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Have yourself a grateful little Christmas

6 ways we can encourage our kids to embrace the spirit of gratitude this holiday season and beyond

by Kira Macdonald (mum of Maya in Sharks and Sasha in Crocodiles)


The festive season has made me reflect on the spirit of gratitude, and specifically, ways in which I can help my children appreciate the gifts they receive.

You see, when it comes to celebrations, our five-person household is heavily skewed towards the end of the year. The marathon kicks off with my eldest daughter’s birthday, followed immediately by Thanksgiving. Then comes my husband’s birthday, Christmas, my birthday, and finally, New Year’s.

It’s a joyful time of the year, and there’s a lot of excitement in the air.  The kids greet each shopping bag with intense curiosity and anticipation.  I keep a running list of people who need to be gifted, constantly ticking things off and adding new items.

And yet, I’ve found myself lately feeling frustrated rather than celebrative lately.

It all started an evening a few weeks ago after my daughter’s birthday party when we sat down to open her gifts after a full day celebrating at a water park. Our guests had been incredibly generous. There was a big pile of gifts adorned with all sorts of ribbons, bows, and sparkles.  I knew she’d been looking forward to this moment for a long time, and I truly wanted to enjoy it with her.

My daughter opened her first gift, barely looked at it and then – without pausing – opened another. On any other day, each one of these amazing toys would have occupied her for an entire afternoon or longer. I wanted her to slow down and appreciate what was in her hands, but she kept working through the pile. It was becoming more of an exercise in efficient unwrapping than a moment to cherish.

On top of that, the room was becoming messy. I constantly had to calm her little sister, who was growing jealous of all the pretty shiny new things. So I became resentful of my daughter for not appreciating the amazing generosity of her friends and family… And then it dawned on me – she’s just 4. It’s my job as her parent to teach her how to be grateful, how to celebrate friendships in her life, and how to appreciate the moment. So I started thinking about practical ways I can help her do that.


These are some of the things I’ve come up with based on personal experience and what I’ve seen other people do:


  • 1. Open gifts over an extended period of time

Little kids get overwhelmed easily. We asked our daughter to open gifts one or two at a time, so a few before dinner, a few before bedtime (that might have been a mistake in hindsight J) and the rest the following day. This way each gift enjoyed its time in the spotlight. We also took the time to talk about each gift, a person who gave it and how my daughter can play with it.


  • 2. Thank the giver

However you do it – a good old thank you card, an audio WhatsApp message, in person – make sure the child is involved. This way they’ll remember the person who gave them the gift and you can keep talking about it in the future.


  • 3. Consider one (bigger) gift

If appropriate, invite people to contribute to one or two “big ticket” items instead of doing their own thing. This way they can be sure they’re getting the kid something they want, and then there’s the wow factor!


  • 4. Consider a good cause

A friend of mine opted for no gifts for her son’s second birthday. Instead, she asked people to donate to a cause or a charity of their choice and to bring a picture of what they’ve done. She then made a beautiful collage of all the people and causes that benefited in honour of her son’s birthday.

With older kids, consider involving them in choosing a cause to support on their birthday/Christmas and make a donation on their behalf. For example, if your “adopt” an animal or support a child in need, this can be something you do together over time.


  • 5. Involve kids in choosing gifts for other people

Being involved in the process of choosing a gift will help them to appreciate the time and effort that goes into choosing a gift.


  • 6. Reuse and recycle!

We all know that sometimes the box ends up being the best gift. It can be a spaceship, a dragon’s den, a dollhouse … Wrapping paper scraps, bows and ribbons can be used in crafts or even recycled as gift wrap for future gifts (in our family we have a few Christmas boxes that we’ve successfully reused for the past 5 years J). You can also crumble the paper into snowballs and have a snowball fight at home or in the garden! And when you are all done, you can take the paper and boxes to your local recycling hub or contribute to Children’s Oasis recycling program.


So these are some ideas on how we can help our kids nurture their spirit of gratitude this season. Share your thoughts below and happy holidays!

We will always have extremely fond and treasured memories of our girls time at Children’s Oasis. The teachers are so creative and fun, always thinking of new ways to engage the children and the thoughtful and varied outdoor areas were always a favourite of theirs. We loved the intimate, friendly feel and all the little extras which makes it feel that you are part of a community. Thanks for everything, we really couldn’t have asked for a better start and we will miss you all.

From Paul and Katy Rogers (Dad & Mum)

What I love about Children's Oasis is how well looked after my children are and how comfortable they feel. They know the names of most of the staff and will always say 'hi' and often stop for a chat. It's a calm and nurturing environment.

From Zoi (Mum)

We love children’s Oasis Nursery. It has been a part of our lives for over 8 years with both our girls going there. The staff are all amazing and really care for the children.

Sally (Mum)

Que alegría haberlos encontrado! Estamos muy agradecidos de comenzar los años escoltarse de nuestra hija con su apoyo! Desde las maestras, hasta la directora y el ambiente de la escuela tuvimos una experiencia fenomenal y estamos entusiasmados de volver en Septiembre! Muchas gracias Children's Oasis!!!

From Adriana (Mum)

Both my boys were at Children Oasis from the time they were 2 and until they were 4 years old; first attending the Spanish Programme and then, FS1. Both classes were great! The teachers are incredibly professional and caring. The communication with the parents is excellent and reports are detailed. They make learning fun and engaging for the kids who learn through hands-on activities and play. The facilities are beautiful with lots of stimulating and educational books and toys.  I couldn't ask for more during those early years for my children!

From Maria (Mum)


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176 22، Al Beteel Street
Umm Suqeim 2
PO BOX 51952

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