my kids a massive Christmas is how I'm instilling the same values in them.

I'm not the mom who will buy them a random toy just because; we don't celebrate good grades or the end of a school year with a trip to the toy store. Christmas is it for my kids -- the time when they see the payoff for a year of trying their best to be well-behaved. Because they understand that the gifts they're unwrapping were earned and not a given, they're not crying when they get to the bottom of the pile -- instead, they're thankful for each one. 

If doing a small holiday lowers your stress level or makes you feel like your family is getting more out of the season, do you. But don't assume my kid's pile of gifts means we've gone commercial or lost sight of the true meaning of Christmas. Every family has their own holiday traditions, and spending two hours picking up wrapping paper on Christmas morning after opening a massive pile of gifts just happens to be one of ours.

Read More >