What do you do when Santa spoils the neighbors’ kids more than yours?

“Mom, next year can Santa bring us what he gave Madison?”

What do you say?

I replied to Julia, “Well, Santa brings everyone different things… we’ll just have to see what he brings next year.”

She seemed to be distracted enough, accepted the answer and ran off to continue playing. I was lucky this time!

The funny thing is that Santa’s big gift to Madison and her sister Avery was a play kitchen from OUR OWN online toy store. LOL

Julia with toy kitchen

Sophia with toy kitchen

It’s actually a toy kitchen that I’ve wanted to buy for Julia since she was a baby, but never did because our townhouse is so small and already stuffed full of toys.

Since Janice and I own two online toy stores, Julia and Sophia are already a little spoiled with items from our stores… a pedal car, balance bikes, rocking toys, an art easel, a cool kitchen helper safety stand that lets them help cook and wash dishes and more.

Basically, trying to not spoil your kids when you sell awesome toys is tough!

I constantly dream of a bigger house just so I can give them more toys. But, luckily we are limited to a tiny townhouse and we have reached full capacity.

I especially try not to overdo gifts at Christmas because I feel it is important to focus on the real meaning of the season. I do let Santa come and bring a decent amount of gifts to unwrap, but I don’t like to let Santa go completely wild.

So with this toy kitchen, I think I just might be as jealous as my girls and want it in our own house.

But, I’m trying to restrain myself. At least Julia and Sophia can play with the kitchen whenever we’re visiting their friends, Madison and Avery, (which is every other day).

Trying not to envy our friends is tough for all of us — regardless of our age.

I know I can be completely happy with my small townhouse until I go visit friends who live in big, beautiful houses. Then it can sting a little.

Up until now, my girls have been too young to ask for toys that their friends have… but time is running out. Julia is now 4 and a half, and she’s starting to ask questions.

So I’m wondering, what do you say to your kids when they envy their friends’ toys?


  1. says

    We struggle with the same issue, since we also own a online kids store. I rationalize that its a form of advertising and toy testing since if we experience the products first hand, we’ll be more knowledgeable about our products and be able to provide great customer service to our customers. And of course our children get a little more spoiled by it along the way. :)

  2. says

    I have memories when I was a little girl of being envious of the neighbor kids toys and of my cousins! They had barbie dreamhouse, for crying out loud!

    My sister and I would ask (beg!) for these things and our mother would just tell us “Well, aren’t you so lucky that your friends/cousins have that (toy) so you can enjoy it when you go visit!”

    At the time it was not what we wanted to hear, however, as an adult now I understand and appreciate that we were not given every cool toy on the block. Whether it was for financial reasons or spatial reasons, it taught my sister and I a great lesson…and I am trying to teach my son the same thing.

    Oh – and PS – your online store is so stinkin’ adorable! Makes it REALLY hard to not give my son everything!

  3. says

    we deal for the same thing with our 4 year old. We simply tell her that Santa brings different toys to different people, it doesn’t mean that you weren’t as good as your friend. We also tell her to be happy she got anything for Christmas, because Some kids didn’t get anything. We’ve actually considered just telling our kids age 4,3,2 the truth for that reason.

  4. says

    I usually remind them of all of the other wonderful blessings and toys that they do have. It always helps me to overcome jealousy to count my blessings, so I am trying to teach my children the same lesson.

  5. says

    I’m so glad you raised this topic – I mull over the same issues! We live in a teeny tiny apartment, which is fast becoming a shrine to all of my daughter’s ‘stuff’. I too dream of the day when we can move into a house and gain some space, but then I remind myself of the even teeny tinier apartment we lived in just 6 months ago and I thank God for our new place! As for coveting what friends have, my daughter had a lovely Christmas with a bunch of fun gifts under her tree, but she is already showing me the ‘beautiful stuff’ she wants Santa to bring her next year … It is indeed a hard line to walk between wanting to give your children their hearts desire and not spoiling them; I think we just have to learn as we go. After Christmas this year, in an attempt to offset all of the receiving my daughter did, we picked out a bunch of ‘baby toys’ she no longer plays with and we took them to a donation drop center. I loved her reaction so much, I think we’re going to make it an after-Christmas tradition henceforth!

  6. says

    Eek. That’s a tough one. Thankfully even with a teenager in the house I haven’t had to combat this problem and Santa has never gone all out here. He’s only ever left one gift under the tree and the remainder of the gifts are from parents/siblings/etc.

  7. says

    I say, “Put it on your birthday list.” Then he can think about whether he really wants that item more than other things that he is asking for.

    Of course, my son is almost 8, so he is starting to realize the value of a dollar and that everything is a choice for one thing and against other things.

  8. says

    Oh, that’s a hard one! We tell our boys that we choose to spend our money on different things than our neighbors do.

    It has worked fine… so far :-)

  9. says

    We have a lot of money issues, so my kids almost always have less then friends. I just try to remind them of good things in there life. For example, my husband is unable to work a lot & I work from home part time while I care for my mom. My kids always have at least me, hubby & even grandparents & an uncle around. Most of their friends w/ lots of possessions are always at daycare, latchkey, can’t play because of the babysitter,etc.

    I also have my girls in dance which keeps them very busy, is time consuming & can get costly. I remind them how much they love to dance, how they are getting out of the house, making friendships, etc. I’m also trying to get them to understand that life isn’t about possessions, but the people that are in them.

  10. says

    I told my kids early on that just because THEY want something doesn’t mean that I WANT it in my house. So they know not to waste their Christmas wishes on things that (if Santa were to forget and bring it anyway) they would have to return to the store.

    I think my eldest said that he would “Just Ask Santa” for a really expensive Lego Star Wars set one year. I told him it was too big and expensive and that if Santa brought it, I would bring it back to the store. True story! I may have crushed him a bit in saying it that way, but they all learned to wish for reasonable items instead.

    BTW, we just got that same kitchen set from a friend whose daughter HAD to have it last year and didn’t want it anymore THIS year! My own daughter has played with it every day!

  11. Donna-Lee Randhawa says

    Almost every time my children (8, 6, 3) want something they are told that they can put it on their Christmas or birthday list depending on which is closer. They are also told that they do not get everything on their list. The list is a guide for someone who wants to get them something.
    At Christmas, they usually get one larger gift from Santa and one larger gift from Mom & Dad. The 2 boys often get a shared gift from Mom & Dad. Santa often brings a board game and a book for each child in addition to the larger item.
    As far as wanting what their friends have … life would be boring if we all had the same thing. Different families have different things. This year at Christmas, our boys wanted a lot of electronic game items that their friends have. We advised them to pick the one that they wanted the most because they certainly were not going to have them all. That would be too excessive for one family.
    I discovered that one way to cut down on the “I want …” syndrome is to limit their exposure to commercials for the 2 months before the holidays.

  12. says

    I have found that my kids want everything.I have 2 stepchildren who we have shared custody of and their mom does not work but lives with grandparents and has no bills.We pay $400 a month in child support for our 2 and whatever she gets for the other 2 and somehow she receives assistance for food and medical(even though my husband carries insurance on them) so they are always coming with new things that their mom bought with our money and my kids ask why they do not get new things every week.I am honest with my children about EVERYTHING.If they ask I do my best to tell the truth no matter what it is.In this case I just tell them,we have bills to pay and they enjoy doing other things that cost money so if we got them new gifts every week ,they would not get to do things like go to the zoo or fair etc and that works for us.Funny my 3 are the same age as the above comment,8 6 and 3.

  13. says

    My children are very young (age 4, 2, and 4mo). SO I think them asking such a question is just that – a simple question. No jealous or envious thoughts… just why did Santa bring different things?

    I think as parents we want to give our children everything possible for their happiness. Food when they are hungry, warm blankets to sleep with at night, and toys for their delight and entertainment.

    But maybe this is an opportunity to realize the difference between want and need.

    Do you really need more toys? Would you be willing to donate some toys to a local orphanage to make room for this special thing?

    Perhaps as they get older you could include them in a Yard sale to teach them about money and how we need to earn money to spend it…

    Have them sell some toys in order to earn the money for this new toy.

    And on a funny note — a bigger house means more rooms to clean!! So unless it comes with a housekeeper too… :)

  14. says

    Just remember that a bigger house is much more work to clean!!!!!I was thrilled to move into my house with four bathrooms as I have five young children, but that means that they need to be cleaned!!!
    As for the kids, I always play this card-would you rather Mommy be at home with you or at work all day? Thats the difference between my family and a lot of the kids friends famililies. Do they want to go to a babysitter each day or do they want me there when they get home from school? How badly do they really want that trip to Club Med? They have never said that they would prefer I be at work earning an income, they always are grateful that I am home (though not for much longer!).

  15. nanpan says

    Tonya – That’s what my husband and I are planning to do with our daughter. She’s only nine months now, and just had her first Christmas. We decided that she’ll only get one present from Santa and the rest from her loved ones. My only worry is that other children may tell her they get more than one gift from Santa, and she’ll question why she only gets one. Did you ever encounter this issue?

  16. Debbie says

    It is important to explain to children that not everyone gets/owns the same things. Use mommy/daddy as an example, stating that mommy/daddy don’t get the same things as the neighbors. Life is not apples to apples and children need to know that more isn’t always better.

  17. says

    This was really interesting, & I really just wanted to read a bit of what everyone had to say as we deal somewhat with the “They have better toys” syndrome, and actually our 14 year old has started with “They’re so rich, they have this game console & that game console” and measuring things materially, which sucks. So I wanted to read what other parents might say or do in this situation, because so far my attempts of “We have a large family who loves each other, so that makes US rich too” hasn’t had the effect I’ve wanted, and don’t get me wrong, we’re by no means paupers, but I REFUSE to let all my kids have a cellphone (esp. at 6 years old!) or 5 or 6 game consoles, I think 1 (2 now, thanks to my hubby) is more than enough. It’s just a difficult subject to ‘teach’ your children so thanks for a great post!

  18. says

    I try to teach them to be content with what they have. I actually think that I feel the sting more than my kids do. I’m still wishing that I could give them more after they are content with what I gave them!

  19. says

    That kitchen IS pretty awesome, you have to admit. šŸ˜‰ I particularly love the water dispenser on the refrigerator and the buttons on the microwave. Fun!

  20. Angela says

    I think you said it just right. It is great they have friends they see that often with a kitchen to play with.

    We actually got rid of our play kitchen because it was taking up too much room. It would go weeks without use, but when we suggested getting rid of it, it would be played with again and so on. We got rid of it and the same day put in a very narrow little white bookshelf. It fits perfectly in almost any room. On each shelf we neatly displayed the play food, a stack of bowls, the pot and pan etc. The bottom shelf has 2 little baskets with a little bag for play produce. We put a thin piece of wood on top and used a woodburner ($16 on amazon) to make a circle to be the stove top. We haven’t put a curtain on it yet, but that would be neat looking. This simple kitchen is adored, and our children are constantly preparing play meals now! It didn’t seem like a downgrade to them. It was NEW! Being able to see the food and dishes neatly displayed on open shelves and baskets helps them see what they have and remember to enjoy it. Someday when the kitchen is no longer loved, we can simply take off the slip of wood “stove” and have a little bookshelf. Though I imagine it will always be used as a kitchen by someone. We’ll probably pass the whole thing on someday.

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