Last Updated on December 6, 2018

“Is that all?” my son asked a little disappointed.

What? I wanted to say, “How can you be so ungrateful? Look at all these things you’ve received. You’ve had three Christmases in two days.”

I didn’t.

I said, “Tell everyone ‘Thank you’ and give them a hug.”

We had just finished up our crazy Christmas celebration, which included taking our children (the only grandchildren) to three houses on Christmas Eve and Christmas day to celebrate with each set of grandparents.

As my husband and I discussed what happened as we made the eight-hour drive home we concluded two things.

The first one was that we need to spread out the Christmas visiting over more than two days to give the children time to actually enjoy their gifts from each home.

And the second was that there’s a line in giving when the receiver no longer feels grateful but feels entitled. That line is different for different people but I believe that the younger the child is the sooner that line comes.

Since then we’ve tried hard not to cross that line and to not let others cross that line. We asked relatives to limit their gifts to just a couple per child. Some did, some didn’t and that’s okay–we didn’t make a big deal about it.

For a while we didn’t get our children Christmas gifts at all. I know that sounds harsh but they were getting so much already and we celebrate their birthdays really well. I think it helped establish that Christmas isn’t about us it’s about Christ.

When we decided to start giving our children gifts, sometimes we’ve done large family gifts like a trampoline. Some times we’ve done small family gifts like The Chronicles of Narnia audio or Adventures in Odyssey audios.

This year we’re giving individual gifts. We don’t have any hard and fast rules, we just take each year as it comes. But one thing has stayed constant, my children would prefer just a couple of meaningful gifts than a truckload of stuff.

We also don’t have them make wish lists. Throughout the year we just tried to be observant about what they like and would want. This has gotten trickier as they’ve gotten older.

One thing that has happened because of this is that my children like to be surprised. They are really hesitant to tell us exactly what they want for fear that that will be the only things they get. They see the value in someone giving them a gift that they didn’t even know existed.

There’s this crazy balance kind of like a bell curve where if you don’t give your children enough they feel disappointed. But I think they feel that same disappointment when we give them too much. I want to encourage you to slow down this season and think and pray about where you are on this curve.

I ask myself these questions regularly: Is my family where I want us to be? Are my children grateful for the gifts they receive or do they feel entitled to them? Am I grateful or do you feel entitled? What do we need to change and what do we need to keep to be the family that God wants us to be?

Hi Friends, I’m Angi Schneider. I’m married to Carl and we have 6 children ranging in age from 18 to 3. I spend most of my day homeschooling, crafting, gardening, playing chauffeur, keeping chickens and trying to learn how to take better pictures. I blog about these adventures (and misadventures) at

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  1. I totally agree! Teaching your kids that Christmas is about Christ and not mass amounts of gifts from everyone you know is the best thing a parent could do for their child! Kudos!

  2. Loved this post! Thank you for the further encouragement I needed not to “over give” this Christmas.

    1. I’m so glad this gave you encouragment, Kelcie. Even after all these years (16 to be exact) it’s still hard to keep that balance this time of year. Have a Merry Christmas!

  3. This made me feel a lot better about Christmas this year. We have 2 kids now, and one is 8 months, and I felt so bad because we got more for her older brother than her and he didn’t even get as much as he usually gets because we were kind of stretched on money this year. But now, I feel a lot better. You are right, it’s not about how many or what they get. It’s about the reason for the season, Jesus and about the thought of the gift. They don’t need a bunch of junk. But I am still trying to figure out how to get my son to be thankful for what he has gotten. He seems to be getting worse, instead of being thankful for the gift he gets, he says awww but I wanted….or he will say what else. Asking for more…it’s frustrating because I didn’t raise him to be like that.

    1. (((Hugs))) oh, Heather, don’t let the world steal your joy of this season. Raising children who are grateful and content is a journey and what we do for Christmas is just one small part of that journey. As you continue to seek God, I’m confident that He will show you just what your son needs in order to develop this aspect of his character.

  4. I enjoyed your coments. I to am a mother of 3 adults, foster mom to two, adopted mom to 4 ( 2 God has called 2 of our boys back home with him) and grammy to 11. Our childrens ages are 41 to 3. Our foster children are 43 and 40 (special needs and with us since 1984 and 1993), and our grand babies are 17 to 1. God has so richly blessed us, the old saying “if it looks to good to be true it isn’t does not applky to us.

    1. Wow! What an amazing legacy you’re leaving!

  5. Thank you Angi for sharing your thoughts and traditions!
    I echo them completely and I was pleasantly surprise to read your post, for I thought the “wish lists” were a norm in this society…
    I, too, have “banned” wish lists for all the reasons you have listed.
    I also have been explaining to all my girls (ages from 20 to 2 year old twins) that putting an effort into getting to know someone and relaying that in a form of a gift is sacrificial love and so much more appreciated than checking off a list.
    And like you said, they see the value in receiving something they had no idea existed 🙂
    It also helps to steer away from focusing on their “wants”.
    This was so refreshing to read!
    Thank you!

    1. Thank you for those kind words, Kasia! I love how you’re explaing gift giving to your girls. They are very fortuate to have you as a mom!