New Year: why so many gifts?


During the New Year holidays, we traditionally buy gifts and often … give them to our children. Year by year, our gifts are becoming more impressive and more expensive, their number is growing. What drives us and what can it lead to?

Kind Santa Claus came to us today. And he brought us gifts on the New Year’s holiday. This old song is still sung at children’s New Year’s parties. However, modern children do not have to dream for a long time about the mysterious contents of the New Year’s Grandfather’s bag. We ourselves unwittingly wean them from this: they still do not have time to want, and we are already buying. And children take our gifts for granted. We usually do not seek to lead them out of this delusion. Rather, on the contrary: a mobile phone, a game battle, a play station, not to mention an avalanche of sweets … All this falls on children like from a cornucopia. We are willing to sacrifice a lot to fulfill their desires.

In the West, parents began to spoil their children too actively around the 60s, when the consumer society was formed. Since then, this trend has only intensified. She also manifests herself in Russia. Will our kids be happier if we turn their rooms into toy stores? Child psychologists Natalia Dyatko and Annie Gatecel, psychotherapists Svetlana Krivtsova, Yakov Obukhov and Stephane Clerget answer this and other questions.

Why do we give gifts to children during the New Year holidays?

The consumer society, in which we have been living for some time now, has declared the possession of a thing to be synonymous with all that is good and right in life. The dilemma “to have or to be” today is reformulated differently: “to have in order to be.” We are convinced that the happiness of children is in abundance, and good parents should provide it. As a result, the possibility of incorrectly, not fully realizing the desires and needs of the child frightens many parents – just like the prospect of a lack in the family, causing a feeling of hopelessness, giving rise to a sense of guilt. Some parents, confusing the fleeting desires of their children with what is vital for them, are afraid to deprive them of something essential. It seems to them that the child will get emotionally hurt if, for example, he notices that his classmate or best friend has received more gifts than himself. And parents try, buy more and more …


An avalanche of gifts can also be caused by our desire to muffle our own guilt: “I am rarely with you, I am too busy (a) with work (daily affairs, creativity, personal life), but I give you all these toys and, therefore, I think about you!”

Finally, the New Year, Christmas for all of us is an opportunity to return to our own childhood. The less we ourselves received gifts at that time, the more we want our child not to lack them. At the same time, it happens that many gifts simply do not correspond to the age of the children and do not quite suit their tastes. The toys that we give to a child often reflect our own desires: an electric railway that did not exist in childhood, a computer game that we wanted to play for so long … In this case, we make gifts for ourselves, at the expense of the child we solve our old childhood problems. As a result, parents play with expensive gifts, and children enjoy such beautiful things as wrapping paper, box or packing tape.

What is the danger of an excess of gifts?

Children often think: the more gifts we receive, the more they love us, the more we mean to their parents. In their minds, the concepts of “love”, “money” and “gifts” are confused. Sometimes they simply stop paying attention to those who dare to visit them empty-handed or bring something not expensive enough. They are unlikely to be able to understand the symbolic value of the gesture, the preciousness of the very intention to give a gift. “Gifted” children are constantly in need of new evidence of love. And if they don’t, conflicts arise.

Can gifts be rewarded for good behavior or learning?

We don’t have many bright, joyful traditions. Giving gifts for the New Year is one of them. And it should not be made dependent on any conditions. There are far better times to reward or punish a child. And on a holiday, it is better to take the opportunity to get together with the whole family and, together with the child, enjoy the gifts given or received.

Children of divorced parents usually receive more gifts than others. Doesn’t it spoil them?

On the one hand, divorced parents experience a strong sense of guilt towards the child and try to muffle it with the help of gifts.

On the other hand, such a child often celebrates the holiday twice: once with dad, the other with mom. Each parent fears that in “that house” the celebration will be better. There is a temptation to buy more gifts – not for the good of the child, but for their own narcissistic interests. Two desires – to give a gift and to win (or confirm) the love of your child – merge into one. Parents compete for their children’s favor, and children become hostages of this situation. Having accepted the conditions of the game, they easily turn into eternally dissatisfied tyrants: “Do you want me to love you? Then give me whatever I want!”

How to make sure that the child is not fed up?

If we do not give the child a chance to train his desires, then, as an adult, he will not be able to really want anything. Of course, there will be desires, but if an obstacle arises on the way to them, he will most likely give up on them. A child will be fed up if we overwhelm him with gifts or let him think that we must definitely give him everything and immediately! Give him time: his needs must grow and mature, he must long for something and be able to express it. So children learn to dream, to postpone the moment of fulfillment of desires, without falling into anger at the slightest frustration *. However, this can be learned every day, and not just on Christmas Eve.

How to avoid unwanted gifts?

Before you go to the store, think about what your child dreams about. Talk to him about it and if the list is too long, choose the most important one. Of course, for him, not for you.

Gifts with a hint?

Young children will certainly be offended if they are presented with school supplies, casual clothes “for growth” or an edifying book like “Rules of good manners.” They will not appreciate souvenirs that are meaningless from their point of view, intended not for playing, but for decorating a shelf. Children will perceive it as a mockery and a gift “with a hint” (for the weak – dumbbells, for the shy – the manual “How to Become a Leader”). Gifts are not only an expression of our love and care, but also evidence of how sensitive and respectful we are to our child.

About it

Tatyana Babushkina

“What is stored in the pockets of childhood”

Agency for Educational Cooperation, 2004.

Martha Snyder, Ross Snyder

“The Child as a Person”

Meaning, Harmony, 1995.


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