They may be TV darlings, but the brood featured on the TLC reality show Jon & Kate Plus 8 will not have carte blanche when it comes to Christmas.
Instead, they'll each open a few gifts ($25 or less) pulled from under the tree - finding their presents on sheets of paper marked with their names, disposing of wrapping paper between tearing frenzies, then placing the booty in their own laundry baskets - and finally share in a joint family gift. In this year's case, it's a new computer.
And perhaps more important, the children will be given the gift of precious time with their parents - which can be hard to come by when you share attention with seven siblings - including playing games outside and one-on-one lap time with the new laptop.
"Everybody's hurting for money right now," said Jon Gosselin, father of the eight-child menagerie. "If you don't have money, take care of your family first. We're trying to bring back family values and traditions."
For anyone wondering how to satisfy their children's expectations this year, a lesson from a family of 10 might go a long way. Of course, the Gosselins aren't an entirely traditional family. For under-the-tree action, Gosselin's looking for smaller presents on Web sites like www.live.com, which give cash rebates. Although the family's strong Christian faith means Santa is not the biggest factor in their holiday - "My kids are the ones who tell kids there is no Santa," Gosselin said. "The older ones Googled it to prove it." - the children still have their own wish lists, including video games, dolls, trucks and Legos.
And there's no shame in regifting: The Gosselins sometimes sort through their children's toys and hide a few, returning them sometime later in the year. Inevitably, the kids are thrilled with the "new" toys, Jon Gosselin reported.
"Everyone always asks me, 'How do you do it?'" he said. "Every family's different. Every day, I wake up and say, 'I gotta do it.' I'm still breathing."
Besides the sheer number of children - a pair of 8-year-old twins and 4-year-old sextuplets - their most mundane moments are taped and shared with millions of strangers.
Undoubtedly, being famous gives the family certain financial advantages, from sponsorships to book deals - Multiple Blessings was released in October and Eight Little Faces is coming out next year. At the very least, there's usually a spare member of the camera crew around to amuse a bored child. ("It's cute to see a single guy, all tough, pushing my kid on the swing set," Gosselin said.)
But money can still be tight when you have eight children.
Gosselin said the family present, the computer, means he can spend individual time with each child, playing games or downloading one of the many craft projects the children enjoy creating for him. ("Every day I get a new stack of papers on my desk," he said.)