holiday parenting pointers

Parenting pointers: Rethinking family holiday giving


Founder of Liz B. Parenting, a parenting consulting practice, Liz Berholz is an educator, speaker and Adler Institute-trained Life and Professional Coach. Liz works with parents of toddlers, tweens and teens by giving families the tools they need to create homes and lives filled with mutual respect, cooperation, connection, responsibility and fun.


The holidays are invariably filled with anticipation and excitement about the type of gifts that will be given and received. But so extreme is the wastefulness that many cities have implemented holiday waste reduction programs to manage all the garbage we create. And research shows that, in the end, all this “stuff” is not what makes us happy. So how do we make the holidays mean more for our family?

Spend on experiences

Research shows that we are in fact happier longer when we spend money on experiences. Vacations abroad to even a day of volunteering with someone you love will help you focus on making lasting memories, which won’t end up in a landfill. Big or small, you will feel like your investment is money well spent.

Presence, not presents

If you do want to have a few presents to unwrap, make them unique – think of things that encourage time together or require co-operation, like books to read out loud together, or board games. Even though we may think spending big bucks on something expensive will be the most appreciated, studies show it’s the small, thoughtful gifts that are appreciated the most.

Don’t spend at all

Wouldn’t it be great to preserve the magic of the holidays without making them about accumulating stuff? Think of this approach as “clutter-prevention”: coupon books for activities your kids can redeem at any time (such as making their favorite meal together), for example, or printing a flyer inviting them to a board game tournament.

Give to receive

Pick a charity to give to together. It doesn’t have to be monetary giving – your time counts, too. When we give to others, it teaches empathy and generosity of spirit. It’s such a gift to teach our kids that giving to others feels good and leads to increased happiness levels (research backs this!).


Of course, this is only learned experientially – so get out and give together. This way you will all share this feeling, and know how awesome it can really be. Happy holidays!

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