I thought I was finished talking about Christmas gift shopping but a conversation last night prompted me to say more. I couldn't bring myself to say this in person to near-strangers, but:
If your children are nagging you for gifts, want too much stuff, want every popular (highly-advertised) toy or electronic item around right now, and are generally driving you crazy over gifts... you are not training them properly.
I have many child-training failures in my life so far. My kids don't clean their rooms, don't naturally help me out in the kitchen, and are completely incapable of putting their shoes away.
But they have never nagged, pleaded, cajoled or threatened over gifts.
This must be because when they were little, we never allowed them to get hung up on popular toys. We limited their exposure to advertising and didn't buy anything related to TV shows or movies. We bought them great toys - they still refuse to give up many of their childhood toys: Playmobil figures, Legos, baby dolls. We didn't buy toys that don't do anything, but toys that were fun and useful. The Simple Homemaker has a list of toys she likes; we had many of those ourselves.
We also never asked our kids for Christmas lists. They didn't write letters to Santa and we didn't ask them directly what they wanted. We knew what kinds of things they liked when they were small, so it was easy. Now, as they are getting older - believe me, they have ways of making their desires known. But they understand that most likely, they won't get everything they would like. One of my kids is dying for an iPhone, but he knows he won't be seeing that on Christmas morning. He knows he might see that when he can pay for his monthly data plan. So, when it's not there, he won't be disappointed. I know both kids will like what we do give them, because we know our kids and we know the things they enjoy.
It is natural for kids to want stuff, and in particular to want stuff they see other people with. They can learn that they can't have everything.
But they can't learn it unless we parents teach it.