At Easter, I might have gotten a little overexcited about the whole gift thing.
I put together a little Easter basket for Ella and, despite my original intentions to keep it pretty small, by the time Easter morning rolled around, the basket was bursting with a stuffed animal, a bottle of bubbles, a box of alphabet cards, crayons, and sunglasses. This in addition to all of the plastic eggs hidden around our apartment filled with candy, hair clips, and stickers.
Not a minimalist holiday at our house, by any stretch of the imagination.
That night, my husband pointed out to me how overwhelmed Ella had seemed by the basket. She wanted to pull one thing out and look at it carefully, but we (er, I) were urging her on to the next item. “Look what else there is! Put that gift down and grab the NEXT one.” Parenting at its finest over here.
We’ve decided that her birthday will not be a repeat of this. We’re going to keep it small, with three gifts (we’re hoping to do the same thing at Christmas too), with one thing to read, one thing to play with, and one thing to wear. We’ll spread them out over the course of the day so she can focus on one gift at a time, and indicate that birthday guests need not bring a present. And, of course, there will be a few extra presents from grandparents as well, I’m sure.
Mainly, I want Ella to see her birthday as a time we celebrate her and how much we love having her in our family, with time spent together, not with presents as the primary event. But I also don’t want to be the parent who deprives my child of happy experiences and good memories – I don’t want her to wonder why all her friends are getting heaps of presents and she’s getting a box of tissues. It can be such a tough balance.
How do you deal with presents for birthdays and holidays for your small children?