Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Five Ways to Curb Your Child’s Materialism This Holiday Season

Marlon Marie

 by Shareable

This holiday season, children will be surrounded by a mountain of gifts and anxious parents hoping that the presents will be up to snuff. And, while it is completely natural to want to give children the ‘perfect’ holiday, the increasing pressure to purchase bigger and better gifts can leave parents wondering if this yearly tradition is getting out of control. So how do we find the balance – allowing our children to experience the joy of receiving holiday gifts while imparting values that will give them an appreciation of non-material things?

Here are five ways to re-define gift giving and help minimize consumerist ideals so that you and your family will have a truly magical holiday.

1. Prioritize contribution over consumption, collaboration over competition.

Kids who are provided the opportunity to contribute to family activities and collaborate on the decisions that will affect the family tend to shape an identity that is based on character in lieu of status. Encourage your child to demonstrate their opinions, skills, and talents at home, and emphasize the value of sharing, so that he/she can build confidence in assets which have nothing to do with clothing or material possessions.

2. Broaden the meaning of ‘giving’ to include energy and time.

Because material gift giving is a major characteristic of the holiday season, we tend to overlook gifts of energy and time – both of which are significant ways to combat materialism. Teach your child about the issues that affect their community, and allow them to participate in ways that they can serve through volunteerism and acts of kindness. Homeless shelters, soup kitchens, and family service organizations all offer a host of opportunities for young people and their families to get involved.

3. Opt for socially conscious and alternative giving.

When material gift giving is unavoidable, try making purchases from vendors that positively impact the economy. International websites like Etsy support independent business owners, while many non-profits, like Raising the Village, host campaigns like ‘Gift Outside the Box’, where families can invest in things like healthcare, food security, and agricultural opportunities such as an elephant-deterring beehive fence. Also see Center for New American Dream’s Simplify the Holidays campaign with dozens of ideas for a holiday season with more meaning and less stuff.

It’s important to remember that children tend to retreat to their material items when they’re not engaged by experiences; namely those that surround family life. Over the holidays, invite friends or family to spend time with your children instead of purchasing gifts, or consider buying gifts for your children that require his/her attendance and devotion: dance or music lessons, a family vacation, or ticketed event. This kind of giving builds everlasting memories – not momentary satisfaction.

5. Foster creativity: Make it if you can.

Re-introduce the sentiment of exchanging handmade goods. Empower your child’s creativity by inviting them to make (or bake) gifts for family members, which teaches them the value of hard work and distracts them from the belief that store-bought goods are integral to satisfaction.

Ultimately, there are a variety of ways to curb your child’s materialism and many perks that come along with doing so – sanity, for example, as well as some extra coin for a bottle of wine that you’ll likely need in hindsight of mandatory visits with the in-laws.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License.

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Simply Don't Exist.

'Stop Line 5': Valve Turner Forces Shutdown of Enbridge Oil Pipeline in Michigan

"We are here to protect the water, land, and air that support all life, including our own. Line 5 poses an immediate threat to our lives and these actions are taken out of necessity and in self-defense."

Jessica Corbett ·

'Delay Is the New Denial': Study Confirms 99.9% of Scientists Agree on Climate

"It's pretty much case closed for any meaningful public conversation about the reality of human-caused climate change."

Brett Wilkins ·

Exposed: How Pfizer Exploits Secretive Vaccine Contracts to Strong-Arm Governments

"Pfizer has used its monopoly on a lifesaving vaccine to extract concessions from desperate governments," said the report's author, urging action from the Biden administration.

Jessica Corbett ·

'A Toxic Presence in the Party': Ocasio-Cortez Joins Calls for Jay Jacobs to Resign

"India Walton is the Democratic nominee for mayor of Buffalo. No amount of racist misogyny from the old boys' club is going to change that."

Brett Wilkins ·

New Multimedia Report Details Unprecedented 'Permian Climate Bomb' in Texas

"If the Biden Administration wants to be serious about its promise to demonstrate U.S. climate leadership, it must first clean up its own backyard."

Kenny Stancil ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.

Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo