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Christmas is so expensive, what are you buying your kids etc?

post #1 of 89
Thread Starter 
Im worrying about this right now. I think I can use mainly all the same Christmas decorations from last year, but the gifts??

It's getting so close and I have bought only a few items for my dd so far, small items at that. She has asked me...begged me for 2 large very expensive items, and ofcourse will expect lots of smaller/medium gifts to unwrap from Santa aswell. So Im not sure how to afford everything, or even if I should be trying to.

Question is what do I buy for her? One of the main big expensive things she has asked for, and a couple of small gifts? Or both the large things she has asked for and only 2 or 3 smaller gifts? -The second option means I will probably end up in debt which I don't want to do. I really don't think I can afford to get everything she has pleaded and honestly begged for, nevermind all the stuff she has asked for but not so persistantly.

I feel so much pressure and stress about this stuff. I don't know what to do. And then I still have gifts for everyone in our close but extended family to buy for, and dd will probably have several friends from school she also wants to get gifts for. Oh and then there's the Christmas food and tasty treats....

Every year as kids get older, the gifts they want seem to get smaller but more and more and MORE expensive...so it looks like they have less presents to unwrap, but really you have spent MORE on them, yk?

Anyone have any advice? What are you doing/buying etc for Christmas?
post #2 of 89
My kids are still small and are happy with whatever they get. I have been careful is trying not to get them to expect too much.

I think there is absolutely no reason your dd should expect two large gifts. One is just fine, with or without the smaller things. If she is disappointed, that is too bad, but OTOH it is an important life lesson for her.
post #3 of 89
We do 4 gifts - a want, a need, something to wear, something to read. Recently a friend of mine adopted the same policy for her six year old, and when she told her that there would be 4 gifts and not more, her daughter didn't even flinch. Could you do smething similar, and perhaps grandparents/aunts/uncles could go in together for one of the other things she wants?
post #4 of 89
There's no reason to do a Christmas above your means. For year's we've cut out buying for anyone but our nuclear family and even then the adults do a secret santa exchange with a limit of $50. Add in a couple of gifts for DS and it just isn't that expensive.

I think the memories come about from the moments and traditions - not the gifts. Why not start a new tradition this year instead of relying on the gifts to be the star attraction?
post #5 of 89
Originally Posted by Bluegoat View Post
My kids are still small and are happy with whatever they get.
My dd is 8 and still happy with whatever she gets (as is my 2 yo, of course). She understands that the gifts are purchased by us, though, and that there is a budget involved. I suspect this is easier to explain if the child doesn't believe that Santa brings the gifts.

This is the first year dd has a special, expensive Christmas wish. She isn't expecting anything except for stocking stuffers in addition to the large gift she wants. She'll get a couple small things, but they won't be expensive.

In previous years, I've kept Christmas costs down by buying high-ticket gifts for my dc on Craigslist ($40 wooden kitchen, $30 beka theater, and lots more). I've also made gifts for my dc (waldorf doll, felt play food, etc).

As for extended family, we don't give gifts to adults in extended family. We just can't afford quality gifts for everyone, and I don't want to buy (and nobody wants) crap. So we give gifts to the little cousins (books, boardgames), and we sometimes bake for the adults, but other than that we just enjoy each other's company
post #6 of 89
I have been doing three gifts for each kid, and it seems to work out well. I don't necessarily have a $ limit but I don't go crazy. Generally I do one big-ish gift and two smaller gifts. Last year I got my two younger boys a really big gift to share as their big gift.

I talk to my older kids (4 1/2 and 6) about what they want, set the expectations of three gifts early. So far they have always opened one present and pretty much forgotten about the other two until reminded.

I always got everything I wanted for holidays and I never appreciated them a bit. I would get really upset if something wasn't just right or something I requested on christmas eve wasn't there. So I have been very very careful about this sort of thing. I know my parents were only trying to make me happy but for me, it had the opposite effect.

ETA- We don't do santa either, and I think that helps because the kids know the gifts are coming from us and not some magical man with unlimited resources yk?
post #7 of 89
Originally Posted by sunnmama View Post
My dd is 8 and still happy with whatever she gets (as is my 2 yo, of course). She understands that the gifts are purchased by us, though, and that their is a budget involved. I suspect this is easier to explain if the child doesn't believe that Santa brings the gifts.
This was my first thought, too. If I were scrimping and saving to get my DD gifts, I would certainly want her to know that they were from me!!

This is only going to get worse, you know? My parents were always VERY generous at Christmas time (we never did Santa, so we always knew whom the gifts were from), and honestly, every year they just raised our expectations. There were SO many years when my siblings would be sitting in front of $200 worth of presents crying because they didn't get the *1* thing they wanted This was at a fairly young age, but STILL! I don't want to teach my DD to carry on like that.

The family I know who does the "best" Christmas decorates their house entirely with found objects (and it was BEAUTIFUL last year! much prettier than my Hobby Lobby Christmas); they have a budget for each child (sometimes they combine gifts, like this year three children shared a kitchen), and they draw names so the younger children can "give" gifts, too (I think the parents pay for them). IMO, making the "saving money to buy gifts for others" obvious makes the recipient more appreciative and teaches some valuable life lessons (frugality, gratitude, etc)

All that is just a long ramble to say that I think you should discuss things frankly with your DD. I don't know if you/she are comfortable giving up Santa, or if she is old enough to understand all the issues at hand, but if you don't address it now, it's only going to get "worse." And it's not your DD's fault. This is a cultural phenomenon that it is very, very hard to avoid.
post #8 of 89
My daughter is only three and I've still had to remind my husband every year - don't pile it on, you set the exxectations too high and when she's older and everything is more expensive, she's going to think Christmas is this big landslide of gifts.

At this point, I'm trying really hard to emphasize the stuff around Christmas - the baking, the decorating (I mean, enjoying decorating, not buying more decorations - we make snowflakes, she gets to use paint, glitter, craft supplies), deciding what to get other people, picking out a gift to donate, etc. I've really trimmed my outside of the family list - we are going to only do children in the family (and grandparents) and she is in on helping me pick gifts. She gets to "help" wrap, which she enjoys. She hasn't asked to buy gifts for friends yet but when I was a kid my mom just put a limit on how much per friend and she often encouraged me to think of something besides gifts...like everyone getting together for hot chocolate and movies or a cookie exchange or something. I hope it helps that I do something similar with my friends - with one set we draw names every year and set a price limit and with another group, we all try to get together for lunch because it's so hard to do around the holidays, a break together is about the nicest thing we can do for each other.

So I guess my answer is, buy what you can afford and make the holidays memorable in other ways. My mom was a not a big "include the kids" mom but she did a lot of special stuff around Christmas. I think we were always just happy to have her attention. Maybe as your daughter starts hinting about these things that she wants, it might be best to start responding with, "yes, maybe you'll get some of those" in a kid of neutral voice - plant the seed that she doesn't need to expect everything.

Reading the above posts reminds me, we only do one gift from Santa and a stocking. The big deal around Santa in our house is just that he comes, not that he comes and makes all our holiday wishes come true.
post #9 of 89
I think at some point kids just have to realize they can't get everything they want. Don't break the bank trying to give her everything she wants. Really, it's SO important for kids to know that this is not what life is about. IF you can swing it, get her one of the things she wants and some useful stocking stuffers. It's not the amount you spend or the number of gifts under the tree that counts. Sure, it's awesome when they can spend hours opening gifts on x-mas morning (I used to aim for this too), but it's not so pretty when you see your bank statement or credit card balance.

Me? I'm making my kids' gifts and will do this as much as possible, as long as possible. When they are older and really have their hearts set on something from the store, it will all come down to 1) If I can afford it and 2) If it's something that they will get a lot of use out of. IME, the most expensive toys and electronics are the ones they get tired of very quickly anyway, and not something I want to waste money on.

Explain to her how finances work and then help her decide what she REALLY wants most. She will get over the disappointment of not getting the other things...I promise.
post #10 of 89
I kind of laughed at your first sentence because growing up it would never have occurred to anyone to buy MORE decorations - the whole point was using the family set.

For us Xmas is mostly about the "dos" not the "haves" so we have a lot of traditions of doing things - baking, singing, a nighttime walk under the stars, that kind of thing. I think if you involve your daughter in the preparations in a way that makes them exciting, she may find by the time the day arrives her inside cup is filled. I don't think you have to even talk about it; I think kids thrive on attention and sort it out for themselves.

For the things, our approach lately is that we just write them down in a "wish book". That honours the child's desires, without setting the expectation that they ALL will arrive. I do find at four my son is developing a whole new relationship with thinking ahead, noticing other kids' things, and wanting. Although I have no intention of buying all the toys, I think the development in his mind of the capacity to observe and plan is really huge! And kind of cool!

And then Santa will bring one gift and we give one gift out of the wish book. Since the wish book has ALL the things, there's already quite a price range.

Also look used, on sale, and even put it out to your friends so they can help you bargain hunt.
post #11 of 89
We don't do tons of gifts per child, even if we can afford it. 3-4 things to open, maximum. And stocking stuffers are usually mostly craft "needs", like popsicle sticks, glue stick, etc. Things we would be buying anyway.

We also only ask Santa for one thing. Maybe your dd can figure out which she wants more?

Your dd looks to be the same age as my eldest. What has helped with her, is for us to institute a small allowance. She gets 1/2 her age, per week, so at the moment she is 6 and gets $3. It has virtually eliminated the "I want this", "I want that", because we remind her she can choose to save for it, and then she is able to decide if she really wants it or not. It's amazing how many things she wants if someone else is buying, but not if it's her money

DD could make gifts for her friends maybe. One of my dd's favourite gifts was a reused cookie tin, decorated with dog pictures - because dogs are her favourite animal, and because it was made by her good friend.
post #12 of 89
Our kids get one small gift each from dh and I. It's a cultural concession on dh's part, dh would prefer that Christmas involve no gifts and be purely about Jesus.

I make it special for them in other ways.
post #13 of 89
Okay, I am saying this as someone who does sometimes overindulge my kids at Christams, and understands the excitement of having a lot of stuff under the tree.

You will not be doing her any favors if you go into debt to buy her stuff. My dad used to do that, whereas my mom only bought us a few items (my parents were divorced), and I have fond memories of both celebrations. Actually, I think my dad's overspending was harmful in that I came to expect too much, and to think that I had to overbuy for people. I put money on my credit card in college one year to buy family presents that took me months to pay off. That was my wake up call, and now I am much more conservative.

Why are you even stressing over this? Christmas should not be about getting stuff... even if you're not religious. Why do you want to reinforce whining and begging and pleading in the first place??

Why don't you get her involved in making special presents for her friends and family, and put the emphasis on giving?

Also, how about you sit down and just be honest with her? Tell her you can't afford to get everything on her list, because you have to buy food and pay the mortgage, etc... but maybe she can figure out a way to start earning/saving money for one of those big items. She will appreciate it more in the long run.

That doesn't mean some of her wishes can't be fulfilled. For big items I have found that looking on Craigslist for gently used items saves a lot of money. Ds1 received a bike for his birthday last year, and Ds2 got a train table. The train table cost less than the cake! (Although, the cake was expensive because of allergy constraints).
post #14 of 89
why wouldn't you use the decorations from last year? I add/replace a couple of things each year but never spend more than $10....unless we need a tree which I got a plastic one last year so we are set for a few years.

as for gifts...yeah kids want a lot of things....a computer, a pony, a mountain of candy...it never even crossed my miond to stress about getting my children everything they wanted on their list.

My kids get pajamas every year. this is a tradition. and a stockings with little things in it. usually a pair of ear rings, some misc. stuff from claires and target off the dollar racks (this is easy since they are girls and I can get make up, hair accessories, costume jewlery and stamps and stickers etc) and some candy.

They will likely get special dresses for the Nativity service. They want me to make them......hmmmmm

this year my kids are getting icons and every day crosses (both religous items) from me. my mom and dad will both send money and I think I am going to put it together and get them a TV (we don't have one) to hook our DVD player up to (yes I realize it is weird to have a dvd player and no TV) so they can have their friends over for movie night (I totally wasn't thinking about this when I unloaded the TV). Nothing much to unwrap. but I guess they don't really care. they are used to giving a huge list and getting maybe one item off of it.
post #15 of 89
And when my kids do give me a long list I have them rank the items on it...what is most important etc. I also let them know right up front which items are rediculously outrageous and they should start saving their money for.
post #16 of 89
We do the

Something they want
Something they need
Something to wear
Something to read.
post #17 of 89

I am going to move this to Frugality and Finances. We've got some fabulous mamas there who really know how to squeeze a penny until it begs for mercy.

We also do Something you want... etc.
post #18 of 89
We're doing something you want, something you need, something to play with and something to read this year. I am loving it! I tend to go overboard and buy just way too much and this prevents that problem nicely. The only issue we're having with it is dd can't think of what she really wants for her want present.
post #19 of 89
I haven't read any of the responses.

My kids get three gifts each - one large, one medium and one small, plus stockings. The medium one is usually the gift from Santa. Sometimes, we add in a gift to either dd1 and ds2, or all three of them, also from Santa. (For example, last year, dd1 and ds2 got a fort-making set.) This year, I may start the tradition of opening a gift of pajamas on Christmas Eve. I've seen several mamas here mention that they do this, and it sounds lovely.

DS1 is 16. He's fine with this, although we did do more gifts (small ones) when he was younger. I honestly feel ill when I see the huge piles under some trees. That stuff just isn't necessary. Personally, I think kids do way better with happy parents and a modest number of gifts than with a pile of gifts and parents who are stressed out about debt, yk?
post #20 of 89
My six year old is getting the Little House boxed set and I'm making this doll to go with it. She'll also get a few smaller things like books and/or clothes.

I'm not sure about my younger DD yet. Maybe a Waldorf type doll and clothes? I have a pattern for one, I just haven't tried it yet.

We don't do a lot of gifts to extended family.
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