How to Turn Down Your Kid's Ridiculous Gift Request


Isn't it so cute when your kid labors, crayon in hand, over their letter to Santa? Such an adorable keepsake, perfect for storing away to revisit some year in the future when you can look back on the simpler times of—wait a second, that fourth item down ... did he just write IPAD?

What do you do when your kid asks for a gift there's no way in hell he's going to get? After all, some presents simply fall outside the boundaries of what we're willing or able to pay for, or they might be age-inappropriate, or they might require 27 "D" batteries in order to produce their hideous migraine-inducing level of loud electronic noises.

While it may be tempting to laugh yourself sick over his request while repeatedly slapping your knee and shouting, "I KNOW YOU'RE ONLY 5 BUT ARE YOU HIGH?"—here are three alternative approaches to gently resetting your child's gift expectations:

Lie with no integrity whatsoever. "Sure, honey, that newest Xbox sure looks like fun, but did you know each gaming console is actually filled with giant albino scorpions? Yeah, it's been happening at the factory. They're extra gross and creepy because of their freaky red eyes. Apparently they're nocturnal, so they typically escape at night and I guess they have huge poisonous stingers. It's so weird that all your friends who have an Xbox haven't mentioned this; it's been all over the news."

Lie with good intentions.
"Sweetie, Santa can't bring every single toy on your list, that's just not how Santa works. He spends time thinking about what gifts are best for each and every family, and he will do his very best to make sure you have a wonderful Christmas. I know you want that limited edition Millennium Falcon, but you should understand that it costs $800 and Santa can't spend that much on every single boy and girl. Can we talk about some of the other toys you've been thinking of?"

Tell the truth—and reshape the conversation.
For most kids, no matter how much we may try to drive home the broader holiday message of spending time with family, enjoying cherished traditions, and the joy of giving, the best part of Christmas is often the presents. Specifically, the ones with their names on them.

Still, kids don't need much to be delighted, and no parent should feel pressured into blowing their budget just to buy the latest and greatest whatever-it-is. Even young children need to learn the lesson that no one gets everything they want all the time. Every holiday season is a perfect opportunity to teach our children that the holidays are about love and helping others more than agonizing over wish lists. Who knows—as your kids grow up, something like a family outing to pick out toys for a charity may create memories that last longer than that iPad was ever going to.

How do you deal with holiday gift requests you can't fulfill?


Image via coreyann/Flickr



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nonmember avatar Skittle pies

My dad got my older sis an iPad when she got her license. Please people, DO NOT get your five year old an iPad. They will easily break it. Heck, I've almost broken ours! Anyway, what I suggest parents do to crazy gift requests is this. Find an alternative. If they want an iPad, give them a Nintendo DS. If they want an Xbox, get them an older model from GameStop. This was a hilarious article by the way!

Mama2... Mama2MonkeyBoys

Oh so happy that my children are still in the action figures/movie watching stage. I imagine when Ethan starts going to Kindergarten, I'll start fielding the more ridiculous Christmas requests.

And then I will tell him about the scorpions. Thank you for that.

Rhond... RhondaVeggie

Something along the lines of "Dude, that's $200. I don't have that much money but if you want to save up your allowance go wild." He does the math, figures out that it will take a couple of years to save up therefore the item is clearly ludicrously priced, and he asks for something different.

MMbales MMbales

my five year old wanted a $300 swing set from Santa. After I asked her how Santa could fit it in the sleigh, she thought about it and asked for a play doh set instead.  Score one for mom!

Lynette Lynette

Last yr one of my sons who was 5 asked for a $400 lego set.  I told him that Santa has to pay for those materials for the elves to make the toys and his limit is $100.  So if he really really wanted it than he wouldn't get another Christmas present from Santa for 4 yrs!  Lol, he picked out something else :)

This yr my oldest want a lego set that cost 140.  He remembered the talk I had with his little brother last yr.  So his solution was to send his hard earned savings(0.50 a day for picking up dog poo) to mail to Santa that 40 that went over the limit.

Nancy... NancyJ422

I'm glad was of appropriate age as all the cellphones and expensive "toys" were created!

When he would ask for something outrageous (of which there were many each year), I think I just told him Santa will probably pick one big gift and left it at that.

We even handled the "hey Santa has the same wrapping paper what's up with that!?" debate by telling him Santa asks parents whether they want him to use something different or the same.  Works for every family!

Stacey. Stacey.

MMbales I like your suggestion, going to tuck that one away for later. Also, I like what Rhonda and Lynette said. It's never too early to teach them the value of a dollar!

libby261 libby261

One year my daughter asked for something for Christmas that I felt was too expensive.. I think it was the Lego Taj Mahal .. I told her that it was too much and we couldn't aford it.  Her response was "That's ok, I'll just ask Santa for it".  

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