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