Why Parents Should Spend Less Money on Toys and Take More Family Vacations

Once the summer passes the season of holidays is arriving and the one that is mostly appreciated in terms of gifts is Christmas. This holiday is the most expected one for each family member, but especially for the children. However, it has become so much commercialized with the giving presents that in some respect certain family values are being forgotten like staying home with the family and enjoying every moment spent together.

Parents spend tons of money for various presents and once the children get older the price tag of these “toys” gets higher. Unfortunately, most of these toys are easily forgotten and end up as waste.

According to the statistics of Forbes in 2016, each parent in average will spend over $1,700 during the holiday season. Maya Kachroo-Levine, a personal finance writer, has calculated the exact sum that it will be spent per child this year. Here it is what she calculated: “Parents are predicted to spend $495 per child this year, which is nearly $100 more than they spent [in 2015].”

According to the Gallup poll report the adult population in the states had spent approximately $885 on gifts in 2018. For this year people have reported the following sum they intend to spend on gifts:

  • 33% of the people will spend at least $1000
  • 22% believe that they will spent in the range of $500 to $999
  • 29% of the people plant to spend between $100 and $499
  • 3% expect to spend less than $100

These sums are not be neglected as that is far too much money spent on gifts that most likely will become waste. Moreover, they will become easily forgotten according to Oliver James, the best-selling psychological author in Britain. He suggests that it is much better to spend all those money on family holidays than on some worthless gifts. Your children will be pleased with the idea as it turns out later in life no one remembers what he has got for Christmas but remembers the holiday and the valuable experiences that they have gained.

Not all toys are bad, but most of them include batteries and screens thus making you more distant from your children who are being absorbed in front of the blinking screen. Not to mention the fact, that they are expensive and that amount of money can be easily spent on a small trip or holiday.

Oliver James maintains the following, quote: “The whole business of providing material commodities for kids – in ever more expensive forms as they get older – is entirely 100 percent, about propping up the industry that profits from it. On the other hand, family holidays are definitely valued by children, both in the moment and for long afterwards in their memory. So if you’re going to spend money on something, it’s pretty clear which option makes more sense.”

Another professor specialized in human psychology Thomas Gilovich teaching at Cornell University, comprehensively studied this particular subject. According to the findings of his conducted studies he has come to the conclusion that “people derive happiness not from things, but from experiences”.

Science Proves the Value of Experiences

It has been scientifically proven by many researchers who conducted various studies that experiences are more important than material things. Gilovich and his research partner T.J. Carter analyzed what makes us happy in terms of purchase. They have released the findings of their 2012 study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. The conclusion was when purchasing experiences versus possessions, people feel more regret about not attending concerts than buying a piece of furniture.

Gilovich continued this research and in his 2014 study released in the Journal of Consumer Psychology he concluded that what holds our social lives together is our experiences. Here are his conclusions when we purchase experiences:

  • Experiences boost the social relations which is not the case with the purchase of material goods.
  • They create a part of a person’s identity.
  • Experiences do not trigger social comparisons contrary to material purchases.

Therefore, researchers including Oliver James, emphasize the importance of experiences created by having family holidays.

Spend Money on Family Holidays

Memories stay with you forever and the material goods are soon forgotten. Take your children on a small trip or if possible on a family holiday and make long-lasting memories. Have in mind that while you are having your holiday your children are not interested in the same things like you are. Here it is what James regarding this issue says:

 “Children see the world differently, though consumption for example: the way that French cafes have Organgina instead of Fanta is fascinating to kids, and details like that will stick with them for long after the holiday ends.

Give a two-year-old a present and she’ll get absorbed in the box instead. It’s similar with children and travel. We should let them explore their own ways of finding wonder in their surroundings.”

These holidays are great opportunity for family members to enhance their relationship and establish stronger bonds. In most cases, parents are with full-time jobs, children are most of their time in school which leaves almost no time for real communication.

James recommends having a family holiday during Christmas and if you have not done it before do it this year. It does not necessarily mean an expensive holiday you can visit your favorite local spot and enjoy each others’ company. This for sure will be memorable for you and your children.

James says: “…what children really value about holidays is the rare possibility they create for prolonged periods of playfulness with their parents.”