When our children were young, we sometimes had to handle the situation of people giving them gifts which were things we didn’t approve of. We found it very helpful to have a wishlist for the kids of things they wanted or things we thought would benefit them. It often solved the problem of people giving them gifts we felt were inappropriate for them.
We also tried to tactfully explain to relatives the guidelines we used for gift giving to our kids. We tried to give our children real toys, things that would enable them to role play being a mommy for little girls or cars, building toys, etc for little boys. We didn’t give them fantasy type gifts or the latest fad toys and we definitely limited electronic entertainments. We wanted the gifts we gave our children to be things that would contribute to them developing servant’s hearts and real character and used that as a standard for our choices. Occasionally they would be given a toy we felt was inappropriate and one we could not let them keep. In those instances, we would return it to a store, if possible and let the child choose something we did approve of. At the same time we tried to lead our children to not be judgmental of others and explained that others had different standards than our family might and we must follow what our conscience told us was right.
In order not to be focused on what they were to get for Christmas, we always had a project to give to others. We gave Picture Bibles to neighborhood children each year to help introduce them to be open to hearing God’s Word. (Picture Bible, BTW, make great gifts for kids in extended family who may not be familiar with God’s Word. The stories are like comic books, but use realistic illustrations. They are written in an exciting way. It kind of leaves you hanging and that makes you want to read the next story too). We also brought neighbors nativity sugar cookies with a gospel tract each year.
Often we “adopted” elderly as “grandparents” or “aunt or uncles” and gave thoughtful gifts to them. We often gave to Samaritan’s purse or Angel tree and for a number of years, we gave to a family who had a child suffering from leukemia. Other years, we found a less fortunate family for all to give to, sometimes a family with a single parent. Some years we ministered to others in several of these ways. One of my favorites that my teen aged children decided upon was to bring cookies and goodies to officers of police departments, sheriff’s office, rescue squads, fire departments, etc, in other words our public servants. They would invite friends over to prepare the treats and deliver them together with a card of appreciation for their services to the community and of course, a gospel tract with a clear message.
Now as our family has grown quite large, we handle gifts to each other by drawing names. Each person gives gifts to three others and gets gifts from three others. It’s a fun way to handle family giving so that no one gets too much or is strained to feel like they have so many to give to.
Each person plans and prepares gifts for different family members each year. We also encourage each one to have a wish list we can refer to for Christmas and birthday giving. I LOVE watching the faces of little ones who have invested in planning surprises for another family member!!