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To Give or Not to Give: Showing My Kids the Real Meaning of Christmas

This is the time of year I start stock-piling gifts for my children in a secret corner of my closet. I love shopping for the Christmas wish list items they’ve dreamed of all year! At the same time, I question my choice to answer all their requests and get them all of the gifts they’ve been coveting because I know they don’t need another stuffed animal or another Lego set. I struggle with the best way to make Christmas magical while not going overboard. They LOVE and have become accustomed to the much-anticipated gifts; however, I’d rather plan more family activities and charitable giving instead. Every year I struggle: To give or not to give. 

Or more accurately, I think most moms struggle with “how much is too much?”

In a study done by Parenting and TODAY Moms, “Moms reported they planned to spend an average of $271 per child, with one in 10 saying they’ll shell out upwards of $500 on gifts for each child.” I think we often don’t want to disappoint them or keep the dream of Santa alive, so we work to get them everything on their lists!

Here are some ways I’m working to help continue to make the holidays happy, but redirect my kids’ focus and energies to other more fulfilling things:


We are scheduled to hand out food to the homeless in December, so that they can help folks less fortunate than themselves.  In addition, we are “adopting a family” at my workplace, and so I’ll have the kids pick out some of their favorite gifts to give to other children this holiday.


This year, I will give my kids a cute “Santa’s Workshop Request Form” with only five spaces, so they have to really put some thought into what they’d like to receive. This will also limit the level of expectation in receiving everything on their lists!


To make room for the five new gifts they may receive at Christmas, we will spend a Saturday selecting five older items in each of their rooms to donate to charity. I admit that I’ve tried this tactic before with limited success. The kids are understandably unmotivated and reluctant.

When I get stuck on something, I try to find a book that will help educate me through the challenge. I’ll do the same this year with my kids by “prepping them” with reading The Berenstain Bears Think of Those in Need together over a fun pancake breakfast! It’s all about mindset, right?

Creating Memories

I often want to hole up and stay inside when the weather turns cold and snowy in Colorado. This year, though, we’re going to make it to the Denver Zoo Lights, a play at Denver Center for the Performing Arts, and a few craft fairs. We’ll make a list of people we want to buy gifts for at the craft fairs rather than buying for ourselves.

One of the gifts they’ll receive is a framed photo collage of all the fun memories we’ve made this holiday season. Hopefully, that will remind them that love is the true meaning of Christmas.

I know many of these things are already in our “toolkits” for a happy holiday season, but listing them out on The We Spot helps hold me accountable for ensuring that they all get done this year!

Kristen Beatty

Kristen is an entrepreneur at heart. She helped start two companies, a marketing consulting agency in Denver and a technology services company in Atlanta. Kristen continues her corporate work in the high tech industry, and has worked as a sales and marketing executive for over 15 years honing her expertise in partner marketing, lead generation and account management. While working full time, she has ventured into various side hustles including event management and network marketing as a creative outlet. Kristen grew up as a nomadic child of an Air Force fighter pilot and an amazing officer’s wife. She gets her wanderlust from having moved eight times, and lived in four countries before the age of 18. She is the mother of two, and loves residing in south Denver near her treasured mommy tribe and college besties. Kristen’s true passion is giving back and spends many volunteer hours supporting the Alzheimer’s Association as a board member, policy advocate and event volunteer.

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