Parenting

How much do you spend on Christmas?

Tracy usually has a tight fist when it comes to gifts for her girls, but this Christmas, she lost all control. Blame it on the princess years

Two girls who are in for a big, beautiful surprise on Christmas morning.

I overdid it. I did. I bought too much. I spent too much. I am usually so good at keeping all the costs and expectations of the holidays in check, about focusing on the giving and the activities and the festive glee of it all instead of loading up the tree with colourful boxes and bags and bows.

My kids don’t want for anything so, when it comes to their Christmas gifts, I’ve always had such great restraint. We didn’t want to set up these grand expectations of Christmas (read: greedy gimmes) and honestly, we didn’t want more stuff in our house to find places for, fight about and, of course, trip over.

Maybe I bought the awesome dollhouse too early (although that link shows that it’s now sold out, so good on me. My nephew generously spent four hours building it at my parents’ house and apparently it’s huge and amazing!). I was so proud of myself for getting the big gift out of the way, knowing I would just pick up some books and little things. But something happened in the last few weeks, spurred on by a stupid, unplanned trip to The Disney Store, and now my kids have too much stuff.

But you know what? They’re going to just go nuts on Christmas morning and I’m so excited. Maybe it’s this age, two girls at five and three years old, but it’s like they’re at the perfect age for Christmas. Maybe next year Anna will be into being “cool” and want clothes and music and electronic gadgets that compel her to sit on a couch and shut out the rest of the world.

But right now, they just want to play. They immerse themselves in a beautiful world of make believe all day long. They want dolls and doll clothes and princessy things and fake jewellery and fancy dress-up stuff. And man, they’re going to get it. I can hardly wait to see their faces on Christmas morning. The best part is that they haven’t really asked for anything, so they’ll be totally surprised. I’ve decided to shake off the guilt and just embrace it.

I interviewed a woman for a story once and she told me this cool thing about what she gets her kids for Christmas: “Something to play with, something to wear, something to read and something to share.” I love that — I’ve never forgotten it. I did follow that for my girls …it’s just that the first part turned plural. And how.

How do you determine what you spend at the holidays? Do you have a budget or plan, or just go with the flow? How important is it to you to keep the material side of the holidays in check?