This year might be challenging, but it doesn't mean it can't be magical.
What would the holidays be without stressful, debt-inducing consumerism? (Well, enjoyable for starters.)
By now you've likely felt the effects of a jacked-up global supply chain which has rippled to every corner from the grocery store to the Starbucks drive-through. Between an ongoing pandemic, crazy consumer demand, cargo ship shortages, storms and a lack of workers at every level, prices have sky rocketed and deliveries are as backed up as ever. As expected, those same delays and shortages are projected to affect holiday shopping as well. In turn, the message that's being delivered to parents is: Get your shopping done, and get it done now or you'll be met with empty shelves and a heaping dose of parental guilt for ruining your kids' Christmas.
I'm here to tell you: Stop. It's going to be ok.
Since the dawn of the Cabbage Patch Kid, parents have been whipped into a holiday frenzy to secure the season's hottest toy. We've excused ourselves from the Thanksgiving table to wait in ridiculous lines for Walmart to open the doors at midnight. We've overspent in the name of heaping toys under the tree because that's what it's supposed to look like according to Instagram, right? And for what? Gifts our kids will likely forget about before the snow melts.
This year, most big box stores will be closed on Thanksgiving. Take a page from their book and slow down. Instead of freaking out and panic-buying all your kids' gifts before you've even bought their Halloween costume, here's what you can do instead.
Shop local IRL
Where you spend your money matters. I've worked for small businesses and can tell you every single dollar you spend means something. This holiday season, instead of lining the pockets of retail giants, support your local economy and hard-working business owners by shopping small. If there's a shop you love to pop into while out and about, drop some dollars— otherwise, there's a solid chance it won't be there next year.
Buy fewer toys overall
I promise you, no child needs a mountain of gifts. In fact, research shows kids are happier with fewer toys, and according to a study from the University of Missouri, Columbia, "Children who expect many and expensive gifts can suffer negative social and emotional ramifications that extend well beyond their childhood." As adults, these children are "more prone to credit-card debt, gambling and compulsive shopping, feeding an insatiable hunger for more," predisposing them to addictive behaviors.
Here's a challenge. Name three things you bought last Christmas. Can you? Better yet, can they? Moreover, are any of them still in rotation? Choose a few things (or even just one!) that you know they'll love and everyone will be happier for it. As a bonus, your decluttering time and tearful negotiations can be cut dramatically.
Give experiences instead of things
And, as if we needed another reason to cut back on the toy gifting, researchers have discovered that giving experiences rather than stuff increases gratitude and generosity. Thomas Gilovich, a psychology professor at Cornell University, conducted many studies over many decades and found that happiness is derived from experiences, not things. Gifting experiences, from museum memberships to sporting passes, can give your kids more than just another object for their playroom. More than creating clutter, they create memories, help build skills and provide fun for the entire family. (Need some inspo? Here are some of our favorite experience gifts to give kids instead of toys.)
The bottom line? What your kiddos will remember years from now isn't how many toys you bought them for the holidays. They'll remember the cookie baking and tree trimming. Sledding adventures and holiday movie binges. Your wallet and your sanity will thank you.