Kids, you’re getting nothing. For real. Don’t look under the tree for the gifts with cards hand-written in Daddy’s illegible chicken scratch because there won’t be any. You’re getting diddly this year.

Artist's impression of the author after he had a few too many last Christmas eve

I am not punishing you. I am not saying that I don’t love you or that you don’t deserve all the happiness and Beyblades in the world. You do. You’re just not getting those Beyblades from me.

Want to know why? I’ll tell you why. Because this week, I read a heartbreaking story in a Queensland community paper where a poor kid said they wanted a Mars bar for Christmas. A Mars bar. Another kid wanted a pink drink bottle.

I know you guys are not spoilt rotten, or mostly not, but there was this moment last year on Christmas morning when I looked at all the torn wrapping paper on the floor and thought nup, this is not right. This is too much. This is not Christmas.

You remember that scene in Dr Seuss’s How The Grinch Stole Christmas? The bit at the end where the Grinch sits up on his hill with all the stolen presents and looks down on the Whos in Whoville and observes that they are celebrating Christmas anyway just as eagerly without their toys?

There’s a message in that story, and the message is that Christmas is about family and togetherness and thankfulness and grace. I want to send you that message just like the Whos sent it to the grinch.

Maybe, at ages six and nine, you’re still too young to understand this. Then again maybe you’re not.

But you know what? I reckon we can play beach cricket in January with our old gear. I know we lost the plastic stumps, but we can use sticks. We don’t need a new set.

I love it when you guys improvise with your old toys. I just love it. All your school friends have Beyblades but you guys have turned your old big Lego on its sides and worked out that it spins on the corners. I swear it makes me weep with joy when I see you guys playing with that.

And those little Sylvanian Families figures. I love the little society you create with those guys and the way you play out conversations. Children using their imagination is the sweetest thing in the world, not to mention the most healthy.

Let’s be honest, you guys have sucked up your share of iPad time playing Minecraft this year. To see that you can still improvise with inanimate objects is the most beautiful thing.

So here’s the deal. Keep improvising with your old stuff. On Christmas morning, you’ll get plenty of other crap anyway from your mother and your grandparents and everybody else.

And I’ll tell you what, I’ll donate a bit of cash on your behalf to some poor kids like those kids in Queensland, how ’bout that? Plus maybe a little extra to the monkeys or the pandas or something, how’s that sound?

By the way, if perchance anyone gives you a unicycle, would it be asking too much for Daddy to have one teensy weensy little go on it?

Twitter: @antsharwood

Comments on this post close at 8pm AEDST

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    • craig2 says:

      05:08am | 14/12/12

      Good on you Ant, that’s how I feel about Xmas, got enough crap already so how much more do you need kids?

    • Nickos the Great says:

      08:13am | 14/12/12

      Tell that to the little children.  I’m sure they’ll understand and not cry and insist the same is done at their birthdays.

      What an insanely poor way to teach children about others.  You are mad.

    • Rebecca says:

      09:05am | 14/12/12

      It’s a nice sentiment, but it won’t work if they get heaps of other material things from everyone else - it will just seem like dad is the grumpy old grinch who doesn’t want to be part of the fun.
      If I was in Anthony’s position, I would avoid buying kids material thing but instead get them a fun experience that will create family memories - take them to surfing lessons or something.

    • Borderer says:

      09:11am | 14/12/12

      I disagree, if you want to actually do that you do it on the basis of your childs decision, they must make the sacrifice, anything else is a punishment. Little kids haven’t developed the rational capacity of an adult, you’d do well as a parent to remember that.

    • craig2 says:

      11:14am | 14/12/12

      Rebecca: nice idea about surf lessons, different way of giving.

      Nick: maybe money is tight, don’t know about Ant but I’m not an ALP government spending my credit card like a drunken sailor and to the hell with paying it off.

      Border: point taken

    • Ellie says:

      12:19pm | 14/12/12

      Children already have too much stress in their lives, why force them to take on all the miseries of the adult world as well?  How does it help homeless children, if your child misses out anyway?  Teaching good ethics has nothing to do with how much stuff you give them.

    • Don says:

      02:01pm | 14/12/12

      Your children will compensate by buying heaps of crap when they get from under your tyrannical rule as they grow older. Enjoy.

    • The Grinch says:

      05:38am | 14/12/12

      Does that make you feel good? is that your bit for Christmas? what a pathetic spin on life you have. Look after those two kids of 6 and 9yrs cherish them, love them,  you will look like a complete goose at Christmas in the eyes of not only your kids but the rest of your family. You say Christmas is about family then trash it by saying you are not giving any gifts to your prescious little ones but to some charity where you will be lucky if 10% gets through to its intended. If you want to “fee’ good” yourself get your kids to choose some presents, you pay then take them and the kids to the local kids hospital and them them! give the gifts to some poor kid who can’t spend some time at home with their family, then go home and have a great Christmas with your family, do not punish your family to make a futile gesture to make you feel better and superior!!

    • My Space says:

      07:21am | 14/12/12

      WTF!!! Good luck with that!!! I am sure that your your children will love that.

      We buy things that our child needs and will use. Cricket pads, tennis balls, football jersey ..... even if it is a bloody Hawthorn jersey with the No. 23 on the back.

      But you go ahead!!! Donate your cash to I am quite sure that $0.50c for every $1.00 will make its way down to the children or $0.30c for every dollar will get to the monkeys. Then sit back and tell yourself how you changed the world.

      Face it Ant, You’re just cheap, and you’re too selfish to get off your butt and buy something and wrap it up for your children. You probably wouldn’t even know what they like or what size shirt to buy.

    • HC says:

      07:50am | 14/12/12

      @The Grinch & My Space

      Love is not measured by how much you crap you buy.  And not buying stuff is not a punishment.  Shocking thought in such a materialistic country, I know, but true nonetheless.

      If his kids are half as switched on as Ant seems to be they’ll understand, even at aged 6 and 9.  Besides they’ll still probably get presents from his wife or something anyway so they aren’t going to lose much.

      Sheesh the sheer banality and stupidity of some people at this time of year never seems to have a limit…

    • Toady says:

      08:32am | 14/12/12

      How many kids have you raised, HC?  You’ve done the same as Ant, I suppose?

    • Baz says:

      08:42am | 14/12/12

      Bit of a selfish act there Ant…..... considering kids of that age have little if any empathy. I am sure they will understand when they are your age and maybe even sell all thier things to live poverty and do mission work? More likely hate you and think your an idiot but whatever turns YOU on eh?

    • HC says:

      09:10am | 14/12/12


      Yes I’ve done the same as Ant though not for the reasons given.  My family is jewish so Xmas presents are never bought because we don’t celebrate christian holidays.  We have plenty of our own holidays to celebrate none of which require such extravagance.

    • My Space says:

      09:16am | 14/12/12

      @ HC

      Ant’s children are 6 and 9 ..... exactly!!!! He could buy them a book to read (I would recommend Matthew Reilly) , a pen to write with, or a board game that they could play as a family ..... the list goes on!!! Ant’s just too lazy to go an buy a present, stingey to part with his money and too self-absorbed to give a damn about what his children think.

      Over the holidays WE will be going to the cricket nets, WE will be going to the tennis courts, WE will be going to the park and kick the football around.

      I think that you are confusing his self proclaimed nobility with selfishness.

    • Lill says:

      09:17am | 14/12/12

      Your comment:My parents never got us Christmas presents. Ever. We got Santa presents and presents from other family members but never from mum and dad (yes, yes santa presents were from them but we didn’t know that) and you know what. we couldn’t care less. We KNEW we were spoilt, we were taught that we didn’t need that much crap. And it never hurt us. Not one little bit. In fact I remember as a kid, when comparing presents with other kids at school very proudly saying “My mum and dad don’t get us presents, we get enough already and we are not spoilt”

    • ronny jonny says:

      05:43am | 14/12/12

      How will that help these kids? Don’t be fooled into thinking you can make any difference by a bit of dirty faced photogenic “poverty”. Unless you can magically change the parents of these kids into stable, caring, responsible adults instead of drunks, drug adicts, gamblers and fools you achieve nothing.
      I guess you might feel better about yourself.

    • nihonin says:

      06:37am | 14/12/12

      ‘How will that help these kids?’

      I guess much the same way we had to eat all our dinner when we were kids cause “there’s children starving in China”.  lol

    • sarah says:

      07:15am | 14/12/12


      LOL LOL

      We had to eat everything on our plates due to ‘those poor starving bi-afrans. Probably get yelled at for being racist for saying that these days smile

    • fml says:

      07:52am | 14/12/12

      Don’t know.. It might teach his kids a little humility. A little life lesson?

      I suppose its not worth parenting your kids when you can’t make a difference to all the other kids in the world, right?

    • ronny jonny says:

      08:34am | 14/12/12

      If you believe Christmas is a time to be charitable, by all means, be charitable. Why do you need to pull a tokenistic stunt? Your kids would learn more about charity and giving if you set an example by acting that way all year, not just pulling grandstanding and sending cash to a charity at Christmas. I think it’s more about Ant than the poor kids. Give up something that will cost you, not somebody else. For myself the greatest sacrifice I could make would be my time with my family on Christmas day, if I seriously wished to don the hair shirt I’d spend the day visiting old folks or the homeless or somesuch tear jerking nonsense. Thankfully I am a heartless bastard and I’ll be spending the afternoon drunk in the shade of a tree in the back yard, nursing my grotesquely swollen belly. But, If I wanted to make a point it wouldn’t involve me depriving someone else of their Christmas joy. Give your kids a little something, it doesn’t need to be much.

    • SAm says:

      05:47am | 14/12/12

      Dude..seriously. Youve taken it way too far. I agree with your principles, but having the kids suffer cause you grew a concience (ignore spelling) is just plain wrong.
      Get them something. Doesnt have to be much. We dont have to keep outdoing last year, get them just 1 special present. No harm there.
      But nothing? Really? You do realise your kids will never forget the year Santa forgot their house

    • libertarian vegetarian says:

      11:14am | 14/12/12

      Suffer?? seriously, if the definition of suffering is missing out on a christmas present we’ve got it pretty bloody easy. I would have thought suffering was going without food or not having clothes in winter or being in pain or grief.

    • hawker says:

      06:03am | 14/12/12

      Good thinking Ant. Any excuse not to go shopping this time of year. Reckon I’ll try that one on too.

    • Toady says:

      06:04am | 14/12/12

      Nice parenting.  Your kids have to pay for your guilt trip.  I guess you’ll cut the power off at the house next, so no more polar bears die on your watch. 

      I noticed that a few posters proudly announced that they told their little kids there was no such thing as Santa the other day, and that the presents they got on Christmas morning were from them.  Forget the fact that the little act of ‘Santa’ delivering presents to your kids is a great opportunity for you to give to them and expect absolutely nothing in return - no thankyou Mum and Dad,  no ‘you’re the best parents ever’... just a little kid playing with toys, wondering how Santa does it.  Yep, no magic for little kids - that would be so dishonest and unethical.  Better they sat their contemplating their imminent deaths at the hands of coal-fired power plants.

    • nihonin says:

      06:38am | 14/12/12

      I wonder if your parents Ant, will demand all the money back they spent on Christmas presents for you as a kid.

    • T says:

      08:18am | 14/12/12

      It is dishonest, and unethical. There’s nothing wrong with telling children the truth, they can still enjoy “magic” and imagination while knowing that the people who got these gifts for them were not some mythical elves in Santa’s workshop, but the parents who love them and work hard. No child of mine will EVER believe in Santa, or the Tooth Fairy, or any other quasi religious mythical claptrap. What they will know, as soon as they are capable of understanding it, is that their parents love them and got them something they wanted within a sensible budget. They will properly understand the meaning AND the value of the items given to them.

    • Toady says:

      08:40am | 14/12/12

      “What they will know, as soon as they are capable of understanding it, is that their parents love them and got them something they wanted within a sensible budget.”  Is that to make you feel better, or the kids?  And do you have any yet?  It’s not all about you, T. 

      Years ago, parents who lived on farms told their children to stay away from the dam, as the Bunyip would get them.  I suppose that is dishonest and unethical, T?  Ignore the fact that this dishonesty and lack of ethics probably saved hundreds, if not thousands of children from drowning.  Of course, much better to explain to a five year old that he would die a painful death if he slipped into the water and couldn’t get out.

    • Mick In The Hills says:

      06:32am | 14/12/12

      Ant’s green religious gesture will get plaudits from the usual suspects. 

      Pity all their kids will grow up with stress and depression from all the global warming alarmism they inflict upon the bairns as well.

      So depriving the kids of Christmas presents is nothing in their scheme of things.

    • Elphaba says:

      06:33am | 14/12/12

      Didn’t your in-laws, or your parents or something, give your then 4 yr old an iPad one year? I’d say there’s your problem right there. No one is in consultation about age-appropriate gifts for your kids. What’s next? An iPhone when they turn 12?

      Look, the sentiment might be right, but I have a feeling this isn’t going to end well. Your wife will be giving the presents with a card saying from her and you’ll be giving… nothing? A lecture? That sounds like a blast.

      You could have gone to them in January this year and said that a portion of their pocket money this year would be donated to a charity or a toy drive or something for less fortunate children. That would have been a better idea. Instead, you’re going deprive them in a way that young kids won’t understand, and hope it teaches them a lesson.

      My parents didn’t need to deprive me of Christmas presents to remind me to think of others less fortunate.  A gentle dialogue needed to be started with them way before now. If you’re worried about the value your kids place on possessions, maybe they should have gotten age-appropriate presents and guidance about the less fortunate in the beginning?

    • Anthony Sharwood

      Anthony Sharwood says:

      07:10am | 14/12/12

      You have a fine memory Elphaba and you make a good point. Had a strong feeling sentiment would be going against me today by a ratio of about 2:1. If it gets out to 3:1 or 4:1, I may reconsider. But I’m holding tough and mean for now!

    • Elphaba says:

      07:19am | 14/12/12

      Ant, like I said, the sentiment isn’t wrong, we should be reminding kids every day how blessed they are to have parents who love them and a home where they don’t want for the essentials in life. I’m just not sure your method is the most effective. Why not sign the presents your wife bought from both of you and sit down with the extended family to hash out a plan for next year?

    • My Space says:

      07:26am | 14/12/12

      I guess acceptance that you are being “tough and mean” as opposed to “warm and loving” to your children will be most gratifying to them.

      I hope your children read you comment and take note. Maybe they will stop bringing home craft from school showing how much they love you.

    • Michael says:

      07:52am | 14/12/12

      I’m liking this very much.

      I would invite the kids to suggest an action they could do to express their care and compassion for those you can consider less fortunate than yourselves.

      I’d like to invite my kids to experience lessons about life as well as teaching them some lessons about life, i bet i learn a couple from them too smile

    • Kilroy3.0 says:

      08:10am | 14/12/12

      You could always give them a bag of coal ANT.

    • dak says:

      08:40am | 14/12/12

      Coal, hey? With all the heat and pressure they’ll be getting from daddy, they’ll be able to make diamonds! In your face, dad!

    • Xar says:

      10:19am | 14/12/12

      I’m with Elphaba on this - really like what you are trying to do,Anthony,  just think there are better ways to go about it. You can teach a lesson of charity and goodwill much more effectively without being “tough and mean”.

    • Meph says:

      10:48am | 14/12/12


      Stay the course, if nothing else, all the negative feedback simply proves your point.

      to paraphrase most of the negativity “not giving them presents is cruel punishment”

      They disguise the commentary as righteous indignation at what they perceive is cruelty towards your children, but I suspect that deep down, they fear what might happen to their christmas toys if your idea catches on.

    • expat says:

      11:10am | 14/12/12

      @ Michael.

      Teaching them too much compassion and sympathy is just setting them up to fail later in life.

    • Megs says:

      11:47am | 14/12/12

      Further to what Elphaba has said, I wonder what sacrifices you are willing to make to your own personal spending, Christmas or not?

      We have 4 lads to love and look after so I understand the difficulties of seeing a floor covered in wrapping paper and stuff galore, knowing that some children will not have any of this on Christmas morning.

      We do our best to talk to them about these differences and how we feel about how lucky they are. Even better than talking though, we show them by our own actions. We don’t constantly reward ourselves for our hard work with buying the latest and greatest new thing. We are still consumers and enjoy a very comfortable life compared to the families you are referring to. However, we are mindful that more stuff does not make you happier and for the most part live true to this.

      There can be a middle ground.

      For me, Christmas is an opportunity to buy items that will add to the family unit. Board games, sporting equipment, Lego and the like. These things then become an item that is shared with family and friends over time and important social skills are developed as well as a lot of fun.

      If reading about a kid wanting a Mars bar for Christmas has moved you enough to re-think your values (by the way, these kids have always been out there), that’s fantastic, but involve your kids in it and work as a family to make the changes with you leading the way.

      Merry Christmas to all.

    • Michael says:

      12:04pm | 14/12/12

      Expat, not if what you want them to achieve is the ability to be compassionate to the beings around them.
      If i want my children to relate to different people from different walks of life, i believe that having the ability to appreciate another’s perspective by experiencing it is going to be of benefit with regard to the desired outcome.
      Perhaps if you could demonstrate where compassion for others is detrimental to achieving goals i could better see your point.

      How much compassion is too much compassion? can you be too kind or too considerate to another person?

    • Lady Gaga says:

      02:24pm | 14/12/12

      Oh Elphaba, wait until you are a grandparent! xo

    • Elphaba says:

      04:07pm | 14/12/12

      Lady Gag, it wouldn’t matter how much dough I was rolling in, an iPad for a 4yr old is the most ridiculously inappropriate present I’ve ever heard of.  A 4 yr old doesn’t need that.  It’s just a gratification present for the giver.

      Being a grandparent’s got nothing to do with it. There are other ways of spoiling them by taking them out, or filling them with all the naughty food treats they can’t normally have.  But an iPad?  Stupid.

    • PJ says:

      04:45pm | 14/12/12

      A 4 yr old getting an iPad for Christmas.

      Bears out what I always believed, you have to be stinking rich to enjoy being a socialist.

    • hawker says:

      06:36am | 14/12/12

      Shut the polls people. Toady’s got the Non Sequitur of the Day award all parcelled up (excuse the pun). At 6am, if you don’t mind.

    • hawker says:

      06:54am | 14/12/12

      Uh-oh, rather like Bill Collins in the 1982 Cox Plate I’ve called this too early..Mick in the Hills has charged late…..

    • Toady says:

      07:09am | 14/12/12

      Thanks for the award.  Not sure if my tears are caused by my emotional response, or because of the soot in my eyes from all that nasty carbon pollution. .

    • Al says:

      06:42am | 14/12/12

      Whilst I don’t disagree with the sentiment I actualy think my family has a little better way.
      The kids still get their presents, untill they get a job or turn 16, at that stage they get put in a draw where everyone in the draw gets one name for who the buy a present for, with a set price limit, and the giver is not identified.
      Everyone gets a present, the kids get their own, and the more mature get the knowledge that they haven’t got more crap that will never be used.
      It also keeps the costs down for those of the family who have a more limited income.

    • Kilroy3.0 says:

      08:13am | 14/12/12

      Lol I think its called secret Santa dude

    • Al says:

      08:38am | 14/12/12

      Kilroy3.0 - yes, but most people don’t do that for their entire family just as an office thing, and some of the people who comment here (not you specificly) need things spelt out in detail.
      Besides, I don’t buy the Santa/Christmas myth at all, I look at it as a gift to family, regardless of the time of year (we have actualy moved it to earlier/latter by months in other years). it just happens that the family get together happens aroiund this time due to so many employers closing and requiring employees to take leave at this time.

    • Kung_Fu Kimba says:

      10:29am | 14/12/12

      Al, I think you’ll find lots of families do this as well, espcially large families like mine. In our family we each have to provide a list of things that we’d like and people buying pick the items they’d like to give up to a set dollar value. That way everyone gets something they really want.

    • Lady Gaga says:

      02:34pm | 14/12/12

      And Al, that time between 2 and 16 is like a lightning flash, they’ll be grown up and grumpy old scrooges for much longer than that.  Let them be kids for that moment in time!

    • Trevor says:

      06:41am | 14/12/12

      Campbell Newman has cancelled Christmas this year with his forced austerity measures. We are the Spain of Australia you know!

    • GigaStar says:

      11:42am | 14/12/12

      -10 for bringing politics into a non-political post.

      Some people just have no self control.

    • Gregg says:

      06:45am | 14/12/12

      Great article Ant, likely your best ever and deserving of best of the year award.
      I reckon if everybody went through their cupboards, if they are anything like we have hoarded in our place, bought unused stuff etc., collectively communities could come up with mountains of gear to help those with very little to have a little more.

      The bigger problem might be how can they keep some things when having to live in a car or otherwise be sleeping rough, be it because of addicted parents or whatever.
      Logan and thereabouts is known as being something close to the epicentre of SEQ when it comes to social dislocation.

      Sadly, it is likely just one of many such locations all around Australia, supposedly the lucky country and yet we have governments and government departments/services at all levels squandering money one way or another, often because we have too many people in society who are morally bankrupt, right through to political leadership levels on all sides.

    • dweezy 2176 says:

      06:57am | 14/12/12

      Geez!! A turtleneck -sandle wearer gets a conscience, Whoopee! You left out the starving poor of Asia & Africa, Ant, Unforgiveable!
      So the kids have to pay for your guilt trip. Haven’t learnt anything from Labor and all its guilt spending have you?
      Your penny-pinching won’t have any effect on the big picture but, Heh, if it makes you feel better victimize your kids then slip downstairs out the door and a latte at your favourite green caf-de jour!

    • Wolfgang says:

      06:58am | 14/12/12

      I find it interesting that so many people think your kids will ‘suffer’ because they won’t be getting a tangible gift from there dad for Christmas.  I would love to know how they define ‘suffer’

      Oh, while making a contribution won’t solve poverty, or make better parents, ‘who do you think you will help with this gesture’, probably the children that it helps. 

      Gotta be better than nothing!!!

    • Kathy R says:

      07:16am | 14/12/12

      The point here is that the kids will get LOTS of gifts from everyone else. They won’t miss out.

      I donated to charities in name of older Grand-kids a couple of years ago, e.g Ducks for a family by the Grand son who adores ducks, Gorillas at Taronga Zoo for the one who loved them, Penquins were helped etc etc.
      With these gift donations they received a card, magazine & follow up news about their gift & what the money helps with, throughout the following year.

      The gift you are giving starts the dialogue about values and the less fortunate, children do see disadvantage more than we are aware of. My mob look forward to putting a gift under the K Mart tree or dog/cat food for R.S.P.C.A & pester their Mums to do it.

      I’d suggest you involve the kids in the giving you are planning, & not frame it in talking about all the toys & advantage they have, make it more about the joy of giving.

    • Jay2 says:

      07:17am | 14/12/12

      Well, Ant, there will be some kiddies out there who will have not much in the way of a Christmas feast, so maybe while you’re at it, you can give them bread and water to really drive in your Christmas message.  Bah..humbug to ya!

      Anyway, I find your story bs!  I bet you a mars bar, your oh has done the Christmas shopping and by the way,  lotsa luck trying to get the Grandparents etc not to give pressies.

      (PS: I’ve assumed that you have let all family/friends know that you will not be taking any gifts from anybody this year-leading by example and all that.
      grin  ??)
      Merry Christmas !

    • Nathan Explosion says:

      07:20am | 14/12/12

      That’s kinda sad, actually.

      While I agree that most kids are spoiled nowadays (my niece and nephew are getting iPads for Christmas and they’re still in primary school!! What do they need them for??), delibratley not getting your kids even a token present from Santa is pretty crappy. Even a block of chocolate would be fine.

    • Mia says:

      08:04am | 14/12/12

      In regards to the iPads, while it is an incredibly expensive Xmas gift, there are a number of educational apps that the child can use. I’ve also been using them to help a child who is dyslexic, so there are practical uses for them.
      Personally, I would rather donate something to the Wishing Tree at Kmart or Target. Then I KNOW it’s going somewhere and the money isn’t being siphoned off to pay for the office of the CEO for a charity.

    • Elphaba says:

      09:57am | 14/12/12

      There’s a big difference between a child using an iPad, and owning an iPad.  If they only used educational programs on it, fine.  But if the possession belongs to them, as Ant said, they’ll be stuck playing Minecraft.

      @Nathan, gifts like that have nothing to do with the kids wants, they’re all about the giver’s gratification.

    • philip says:

      11:42am | 14/12/12

      eIphaba there is nothing wrong with minecraft its quite constructive and heIps with the imagination my kids Iove the xbox version and have buiIt many buiIdings on the peacefuI creative setting. but we stiII force them to go outside and pIay.

    • Michael S says:

      07:21am | 14/12/12

      For adults, who cares about presents? Getting together with the family and relaxing with each other is the most important gift of all. Presence is worth more than presents.

      But you can’t not give presents to children. They don’t have to be lavish, and it makes sense to cut back and not give as much as previous years. But the joy on their faces is priceless - even if it’s just something small and cheap.

    • Philosopher says:

      07:49am | 14/12/12

      I’m giving my 2yo a Rolex, however the model WITHOUT a ring of diamonds around the face. I don’t care what you say, it’s important I don’t spoil him. Plenty of third world kids without diamonds on their watches…

    • Debbie says:

      07:31am | 14/12/12

      Not getting squillions of presents is regarded as suffering ... hmmmm ... I must have suffered badly as a child, but I don’t remember it like that. Seems to me that many (most) parents are outsourcing everything these days including responsilbility and learning and love to others. The only thing they are teaching their children is that money and the material things it can buy will trump everything else.

    • iansand says:

      07:34am | 14/12/12

      Take your kids to a toy shop, buy a toy or three, and donate the toys to a giving tree.  Explain why.  Let et the kids choose what they think would be a good present.  Your kids don’t miss out, because of your guilt trip and the deprived kids might get a toy as well as a Mars bar.  We did that a few times when the Offspring was younger.

    • Tork says:

      07:36am | 14/12/12

      Gone are the days where a wheelie bin would suffice for cricket stumps and a cardboard tube was good enough for a bat.  Thanks for the reminder.  I’ll definitely make sure my boy grows up to play more with his imagination than with his toys..

      - tork
      dad blog

    • Adam says:

      07:50am | 14/12/12

      If you really want this to work/are sincere, then tell everyone not to give your kids anything for Christmas.

    • ibast says:

      07:51am | 14/12/12

      Yep, the hypocrisy of Christmas got to me a long time ago.  You really have to be a self indulgent individual to genuinely enjoy Christmas as most people experience it.

    • fml says:

      07:54am | 14/12/12

      cheapskate! :p

      seriously though why dont you do a christmas year where you make gifts for each other?

    • Philosopher says:

      02:08pm | 14/12/12

      fml, a tied-dye hippy?

    • Knemon says:

      08:04am | 14/12/12

      Well done Ant, your children will still be bombarded with presents, it’s not like they’re going to receive nothing. Perhaps you could consider iansand’s idea above, great idea iansand.

    • Dave says:

      08:11am | 14/12/12

      Great stuff ant, whilst the other half and I will still buy the kidlets an insane amount of junk, at the suggestion of some of the other posters, I’ll also take the kids to choose a present for the lest fortunate, and explain why we’re doing it.

      Thanks for getting me thinking mate

    • Joan Bennett says:

      08:13am | 14/12/12

      The only reason people are attacking the writer of this article is because it reminds them of their mercenary, materialistic approach to life.  Because they couldn’t imagine going without presents.  Like my Mother who still insists on putting money in my Christmas card, even though I am 43 years old and been supporting myself for 20 odd years now…  I love you Mum, but what part of “I don’t want/need anything” do you not understand?  Part of the reason for dropping out of the family dos is because of all the gift giving and receiving that went on.  As the average, middle class family, we’ve all got more than we could possibly need, so why load up on more “stuff”.  It’s a sure sign that people can’t give of themselves when they give you a “toy”.  The greatest gift you can give someone is a real conversation and attempt to understand them.

    • Rose says:

      12:17pm | 14/12/12

      I don’t know about that Joan, I’d say most people are against Ant’s idea because it is pointless. You do not teach children empathy and compassion by not buying them a gift for Christmas, you teach them by showing others empathy and compassion all year round, especially when it is easier, cheaper or more comfortable not to. You teach them to appreciate what they have, to donate no longer used clothes or toys (in good condition) to reputable charities, you spend time with them doing the things that interest them, you teach them about sometimes doing things with others where they put the other person first.
      As for your mother’s gift, way to be ungrateful!! For some people it is important to be able to give and to have that gift accepted gracefully. If you don’t want the money your mother gives you donate it to a good cause, put it in a separate account that is there for when your mum needs support in her old age, find something constructive to do with it. You’re not more of a grown up, or more independent, if you look down on a woman who is just trying to do something nice for her daughter. Oh, and by dropping out of family do’s you are simply avoiding conversing with and understanding your family members, why not have a chat with them about finding a more balanced way to enjoy family occasions without overdoing the gift giving. Of course you will have to approach it from their point of view and not just your own if you want to get anywhere

    • PsychoHyena says:

      02:44pm | 14/12/12

      @Rose, I agree completely. My grandmother and great aunt insist on giving me money for birthday and christmas, the great aunt not so much now that she’s starting to lose her memory. I spent years saying it was unnecessary, but eventually learnt that the harder I fought the less open they’d be about it, e.g. money appearing in my bank account or in my bags when I’d go to stay. I learnt that it made them happy being able to contribute in that way.

    • Oldsalt says:

      08:15am | 14/12/12

      Don’t you just love it when a do-gooder punishes someone else for their guilt?

    • Stella Cruz says:

      08:20am | 14/12/12

      Tell you what Ant, give half your salary to those who are for the most part too demotivated to fix their lot in life, rob from the pockets of those who do work, give up everything you earn to make it right. Otherwise, get off your soap box, stop the pointless prostelyzing, and shut your useless first world trap.

    • ramases says:

      08:22am | 14/12/12

      Good for you, another one waking up to the fact that this pagan festival that has been high-jacked by the religions is just a money making exercise for the retailers. Oh wait this is a an article about giving to others isn’t it. Those that cant afford to give to their own children and why is that. Could it be that their parents are no hopers who drink and smoke ( and not only tobacco) and think this is more important than looking after their own kids. Just a couple of days without buying packets of cigarettes would give most children a decent present under the tree but it s a me me situation where the adults come first and foremost and the children lose their sparkle after the baby bonus has run out.
        Every year we get the same sob stories from the same types of people about how they cant afford to buy presents for their kids and how their kids Xmas is going to be so bad but have a look at those saying this, really have a look. Same old, same old.
      In the words of someone with the right idea, Bah Humbug.

    • C says:

      08:30am | 14/12/12

      I went through things like this as a child - my mother thought it was a “good lesson” for me and my siblings. At Christmas time we were always told that what we might have got was being given to some “poor child”.
      We knew better than to argue but I doubt it made us better human beings or more aware of the needs of others.  It certainly did nothing to improve the relationship between my mother and myself and my siblings feel the same way.
      All the explanation in the world is not going to take the hurt away Mr Sharwood.

    • Santaclausiscoming says:

      01:14pm | 14/12/12

      Here here C. Seriously why hurt your kids, they are Kids. Perhaps the day after Christmas have them choose 1 of their new toys to donate to charity. That way they are giving, rather than you taking away.
      Don’t be a grinch

    • dak says:

      08:34am | 14/12/12

      Hang on…you’ve presented this as though there will be NO presents under the tree, but they’re still getting presents from their mother? Do you live apart? If not, then this is pointless. Will they do a tally and say at the end “OK dad we got 20 presents from mum but none from you. Please tell me why. I would love to take time away from all my shiny new stuff to hear it.” As if they’ll even notice. If you DO live apart, then you’re just going to be the parent who ruined Christmas. Good luck with that.

    • Claire says:

      02:50pm | 14/12/12

      Yeah exactly. Dad never brought us presents, as in he never shopped for them. But they were still under the tree “From Mum and Dad”.

    • jade (the other one) says:

      08:37am | 14/12/12

      My mother and I, from when I was very, very small, had a tradition at Christmas time. I would go shopping with her and choose a present, bought out of my own pocket money. I would then, with my mother, wrap that present, and place it under the Wishing Tree at KMart, after writing the tag.

      This simple act taught me from a very young age that I was most fortunate and lucky to have parents who could afford to buy me mountains of Christmas presents, and that I should be grateful for what I had. Far more than if my mother had pulled the Christmas rug out from under me to be honest.

      The thing that really, really riles me about that story, is that the simple truth is, if those kids can’t get something as simple as a mars bar or eyeglasses from their parents, their parents shouldn’t have those kids. I grew up in Logan. Several of my neighbours and friends in Logan used to frequent the food vans driven around by a local church to feed the “homeless”. Not one of them was homeless, but getting a free meal meant more money for cigarettes and alcohol. It’s disgusting.

    • encee says:

      01:59pm | 14/12/12

      Jade (the other one),

      I totally agree with this sentiment:

      if those kids can’t get something as simple as a mars bar or eyeglasses from their parents, their parents shouldn’t have those kids.

      However, those kids didn’t choose to be born to arsehole parents. It’s nice that somebody besides the shitty parents are thinking of them.

    • Matt says:

      08:40am | 14/12/12

      Almost as meaningful as turning off all your lights and appliances in your house for an hour each year to save the planet… almost.

    • Lexie says:

      08:46am | 14/12/12

      Dude, don’t deprive your kids to alleviate your own guilt. That’s dumb. Take them down to the soup kitchen or something if that will make you feel better, but lighten up FFS!

    • T says:

      08:49am | 14/12/12


      Why don’t you give them half as many presents as last year and donate the rest?

      Your Kids are too young to understand not getting anything at all. I agree with the sentament though… I’m not giving gifts to my family this year (except the littlies) and we are instead helping out with wires for sick and injuried wild life. (We have a little kookaburra staying with us ATM, our parrots aren’t too pleased!)

      And to those who are saying there is no point in donating and/or helping out because it won’t solve the problem or the charities take most of the moeny… I hope you never have to need a helping hand. That is just absolute B.S!

      I sponser a child and while I know it isn’t going to help the millions of staving people in the world I can at least help out one community, and I enjoy the drawings the little man sends me every few months.

    • Philosopher says:

      08:56am | 14/12/12

      I post a mildly humorous comment about an abusive post addressed to Ant, and it gets censored, while the really nasty ones get through. At some point the moderator(s) really do have to explain their reasoning, or lack thereof. We’re all interested.

    • Shi says:

      08:57am | 14/12/12

      I applaud your sentiment, but I think that you are going the wrong way about it.  Maybe just don’t buy them as much, or buy them useful but fun presents such as cool icypole makers, books to read, a magazine subscription, or something that encourages their creativity.  I honestly think that you will regret this decision.  Just because you have swung too far one way in the past, doesn’t mean that you should swing too far the other way now.  You don’t have to feel guilty about enjoying the magic of Xmas, the joy on their faces, before you know it they will be grown up and this special time will be gone.

    • Shi says:

      08:55am | 14/12/12

      I applaud your sentiment, but I think that you are going the wrong way about it.  Maybe just don’t buy them as much, or buy them useful but fun presents such as cool icypole makers, books to read, a magazine subscription, or something that encourages their creativity.  I honestly think that you will regret this decision.  Just because you have swung too far one way in the past, doesn’t mean that you should swing too far the other way now.  You don’t have to feel guilty about enjoying the magic of Xmas, the joy on their faces, before you know it they will be grown up and this special time will be gone.

    • expat says:

      09:01am | 14/12/12

      I just buy myself my own presents.. Get exactly what I want that way!

    • Phoebe says:

      09:10am | 14/12/12

      What I took from the original story was not the meagre gifts these children would like, but the fact that so they were homeless and/or living rough.  Why do we as a society allow this to happen?
      I’m not suggesting that we just hand out more money, but surely we should be asking ourselves why is it that we can’t give these children the basic security of a roof over their heads…
      How did these families fall through the cracks?  What issues are causing them to remain homeless, and what services do they need to get themselves back on track?
      The lack of a Mars bar or a drink bottle would seem to me to be one of their lesser problems.

    • jade (the other one) says:

      10:42am | 14/12/12

      The fact that one of the children is asking for her dad to stop drinking would be a clue as to what’s wrong in these families.

    • Phoebe says:

      11:25am | 14/12/12

      Yes, I don’t doubt that’s part of the problem, but is she in Dad’s care?  Is Mum involved?  If she is in Dad’s care, and he can’t control his drinking to the extent that he can’t provide a roof over his daughter’s head, then is it time for DOCS to step in?
      It just concerned me that we’ve become so desensitised to children’s homelessness that we had completely skipped over that part of the story and were busy discussing whether or not Ant was a bad dad for daring to suggest he would withhold presents from his kids this year.

    • Alex says:

      09:12am | 14/12/12

      Anthony, with all respect, don’t be a tool.  You can still have the conversation about the true meaning of christmas, take gifts to kids stuck in hospital, get involved in a christmas drive etc, without your stocks plummeting as a dad.  They won’t look back at this fondly, thinking “remember the year dad didn’t get us any presents? sure changed my view of the world!!”  - they’ll just think you were a self-righteous knob.  Figure out a way of delivering the right message while still being a positive part of one of their most enjoyable childhood experiences, it’s surely not that hard.

    • James1 says:

      09:12am | 14/12/12

      Why would anyone play Minecraft on an iPad?  I find it almost unworkable.  Whatever happened to good, old-fashioned desktop computer gaming using keyboard to move and the mouse to look around and perform actions?

      Kids these days, I dunno…

    • James1 says:

      09:14am | 14/12/12

      “And I’ll tell you what, I’ll donate a bit of cash on your behalf to some poor kids like those kids in Queensland, how ’bout that?”

      I would recommend against that.  The parents would probably sell the toys to buy drugs or something.

    • Come again? says:

      10:56am | 14/12/12


      I hope you’ll lose some of that cynicism in the true spirit of Christmas.

    • AJ says:

      09:14am | 14/12/12

      It seems a bit odd to me to not get them anything at all. Will a six year old and a nine year old understand *why* they are being punished (since they will surely interpret no presents on Christmas morning as a punishment)?

      Wouldn’t it be preferable to sit down with them this weekend, talk about how many kids, including themselves, receive a lot of new toys each Christmas, but that some kids don’t receive any. And then ask them to go through their toys and to pick out some they no longer play with to donate to charity?

      Or alternatively, why can’t you make them something for Christmas? Wouldn’t the Sylvanian Families figures be happier in a house or castle or apartment complex made by you out of a couple of old cardboard boxes? Or maybe you could build them a Beyblade arena from some cardboard for the Beyblades they may receive from their mum or other relatives?

      Or you could give them some “vouchers” for quality time with you. When I was very young, I once asked my mum for a bedtime story every night for a month for my birthday present. I loved reading together at bedtime, but my mum being a single mum wasn’t able to read with me every night. When I asked for “story time” as a present, she made sure to spend at least five minutes with me reading part of a book each night for many months. Your children may be too old for something like that, but vouchers for a “day at the park” or similar might be appreciated.

      I guess it’s possible that your kids will receive so many new toys that they won’t notice that they didn’t receive any from their dad, but it really does seem like an odd stance to take.

    • Jeff says:

      09:15am | 14/12/12

      For once, Ant, I think you could have done this better. What is the message to the kids? That not giving is appropriate? I feel a better approach is to have your kids buy some toys and give them as donations. Teach THEM the art of giving, rather than deprive them of receiving. Their reward is still a present for Xmas, but knowing that they’ve shared that joy with a less fortunate child.

    • MammaMia says:

      09:24am | 14/12/12

      Your going to pay a huge price for your sanctimony Ant..all the kids will get out of this is that Dad is a mean bastard.

      While I appreciate trying to teach the kids to be grateful for what they have and to be aware of the suffering of others, not giving them ANYTHING teaches them nothing.

      Odds on, the kid who wishes for a Mars Bar for christmas also experiences abuse, hunger and fear on a daily basis, so why don’t you teach your little ones about that too while your at it. Forget the “eat your dinner, there are kids starving in China” line, why not just not feed them at all to “teach” them to be appreciative of the food on their table. Or go and live in a car for 6 months so they experience displacement. Or abuse them for awhile to teach them a real lesson.

      Its ONE DAY A YEAR. They are CHILDREN. I dont spoil my kids on a daily basis, but at Christmas, they get some things that are on their wish lis, so for people like you they would be “spoiled”. 5 presents each from Santa, they have 1 Grandparent and 1 Aunt..I dont think we go overboard. We also do the K-Mart wishing tree, and have a sponser child, and they have seen how lucky they are to have 2 loving parents,good friends, and a warm, stable home because they’ve seen the alternative through close family members who do not have those very essential things.
      Put your money where your mouth is, and give up half your earnings to donate or give up your time to voluntee, but don’t punish your kids.

    • MammaMia says:

      10:38am | 14/12/12

      Umm - thanks Zinger…but thats not actually me !!

    • Laura says:

      09:25am | 14/12/12

      Dear Ant,
      My family live below the poverty line. I’m 23 years old now, and don’t really get gifts anymore, but my younger sister does. Mum and I were sitting at the kitchen table the other day discussing what she had planned in the way of gifts. Dad will be getting a nice t-shirt from Lowes and a box of chocolates, my sister will get The Sims expansion pack and a cheap bottle of perfume from the chemist, and she is buying me a set of towels.
      This is a slightly poorer version of our Christmas than usual because mum accidentally speeded through a school zone twice this year, and the stair lift attached to our house so she can get up and down the stairs broke a couple of weeks ago, and cost $550 to repair.
      I thought about this a lot when I was child, because I was very aware of the fact that my family is considerably poorer than those of my peers, and it wasn’t unusual for me to lie to them about what I got for Christmas, and actually how many gifts I got. The magic number seemed to be over 20 gifts. That to me was mind boggling because I think the most I ever got was 5. We never had any game consoles, hell we didn’t even have a VCR until I was 12.
      I just wanted to say thank you for giving your children the opportunity to appreciate when they are older the kind of principled person their father was, and I hope that it serves them well in the future, being better adults because of that one Christmas. The gift you are giving them is one of tremendous value, and whilst they may not be able to appreciate that now, they sure as hell will in the future.
      The dividends in being raised by such lovely people, however poor, has reached well into my adult years. I am studying postgraduate law, and couldn’t be more thankful for the opportunity. I’m not saying that kids who get all that they want for Christmas are bad people, I’m just saying that there is value in these other experiences, and will be all the better for it.
      Thank you.

    • ronny jonny says:

      09:49am | 14/12/12

      “mum accidentally speeded through a school zone twice this year”, this is not an accident. Are you serious? I suspect a troll…. you almost had me until you mentioned the stair lift. Reachng a bit far with that one. I hope she didn’t also get a flat tyre on her mobility scooter. No cancer? Surely someone in your poor but honest, salt of the earth family must have cancer?

    • Laura says:

      10:32am | 14/12/12

      Dude… she’s 60, and is chronically ill. People do accidentally speed through school zones, they forget what time of day it is.. and quite frankly I’m not sure how much longer mum will be allowed to drive. Also, people who can’t get up and down stairs, can still drive… You obviously have not had much contact with disabled people in your lifetime, because if you did you would no better than to make such terrible judgements. You’re a bit sick. I really hope you do not work in any capacity that deals with children or the disabled, because your attitude certainly concerns me.

    • Toady says:

      10:45am | 14/12/12

      I grew up in a shoebox.  The lid blew off one year and all our chrissie presents were ruined by the rain.  That year, dad said Santa died from a heroin overdose.  He never came to our shoebox again.

    • Philosopher says:

      10:48am | 14/12/12

      nice work ronny jonny… real classy. Laura, you’re a credit to your family, I’m sure they are extremely proud of you.

    • Zeta says:

      10:54am | 14/12/12

      @ Toady - Shoebox? Pfff. Luxury. I grew up in a Tesco bag on a stoop. And not one of your fancy, house stoops either. This stoop was all that was left after our meth house caught fire.  We should have been so lucky to have had a Dad who’d die of a heroin overdose. One Christmas, Dad took bath salts and ate our Mum’s face off. Then we rubbed gravel in our hair for breakfast.

    • Michelle says:

      11:02am | 14/12/12

      Laura, thanks for sharing your story. I really apreciated hearing it. And just ignore ‘ronnyjonny’ - he has absolutely no idea what he’s talking about. You, on the other hand, are a great tribute to your family and your upbringing.

      Although my family wasn’t below the poverty line growing up, we were pretty close to it. I still clearly remember many of the presents I received. I was so excited at age 12 to get a Walkman….I’m a little older than you smile  when most of my friends were getting much much more than that. Unlike my some of my younger extended family members who will not remember the gift vouchers they’ve demanded from grandparents (so they can “buy what they want”) :(

    • Michael S says:

      11:08am | 14/12/12

      Toady, cardboard box? Luxury! We used to ‘ave to live in hole in middle-o’-road.

      We used to have to get up at half past ten, half an hour before we went to bed, lick road clean with tongue, work 25 hours a day down pit and pay pit owner for permission to come to work. And when we got ‘ome, our Dad with slice us in two with breadknife if we were lucky.

    • Pete says:

      09:34am | 14/12/12

      oh god people! seriously f^&k the children, believe it or not life is not all about them. and christmas is certainly not all about opening presents. its never to early to not spoil kids. I for sure wouldn’t look back on my childhood as lacking if my parents didn’t give me gifts for christmas. Frankly i’d be a lot less jaded and cynnical of the world now if they had made more statements like Ant is attempting. I feel these parents dissing the idea are the same ones whinging about “the youth of today” and their lack of respect for others and attitude that they are owed something from society.

      Teach a man to fish i say!

    • Amy says:

      09:41am | 14/12/12

      You create the psychological torment now and you receive it back tenfold when they end up hating you as an adult.
      It’s torment because they’re kids and considering YOU have raised them to have these expectations of Christmas (yes, that does include your choice to involve them in western consumerism), it is your fault that they will be unhappy when you say no.

      Of course, I sincerely hope you’re just being a spectacular failure of a troll, and that this is all nonsense made up to make us tell you how rubbish you are at being a parent.

    • Sophie says:

      09:43am | 14/12/12

      Well I’ll support you Ant. I can’t believe the blinded life many of you live. Do you really think that a child’s sense of love comes from how many presents they receive on christmas.

      If so, that’s a shame for 2/3 of the world’s population who are not only not receiving gifts, but not recieving FOOD this christmas. They don’t feel loved? Certainly by the West they don’t….

      I’m sure your kids are going to be just fine.

      I too feel uncomfortable buying expensive rubbish for my family this year and would prefer all money goes to World Vision of Tear Gift catalogues (of which 80c of the $1 goes to the people, My Space). But cannot impose that on others so instead that has been MY wishlist and I will buy them a variety of candles, jewellery, clothes….

      When I have kids, we will be remembering the greatest gift of christmas and practice being sacrificially generous to those many people in the world with NOTHING.

    • Cath says:

      09:41am | 14/12/12

      Involve the kids in it Ant, otherwise it just won’t work and they will be resentful.  They have to want to do it - a decree from above that this is what is happening won’t work.  Show them the poverty of the kids and make it their decision; you will probably find they are all for it ... and you can give to others AND give the kids something not very extravagant - like some new beach cricket stumps!

    • Laura says:

      09:43am | 14/12/12

      My suggestion would be to go with your kids, and buy a present together to go to St Vincent De Paul or that Kmart wishing tree or something like that… explain that this year, they are going to help another kid have a happy Christmas by sharing what they have with someone less fortunate. Take them to buy a gift from World Vision that goes to help families in a poor country or even think about sponsoring a child, here or overseas. If you involve the kids in it my experience has been that they find it very fulfilling and get just as excited to help another kid less fortunate.

    • Rach says:

      09:44am | 14/12/12

      This is extremely rude of you to do this when you know the children’s presents will be supplied by other family members.  If no-ne bought your kids gifts, they would just be miserable, not enlightened about the need for charity and to be less materialistic.  I agree that you should teach these principles all through the year, not just make it up now on a whim. 

      I also believe Christmas is a time of learning for kids on how to give, receive and show gratitude.  My husband’s family converted to the Jehovah Witness religion when he was 7.  All present giving and receiving stopped.  He will firmly tell you this messed with his head - and not in a good way.  He now feels uncomfortable receiving gifts and had to relearn what joy giving gifts can bring.  Gift giving is one of the small joys of life -  please don’t deprive your kids of this.

    • Sync says:

      09:50am | 14/12/12

      Sorry, Ant…your problems and your issues are yours. Don’t force them onto your kids.

      It’s just like those parents who are going into Christmas with “I didn’t buy you a gift, instead you gave an impoverished village in deepest Africa a sheep”.

      Explain that to your kids when their friends ask them “What did you get for Christmas?”, and they have to reply “Nothing; my dad felt sorry for a family in Queensland and decided not to get us anything”.

      Let your kids be kids. Don’t make them grow up faster than they need to.

    • Villainsoft says:

      09:54am | 14/12/12

      Nobody is forcing you to celebrate christmas, or any other cultural holiday. Don’t like it, don’t do it. It’s easy.
      I don’t like christmas and I don’t celebrate it, but I’m definately not a grinch. I spoil myself year round.
      If you want a better alternative, try Saturnalia. Its not really about presents, although that can be part of it, but is definately about coming together and having a feast. None of these meaningless icons and culturally-alien christmas tradition expects you to adopt.

    • Andrew says:

      10:02am | 14/12/12

      Oh, so your kids ARE getting presents, just not from you personally. Well that’s ok then.

      Ruining the one day of the year that gives kid’s lives any relevance is going to backfire. Big time.

      If you harbour feelings of guilt over kids whose parents make poor choices, deal with them yourself. Your kids will learn when they are ready. Give your kids a present and send some presents up the kids in Queensland. Just make sure their parents dont get hold of them first and trade them in for a case of XXXX.

    • Michelle says:

      10:04am | 14/12/12

      Although I don’t go the extreme of ‘no presents’, I definitely agree with your sentiments Anthony (there’s nothing wrong with their old toys and YES, imaginative play with toys is the ultimate). I’m not suggesting my kids (aged 4 & 7) are completely selfless, however they seem to have learnt over the years that Christmas isn’t all about them getting, getting, getting. My 4 yr old has asked for: a pillow pet, a golf ball (?!) and spiderman bubble bath!!. We are giving him a bit more than that (we thought we’d throw in a whole golf set, rather than just a golf ball smile ). But leading up to Christmas, my kids have been invovled in a number of activities where they are focusing on people who have less than them (overseas and locally). They went to the shops and picked out toys for kids in a women’s refuge. They sent made Christmas cards for our sponsor kids overseas. None of this will ‘save the world’ (and it’s not meant to be a bragging point) but what it has done is given them some outward focus. They can stil have a wonderful Christmas receiving and giving gifts with family. And thankfully both sides of our family are not into over the top gifts. This year we are also trying something that I know some families do: for every new toy they get, they have to give an old one away grin

    • Katie says:

      10:17am | 14/12/12


      So because some kids have nothing, you’ll be giving your own nothing? I don’t think you’re going about this the right way. As someone prior said, give them an experience.

      Or better, take your kids shopping for a gift to donate to a poor child who has nothing. Explain to them that, while they’re lucky, some kids have nothing, and it’s important to help them out when you can. Perhaps ask your kids if they have any toys they could donate. Make them a part of it. It’ll teach them some values, other than make you look like a grouch.

      Or better yet, take them to Oxfam to pick out an animal to donate to kids overseas. That’s also a good cause. Then that can be their present.

      Just witholding gifts with no explaination is useless in teaching them anything, and lazy.

    • PsychoHyena says:

      11:30am | 14/12/12

      @Katie, regardless of whether I agree or not with Ant on this, he’s not necessarily denying them an experience (one could argue he’s letting them experience a Christmas without presents).

      If you know what it’s like to go without then you are more likely to appreciate what you do get. Honestly I think that Ant will end up getting his kids something, but it would be something less commercial.

    • Greg says:

      10:16am | 14/12/12

      My father was a cheap bastard who pretended he was a socialist when it suited him, claimed he was trying to save the world which seemed to involve just telling people he was trying to save the world. He claimed that xmas and birthdays were “tools of the system” and it would help us to toughen up to be free of materialstic trappings.
      It worked though, I now see him in his old age crying and lying in his own piss and shit and i dont feel anything close to pity or remorse for him.

    • Lee says:

      10:48am | 14/12/12


      sorry to hear about what happened with your Dad. Perhaps, in the true spirit of Christmas you might find it in your heart to forgive him and make things good. I hope so anyway. Happy Christmas.

    • Baloo says:

      11:46am | 14/12/12

      That sounds horrible, I hope your children won’t treat you the same.

    • Gulli says:

      10:24am | 14/12/12

      Australians you disgust me with your chronic consumerism. I can’t believe there is this mindset that if you don’;t buy kids pressies for their b’day, xmas and whatever other commercial spending day was create by big business it’s paramount to child abuse.

      Wow i am gobsmacked aussies i truely am.

    • Kavvy says:

      10:39am | 14/12/12

      Why do you assume all ‘Aussies’ have the same attitude to consumerism? Mass generalisation there Gulli. Tell me more about this big homogenous group who all think the same about xmas and everything else

    • Fed Up says:

      10:28am | 14/12/12

      My advice would be to buy your kids a pressie for Xmas or they may take you to court down the line and sue your ass for child neglect.
      C’mon man!
      Kids are like junkies…they need their pressie fix at Xmas…as they get older ..then you can wean them off.
      Honestly…secular progressives freak me out.

    • amanda says:

      10:36am | 14/12/12

      Congratulations to MOST of the people on this page.  You are a retailers dream come true. BUY BUY BUY, doesnt matter the reason any more (celebrating Jesus birthday went out the window moons ago) just BUY BUY BUY!!!  This is the first time in my life that I am not buying ANYBODY xmas presents.  I have also told them not to buy for me.  I would much rather give a gift spontaneously during the year to people I WANT to give to not people I HAVE to, than be told “its that time of year, spend up’.  The added pressure for people to buy presents that are doing it tough is bull honky.  I can assure you that within less than a week of xmas you ask some teenager (generalizing here, but any age group would suffice)  what they got and they will only remember 1, 2 or 3 things at best.  This is probably great stimulation for the grey matter if you got 1, 2 or 3 things, not 20!  In my family (in laws included) every one get their pressie and less than 5 minutes later couldnt give a rats behind what they got.  Its like apathy for gone wild.  I’m done buying for some of the most ungrateful, trouble making, spineless morons of the world.  And yes, they are blood…

    • villainsoft says:

      10:51am | 14/12/12

      Its become a fact that people like receiving gifts more than the actual gift itself. If that wasn’t true, people would not care how many gifts they get.

    • Ellie says:

      12:40pm | 14/12/12

      I grew up below the povety line, money was always tight, Mum hand-made our clothes, and there were no treats at all.

      However, Christmas was different.  Mum made sure she set aside a bit of money every week, so that when Christmas came we could all have a lovely meal, with a big pile of presents underneath our crappy second hand tree.  They are the happiest memories of my childhood, and they made me feel important and loved.  It’s not always just about the gifts.

    • Michael S says:

      10:37am | 14/12/12

      I wonder - if the 9yo & 6yo kids don’t read Dad’s writings on The Punch; how did he break the news to them and how did they take it? Some kids would suck it up OK, some would have tears and tantrums.

      I felt sorry for my next door neighbour last Christmas. His employer went under at the beginning of December, drawing him into what was looking like a long & protracted fight to get his entitlements.
      With no idea where his next pay packet was going to come from, or how long his savings would last; it broke his heart to have to tell his 7yo son that Santa Claus isn’t real. His son took the news surprisingly well, but then told all his friends at school, and he got accused of being the local grinch.

    • SKA says:

      10:39am | 14/12/12

      Given Ant has already said that his wife and parents will give his kids presents, I wonder if the kids will notice the difference that he hasn’t? At that age, I didn’t notice. I had enough presents, I didn’t usually discriminate between who gave them to me, I think at that age, I raced around hugging and thanking everyone in sheer excitement.
      Ant - I don’t know how your stance will work on the kids or if they’ll notice but one thing you might want to do with your kids is head into the Kmart Wishing Tree. My mum took my brother and I every year as kids. And every year we both got to pick presents that we would like to give an unknown child. We both absolutely loved doing that. In fact, mum started an ingrown tradition, I still do that myself every year.

      We also loved going Christmas shopping. Even in pre-school, we’d do jobs for cash and then mum would take us to the $2 shop to buy presents for our parents, grandparents and eachother (I don’t really remember what we got people, probably absolute trash given the very small amount of money we each would have raised, and often we’d handmake extra stuff but we got so excited about doing it and we’d hide in our rooms wrapping the presents afterwards).

      Maybe that is something else you can do with your kids? I still think it was a lovely thing my mum taught my brother and I, the joy that can be found in giving to others. These days the presents are usually experiences because as an adult, I see giving time as even more valuable. Both of us also donate regularly to charity.

    • Jim Peters says:

      10:48am | 14/12/12

      I feel sorry for your kids. It’s not about the stuff, that will not be remembered. But the joy and excitement of Christmas morning is the best time of a kids (and a parents) life. That is what gets remembered. What memories will your kids have of Christmas? Crushing disappointment because their father felt making some ridiculous moral stand was more important?

    • Jess says:

      10:50am | 14/12/12

      Maybe just buy your kids one present and take them to buy a present each to put under the wishing tree. 

      You could also buy an on-going gift like sponser a child or oxfam unwrapped, kiva or sponser an Australian child through vinnies or the smith family to pay for their school uniform, supplies and excursions through the year. If you really wanted the ultra feel good foster a child in need. you can do these things as a family and enrich your childrens christmas while not sacrifice

    • Christopher says:

      11:10am | 14/12/12

      If I read one more secular atheist crap on about the “Spirit of Christmas” I am going to rip my eyes out. Aren’t you ashamed of your hypocrisy?

      Way to hijack a spiritual celebration,  whore it out, only to then hijack it again for another reason.

      I am a Christian who believes in the division of Church and State. There should be no public holidays for Christmas or Easter, just like there aren’t for other belief systems. I’ll take my leave at those times of the year and others can choose to take theirs when they want to. 

      If you don’t want to be Christian, that is your decision that I respect. Just don’t hijack my spiritual beliefs when it suits you and use it for some personal agenda.

      Unless you’re a Christian Anthony, why is your celebrating it at all?

    • Michael says:

      11:26am | 14/12/12

      “If you don’t want to be Christian, that is your decision that I respect. Just don’t hijack my spiritual beliefs when it suits you and use it for some personal agenda”.

      “Unless you’re a Christian Anthony, why is your celebrating it at all”?

      There are some Pagans that would like to talk to you about the possible revision of history and the “hijacking” of spiritual celebrations.

    • JC says:

      11:46am | 14/12/12

      “If you don’t want to be Christian, that is your decision that I respect. Just don’t hijack my spiritual beliefs when it suits you and use it for some personal agenda.”

      Oh, the irony. It’s funny how so many Christians don’t even know the origin of their own celebrations.

    • Sue says:

      12:06pm | 14/12/12

      From the comments below Christopher, it makes you wonder how these people will react/adapt when they have to bow with their bums in the air to pray to Muhammed 5 times a day.
      You are right- leave our beliefs alone.  More to the point, learn some appreciation for the fact that we are not of Muslim origins. If they don’t want to join us, then stay quiet, live your lives as you choose.

    • Lexie says:

      03:33pm | 14/12/12

      Christopher, ‘Christmas’ was a date stolen by Christians to convert more Pagans to the dark side. I am Pagan, and I exchange gifts at Christmas. I celebrate Yule not the alleged birth of Jesus

    • Lizzie says:

      11:14am | 14/12/12

      I think a lot of people posting here did not read the article properly, the children will be getting gifts from other relatives, Ant has decided not to buy gifts from himself for his children, so they are not missing out on Christmas morning…..Lovely article Ant and blessings to you, have a Merry Christmas.

    • T says:

      11:18am | 14/12/12

      Good one Ant. I support you wholeheartedly. My hubby and I don’t have kids but we have a lot of nieces and nephews. We got them something little and the rest of the toys, clothes, undies and books etc I put in a box and brought it to the homeless centre in Beenleigh (from the article). We also explained to our nieces and nephews that we are giving some extra presents to less fortunate kids as they don’t have as much as other kids do.
      We are a really sad society if we criticise someone who wants to give presents to homeless children instead of his own (who are getting presents anyway from others) or decides to not overload their children with presents because they would rather save the money and teach them to appreciate what they have. Xmas is about giving as well as receiving and spending time with your family. It’s nice to know that some of us have made a difference even though its a small one.

    • SM says:

      12:27pm | 14/12/12

      well said T. 

      Hard to believe some of the people who are condemning the writer over this piece. Can only hope their kids don’t turn out the same as them

    • Andrew says:

      11:28am | 14/12/12

      A more accurate headline would be - Why my kids are getting nothing from me personally.

    • Robert says:

      11:30am | 14/12/12

      Don’t worry about the presents let’s get the Christ out of Christmas

    • Nostromo says:

      11:43am | 14/12/12

      That’s like saying let’s take the bogan out of Australia Day! ;-p

      What, 10 other public holidays in the year not enough for you?
      I’m sure you’d like to get rid of Easter and the Queen’s birthday too, but a day off in Nov glorifying animal abuse, alcoholism and gambling/love of money is ok, right?

    • Noelene says:

      11:39am | 14/12/12

      And what does mum have to say?She’ll be buying for them?

    • Sue says:

      11:59am | 14/12/12

      If she is a single mum, she will.

    • Jasmine says:

      11:59am | 14/12/12

      Is it reprehensible not to buy toys but give away outgrown or unwanted ones (clean, in good condition)?

    • Poita says:

      11:58am | 14/12/12

      Someone should alert the Salvos and get them to send some stuff to Ant’s house.

      Sure give some stuff to homeless kids but also give stuff to your kids. It is not your fault they are homeless, and it certainly isn’t your kids’ fault.

    • James of Fremantle says:

      12:30pm | 14/12/12

      With my 5 year old son, we are conscious of not spoiling him too much, but we are reasonably comfortable and enjoy providing him with some mod cons. We constantly explain that other people are not so fortunate.

      My wife and I sponsor a child each through World vision and for all of my siblings and my dad, I buy World Vision cards which is effectively saying that I have bought a goat/chicken/immunisation etc. on your behalf for some under priveleged people. This always goes down pretty well.

      At work, instead of sending corporate gifts to clients, I provide hampers for a couple families that are doing it tough for one reason or another and all of my workers contribute to this. My 5 year old son offered 2 big teddy bears from his shelf to the hampers this year. We teach him about how lucky we are, but will not stop buying him Christmas presents.

      He already empathises. When I gave him 50 cents recently to put in his money box, he came back and told me it was full.When I told him that we would take it to the bank and put it in his account, he said, “Why don’t I give it to the poor kids”. I did tear up slightly and congratulated myself for raising a caring kid.

      Maybe Anthony is right, but I always got presents and like to think that I have grown up to be a caring, giving person.

    • A surface Grinch says:

      12:32pm | 14/12/12

      Hi Ant, I really wanted to do the same this Christmas, but I think I will wait until the kids are a little older perhaps teens before I pull the Grinch card.  At this stage its all about FUN, the count down until christmas day, the anticipation and pure excitement coupled with catching up with friends and relatives.

      I wish all kids could experience that at least once.

      You are right, presents dont make Christmas, but there is something sweet about gift giving.  Perhaps one solution is for you to either give your kids money to shop for some disadvantaged kids, or you do that secretly yourself.  There is an art in gift giving.

      Merry Christmas,

    • Robbo says:

      12:40pm | 14/12/12

      So you read this heartbreaking story about how some kids have bugger all and you project whatever you felt about that onto your kids. How about you dig into your pockets a little bit deeper so that your kids can get a preso from their old man and so that you can donate money to other worthy causes.

      I would suggest that your own kids are the worthiest cause.

    • the cynic says:

      12:47pm | 14/12/12

      Anthony . I’m right there with you in your approach to teaching the little ones empathy and all that but I don’t agree with your methodology. I have been following a similar trend all my life but have spared the kids from not getting presents from me at Christmas or birthdays etc.

      They get their goodies but I always asked the seated crowd around the tree or the festive board “Wonder what the poor people are doing right now? This always elicited much disscussion on how we can help.

      Has worked well over the years, all three kids have grown up well adjusted succesful individuals and are mindful of the others in society who are not as priviliged or well off. Our contributions to those in need has forever been forged with that throw away line I uttered all those years ago.

    • Audra Blue says:

      12:59pm | 14/12/12

      Growing up in a single parent household, my son was never spoiled.  When he lived at home, I’d save all year. We’d have a nice lunch at home then divvy up the money and spend it at the post Christmas sales.  He loved it and spent his money carefully to get the most out of it.

      When he moved out, I stopped doing Christmas.  Buying gifts for adults who have jobs just seemed silly to me.  Plus, I never saw him on Christmas anyway.  He was always out drinking and partying with his friends.  But since he moved back home, he seems to think that it’ll be gift giving all around again.  I told him I won’t be doing Christmas this year because he’s an adult etc etc and I’ll probably just spend the time with my new man (he hates all things Christmas).

      What did my 21 year old son do?  Threw a tantrum which culminated in an argument with me about what a bad mother I am that I’m leaving him alone and giftless for Christmas!  WTF??  I could not believe how spoiled and self entitled he sounded.  I was going to give him a $50 gift voucher to JB Hi Fi but after that ridiculous display, I’m putting my money towards those charity trees you see in Big W etc, where you can buy a gift for a kid who has nothing.

      Consumerism has gone insane in our society.  And I refuse to buy into it any more.  It will make me happy to know that some poor, homeless kid might get a decent meal and some new shoes.  I think I’ll put the gift in my son’s name and tell him what I did.

      A little humility certainly wouldn’t go astray.

    • a d says:

      01:22pm | 14/12/12

      bloody hell, people are getting really animated about this one. i don’t reckon my kids would even notice.

      they have tonnes of stuff already and it worries me they take it all for granted.

      somebody will give them something, but mroe than a couple of presents would be a waste of money. I’m currently trying to talk my sister, who doesn’t have much money, out of buying my kids anything for christmas, she’s really fighting it, but there’s no way they’re going to be asking where’s aunty’s gift amidst all the other stuff they’ll get.

    • encee says:

      01:33pm | 14/12/12

      I think buying Christmas presents is a load of crap. I don’t even believe in ‘God’ or the immaculate conception of some kid born in a barn.

      I have spent $500 on presents this year. Despite my non-religious beliefs I do it because I have 11 nieces and nephews who will be disappointed if I don’t. They enjoy the gifts.

      There is too much pressure on people to spend money on such a stupid token day.

      My opinion only.

    • encee says:

      02:42pm | 14/12/12

      Just to clarify, I do get the irony of my buying gifts when I don’t believe in God.

      However, my numerous nieces and nephews certainly do and they all go to Mass on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day.

      Truth be told, I enjoy buying them presents and work hard to get something for each that I know they will really like.

      I just hate the commercialism behind it.

    • Lanz says:

      01:53pm | 14/12/12

      I like your sentiment but think your game plan is seriously flawed. I strongly suggest buying them a small present like a book or something similar so they don’t feel left out. I would also take them down to their local kmart and donating the difference in the cost of what you would have paid for a present normally and the value of the normal present and purchase for the wishing tree (donated to kids less fortunate)... that way they will get the concept of giving. Why do I suggest this? Because I have been doing it with my three kids for years and they are so proud of the idea they get something and so do the kids who don’t have anything. Another option is to work with them in donating last years toys they don’t really use to charitable organisations.

    • Shelly says:

      01:56pm | 14/12/12

      Why not do both? How about taking the kids with you and buying something to go under one of those wishing trees for a child the same age/sex as your children? Ask the kids to pick something appropriate up to the limit you set? Or have a chat to them about the article you read and ask them if they have anything they would like to donate to charities that help those in need? I did that with my son as he was growing up (he’s now 16). We were on holidays in SE Asia earlier this year and he donated half his spending money to an orphanage he visited. His choice, he didn’t even tell me about it until 6 months after we got back.

    • Fionna T says:

      02:16pm | 14/12/12

      I’m buying my daughters mascara, blush & an eyebrow pencil, that’s it!  I’m only doing that so they’ll stop ‘borrowing’ mine.  I’m spending the bucks on myself & my husband this year, our time has come!

    • Blind Freddy says:

      02:21pm | 14/12/12

      Santa hates poor people and likes rich people . He makes his own toys but gives most of them to kids that don’t need them.

      That’s what I told my kids.

    • proud grandma says:

      02:23pm | 14/12/12

      when our kids were little they would get excited by the number of presents they got, I used to wrap a colouring book, pencils, eraser, sharpener etc separately. We couldn’t afford much. One year a I read a letter to a magazine from a mum who couldn’t afford much. Her children asked why Santa gave the kids next door new bikes when they already had some, but gave her kids little presents. I used to explain to my primary school aged children that they got lots of stuff all year, so instead of getting lots of presents they would get a few and we would go to a charity and give them money. They were happy with this, they’re adults now and they don’t hate me, they are kind, caring individuals who support charities where and when they can.

    • Lady Gaga says:

      02:35pm | 14/12/12

      Thank Goodness for Grandparents Ant!  xo

    • Shane From Melbourne says:

      02:44pm | 14/12/12

      I get censored for calling people a bunch of wankers for telling Anthony Sharwood how to raise his children, yet people can run riot on the Teaparty Tony blog? I don’t understand Punch editors…...

    • Daniel says:

      02:51pm | 14/12/12

      Fantastic article Anthony, you’ve raised a very valid point. I think you would need to explain whats going on to your children however to provide a safety net against anti-you sentiments. I really applaud your idea though, something we all need to think about approaching Christmas

    • Gordon says:

      05:32pm | 14/12/12

      Good post Ant. You’ve made ‘em think. Beware the law of unintended consequences tho mate: what if your no-present stance causes the purverors of meaningless christmas dross to fire just one employee. The sum of human misery rises even if the intentions were pure of heart.


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