A Powerful Reminder to Parents with IKEA’s ‘The Other Letter’ Social Experiment


With Christmas just around the corner what do your kids want? A new Xbox? A bevy of Barbies? Maybe. Or, maybe not. While toys, toys and more toys seem to top the kids’ Christmas lists, your child may want more.

More? What more could your little love want? You’ve given them everything that money can and now they want more? According to IKEA’s video experiment, they DO want more.

The Swedish furniture giant isn’t just all about hexagonal wrenches and pictogram instructions. They also have a heart. And a big one. Before you dismiss IKEA as a never-ending maze of desks and end tables with names that make your tongue twirl, check out their Christmas video.

IKEA gathers together 10 children and asks them to write letters to Santa. They, of course, ask for the obligatory toys, toys, toys. Next the children are asked to write their ‘other’ letters. The other letter goes to mum and dad. The parents are given the letters to read – and here’s where you need to grab a box of tissues.

Instead of dolls, action figures, video games and other playthings, every child asks for more time with his or her parents. “I want us to be together one whole day,” says one child. Another asks, “I’d like it if you paid a little bit more attention to us.” Like you could imagine, the parents tearful reaction. Think about what you would expect your child to ask for in a Christmas letter. It’s probably not for more attention.

There’s no doubt that between work, running a household and everything else that comes along with daily life, sometimes focusing on the kids gets shoved to the back of the list. That’s not to say that any parent wants it that way. It’s just a reality of life with kids. When you’re trying to provide the best of everything for your little ones, it’s easy to lose track of the actual time that you’re spending with them.

Another child writes, “I’d like it if you would have dinner with us more often.” Something as simple as a family meal. Who would have thought that this request would top a young child’s Christmas wish list?

One mum is all smiles as she reads her child’s letter, “He wants to play more soccer with me.” Who would have suspected? Soccer? Not a soccer ball. Not a soccer video game. And, not an action figure playing soccer. But, just some time to play soccer with mum.

If reading the ‘other’ letters doesn’t make you well-up, what the parents say next just might. IKEA asks the mums and dads if the letters surprise them. Most of the parents aren’t at all surprised. It’s not exactly breaking news that we’re all over-scheduled – and these parents know it too.

So, maybe you still think that given the choice between a major mountain of toys and extra time with mum and dad the kids will go for the playthings. Not so.

Each child is asked, “If you could only send one of the letters, which one would you send?”

This is it. The defining moment. Is it toys or a parent’s time that gets the big win?

For the kids, it’s the parents.

Ok, yes it’s technically just one big ad for IKEA. That said, what the video shows is truly touching. The next time that your kids clamor for more toys, the coolest video game or whatever tech gadget that ‘everyone’ else has, think of this clip. Keep in mind that while your child may seem to always want things that money can buy, what he needs is you!

Avatar of Belinda Jennings

Belinda's a passionate advocate for community and connection. As the founder of the Mum Central Network she’s committed to celebrating the journey that is Australian parenthood. Mum to two cheeky boys, and wife to her superstar husband, they live a busy but crazy lifestyle in Adelaide. Great conversation, close friends and good chocolate are her chosen weapons for daily survival. Oh, and bubbles. Champagne is key.

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