How to Shop for Your Multiples (without Feeling the Pinch)
Twice the Price
It’s that time again. Neighborhoods drip with strings of shimmering light, Santa Claus is set up on nearly every street corner, and store windows lure parents anxious to elicit smiles from their precious children—smiles that might actually last longer than eight minutes. When preparing for a holiday with multiples, a bit of careful planning will help to ensure that your celebration is indeed merry and bright.
Two of a Kind?
Parents of multiples often wonder how to handle gift-giving. Is it best to buy each child the same toys, the same toys but in different colors, or different toys altogether?
Mollie Niederpruem, mother of five-year-old twin boys, has maintained the same approach since her children were born: same gifts, same colors. She notes, “My boys came out of me competitive over everything: my time, my attention, my space. So [buying two of each] works for us.” Even after purchasing two of each item, her boys still irrationally long for whichever toy the other is playing with at any point in time, so Mollie labels each toy with the first letter of the owner’s name so there can be no disputing to whom it belongs.
Bari Baskin, mother of two-year-old twins, prefers a different tactic. “I believe that it’s important for the kids to learn to share and take turns, whether they want to or not. Therefore, we purchase different toys for each child.” She also hopes that buying a greater overall variety might extend the life of the newest stimulating gadgets—assuming that her children are in the mood to share one day or another.
Neither approach is right or wrong. Whether you choose to purchase two red Wiggles guitars or one red Wiggles guitar and one yellow Fisher-Price school bus is completely dependent upon what you feel will work best for your family any given year. However, no matter which method you choose, there are a few lessons that those of us who’ve been in the holiday trenches with multiples have learned over the years—lessons that help ensure that your sanity remains as intact as possible until it’s time to fall into bed in your (hopefully) newest pair of comfortable pajamas.
First, while it may sound petty or materialistic, it’s important to make certain that each child receives the same number of gifts overall. Even if you have to throw in a box of animal crackers or a deck of cards from your own collection, this simple and inexpensive balancing act will prevent the exhausting hours during which one child complains that his brother got one more toy than he did.
Second, if your children are receiving the same gifts—possibly even if they aren’t—consider letting them each open a gift simultaneously. This allows them to be excited about their own gifts instead of focusing solely on what a sibling now has.
Finally, be sure to have batteries on hand. They are available on Christmas morning at most gas stations, but they are not inexpensive!
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