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Why Santa only brings ONE gift

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This is a post from last year, but it is an important one for me to remember every year.
santa 1
image via Wikipedia

When I was writing for an Arizona newspaper, my paths crossed with a family life coach named Keri Maughan for a few articles, and I was always amazed by her wisdom and techniques. However, one thing she said floored me…”My children only get ONE gift from Santa at Christmas time.” I was shocked! Was she the Grinch? Who has every heard of Santa only bringing ONE gift?

Then I sat back and listened to her reasoning:

  • Santa brings what is most wanted. It can been big, small, expensive or cheap but he brings the item the child is most hoping for. No worries about “fairness” or the money spent per child. If you get the item you are most hoping for, all is fair.
  • This idea cuts down on all the filler gifts that are immediately discarded once the “real” gift is opened. This saves both money, time, and most importantly focus.
  • If Santa brings only one gift, the child stops to stop and take in the gift and then spends time playing with and enjoying it instead of wondering what else is under the tree.
  • When other gifts are given from parents/siblings/grandparents, the child has a chance to show gratitude instead just look for more or “the next gift.” It is easy to show excitement and gratitude for a few great items as opposed to a million mediocre ones. Much less entitlement on Christmas morning.
  • It allows for Christmas magic regardless of the families’ financial situation.
It all sounded really great to me. So, for the past 8 years Santa has (mostly) brought our kids one big gift and then a book, a DVD, and some simple stocking stuffers. The rest of the items carry tags “From: Mom and Dad” or “Love: Grandma and Grandpa.”
We still get all the Christmas magic we are hoping for and our kids don’t set unrealistic or incredibly greedy expectations or create mile long lists for the jolly man in the big red suit. They understand that with mom and dad there is a finite amount of money to spent each year…some years are fatter and some years are leaner, but we always have incredible Christmases.
I cannot tell you how grateful I was that we had started this tradition when we went back to grad school with 3 kids. I knew Christmas would be slim and we were an entire country away from extended family. However, both Christmases were still wonderful occasions and Santa came through with one great gift while the rest of the items were second hand, from grandparents, or found at incredible deals. Even still, our little apartment was warm and cozy with plenty of love and still too many gifts to even wrap our minds around. It’s astounding that it still always seemed like too much.
At this time of year, I am especially grateful to be able to provide Christmas for our family. I know it is a luxury many don’t have, so reach out and make sure each child has at least ONE present from Santa this year by visiting your local Angel Tree or contacting your church or city about families in need.

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14 thoughts on “Why Santa only brings ONE gift

  1. When I was a kid Christmas was my most favorite time of year and I believed in Santa until 5th grade which said a lot as we lived at the time in a neighborhood with a large Jewish population. When my own children were little, they are now 22 and 24, I quickly realized that while I wanted to have them believe in Santa I also wanted them to know that Mom and Dad gave them gifts too. It's funny to read your post just after finally watching the family Christmas video from 1999. That was the year that Santa brought them each a American Girl doll with an extra outfit (and a barbie that husband stood in line at Meijers for at midnight Christmas Eve, but that's another story!) It was so sweet to watch them play with that one gift (and the barbie "LOOK it's a swimming Barbie!") and their stockings an not ask to open more presents. They must have spent half an hour playing with their dolls and treats from their stocking. But, early on, I told them that the gifts from Mom and Dad were going to be handed out on the 12 days of Christmas and that they had only one gift from us to open after brunch. And then on the following days after dinner they got to open one more. The calm that my girls showed in that video made me proud. They appreciated and loved that one toy and it was as far from a free-for-all that you sometimes see on youtube. As they got older and financial times were not always so great (and I could no longer garage sale many of their Christmas gifts) we only had the six days of Christmas. Now, at this age when they are no longer living at home they get one "big" present and then 3 or so boxes of "necessities" I'm also well known for nesting 7 or 8 boxes all with tied ribbons or making them go hunt for the big present where the chase for the present is half of the fun. (Oh, I'm sorry, your present was behind that chair all along!) You can't make it too easy for them you know! So, yes I followed that rule with very good results and I now I have young adults who appreciate each gift they get even if it's socks. :):):)

  2. A few years ago we decided it was ridiculous for Santa to get all the credit for our hard work. So Santa only does the stocking now. Our kids know everything else is from us and they’re just happy to get what they get. (We have a large family(9kids, 3 daughters-in-law, 2grandchildren) and live on one income)
    I think sometimes they don’t say what they really want, because they know it probably can’t happen, especially with electronics as they get older. I feel bad about that sometimes, but we do the best we can.

    1. Kassie, I think that is a great idea too. It can be hard at Christmas to not be able to get everyone what they really want, but as they get older, it is so tough…all electronics are expensive and in a family of 9, just one small gift equals an expensive Christmas. I do think it makes for less entitled and more grateful kids though. When they get something, I am sure they are thrilled. That really is what gifting is all about!

  3. Santa always brought the Stocking stuffers. When our children for older we told them that we had spoken with Santa and asked him to take his resources for other children. They believed till 12-13. I have played the jolly elf for over 20 years try to have the children learn the reason for the season.

    1. I was wondering what/how I should tell my kids they will only get one gift and their stockings from Santa this year
      The rest will be from us. Thank you for sharing!

    2. I was wondering what/how I should tell my kids they will only get one gift and their stockings from Santa this year
      The rest will be from us. Thank you for sharing!

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