Plant an Acorn and Grow a Mighty Oak

My girlfriend Jemma tried something new last year. She asked each one of her kids what they really wanted for Christmas and why – instructing them to disregard cost for the moment. She asked them to find out where their gift of choice could be purchased, and what the on-time delivered cost would be. She asked her kids to really think about how many times they would use what they were asking for,  and how it might make their day to day lives nicer. Finally she asked them to put everything she had asked them about – into a letter, which very politely told their aunts, uncles and grandparents what they were hoping for under the tree that year and why.

Jemma’s father-in-law told her that he felt he knew his grandkids better as a result of the exercise she had asked them to complete. He went on to say that he felt great about spending money on gifts he knew would be used and appreciated. He suggested the family use this approach every year going forward.

Then, in what Jemma described as an act of “holiday heroism”, she made a suggestion to her family. She proposed that in lieu of everyone racing around trying to find a smaller gift that they hoped their grandchild, niece or nephew would enjoy, they simply contribute what they would normally have spent – towards the one larger more meaningful gift, that her children had thoughtfully preferred in their letters.

What happened? All of her kids received the one item that they had really wanted. No one wasted time and energy trying to find a gift that they hoped would be enjoyed. No one spent more than they would have in any event. And perhaps most importantly, Christmas day was spent enjoying everyone’s company in the most relaxed atmosphere in recent family memory. Jemma’s father-in-law told her that he felt he knew his grandkids better as a result of the exercise she had asked them to complete. He went on to say that he felt great about spending money on gifts that he knew would be used and appreciated. He suggested the family use the same approach every year going forward. “What you have done my dear, is plant an acorn which will become a mighty oak.” She loved that praise.

Jemma had been thinking about how to cut down on waste, increase gratitude and teach her kids a little about the value of a dollar for years. And Moms just like her are a big part of the inspiration behind Gifting Sense – our new little company that turns shopping for holiday and birthday gifts into a tool for parents to teach their kids about financial literacy and gift etiquette. Your family can “Get Started” right away – simply ask your kids to complete Gift Surveys when preparing their holiday wish lists this year. Frank loved it – and your father-in-law may as well!


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