Monday, 5 December 2011

Making vs Buying Christmas Gifts

This is a sausage nativity scene
that someone made. I think it looks

Christmas is quickly approaching and the kids have been saving their allowances to buy gifts for us (we told them not to worry about buying each other something). We were going to put a limit on it, like $5, so they don’t spend all the money they’ve saved. But this past weekend the boys decided they would rather make something for us instead of buying.

George and I are over the moon about this because we would absolutely LOVE a homemade gift.

But we have a nagging feeling that they made this decision more so they can spend their money on themselves as opposed to thinking of others (they love Dollar store junk toys). This matters to us because we are trying to teach them the value of money, buying gifts for others etc.

Another reason we find their motives suspect is because of the amount of time and energy they’ve spent making the gifts so far. In other words, very little. And the quality leaves a lot to be desired.

This led us to think about a highly controversial article published earlier this year that talked about why “Chinese mothers are superior”. The article talked about a lot of things, but what stands out in our memory is an instance when her child drew her a birthday card but the mother thought she didn’t put enough effort into it so she made them re-do it.

So our dilemma is this: If we think the boys are not putting enough effort into their present, do we tell them to do it again?
If we do, will that risk stifling their creativity?
How involved do we get with the helping?
At what age should kids stop making gifts and start buying gifts?
How much should they spend?

We certainly don’t believe that buying a gift is the right solution. The last thing we are is materialistic. But we’re not sure where to go with this!

Any advice you could give would be greatly appreciated.


OnlyMi said...

Why not sit with each child individually and ask what they want to make for George and why they think that's a great gift for him? George can do the same and see what they want to make for you and why? Then you get the opportunity to skillfully direct the gift choice and see what might be needed in the way of assistance, materials, forethought, etc.
Also, you could let them know that making gifts for someone is a very personal way to show someone how you feel about them without necessarily spending money on them. It's a way to make important memories. So the amount of time deciding and making the gift should match the amount of caring felt for the individual. A gift is about the person receiving it and not the person giving it.
Of course, I'm no parent.... :-)
Since they're making gifts this year, maybe they want to make something for their brothers too.
I can't wait to see what they come up with.

Enzo said...

Not sure how impressive a gift youre expecting little kids to make. My kids make cards and some sort of craft @ school for us. Nothing spectacular but we can see in their faces how happy they are to give them to us which is all we need. If you tell them they didn't put enough effort into it, you best be sure of that. You risk really hurting their feelings and then they will never want to make anything again.
As for the superior Chinese women...I've known many Asians that are now intelligent successful adults BUT @ the expense of a fun memorable childhood. They were too busy doing "extra" work and following a strict set of parental rules.

Robert & George said...

Hey Enzo - we're not expecting anything impressive actually. We just want them to do their best and not rush through it simply to get in done (which is what it feels like they're doing). I understand what you mean about hurting their feelings and we don't want to do that. your thoughts are appreciated! thanks.