Teaching Them to Give

This year, we took a big step with the boys; we let them buy presents for each other! We told them they would each get a turn going to the store with Nick or myself and they would get a certain amount of money to spend buying presents for each other and Lily. If they had enough money they could also buy a gift for the parent that wasn’t with them. The news brought on lots of excited (and loud) chatter from the boys about how awesome this would be!

A little over a week before Christmas I told Jackson he was up first and he could pick who he wanted to take him to Target. He picked me! Score one for the mom! 😉

On the way there he started excitedly talking about how he was going to buy himself a bunch of Hot Wheels.

Uh oh.

I then spent the entire 10 minute trip explaining to him that he wasn’t going to the store to buy things for himself, but for other people. He almost cried at one point because he was so excited about buying more Hot Wheels. Oh dear. I told him various reasons why we give gifts, but this is the one that seemed to stick:

Jackson, when we go to a birthday party, who do we bring a present to?

The birthday kid.

Right, so who’s birthday is Christmas?

Baby Jesus.

Right, and can we give a present to Jesus right now?


Ok, so to celebrate his birthday, we give presents to the people we love, because we can’t just go give Jesus a present. 

Ok! I’ll buy presents for Jesus’ birthday and give them to the brothers and Lily!

Whew. Crisis averted! (Oh, and I also told him the story about how Aunt Laura bought Pop Pop a Pound Puppy when she was a kid. Jackson thought that was hilarious!)

There he is, all done! I expected a lot of agonizing over the perfect gift, but he was actually pretty quick and he even did his momma proud by buying some clearance items. Ha!

What Jackson bought:

For Ty and Chase: ZhuZhu pets that were on clearance

For Lily: Bathtub toys

For Nick: A Magic 8 Ball. (This made me laugh quite a bit!)

What Ty bought: (He shopped with Nick, and took FOREVER according to Nick. Ty was too distracted by all the awesome stuff around him and Nick kept trying to suggest things and Ty would just shoot it down.)

For Jackson: A box of cocoa with marshmallows and a box of Lucky Charms. Yep. The cereal.

For Chase: A box of cocoa with marshmallows and a box of Alphabits. Yep. More cereal. This kid kills me!

For Lily: A toy that suctions to her highchair tray

For me: A Yankee Candle (which I could tell was from the clearance section – go Ty!)

What Chase bought: (Chase also shopped with me and had a hard time picking, mostly because of price limitations. The sweet boy knew exactly what his brothers would want – Hot Wheels tracks for the wall and a magician set, but neither of those fit his “budget”. He was *this close* to tears when I told him he couldn’t buy those things, and at the time nothing else was good enough for his brothers other than what they had asked Santa for. Seriously, such a sweet boy!)

For Jackson: A set of 3 foam sports balls

For Ty: A nerf football that whistles when it’s thrown hard enough

For Lily: A little push toy

For Nick: A toy airplane (Ironically enough, the first thing Chase mentioned getting Nick was “new jeans, because all of Daddy’s pants have holes in them!”. Sadly, we couldn’t find any we were sure that Nick would like, were the right size and the right price. Then I tried to suggest a wallet, so we looked at some of those and then Chase’s eyes lit up and he said he wanted to buy him a toy.)

All in all, the boys had a blast picking out gifts for others and even more than that, I think they enjoyed the quick one on one time. They also did great keeping the gifts they picked a secret! Granted, only Jackson had a really hard time – the other two didn’t get to shop until right before Christmas thanks to the stomach flu hitting our house hard the night after Jackson shopped.

Nick and I are looking forward to doing this again next year though, and have already decided that we’ll make the shopping trip even more special by taking the shopper out for breakfast or lunch too. Love making these memories and traditions!




Add a comment...

Your email is never published or shared. Required fields are marked *

  • Such an important lesson for children to learn, Helen. Getting one-on-one time is hard to arrange. At least, that was our experience. You and Nick are doing such a great job!

  • Michele Dioszeghy

    What a wonderful lesson for the boys to learn!! Not only did they get to learn about giving, but they’re being taught to stay within a budget and hunt for bargains! Oh….I can’t imagine who their mother might be! 🙂 You go girl!! Have a happy new year!ReplyCancel

  • Zoie

    I love the idea. I only have one kid but it would be great to go shopping for Daddy. Happy New Year!ReplyCancel

  • Mollie

    That is awesome. We did that with our kids. Our oldest is a little over 3 and the twins are almost 2. The little guys didn’t quite understand what was going on. My 3 yr old wanted toys for himself, but when I explained that we had to get some presents for his brothers, he got excited. I think that they will understand more next year, but we wanted to start early so it is a normal thing for them to do each Christmas.
    We also try to go through their old toys right before Christmas and give them to either Goodwill or someone who might need them. We explained that someone gave them the toys and now we are giving the toys to someone that doesn’t have any. It worked well this year with their baby toys. We will see next year how it works. And it gets toys out of the house before new ones come in!ReplyCancel

    • Mollie, we do the same toy purge each Christmas and birthday too! Usually we would wait until the boys were in bed and do it then, but this year I had the boys help me go through toys and sort broken ones for trash and toys they no longer play with. They did really, really well with it!ReplyCancel

  • what a great idea! please remind us again closer to christmas so i don’t forget. 🙂ReplyCancel

  • […] the next 10 minutes, almost all of the gifts the boys had bought for each other had been opened. (Like last year, each boy got to go shopping for their siblings. They got $20 to spend total on all … Yep, watching their siblings open the gifts they had carefully picked out was first on their gift […]ReplyCancel