Given the present economy, maybe it’s time to enjoy the holiday season by taking a good look at your list of items to buy. Christmas can be budget friendly.
One harmful myth about Christmas is the belief that you must fulfill all the dreams and hopes of everyone on your list. Such almost impossible goals may lead to disappointment on the part of both the giver and the receiver. One might ask if there is nothing left to work for, what fun will January be? Also consider the unpaid bills which can cloud the new year’s financial outlook.
Why Parents May Overspend on Gifts for Children at Christmas
Parents often say they want to give their children more than what they had. They want to protect their beloved children from the struggles the adults had in their youth. Such ideas are born in love by wishing for the best for your children.
Yet it is all too easy to carry this sincere desire a bit too far at the expense of the kids. There are a number of reasons not to feel you must fulfill all of your children’s dreams for Christmas and beyond. When an adult always steps in and magically makes things happen children never get a chance to learn the process of realizing their dreams. One of the finest gifts you can give your child is a clear understanding of how a dream becomes a goal, then a plan which can happen.
The process of bringing a plan to fruition is an experience that prepares a child for life. When there’s nothing left for them to do, they never get much chance to develop the skills and habits which would serve them well in later life. Striving is a vital part of maturing. Kids who get a chance to work toward a goal or wait for a reward may have a far better chance in their future. Perhaps the family, as well as the budget, would be better served by getting some of the requested gifts and designing a system to attain some others while setting priorities by weeding some out.
Financial Honesty Can Make Christmas Even Better
Even young children will step up to the plate when fully informed about the family’s finances. Parents do not have to give all the gory details. Using a favorite candy bar, slice it in pieces representing basic categories like housing, utilities, medical, food and auto expenses. This exercise may be as good for the adults involved as it is for the children. Younger ones can be told that Santa has a budget too, and it works much like your family’s.
Don’t overwhelm them with too much information. Just give clear generalities they can relate to. Explain that we are living through a weak economy which will eventually get better. It’s just fine to explain that economies go up and down over time so they don’t experience undue anxiety.
Much of the joy of the season comes directly to children from their parents and other family members. If those adults can feel truly happy by not overspending and boxing their future into a risky situation then more authentic positive feelings will rub off on their children. This is far better than overdoing it to get kids every item they wanted while worrying about how to make it financially through the spring.
How to Be Realistic With Christmas Gift List
When a family spends some time discussing financial matters they all become more realistic in their Christmas wishes. Some have tried making a “rough draft” Christmas wish list. The very term indicates some editing would happen as time goes on. This practice can be absorbed into the family traditions. Or maybe you could bake together and eliminate some expenditures while cherishing the moments together.
It is worth taking the time to talk about priorities. In order to be in a frame of mind to talk realistically, some families take the time to participate in a giving project. Including the children in helping at a food bank, caroling at a hospital or nursing home, etc. can make it easier to notice the good things in one’s life. Children who have such gentle goals without excess pressure are more willing to generate plans which will fit Santa’s budget. Reading a book together which highlights that others have dealt with down economies can also help prepare children to edit their Christmas list.
A number of parents are struggling to keep their heads above water in the economy; yet they may feel compelled to purchase everything their kids want for Christmas. It is well worth a clear-eyed look at why you would even consider overspending on gifts. This may nudge parents toward more financial honesty with themselves and their children. Spend time learning with your children how to set priorities. The Christmas lists can be edited without losing holiday joy. Perhaps the real lesson here is that the time spent with family is even more valuable than any gift money can buy.
Copyright Hildra Tague. Obtain permission for use online or in print.