I recently stopped showering my daughter with Christmas gifts for financial, emotional and practical reasons and it has been the best decision.
After becoming a single mom, I realized that the holiday season stressed me out more than usual. Despite saving up for a long time and shopping all the sales I could find, I always felt like she never had enough presents and that I failed at giving her the “perfect” Christmas.
The process was emotionally draining and financially compromising for our single-income home. In addition to gift expenses adding up quickly, the cost of paying a babysitter so I could go shopping was an added expense.
One year, after feeling like I failed my daughter yet again and looking at my depleted bank account, I decided that I was done with trying to shower my daughter with gifts. I realized that my daughter usually forgot about all but one toy within the month of my buying them for her and that her most frequent request for the Christmas season was for us to walk around the city to look at all the lights and drink apple cider in Union Square Park together while window shopping the Christmas Village.
My daughter was not asking me to shower her with gifts so much as she was asking me for memories and experiences together. The time I took away from her to go shopping was valuable time we could spend together making a snowman, walking down Fifth Avenue together or visiting the tree at Rockefeller Center.
Since making the decisions to gift experiences more than material things for Christmas, the holidays feel less stressful because I am not standing in lines for hours waiting to buy a toy that my daughter will soon ignore and I’m not starting off the New Year with an empty bank account I’ll be desperately trying to mend for the next year.
I still purchase some presents for her, but have become much better at allowing my family and friends to help me with the gift giving process so my daughter and I can enjoy each other’s company more.