Have your kids given you a Christmas list that will send your budget through the roof? Here are some tips for giving kids a special holiday season that doesn’t require you to buy everything in sight!

Make a List, Check It Twice:  Decide on the gift/celebration budget, then stick to it!  Never go into debt by overspending for the holidays; doing so will haunt you long after the snow has melted. If you have joy on Christmas Day but find yourself pissed off for the rest of the year, it’s not worth it. Decide on the number and size of gifts per child/family member, and don’t go above that. Be creative! Consider limiting your exchange to one purchased gift per person, then have your kids make homemade things to give (cards, artwork, picture frames, etc.)  Having a family gathering?  Suggest “Secret Santa” gifts.  That way, everyone is only obligated to buy one gift, not a gift for everyone.  It will make your celebration more affordable at the same time!

Giving Through Community Service: Have discussions with your kids about the “reason for the season” and why you choose to celebrate whichever holiday(s) you observe. Help them understand that the season of gift giving is not just about presents.  Sign up the whole family to give their time to the less fortunate.  Teach them they can make a difference in others’ lives by giving their time and support, and they will have a more fulfilling holiday than the kids who just get piles and piles of presents. It will be an experience they can take with them for the rest of their lives and will allow them to appreciate all they do have.

Family Fun Time: When was the last time you played a good game of Monopoly?  Having someone land on Boardwalk when you own it with 10 hotels and five houses and they only have $5 left? Priceless!  Create good times, have the kids put together a show with their favorite Christmas carol or perform one of their favorite family-friendly songs. When my kids get dressed up and present a skit, it is always fun to see how creative they can be.  Who cares if they mess up their lines or forget the words to the song?  It’s all about family time and great memories!  Top it all off with a little cookies and eggnog—just make sure the kids know which eggnog is theirs and which one is the special adult version. We don’t want any mishaps!


Audrey Griffin is a wife, mother of four, inspiring educator and parenting lifestyle consultant. Visit her website, check her out on Facebook and follow her on Twitter.