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November 21, 2023 3 min read

The holiday season is a time of joy, togetherness, and, for many families, a whirlwind of gift-giving and material abundance. It's natural for children to be excited about the holidays, but it's equally important to instill in them the values of gratitude, simplicity, and the joy that can be found in family-centric activities. In this blog post, we'll explore how to manage kids' expectations during the holiday season by embracing a minimalist lifestyle and focusing on the priceless moments created through these activities.

  1. Set Clear Expectations: Communication is Key

Before the holiday season begins, sit down with your children and have an open, honest conversation about what to expect. Explain that while gifts are a part of the holiday tradition, the true essence lies in spending quality time together and cherishing moments as a family. Encourage them to share their holiday wishes but emphasize the importance of gratitude for what they already have. Our kids get very excited about gifts, but when we ask them what’s it is about, the answer dutifully: “Spending time with the family.” 

  1. Shift the Focus: From "Things" to Experiences

Encourage your children to value experiences over material possessions. Instead of piling up gifts, consider gifting experiences like a family hike, a day at the zoo, or a cooking class. These experiences create lasting memories and teach children that joy can be found in shared adventures.

  1. Craft the Holidays: DIY Decorations and Gifts

Engage your kids in creative, do-it-yourself holiday projects. Together, you can make homemade decorations, greeting cards, and gifts for family and friends. Not only does this promote creativity, but it also teaches children the value of personal effort and thoughtfulness.

  1. Explore Nature: Connect with the Outdoors

Take advantage of the beauty of the season and spend time in nature. Go for hikes, explore local parks, or simply enjoy a day of sledding or building snowmen in your backyard. These activities offer opportunities for bonding and fresh air.

  1. Volunteer as a Family: Giving Back

Show your children the importance of giving by volunteering as a family during the holiday season. Participate in food drives, visit nursing homes, or volunteer at a local charity. These experiences teach empathy and remind kids of the significance of helping those in need.

  1. Create Traditions: Cherished Family Moments

Establish holiday traditions that focus on togetherness. Whether it's baking cookies, watching classic holiday movies, or telling stories by the fireplace, these activities create a sense of warmth and unity that children will carry with them throughout their lives.

  1. Practice Gratitude Daily: A Thankful Heart

Encourage your children to keep gratitude journals during the holiday season. Each day, have them write down something they are thankful for. This practice cultivates mindfulness and helps children appreciate the small joys in life.

  1. Teach the Art of Giving: Secret Santa for Kindness

Instead of the traditional gift exchange, consider a "Secret Santa for Kindness" activity. Each family member draws a name and performs an act of kindness for the chosen person. This shift from receiving to giving promotes empathy and the joy of making others happy.


The holiday season doesn't have to be about excess and extravagance. By embracing a minimalist approach and focusing on family-centric activities, you can manage your children's expectations and teach them valuable life lessons about gratitude, empathy, and the true essence of the holidays. It's a path that not only creates memorable moments but also fosters a sense of fulfillment and contentment that will last far beyond the holiday season.