The older my son gets, the higher the price tags get for the gifts he wants for Christmas. I know I’ve spoiled him over the years, it was easy to, especially since he’s an only child. But it is also important to me that he sees that the holidays are not just a time to get stuff. I truly believe it’s never too late to teach our children something new.
I’ve come up with a list of ways that we all can eliminate the “gimmes” this holiday season:
- Less is more – If you are going to buy gifts this year, make a realistic budget and stick to it. Do not run up credit cards or spend excessively just to have more items under the tree. Also, as Flavor Flav would say, “Don’t believe the hype.” Don’t fall victim to those brainwashing commercials that say you have to get this latest and greatest toy. Your kids will likely forget it exists by New Year’s day.
- Turn the focus to family traditions – The holidays are a perfect time of year to share something about your childhood with your children. Talk to them and show them what you did growing up to celebrate the season. You don’t have any family traditions? That’s ok, create some! Make new family traditions for your home. Ask your kids what they would like to do for their own family traditions.
- Make gifts, don’t buy them – It can be a great learning and bonding experience to make something with your child/children to give to others – a batch of cookies, create your own Christmas cards, or come up with a family craft project you can all do together. You will create memories as well as items to give away.
- Give experiences, not things – Your children are going to remember that trip to the mountains many more years than that Barbie or Video game you bought at Target. Plan a family trip, or even a staycation – visiting places in your area that you’ve never been to before. Give gifts of tickets to a play, musical or the Ballet. Share the culture of your town. Create some new experiences as a family.
- Give the gift of time – Volunteer at a retirement home, homeless shelter or hospital. Time is more precious than money. You can do something as simple as sing carols to the elderly, read to a sick child, or walk a shelter dog. In the end it’s about the time you spent, not the money. You and your kids can feel good about that.
When it’s all said and done, your kids are going to learn by your example. If you drop a month’s salary on trying to make Christmas the biggest and the best, your children are going to grow up to expect that. Scaling it back and making the holidays less about gifts and more about giving, is a lesson they will take into their adulthood and pass on to their own offspring..