I think getting one big thing for Chirstmas is just fine, not everyting they asked for. I make it pretty clear from when they start talking about the things they want for Christmas, that they might not get it all.
Waiting for something you want is a good lesson too, why not start teaching that lesson with a homemade gift? Maybe you can give them $20 or something and make a cool piggie bank to store it in (or if your kid is crafty, make a homemade paper mache piggie bank crafing kit, like just cut up newspaper and get a ballon in there etc.) And call it the "Fund for stuff I want" crafting kit or piggie bank. So this gift can get them started on saving for that big item they wanted, but you don't have to foot the entire bill yourself. They can save gifts from others and maybe they can do extra chores around the house to save up some money. Hmm I like this idea, I might do it myself.
Don't get stressed out about Christmas, its suppose to be super fun! I love the lights and decorating, the food, its just so fun, especially seeing it through my kids eyes. We spend our month making goodies and cards and sending them off to relatives and friends. Officially most of my family has stopped sending gifts to adults, but we all exchange cards which I love to see everyones faces.
But for the kids, my nieces and nephews, I try to get them a book almost every year. I know I'm the most boring Aunt, but I really don't see books in kids presents so I like to give them something to read that is good. Something I had when I was a child or I have found that my children really enjoy. Although I really like Hayao Miyazaki films, so I might consider getting Ponyo DVD for them or if they come out with a book version, I might get that.
For my own kids, we are sort of lucky with their b-days being in Feb and March, so I can plan for both of these special times at the sametime. For Christmas we do this:
- 1 from santa (something they really want)
- 1 from dad
- 1 from mom (I try to make homemade gifts so they know gifts come in all different ways, last year I made stockings :c). I also added button on the front for each of their xmas's they've had, will add a new one each year)
- 1 from brother/sister (something fun like stamps or stickers, this too is not more than $10, I try to get them to pick it out but make strong suggestions. When they get older I might try to say if they want to get XYZ... than they will have to start contributing over the $10)
- Small things in stockings, not more than $10 usually essentials
Since I am the working parent and the budgeting person in the family, I usually save a little extra and get something for the whole family sitting under the xmas tree, even my DH is surprised. Board games or puzzle, something everybody can enjoy. We actually save each month starting from Jan, so we are pretty aware of what we have to work with by than. I'm serious about xmas. :c)
For birthdays, we do a similar 1 from mom, 1 from dad, and 1 from brother/sister. By the time b-day rolls around, we already know what we want to get them, since we didn't get it form them for xmas.