I Don’t Know What I Want for Christmas

Affiliate Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links to eBay, Amazon, and other platforms within the content, sidebar ads, and in other areas. As I am part of the eBay Partner Network and other affiliate programs, if you follow these links and make a purchase, I will receive a commission. Likewise, as an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

The worst thing you can hear as a parent, right? And it is always a bit of a surprise given this is the same kid that can’t stop talking about all the things they want and must have throughout different times of the year (Squishmallows, anyone).

Perhaps it’s the pressure of making a concrete decision, and knowing that once that decision is passed along, the door is shut, and they’re “stuck” with whatever it is they’ve settled on.

Whatever the case might be, what do you do?

Here are 10 ways to get the most out of the “I don’t know what I want for Christmas” question, helping your kids to actually put thought into useful gifts they’ll actually value.

Walk them through their daily routine

First and foremost, while it might be hard to not think it, your label as a good mom or dad doesn’t come down to how magical you make Christmas. (Just a quick little disclaimer for those of you stressing out right now!) It can also be a good lesson in respect for kids, teaching them about the holiday and to respect the different situations and pressures many will soon find themselves in.

Anyway, on to the meat of the post.

Think about how many times you’ve remembered you needed something, only to forget that you needed it until you came back around to the same experience and circumstances that prompted you to think about it the first time!

So, one great way for kids to think about the things they need is to mentally go through their daily routine—from getting dressed, to coming home from school, their extracurricular activities, etc. Giving them time to place themselves “in the moment” could lead to that lightbulb of, “Oh yeah, I’d love a new desk and homework setup, or, “I can’t find my Y and never replaced it.”

It’s the same thing when you’re packing a suitcase for vacation—you think you have everything you need, but if you put yourself in vacation mode and mentally walkthrough a day at the beach, you’ll remember to pack that floppy hat you haven’t needed in years.

Flip through a magazine with them

Flip through a what? Yes, a magazine, or a catalog. They still exist, and while you think that anything you see in a magazine can be found online, the physical flipping of a page might help them take in and process information differently.

These are easily found in the mail leading up to the holidays, so before you just grab and pitch anything that might resemble traditional junk, pull those advertisement books aside for future reading.

(Simply walking through a store might work, too! I mean, if you have ever walked through a store and have not had your child exclaim that they absolutely need something, please teach me your ways.)

Encourage them to think beyond Christmas

Meaning, it might be difficult for some kids to look ahead, so if you’re asking them in November or December what they want for Christmas, they might be stuck in the now, ad without any immediate needs, might have difficulty figuring out what they want as a gift.

But, if they can look past Christmas, say to the spring or even the following summer, they might be able to come up with a few different options. Perhaps it’s a future sports season, and thinking about what they might need this year for baseball. Or it could be for which they aren’t quite old enough yet, but in 6 months will be.

(It also might be easier to think backward a month or two, reflecting on different events and circumstances in which they more recently found themselves in, in order to help with recall…and that feeling of “dang, I wish I had that,” etc.)

Encourage them to talk to friends

This one might be a bit of a slippery slope, because, let’s face it, most of the conversation is going to revolve around the latest video game console, or if younger, one of a million different toys your child simply doesn’t need.

But, it might also uncover a few decent ideas. Like, instead of an actual game console, a CIB retro video game might be mentioned as a potential addition to a collection.

Either way, the challenge then becomes extracting those ideas when the time comes (not to mention making sure they are talking to the right friends…we all have that one friend that might not give the most savory of advice.)

Take inventory of what they already have

A couple of points with this one—First, if you’re able to sit down with your child and go through all of the things they already have in their position, they may realize there was something they once loved and valued that has been forgotten about or needed fixing. Maybe it was a really fun puzzle or board game that now has missing pieces?

On the other hand, you might also realize that something they already have can be made all the better with an accompanying or complimentary item. For instance, maybe they collected baseball cards at one point and realized, hey, I’d love to collect more. And that goes for any hobby, really…rarely are you going to encounter an activity with which the ability to “add on” or take the next step is unavailable.

Make notes and reminders throughout the year

Better yet, why not try and get ahead of the dreaded “I don’t know what I want for Christmas” before the words can even be uttered?

Sure, this one takes even more effort and planning than any of the above suggestions, but it might pay off in the end. And really, the effort is mostly wrapped up in remembering, and/or having a system in place to when an idea or thought comes up, it can be deposited somewhere you and your child can access down the road as winter approaches.