The eternal problem of getting gifts wrong

sb10069978x-001Christmas is coming. There’s no use pretending it isn’t, and I apologise if you think I’ve just used a dirty word, but parents everywhere are already being given hints by their kids as to what they might be asking Santa for.

These little tips at this early stage can be a blessing and a curse in equal measure. On one hand you can listen to these tips, take them seriously, get ahead of the buying frenzy and be sure that Santa will be set to provide. However, on the other hand there’s the problem of timing: Is it too soon? Will they change their mind? Will something better come along between now and Christmas?

I’ve been experiencing this struggle, with growing trepidation, for about four or five years now (the first couple don’t count, they’re too young to really have a preference). In that time we’ve (fingers crossed) yet to make a mistake, though we have had a couple of close calls. The key thing for us was to make sure that the Santa letter was written before any purchases were made, that way we can hold the children to their list. That may sound a bit mean but Logan especially is becoming quite familiar with the finality of his list.

But what do parents do when their child, for one reason or another, finds it particularly hard to deal with that kind of finality? I’m genuinely intrigued by this, of all the parenting juggling acts that seem necessary for parents this is, by far, one of the most potentially stressful. How do you ensure you get exactly the right thing for Christmas day whilst preserving the magic for your child?

Also how do buying habits differ for parents of children with developmental delays, I may be wrong but given the delay in development I imagine there is a longer period in which you risk being caught out. In cases like this even greater tact and creativity must surely be in order. There is one woman I know of who is in her twenties and still believes, and I have nothing but admiration for her entire family (especially her siblings) for their ability to keep the magic alive for her through such a long stretch.

I’d love to hear any special tricks or techniques any parents/carers may have come up with to figure out the right gift, buy it before they’re sold out, and ensure that their child doesn’t take a huge u-turn on their chosen gift come Christmas day. Any and all comments are very welcome (and feel free to pop over to twitter to talk about it too). Thanks, as always, for reading, Cheers, John


4 comments on “The eternal problem of getting gifts wrong

  1. ksbeth says:

    my kids have always changed their minds all the way up to the big day. the worst was when my middle daughter ran into santa on christmas eve, (we had already been to visit him earlier and she shared her list), and she changed her mind and said she now wanted a cabbage patch doll. that was the year of the insane cabbage patch frenzy )


  2. John B says:

    I’m in my forties now, but, as an adult, I have gained a fresh appreciation of my parents wily ways.

    They always told me and my siblings several things, which all fit neatly together. They said that Santa is busy, so he needs help. One way could help would be to write our letters early and get them to him – he get’s lots of post at that time of year.

    He would then receive them, check to see that we deserved what we’d asked for, and then send the letters back to my parents – because one of the ways they could help him would be for them to go and buy the presents. They would then post all the gifts to him, ready for him to deliver on Christmas Eve.

    It all sounds complicated, but, as I say, it all falls in to place now: 1) they got the letter early enough to buy the items, and we understood why the list was final (although there were always extra unasked-for gifts; 2) we appreciated that the gifts didn’t grow on trees and that they were paid for by our parents out of real money; and 3) we never went looking for the presents hidden in the house – what would have been the point? Santa was looking after them in his warehouse!

    It’s a system that always worked, and it walked the fine line between magic and reality.


    • To be honest, I think my parents used a similar tactic but there seems to be a big trend now to tell kids that the elves make everything. I admit it does add an extra element of magic but can be exhausting to keep up with 😛 I see a whole range of ideas and stories bandied about in the shop though 🙂


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