What to do if you can’t track down the ‘big Santa present’

December 5, 2017 Published by

We’d all give our children the world if it would fit under the Christmas tree. 

So much so that one in three of us will rely on credit cards to cover the cost of Christmas and many desperate parents will stop at nothing to get this Christmas’s ‘must have’ gift – including paying four times the original price to snap up sold-out toys.

I understand that no parent wants their child to be disappointed on Christmas day. Children might feel left out from their friends or even be upset that Father Christmas thinks they don’t deserve the same presents as their friends. However, toys come and go (especially playground crazes) – so is it really worth being stressed or getting into debt for?

Sometimes as a parent you do have to make these tricky decisions. But I can assure you that a calmer, happier parent will mean much more to your child than any toy.

Children mirror what they see, so think about the adult you want your child to grow up to be. Is it a confident, content adult who values spending time with their family? If so, then having the ‘big Santa present’ will have nothing to do with it – but you, as their most important role model, certainly will.

Step 1: Manage your own expectations

If pricey presents are simply not in your budget, be honest with yourself. Before you can manage your child’s expectations, you need be able to manage your own. A handy little tip for doing this is the ‘Four Gift Rule’, which makes it easier to limit your spending while at the same time, your child doesn’t miss out. One of the four gifts includes  ‘something they want’, which is likely to be the big Santa present – but you can still limit the cost of this by managing your child’s expectations.

Step 2: Manage your child’s expectations

If your child is asking for the latest tablet, and it’s simply not in your budget, they need to know this from the start. With older children, you can sit down and discuss the expense, what you can afford, etc. and offer alternatives that are within reason for your family.

Younger children, however, won’t necessarily understand why Father Christmas can’t just make the toy in his workshop. A good time to manage their requests is when writing letters to Father Christmas. If there are too many gifts on the list, or some aren’t within reach, you can explain that they may not get everything they want because Father Christmas has to give out so many presents – if he carries all of those presents their sleigh might be too heavy for his Reindeer.

You could also take part in activities to help your child realise that Christmas is not about receiving lots of gifts. You could help them put together a charity Christmas shoebox, or help out with the local food bank’s Christmas collection. This is a great opportunity to discuss how much the small things – such as toothbrushes, gloves, and a good meal for Christmas day – will mean to the people receiving them.


Step 3: Spend time, not money

Despite what advertising might have you believe, your child values your full time and attention much higher than ‘that’ Christmas present. It makes them feel important and loved knowing that you are fully focused on them, which is so much more special than anything that could come gift-wrapped.

You could plan a frosty winter walk, play a favourite board game, have a festive movie night in your onesies, or get creative with some Christmas crafts. By making a big deal out of simply enjoying each other’s company, you can give the family something to look forward to that’s better than new toys. Presence, not presents!

Of course, this is easier said than done, so we’ll leave you with this little quote to ponder:

“And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow, stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so? It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled ’till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.” – Dr Seuss, How the Grinch Stole Christmas!

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This post was written by Claire Gillies

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