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How Much Is Too Much?

How Much Is Too Much?

Let me preface this post with yes, I’m fully and completely aware this is a #FirstWorldProblem. But surely I’m not alone.

So here’s my confession: I’m having a hard time with Christmas this year.

We’ve written in the past about how to keep Christmas clutter-free. We also know that this season is more about giving to others than anything else – experiencing that joy with our kids, when they finally reach the age where they get that they can be on the other end of things. That THEY can be the ones perpetuating the holiday spirit through giving their own time, talents, and gifts to others that are lonely or less fortunate.

Too Many Presents

Ultimately? My kids really want for nothing. They have enough clothes to wear, a warm spacious roof over their heads, love & laughter, LEGOS for miles, a dog at their heels, books & video games at their disposal. Stuffed animals multiply like vermin. We have FOUR basketballs, and board games we’ve only played once. We are so fortunate to be able to provide these things, but I worry about having too many Christmas presents.

So what’s a mom to do with more? How do I reconcile childhood Christmas magic without perpetuating a sense of entitlement, however innocent that may be? I don’t want to be a Scrooge, but I just can’t get over how quickly it all starts to pile up, and how so many kids never even come close to having all the things we have.

We need a Christmas moderation check at my house.

Something They Want, Something They Need, Something to Wear, Something to Read

In looking into what other families do, this approach shows a lot of promise. Everyone wins here – kids, parents, and teachers. Growing kids can always use a pair of jeans or shoes, and books are my favorite thing to give – here’s a great book list. Planning gift-giving around this motto still leaves wiggle room for that one big thing the kids REALLY want, and one thing you think they will use the most.

Something they want. Something they need.Something to wear.Something to read.

See Also

Three Gifts Were Good Enough for Baby Jesus

Another popular sentiment, especially here in the South. Now I don’t recommend gold, frankincense and myrrh, but applying an internal limit to three gifts per child seems perfectly reasonable to me. Of course, this rule doesn’t need to include grandmas and grandpas. Good luck keeping them in check.


I can’t be the only parent concerned about a blessing of riches this year. We hope to be very thoughtful about giving experiences rather than things, and utilizing one of the processes above when it comes to giving gifts to our kids. But I want to hear from you – do you have any ideas to share? What has worked for your family?

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Editor’s Note: This article was originally published December 2015 and has been updated. 


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