What Should I Do About These Christmas Lists? My Kids Are Spoiled!

Updated on December 03, 2013
J.J. asks from Bethlehem, PA
33 answers

So every year my kids ask santa for a gift. I think last year my daughter asked for two gifts. So this year comes, and my daughter who is now 8 years old, writes a list of 20 items, and states she is going to just hand the list to Santa to make it easier than trying to tell him everything she wants. So i had to explain that Santa is not going to bring her all 20 toys. That she may not get all of them, that Santa will bring some and that Mommy will get some, and that other relatives may get things off her list. My 6 year old also wrote his list to hand to Santa when we go see him. I know my Mom buys the kids way too many toys, and we have more toys than we could ever need and more than we want to be honest(and i know I am at fault for letting them keep so many). I am trying to get the kids to go through and downsize because I know Christmas is coming. And they are having a hard time. They don't want to let go of anything. My daughter actually has gotten rid of a few toys, but my son literally plays with everything tho it may take a few weeks for him to get through it all. So he has an even harder time downsizing. So how can I handle these crazy lists, and my children's greed and work to change their attitudes?

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answers from Norfolk on

Lists that are too big just confuse Santa and his elves - tell them Santa will pick one item from each of their lists but it would be easier if they just tell him about one special thing they'd like.
A distant relative several years ago got fed up with his kids 'gimme, get me, buy me' demands for Christmas.
He put his foot down and each child got precisely one gift each - period.
He wouldn't even allow other family members to give gifts to the kids.
There was a lot of crying that Christmas morning but the attitude stopped.
Honestly a lot of family members thought that was a bit over the top and kind of cruel but it worked.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Iowa City on

Re: downsizing: I give my girls the option of choosing what toys they want to send to Goodwill and tell them that if they do not pick something then I will choose for them. Then I go through the toy box from time to time when they are in bed or school and just donate the things they have outgrown or that they haven't played with in quite some time. They don't miss the items.

I see nothing wrong with making a list as long as the child knows that it is a list of things they would like to receive but that there are no guarantees that they will get the things on the list. At 8 and 6, I think they can easily understand this. On Christmas morning they will probably be so excited about what they did get that they won't even think but I had 20 things on my list and I only got 5 of them.

We do one gift from Santa and then we get the girls a few gifts (this year I think they have a total of 6 gifts each and then 3 or so gifts for them to share). We also get them things they need, not just things they want (snow boots, for instance). We have also made it clear to the grandparents that we would appreciate if they would keep the gifts to one large gift for the girls to share (last year my parents got them a play kitchen), or one reasonably priced gift for each child (this year my parents got one granddaughter a "Bucky" pirate ship and the other granddaughter some hand puppets), or a few small gifts. They are happy to comply.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

I tell my DD that a wish list is just wishes. It isn't a gimmie list. She is 5. I expect that there will be some ebb and flow of what she wants and she can "want" a pony, but she's not getting one other than the My Little kind. Her list is long, but I let her dream. I just remind her of reality.

If they have too many "things" then suggest to the extended family things like gifts of time or experiences. Take the kid out with Grandma, just the two of them, to do something like see a movie or go to a park. If either child is in an activity or would like to take an extra class, ask one of the relatives to sponsor that (or part of it) in lieu of another Barbie. Or things that can be used and replenished, like bath products or craft/art supplies.

Something I do with DD is give a toy to someone we know who is of that age range or put things away for a bit. If she forgets about them, then we donate them. Or we might rotate out the stuff in the attic when we get down the season

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answers from Seattle on

I don't believe a wishlist is greedy.

It's a wish list.
Things they want.
Not things they expect.

My family does wish lists.
Each is generally 25-50 items.
Cost ranges between $5 & $5million (no lie, it's a wish list, one DOES find a yacht or similar on them from time to time)
In general they bell curve. About 1/3 under $20, about 1/3 in the $50 range, and about 1/3 in the $100 range. With the occasional $1 and Multimillion dollar outliers.

We generally get 3 or 4 items off of it.
No one is disappointed at not getting everything on it.

Because its a wish list.
Not an expectation list.

16 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

Sorry, J., you're kids are spoiled because you spoil them and allow the behavior. Do you say "NO" to them? Do you tell them this is a WISH LIST and NOT everything you are going to get? Is that how it's been in the past?

How about trying this...

1 present they WANT
1 present they NEED
1 present they WEAR and
1 present they READ

Period. end of story. Why do you have to shower them with gifts? Why does it have to be overboard? It took us several years before my mother in law died to get her to STOP with the overload. Set the rules. Set the boundaries.

Tell your kids - no better yet - SHOW YOUR KIDS what Christmas is about...it's NOT about getting 100's of gifts...it's about celebrating the birth of Christ. There were Three Kings that brought gifts...why do they need more than that?

How can you change it? You can STOP indulging them. STOP giving them all that they ask for.

Tell them EXACTLY how it will be. Let them throw a tantrum. Then you can take them to a shelter and show them just how good they have it. They DO NOT NEED MORE...

If your son plays with all of his toys? Put them in storage boxes and rotate them. As he outgrows them, DONATE them to a shelter. Have him take the box in and share it with the kids in the shelter who have NOTHING.

My kids get 4 gifts from us. That's IT. My mom is dead and my dad is trying to survive his first Thanksgiving and Christmas without his wife of 56 years. I doubt my father will make it to the store to buy anything. My father in law died this year as well. They get presents from my sister and my husband's sisters. One each - as that's the rule we set. My brother doesn't send gifts - which is fine by us!! HE calls and they have a joyful conversation with lots of laughter...heck my oldest son and my brother play chess over the phone....better than anything you can buy!

The only way this is going to change is if YOU stop it. STOP going overboard. STOP excessive giving. Use the KISS method and try the list above - 1 that they NEED, 1 that they WANT, 1 that they WEAR and 1 that they READ....then find a food kitchen that you can volunteer in...show them MORE to life than gifts...

Hope this helps!

15 moms found this helpful


answers from Amarillo on

When my kids were the ages of yours there were wishbooks from the stores. I would give each kid a different colored crayon and let them have at it to color what they wanted. After they had gone to bed hubby and I would go over the list and decide what they would get. When Christmas came they were happy to get what they go as they did not know what it would be.

We would make up a budget and they kids got things that fit the budget and sometimes they were the big things and sometimes they weren't. My son always complained that sister got more than he. But he always wanted something bigger that cost most of the budget.

So do what you can for your children but don't go into debt over buying things that they really don't need.

Have a happy holiday season.

the other S.

PS Clean out the toy box when they are not around. Put some things up and donate the rest.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

Times changed. Years ago no one talked about having their children let their toys go, while they were still enjoying playing with them. We do that now because we have no room for all the stuff we and our friends and relatives give them. While we can't control anyone else, there is no need for us to give too much. Just my reflections on the craziness of today's society. The power is ours, we just need to take it, and stop buying!

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Honolulu on

"B" below has a good down to the point answer.

Also tell them that Santa, will think they are "greedy" if they ask for too many things.
Tell them he goes according to the parents too.
Tell them, that they need to this year, also.... "donate" to charitable Christmas time organizations, so other kids who are less fortunate, will have a nice Christmas too. Your kids may say "well Santa will be giving them things..." but the answer to that is, that Santa is not the only one in the whole world, who cares. They need to care about it too. Santa, knows who has a gracious heart or not.
It is not a gimme gimme attitude that Santa looks for.

Some kids think that Santa will get them everything on their "list."
Other kids, do not. It depends on what your kids think or what you tell them about the "list."

Also, I have mailed to my kids, a Santa letter. From 'Kids Believe Letters."
They have good service and a great quality "letter" and it is not expensive. So I order from them every year.
You can CHOOSE the letter you want. You might want to choose one for your kids that speaks about "attitude."
And they will mail it to your kids on the date you specify upon ordering.
I ordered mine for my kids already. It will come soon.
My kids love their "special" letter from "Santa."

5 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

Just remind them their list can be as long as they want it to be but that's only a "wish" list, and they will continue to get X amount of toys (whatever they usually get.)
In our house, Santa filled the stockings and left one (usually special) gift, like a new bike or dollhouse. Beyond that there were a handful from us and a few from the extended family.
I also didn't give my kids a choice when it was time to get rid of things, I would say, either YOU fill this box/bag or I will.
It's hard to be the "meanie" grown up sometimes but if we didn't do it our kids WOULD be spoiled, wouldn't they?

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

Lists are just ideas of things kids want. You just need to say Santa Ana the rest of us will look at your list to get some ideas. There was a great article I read. The mom and dad told the kids that their list should have 4 things on it

Something you want
Something you need
Something to wear
Something to read

And then stick to it.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

My kids can wish and hope for the stars and moon. But we only send in our top three choices to Santa. We don't want to confuse Santa or the elves.

It also helps that we have used emailsanta.com for years. And when you fill out the info for Santa...there are only three spots to fill in for your wish list.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Sacramento on

Everyone has probably already said this, but just because kids wish for something or make a want list doesn't mean they get everything on it. Goodness... my kids' lists change daily, so if I got any of the original stuff they wanted I'd be out of date! So just tell them that... you can wish for whatever you want, but you probably won't get everything you ask for. And for things like puppies and ponies, Santa checks with Moms and Dads about these items.

For the toys, I'd pack up the things that you don't see them playing with when they aren't around and donate them. It's wonderful when the kids can be part of downsizing but most often what happened is that things that have been buried for months suddenly become like new again and they want to keep them. Keep the stuff that they love or that is developmentally appropriate.

At 8 and 6 kids still want everything. You can volunteer at some shelters or soup kitchens so that they can see first hand how much they have and how little others do. Or you can sponsor child who asks for things like soap and gloves for Christmas because they'd rather have those things than toys.

Some people also hold gifts back and save them for birthdays or some other occasion. How many times has your kid opened 2 presents and didn't really care about the rest...?

4 moms found this helpful


answers from San Diego on

A wish list is just that, a wish. A "these are some nice ideas" list. A suggestion list. It is not a you are going to get each and everything you put on it list. My kids know that, we've been telling them from day 1. When we go shopping and they see something they like and point it out they know it is a suggestion, not a given.
Growing up that is how it was with me as well. I never got every single item I put on my list. Sometimes I would get say the Barbie townhome instead of the Dream house because my parents couldn't/didn't want to spend the higher amount (of course I didn't know it was my parents at the time).
We've taught the kids that Santa will not buy something that is against house rules. If mom and dad said no then it's no from Santa too. We've taught them that he picks the best things off the list that he knows they will love the most. Santa knows best what's good and what's made to sound good from commercials that are intentionally lying to you in order to make you buy it and make them money. Santa will also look and might find something that's not on the list that he knows they will love or love better than what's on the list.
I really am not sure where this attitude came that you have to fulfill that Santa wish list to a T and if you don't you ruin Christmas for everyone. Kids will understand if you explain it to them.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

A list is a list. Instead of focusing on that, I'd work on imparting reality.

In our house, my son is told (quite a lot during the holidays) "it's okay to make a list, but Santa is going to bring you what *he* wants to give you. So, it may be something on the list, or not."

Your kids are still young. I can remember being that age and wanting a lot of things. Some things we do strategically as parents in my house is to put catalogs directly in the recycling and we don't watch commercial tv while Kiddo is awake. (It's junk tv anyway.) This way, he has a more limited idea of what's out there. And we have always told him that a gift is what OTHER PEOPLE want to give him, not necessarily what HE wants.

Regarding downsizing, I will say this-- I found that it's easier to observe the children and see what they aren't playing with, then silently find a new home for it. When we start asking "do you still want...?" it's an opportunity for them to say "yes!" and still cling to an item which we might have surreptitiously passed along.

Don't worry too much about this right now, though. They are young, they believe (like naive young people) that they should have everything they want and lots of it. Think about all of the adults you might know who have a hard time denying themselves items they want... it's so much harder as a kid to understand the big picture of the world and how fortunate they are. I'd say, do what feels right for Christmas and let them experience some disappointment if it comes up. Our "santa" (when I was a kid) usually brought a Newberry's type Barbie knock-off, some pencils, peanuts, an orange and a mini Whitman's sampler. It was enough..

And be sure to have them write their thank you notes in the days after Christmas, too.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

Half the fun of Christmas is making the long wish list of toys you want. I remember the Sears Christmas catalogue arriving and how me and my brother would go through every page 20 times circling what we wanted to show our mom. It was a blast!!!!

On the flip side.....we didn't get everything we circled. And we weren't disappointed. You don't have to (nor should you) buy them everything they ask for. Have them pick 4 or 5 of the things they want most and get 2 or 3 of those. Slow them down now to avoid children who feel entitled. Plus if other people buy them toys too....why is it necessary to buy them more and more? And realistically they will play with 1or 2 favorite toys and let the others sit.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Anchorage on

I don't give my children a choice about getting rid of toys. Every year we go through all their toys (I help every step of the way) and we donate many toys. They understand that not every child gets a bunch of new stuff for Yule and that it is important to give back. We also take food to the homeless shelter. My kids also know they only get a few gifts, that Yule is about family and celebrating the Solstice and the coming spring, not about how many gifts they can get. Make sure your kids understand the reasons you celebrate and cut back on the commercial aspect.

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answers from Atlanta on

I only let me kids ask for one thing from Santa. Santa has to make toys for all those boys and girls and only has the resources to give each child one gift in our house. Then they also make wish lists for the rest of the family.

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answers from Detroit on

I think "spoiled" is more in attitude than in what kids have. My kids sound similar to your in that we have what seems like a lot of "stuff', but they really do enjoy it.

I was out shopping today and told my hubby that it is both hard and easy to shop for our kids. Easy, because they are so easy to please and enjoy just about anything. Hard, because they DO enjoy everything so it is easy to go overboard because I see so many things that they would have fun with!

It also makes it hard to downsize. My son sold things at a mom2mom sale with me. That helped him want to get rid of stuff. I have a hard time because I have an almost 10 year old and a 2 1/2 year old, so I feel like I should save his stuff until she is old enough for it. My son DID also enjoy picking out toys to donate for kids that didn't have toys. Maybe your son would like it worded that way. Make sure he understands that they will be gone forever though. My son (when he was younger) was putting a bunch of his favorites in because he thought that it was for the kids to play with, but didn't understand that he wouldn't be getting them back. We helped him out with the ones that we knew he really loved and the ones that he wouldn't really miss.

My son's list is a wish list. I told him that it is nice for us to have some choices, but he won't get everything on it. Santa has always left him a letter that says "some things I left are from your list and others are surprises I thought you would like!". My daughter is fairly clueless at this point. She just says she is asking Santa for animals. I am hoping some plastic dinosaurs or safari animals will suffice!

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answers from Chicago on

Our kids were told that Santa brings one gift to each of them. I have also been letting them know since this summer that they will only get one thing from mommy and daddy that is no more than $100. We told them that we will go to a hotel for two days and swim and have fun.

We don't have much extended family so they get 5 other gifts apart from Santa and us. We don't want to overindulge and make spoiled brats. I have been asking my girls what they want for a couple weeks now and they are having a hard time coming up with even one thing.

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answers from Lakeland on

Just because they gave you a long list doesn't mean you have to get everything on it. And I don't think that makes them spoiled. You may want to ask your in laws and parents to not get so much too if that is a concern of yours, I had to do that with some of my family.

I will suggest that you pack up some of their toys and rotate them or donate them once they don't realize they are packed away. I usually have my daughter go through her toys right before her birthday and Christmas and we donate them (we have been doing it since she was 4). I always remind her that not all kids have what she does and as long as they are in good shape other kids would love them too.

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answers from Colorado Springs on

It's not unusual for children to go through this sort of "gimme" stage. Sometimes it's just for a while. Sometimes it lasts until they're 60. In any case, they're part of the society they live in, which is quite a materialistic one, so there's nothing to be surprised about.

I know you're venting, but you don't really want to stick a "spoiled" label on your children. Spoiled, bad fruit is thrown away! You don't want to give up on your kids as a bad job.

You can tell them, "Nobody gets every Christmas present he/she wants. Nobody in the world. You won't either. Think about that now, so you'll be happy with what you DO get at Christmas. Now, we're going to go through your things and you can pick out some of your toys for children who won't get any presents from their parents (or Santa). Did you know there are some children who get nothing? [This is where to read them information you get online from a charitable organization about poor children.]

"This is not something you can decide about. It's going to be a regular thing with our family from now on - to pass some of our toys and other things on to other people who don't have much." Then do that sort of downsizing on a regular basis. Your kids may fuss for a while (you would, too, if you were a kid), but they'll get the idea sooner or later.

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answers from Oklahoma City on

Tell the kids if they have more than 1 big gift or 2 small inexpensive gifts on their Santa list he'll only bring them coal.

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answers from Houston on

At our house santa brings one gift to each child(since he has so many other kids), they get to ask him for one thing. Also a wish list is not a guarantee list. I tell my kids 6,5,2 that they really need to think about what they really want because they will only get a few things. They get plenty to open but not an excessive amount and they really appreciate it.

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answers from Phoenix on

My kiddos are the first grandkids for my parents and the first kids on my husband's side in 15 years, so they receive many, many gifts at the holidays. Santa brings them one gift each and fills their stockings. They ask Santa for the one special thing that they want more than anything. My older son decided to ask for a Nightcrawler action figure, because those can be hard to find. Cost-wise, they are under $20- it is about getting something special, not just a "big" gift from Santa. We tell them that Santa needs to give presents to millions of kids, and if they get two that means another child won't get one. My older son's birthday is mid-November, and we always go through his birthday gifts and donate several to children at the local child crisis center for the holidays.
I would personally have each child pick one thing to ask Santa for and then take them shopping for one thing off their list that they will then donate to a child in need. Then pass around the rest of the list to friends and family. Don't make it a negative, just tell them how lucky they are to be able to ask for 20 things and expect to receive them, when there are children out there with nothing. Then help them do something to make those other kids happy. If they can't do that and feel good about it...then they are spoiled brats who need a stronger lesson like the one below. But I bet they are just used to getting showered in gifts like my kids and will be happy to help out another kid!

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answers from San Francisco on

There is a difference between "toys you want" and "toys you EXPECT to get." They are writing their "wish list." They can wish for as many or as few as they are interested in, but that doesn't mean they really think they will get it all. There's nothing wrong with wishing for something that you're not going to get - people, including adults - do that all the time and it doesn't make us greedy.

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answers from San Francisco on

Just set the expectations straight from the beginning. Make it clear that they will not get everything on their list. Have them pick 2 - 3 that they want most of all and, if you find them reasonable, have Santa bring one and you can get the others. Say that Santa only brings one gift for every child, even when kids ask him for more.

If other family or friends ask what they want, you can give them other suggestions from the list. Otherwise, hang on to the list and maybe you'll have some good ideas when their birthdays roll around.

My kids have tons of toys too. We do Christmas and Hanukkah at our house, so we are getting lots more. But, I tried hard to get things that aren't toys this year too. My kids are getting sleeping bags, my daughter is getting her name spelled out in wooden letters for her room, lots of books, and some art supplies. They'll get toys too, but plenty of the gifts will be other stuff so we're not quite as overrun with toys.

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answers from Boca Raton on

sit them down and ask them to list 3 things they really want. tell them santa only bring 1-2 gifts. tell them there are a million other kids waiting for gifts from santa so he can do only so much.
my kids list was a bit on the shocking side this year. i told them they may or may not get all, half or any. they will be happy with whatever they get.

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answers from Washington DC on

I tell my daughter we get rid of old toys to make room for new ones. If we keep the old ones, Santa won't bring any new ones. We give the old toys to kids who's mom and dad can't afford to buy them lots of toys. As for Santa, Santa has a budget. If Santa buys my daughter everything she wants, then some other kids won't be able to get presents because Santa won't have enough money. Also, elves makes some toys, but Santa goes to Toys R Us after the close so no one can see him and buys all the toys for all the kids.

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answers from Washington DC on

I tell my dd she can ask Santa for one think (usually it's something special). I tell her that Santa doesn't like it when kids get greedy.

As far as the old toys, we started sell all of the old toy sets on craigslist. I let my dd have the money. It's really motivated her to get rid of a lot of stuff. She made enough money to buy 4 American girl dolls.

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answers from Evansville on

I have the same issues... my two boys (ages 2 and 5) have EVERYTHING! or so it seems... they love imiginary play and I encourage them to play with toys. Instead of video games, TV, etc. In my opinion, get what you can afford that you know they will want, play with, and appreciate. I typically go overboard because I love buying and giving. But I have learned to pick more selective toys (even more expensive items) because those are the things that they will play with more than once and they will last. I stopped buying things just because they want it from seeing one commercial or it is on sale!! They only believe in Santa for a few years (which feels like a second) so I am lvinng it up while they do! After a certain age, reality sits in, they will understand the constrainsts of a budget, etc. and they can be more 'realistic'. But until then... I will fully embrace the wish, the wonder, and the magic of Christmas!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Houston on

Schedule a yard sale in summer and get rid of unwanted toys. While donating them to Goodwill sounds charitable, I think it would be a better lesson for the kids to sell what they have and use the money to buy additional items that were not given from their wish lists.

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answers from Los Angeles on

Your 8 year old still believe in santa? I think that is wonderful! I feel like kids should stay innoscent and enjoy their child hood for as long as possible because they grow up so fast. Unfortunately last year we decided to tell our 7 and 9 year old that there wasnt a santa for 2 reasons. First one was that they would come home upset because they had been arguing with the kids on the bus about rather santa was real or not. Second reason was that they had began to write these ridiculous lists. Everything on the lists were $50 and up! I felt so awful for telling them but I didnt want them to get picked on at school and I didnt want them to be angry at santa for not getting her things on her list. Of course they were devastated but this year their lists are actually doable. They also happily gave aeay some of their toys after I explained to them how some kids arent fortunate enough to get toys on christmas.

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answers from Dallas on

I used to encourage my kids to make a list of what they wanted for Christmas so I could get some ideas of what they thought they wanted or were interested in. We tried to pick out a few items on the lists or prepare them in advance that they would not be getting a "puppy" or an "autographed piece of sports memorabilia. I am just unpacking Christmas decorations and found a folder of old Christmas lists that my kids had done years ago. I have saved those lists and we all get a good laugh over the holidays of what they wanted at certain points in their lives. Good memories discussing what they got and what they didn't. We usually pick out a few Angel Tree requests each year. When the kids were young, I let them shop for their angel and they got a pretty good idea that the only presents these kids would be getting were the presents we were providing.

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