I'm not talking about kids who have everything they could possibly desire. I'm thinking about kids who have been raised to have modest expectations, whose basic needs are met comfortably, and who have plenty of fun, basic stuff to play with.
I have worked so hard to simplify our possessions and expectations. I don't want to add useless stuff to our clutter.
We have a pretty scaled-down Christmas, but I always make sure there are things to open under the tree. Santa brings unlabeled gifts that are for the whole family to enjoy, and occasionally a gift where there is one identical or comparable thing for each person. Last year everyone got backpacks. This year everyone is getting new pillows and sheets. I like keeping it utilitarian - putting stuff under the tree that we need anyway. I also typically go heavy on books, CDs, art supplies, and something new for the house (this year it's an outdoor thermometer.) And we try to include one new family game. And smaller stuff in stockings (this year it's a book light along with a typical group of food and art consumables).
My DH insisted from the start that we would not have things like toothpaste and underwear in our stockings.
And I also don't believe in hanging onto something for months and months until Christmas if it is needed or would be highly appreciated "now."
So...where does that leave us? We have what we need. I want to give my kids at least one new fun shiny sparkly thing at Christmas, but I don't want to give them something that I know will turn into clutter.
We're not into electronic entertainment - my kids don't use the computer, so no options there.
We have a family's worth of sleds, snowshoes, ice skates, snow-fort-making-supplies.
We have plenty of books, though I always give them more.
I also always give them things like art pencils, blank books, nice coloring books, good sharpeners, erasers. They have nice paints and brushes and paper, crayons, markers, etc. I was thinking of switching to regular pencils and pens as they get older.
They already have personalized backpacks, duffel bags, bookbags, and mugs.
We have been so blessed with hand-me-downs and deep sales that they all already have extra hats/mittens/gloves/etc. They all have nice wool socks already.
None of them collect anything, THANK GOODNESS. (LOL.)
My DH's passion and work is games, and we have a lifetime's worth (no joke - shelves full covering one wall of our office.)
One year I gave them rechargable flashlights, and unfortunately I have to send two back for warranty replacement.
They all have warm down comforters and blankets and sleeping bags, and now will have new pillows and sheets. They all have bathrobes and slippers and warm long johns and sizes of all of those things to grow into.
We severely limit sugar and have other food restrictions, so I can't just throw a bunch of candy at them.
We have umbrellas and musical instruments (and books) and hairbrushes and clocks...LOL.
Craft kits have not historically done well in our house. They become clutter very fast.
We are not into smelly stuff (bath salts, etc), we make our own candles, and I won't let my kids wear makeup, though I suppose we could start getting into lip gloss. We already have body paints. Body glitter?
And other people usually give them something of the "use it and get tired of it" variety.
Anyway, sorry this is so long; I am all set for this year, but I'm already thinking about next year, and I'm at a loss for ideas. I really don't want more STUFF in my home, but I also cherish the tradition of having at least some wrapped things under the tree... We have moved very far from the traditional consumerist American tradition, but I still love the opening-presents thing and the feeling of them getting something "new" (though I do buy some gifts secondhand and regift things, etc.)
I would love to hear your thoughts on this whole situation, as I assume I'm not alone here, and I would also love some ideas for future Christmases...