Save. Spend. Splurge.

Why I don’t buy Little Bun gifts for holidays

People are in disbelief when I tell them I haven’t purchased anything as a gift for Little Bun for Christmas or his birthdays.

(They have the same reaction when I tell them he didn’t have sugar until he was 18 months old, not even for his first birthday.. and even to this day, he has only had homemade sugary desserts and treats and has no clue what a candy bar is.)

They half jokingly call me a monster, and I’m sure they half believe it.

And maybe think I’m joking but I am dead serious.

…but I really couldn’t give a rat’s ass what they think because of these main reasons:

He is too young to know what it all means yet

When he is old enough to know what it is and asks for a gift on those days, we will give him one so he doesn’t feel left out to excitedly tell his friends at school what he got.

Right now, he doesn’t really have ‘friends’ that he makes on his own, only this one little girl whom he became very close to and sometimes brings up, tearfully that his only friend left to go to school.

But for now, he actually gets gifts all the time and all year round — books, apps and other things — and he is happiest with just a great home cooked meal and a dessert.

He will obviously get peer pressured or teased if he is the only one not getting a gift for the holidays or birthdays, so we will wait for that to happen before instituting it. We also won’t be spoiling him with more than one gift and am even coming up with strategies to turn it into a Life Lesson somehow.

It creates a consumer mindset early on and creates disappointment not to mention stress

Teaches kids that events and holidays means you need to buy something to commemorate it.


We have to buy things to show love and appreciation?

Even if you do buy gifts, some kids are ingrates! It isn’t what they wanted, or it wasn’t the right item…. or colour.

Then worse for families who can’t afford brand name designer jeans or whatever, getting knockoffs feel like a slap in the face to both the giver and the recipient.

It wasn’t what they wanted, so instead of feeling status quo, they’re now disappointed/upset/angry.

The giver is now ashamed that they couldn’t afford to give what the recipient wanted, and/or is upset that they are not happy.

Sounds like a crap deal to me.

I still remember that I wore the only festive clothes I owned that didn’t fit to a family Christmas gathering one year (think: pants became cropped capri pants and long sleeved shirts stopped at my elbow) and watched as another girl my age ran around opening 50 presents from all of these people, while I sat there holding my one stuffed animal as a gift.

I still have that same stuffed animal, a good 20+ years later. I’m sure that other little girl couldn’t say the same.

I felt terrible. So very terrible at that time as a little girl (and no one explained things to me in an adult manner), but looking back, I wouldn’t have changed that experience for anything.

I realized much later as I became an adult that her family was not exactly rich but they bought lots of presents (on credit I am certain) to forget their circumstance and to spoil/shield this little girl, but they lived in trailers — which is where I went for this gathering.

I don’t know what happened to her (she is a distant relative) but I’d rather have had my childhood without those faux-spirited gifts than hers; it taught me grit.

When did gifts became a given anyway?

Getting a gift for a birthday or Christmas or any dang event for that matter?

It is STRESSFUL to find the “perfect” gift every year for Christmas and for birthdays without asking them directly what they want, and then just getting that — because then you will know that THEY know and are not surprised.

That is stuff that is taught by businesses (yes, Christmas and every other Hallmark Holiday out there has become a big $$$$$ deal thanks to businesses) which puts pressure on parents who then purchase the gifts and buy into this consumerist cycle.

Think about all the holidays that suddenly need things or gifts now: Valentine’s Day, Easter (chocolate Easter baskets for instance are a new thing I am hearing), Halloween (more candy)… I wouldn’t be surprised if April Fool’s and Thanksgiving are not too far behind.

.. and it discounts the rest of the year’s efforts

So anything purchased during the year is NOT special if it doesn’t fall on a certain man-made, human-calendar dictated day?

So the hundreds I’ve spent in apps for him, are not “gifts” because I didn’t buy them for a special day.

If he needs a jacket now, he is getting it NOW, not in 3 months.

If he wants a bike now, we are getting it before the Spring so he can enjoy it NOW rather than waiting for Christmas and then waiting for next Spring to ride it.

I sort of find that waiting business a bit nonsensical.

It is the reason why I think it is bloody stupid that we only acknowledge, appreciate or love our parents openly on ONE or TWO days a year — Mother’s and Father’s Day.

So the rest of the time, we can treat them like crap or ignore them as long as we do the flowers-chocolate-dinner-gift-thing once a year to make up for it.

He’d rather that we spend time with him

Both his father and I. He wants us to play with him all the time, and he loves that more than a ‘gift, so we give him our time because we are lucky enough to be able to do so.

We have good jobs that let us make good money so that we don’t overwork, we are able to work from home and care for him, and we are able to spend all this free time with him because we don’t need to run off to our night jobs. Or stress about anything money-related.

I’d rather save the money for him

As in, for something he wants when he is older.

A used car, maybe a really nice jacket he wants that will keep him warm as he gets older and maybe becomes more style-conscious.

All of this feels much more practical and useful than a roomful if torn up wrapping paper and toys he will play with and then discard out of boredom.

…and he plays with what he actually has

For the few toys that he does have, I find that he plays with them more than if he had a huge room full of ALL THE TOYS.

If he isn’t used to new toys every prescribed holiday, and isn’t used to it as a habit, it becomes life for him, not a deprivation.

I have been to kids rooms and my family homes where it is WALL TO WALL with toys, and the kids are STILL whining about being bored and wants more toys, even taking out a catalogue to circle things for Mommy and Daddy to buy. Mine has less than them by far, and doesn’t whine at all.

Scarcity takes the choice out of what toy to play with and narrows it down to a manageable and more fulfilling set of options.

I bring home interesting boxes and things I think he would like such as the advertising insert for Tangerine MasterCard that looked like a massive credit card. He got a kick out of it and built a huge city out of boxes with that MasterCard leaflet as the bridge.

Then when he gets bored of it, I recycle it.

He has a lot of things and toys — enough, really

Two iPads (one big old one, one mini), an iPod Touch (for when we are out and I’m desperate to keep him occupied as I am in appointments or doing errands) and his own laptop to visit websites like Jacquie Lawson cards to watch the animated animals, or playing Math & Science games, or watching Kiki and MiuMiu panda episodes.

Plus, 6 CRATES full of books we sit and read together.

In conclusion?

I’m a practical parent who is trying to do her best and be as smart about it as possible so that when he gets older he will appreciate it more when he realizes what we did for him and his bank account.

I may not fill his life with meaningless plastic, colourful toys, but his net worth is almost at $30,000 at the time of this writing and he is only 4 years old.

I should also like to point out that we buy and give him the best of everything we can, including food. Especially food.

He is so far, the only child that I know who has eaten actual, expensive adult food like confit canard, caviar, foie gras, octopus and sushi starting at the age of 18 months. I recounted that to a parent once and he was horrified that I would have given such expensive food to be ‘wasted’ on a child who couldn’t appreciate it.

I was dumbfounded — they will buy a roomful of loud plastic toys but not feed their children what they themselves like to eat because it is too expensive?? Odd.

When he is 18, he will have well over $100,000 saved and will definitely be well prepared for the real world with basic life skills (sewing, cooking, laundry etc…) and money knowledge (basic budgeting and investing).

I hope, that will be a better present than anything else I could have purchased in a store.


  • B

    I feel like I could have written this post. Our Canadian born 2.5 year old has been to Asia, Europe, the U.S., and Mexico. We buy him what he needs/wants (shoes! Clothing! Books!) throughout the year. My husband’s sisters are really into Christmas and so our son always gets a few toys – but even then, he is happiest when someone spends time playing with them together with him. And his favourite activity is free – riding up and down escalators! This year since we knew all his cousins would be getting presents under the tree at grandma’s house, we wrapped up a Costco size box of individually packaged goldfish crackers – it was his absolute favourite gift of all! I am sure older kids are less easy to please but at this age, they just want to have fun and participate.

  • Domonique Rochelle Thomas

    I think you and I might be sisters…

    Whenever someone asks why I don’t celebrate birthdays and holidays with extravagant gifts and parties, I’ve stopped explaining why. I just say it’s for religious reasons now because I’m so tired of trying to explain what you just wrote.

    It’s only this year that my boys asked to celebrate Christmas [after learning about it in school and from friends]. My husband and I [who are not big on material things] gave them each one gift of their choosing.

    The thing is when other people are waiting all year for sales, holidays, and birthdays to give and receive gifts…my family have already gotten those things because I budget in the fun things we like! I don’t have much money [right now] but because I cut expenses on things we care nothing about [TV/Cable, etc.] we can splurge on things we love!

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