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News and culture through the lens of Southern California. Hosted by A Martínez

Santa has his limits: How to manage your child's holiday gift expectations

by Alex Cohen and Leo Duran | Take Two®

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How do you make your kid's holiday wishes come true without going overboard? gsnyder87/Flickr/Creative Commons

Most parents know what not to give their kids, but figuring what to give them, and how much? Well, that's a bit trickier.

Imagine being the poor parent who received this wish list:

  • Black, light blue, green, purple, and pink North Face jackets (that's five jackets for one child, if you're counting)
  • A pet puppy border collie
  • One-thousand dollars
  • A little thing that can turn into anything anytime

Those are just some of the things from Deadspin writer Drew Magary's 7-year-old daughter's wish list.

RELATED: What's your approach when it comes to giving gifts to children?

Obviously, he can't give her the ability to change matter at will, but during the holidays, when children are taught to come up with a list of whatever they desire, how do you make your those holiday wishes come true without going overboard?

Stephanie Marcy is a pediatric psychologist at Children's Hospital Los Angeles, and she has some recommendations she recently offered to the hospital's blog.

Guide to buying gifts for children:

  • More is not necessarily better.  A child is likely to become overwhelmed by a sea of gifts, and become more focused on moving on to the next one and next one in an unwrapping frenzy rather than appreciate and enjoy the actual gift.
  • Consider getting one “big” gift – the thing your child has persistently been asking for rather than the thing they just saw on a commercial, and then a few smaller gifts. Try to not let your child know they are getting a big gift, so it will be a big surprise and something they are very excited about
  • Think about stringing out the gifts over the course of the day or days. Hanukkah naturally lends itself to multiple days of gifts.  For families who celebrate Christmas, many have utilized the “12 days of Christmas” approach and give a gift a day.
  • Communicate with extended family openly about type and number of gifts so that they don’t undermine your approach inadvertently.

What was the worst gift you've ever received?

We've all been there — during a birthday celebration, around the Christmas tree, or at a white elephant party—when you're handed a shiny gift to unwrap only to find something you simply don't like. Take Two wants to know how you've responded in such situations—and what you did with the gift.

KPCC's Facebook friends had a lot to say on this topic: 


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