During my son’s first Christmas (my daughter was three at the time), I kept countless lists and did a lot of shopping just to make sure all the gifts were “the same.” I called my sister, a mother of two, and asked her advice on how she did it herself. “Are you based on the size of the stack? The number of gifts? The total cost?”

“Um,” she replied, “You have to make sure it’s the same in every way, so no one feels like they fell short. This year, it doesn’t matter, but you better get used to it, because it’s going to.”

I took this advice as gospel and completely blew my budget. Then I started to investigate and saw other points of view. I love the idea put forward by The Minimalist Mom in her blog post, about “fair,” not necessarily being “the same.” (She’s not talking about Christmas here, but it’s definitely a perspective you can take to the bank!)

Most parents who “keep track” of gifts in this way rely on dollar amounts. A surprising amount actually gives the child cash to make up the difference. For parents with children of similar ages, it is easier to maintain equity in gift-giving. For example, a large toy, a small toy, an outfit, and a video game are all things you might give children for “different but the same” gifts. (And, by doing this, you don’t have to worry as much about the total cost, since the perceived value is the same.)

Some parents don’t really care about this at all, giving kids a few gifts they really want, straight off their wish list.

An original suggestion that I read is to pack all the gifts in one big box; That way everyone spends the same amount of time opening presents, and from there you just have big stacks of open presents for the kids to play with. (Personally, I think this would take some of the fun out of gift-giving.)

Tricks to make gifts look the same

Inevitably, one child opens presents faster than the other. As a parent, he can set the pace and control the gift-giving. If the children have the same number of presents, take turns opening the presents so that they finish at about the same time.

If the number of packages is uneven, have them open their presents together. You can control the pace by encouraging a child to explore a toy for a while, or encourage the child who opens presents slower than us, “Open it later! Ooh, let’s look first and see what’s in this box.”

Another trick is to wrap similar gifts together as one gift. Gift baskets filled with books and toys also make great gifts and pack a lot of value into one gift. Stork Baby Gift Baskets have baskets, little red carts and more filled with children’s favorite books and toys.

The true meaning of Christmas gifts

Whichever tactic you choose to make sure all your kids are happy this Christmas, a lot of drama can be avoided in the weeks leading up to the holidays. Set expectations. If one child gets, say, an iPad, the other child may get a few more gifts to open that cost less. Preschoolers can understand this reasoning as they begin to understand the dollar value of items.

Most importantly, focus on the true meaning of the season, including charitable giving and family traditions. You’d be surprised that even preschoolers can understand that some kids don’t have toys this holiday season, especially a number of families in the Northeast who lost their homes to Hurricane Sandy, and would treasure and appreciate a gift chosen by your child. especially for them.