I used to be a BIG Black Friday Shopper. Like so many other people (pre-early black Friday on the internet!) who ran out on Thanksgiving morning and poured through every page of that giant newspaper. I would carefully circle the items I wanted to buy, compare prices, and make a plan of action. I woke up ridiculously early on Black Friday and braved the crowds to get everything crossed off my Christmas list. I bought a lot of stuff. In the excitement of the day and the excitement of those big sales I often bought a lot more than what I had circled (just like what the stores want us to do!)
THEN EVERYTHING CHANGED
My philosophy on gifts started to change as we added more kids to our family. When child #2 comes around, you start to realize you have one of all of the essentials…blocks, bikes, scooters, legos, etc. So then you start getting a little more individualized. Maybe a toy that goes with their favorite TV show or something they saw on a commercial and started begging for. Then child #3 is born, and suddenly you are drowning in all of the “essentials” combined with those individualized gifts. It was after our third child was a couple years old that I thought “this madness has got to stop!” Because besides US buying gifts for Christmas, Birthdays, etc etc we also had two sets of grandparents who love to spoil, plus presents from friends and other relatives. SO MUCH STUFF! And the worst part was half of it was items bought just for the sake of giving them something, ANYTHING. And my kids had so many toys they were hardly playing with everything!
That was when I started having to really THINK about what I was giving, and often having to get really creative to meet a need without adding, well, junk!
I stopped shopping Black Friday ads because I decided NOT to let the stores tell me what to buy my kids!
Instead of looking through the ads and buying what they were telling me my kids , I made a big effort to REALLY THINK about what my kids would like AND What would help me in encouraging them to become the best person they can be!
I started to practice what I call “Mindful and Purposeful gift giving.”
First, I spend some time really thinking about each child. I try to be really aware of who they are and what they are going through. Some questions I think about are:
- What types of things do I hear them talking about? What shows do they like to watch? What do they post about on social media (if they have an account)?
- Are there any big changes going on in their life right now? (Moving, vacation plans, changing school, start driving, etc. etc)
- What do they choose to do in their extra time?
- What are they doing when they seem the most happy?
- Is there something they are struggling with?
Next, I add in the purposeful element of gift giving, “having a purpose, intentional.”
- Is there something that would help them develop the interests they have shown?
- Is there an interest they have mentioned but haven’t explored? Is there something I think they might enjoy that they haven’t tried?
- Is there something that would help them with any of the big changes in their life?
- Is there something that could help them in their struggle; something that will make things easier for them?
I try to make sure each gift that I purchase has a REASON and a PURPOSE. I want these gifts to be played with for years, not just discarded after a few minutes to never be touched again.
I have seen BIG changes practicing mindful and purposeful gift giving in our home
First, my kids don’t get everything that is on their Christmas list BUT THEY DON’T EVEN NOTICE! I’ve found when I really put effort into buying their gifts they are so excited AND SURPRISED Christmas morning that they don’t even notice or mind that they didn’t get it all.
Second, I have saved a lot of money! No more Black Friday impulse buying! Often the gifts I’ve thought of and researched aren’t even IN the ads, but I save money because I’m thinking of what to buy, not buying what I’m told by the stores!
Now don’t get me wrong…I still look for sales. I try to do my gift brainstorming in October or early November so I can watch for sales online (especially at stores like Amazon with their daily deals!). I often find things on my MINDFUL AND PURPOSEFUL giving list that go on sale and I’m delighted when they do. But taking away the crazy frenzy of Black Friday shopping has saved me money, sleep and time.
Third, we have LESS CLUTTER in our home. I’ve pretty much eliminated any of those toys with a thousand teeny tiny components, things that are bought because they look fun but are then only played with for a few minutes. Mindful and Purposeful gift giving results in toys that are played with LONGER and often with more imagination!
Fourth, my kids are developing talents and still playing with gifts they got last Christmas. I love that!
How to do it
I hope this post doesn’t make anyone feel overwhelmed with the process of choosing better gifts. I’ve been doing it long enough that it is a bit of second nature to me. But to help out I made a simple Gift Brainstorming printable that you can print for free and use to help you come up with gifts. Have your kids do it too, this kind of gift giving is great to start at a young age.
Print this brainstorming sheet off and take a few minutes to think about the recipient. See if any of the questions help you come up with an idea or direction to go for gifts. Please use the search option on my website to look at some of the ideas I’ve already posted! Like these great gifts for active kids, or a quillow for your reader.
Does this make sense? Do you have any questions about Mindful and Purposeful gift giving? Let me know, I’d love to clarify!