This can be a tough one.
For one thing, your kids have eyes and no matter how hard you try, there will be folks you know who pile more presents on their kids than they can possibly find use for.
Two, everything in kids' lives -- the TV they watch, the boxes of cereal they look at -- is geared toward turning them into unabashed, conscience-free consumers.
All the more reason why it's a great idea to start the conversation about the other half of the receiving equation, i.e. the giving part, right now.
I've tried to do this for a while, especially during the holidays, and I'd say that I'm semi-succeeding and semi-not.
My 7-year-old twins, I would argue, have PLENTY of stuff. They also share a lot of things, which cuts down on the quantity of what they ask for and what they get. But they are not immune to the wiles of the Wii and Monster High dolls, even though I can't imagine that there is one doll made that we don't already have.
My youngest, the Monster High-addict, used to be far more focused on the giving part. As a toddler her signature move was to try to give her own toys to visiting babies.
When she learned about Haiti in pre-school, she was desperate to help. That night, we sat down at the computer and donated to the Red Cross on Amazon together, and I still think of that as a moment when a lightbulb went off for her. Who is going to help others if not us ourselves?
Making an annual tradition out of a donation of some sort -- whether it be your time or money or goods -- is a great way to ensure the giving and receiving loop stays in tact.
For example, every year my aunt and uncle, inspiring helpers that they are, make a donation to Heifer International. Every year I wonder why we don't do that.
A friend of mine had a great idea. If her kids get, say, four presents during the holidays, they choose four items to donate to kids who have less. One in, one out.
I think the most important way to keep kids aware of giving and thinking of others, though, is simply to talk about it.
If you're fortunate enough to be able to give your kids ample items from their list, that is wonderful. But the conversation and the context you put them in will make those gifts that much richer.
Do you talk to your kids about giving to others during the holidays?
Image via thefixer/Flickr
Pens, pencils, markers, etc.