How to Have a Happy Birthday, Christmas, and every Gift Exchange 1

Happy celebrations are soooo important, that Home Is Fun made it's 1st video (!!!) about this.  Parents and kids can watch it together!

Aren’t those intense gift exchange days exciting?  Birthdays! Christmas and the holiday season!  Oh, the treasures we (children and, yes, mom and dad too) expect!!!

Aren’t those intense gift exchange days exhausting?!  I agree with the The Berenstain Bears: there can be Too Much Birthday :  ...or Christmas and holiday gift exchanges.

Gift Receiving Etiquette 101—Expose Taboos and Attitudes

After sooooo much anticipation, the thrilling morning finally arrives and children rush to the treasures.  And yet, the delight of watching our loved ones open their gifts is tinged with a touch of sadness. Our angels act like devils as they pounce on the packages and speed unwrap their gifts leaving a trail of rubbish behind them like a tornado levels a town.

Thankfully, most of the time, the children are delighted.  Thrilled. Overjoyed.  And yet, some of us have experienced the gift-receiving bloopers.

That’s discouraging.  Confusing.  FRUSTRATING.

My friend said it this way:  “Christmas was miserable last year.  Our son burst into tears after opening up all of his presents.  THE ONE THING he coveted most wasn’t there.  He zapped the joy out of the evening.”

Eleven months after the above Christmas catastrophe, my friend can (almost) laugh at the situation with her son.  And this year, she’s determined not to let it happen again!  But how?

Be the Scouts

My siblings and I were boy and girl scouts.  Their motto is “Be Prepared.”  It remain a guiding principle to this day.

Tornados and storms usually don’t fall without warning.  And damage can be limited by smart and often simple behavior.  Closing windows and shutters can limit damage caused by flying debris.    (Admittedly, if your home is swept up into the airs....there may be more fundamental challenges than swift projectiles.)

Although parents have no control over the weather outside, we can enact some influence on the emotional barometer of our homes. Preparation does WONDERS to prevent bad humors from brewing and exploding.

Here are three ways to help children receive gifts with joy and thankfulness  (one way in this post and two more in How to Have a Happy Birthday, Christams, or every Gift Exchange 2).

Help Them Laugh at our Family Bloopers...Before They Do It Themselves!

My friend and I began talking about the worst gift receiving moments...and ended up roaring with laughter.  We picked out three of the “bad Christmas” incidents (a.k.a. best stories) to share with you.

Our hope is that you can learn from our mistakes.  Talk about these situations with the kids before Christmas or their birthday.  Make fun of the unhappy gift-receivers in this Home Is Fun video.  

My son and I played out scenes of these catastrophic Christmases.  In his words, “These are ridiculous!”  And then I reminded him of specific situationswe experienced...and he agreed that attitude tweaking might be useful after all!!

This video depicts three (amazingly common) gift receiving responses:

- I did not get what I wanted

- No, I will not share

- I do not like this gift

Listen to the sketches...and invite the kids to listen along with you.

Invite the kids to react.  It’s not about them so encourage them to agree or disagree with the child’s point of view.  What was funny? Sad?  Ridiculous?  Confusing?

The video proposes questions for discussion.  Talk about them.  You’ll learn A LOT about what the kids are thinking.  Don’t necessary react on the spur of the moment.  If your child says, “It’s NORMAL to only receive gifts that we like,” then probe further.  Why?  Who chooses?

Whatever your child is thinking about gifts, he is likely thinking about other aspects of life too.  If the world should be all about pleasing her, then she might be showing a judgmental tendency...which could impact her friendships.  If your son thinks he should be receiving gifts but it’s not important for him to give some, that may be a clue that he has yet to learn how to play as a team-member.

None of these issues will be resolved in one conversation.  And yet, enjoying this discussion will give you cues to better identify (and thus address) the specific areas where your child’s can uniquely grow.

Enjoy and have fun discovering yourself and your kids!


This is Home Is Fun’s first attempt (!!!) to making a video (more like an animated slideshow), so PLEASE help us improve and send us feedback.  (We have readers from all over the world.  Send it to us in your native language and we'll use a translator to understand.  Thanks.) 

We know we are FAR from perfect (even far from great) so let us know what you like and what you recommend we do for a next time.

And I PROMISE, we will take your feedback as a that we want, that we will share among the team, and that we will appreciate no matter what you say!


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Did you find this article helpful/interesting?

1. On Wednesday, December 11 2013, 21:49 by Your loving husband

...still congrats on getting a video out.
2. On Thursday, December 12 2013, 00:03 by Denise

Thanks darling. I knew I loved your direct approach!!!!!

You are definitely from Mars, and I'm from Venus. I guess that's why we attract.


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