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Kids and Gifts: How to Set Expectations

Nov 20, 2019 - Posted by: Rocky Mountain Credit Union

There are two sides to every gifting scenario: giving and receiving. And with kids, those become very obvious. You want to teach them how to give gifts – knowing that they're not going to be able to spend much or shop solo – and you want to make their holiday as magical as possible – without breaking the bank. Here's how to balance both sides of the gifting scenario while you set their expectations – and yours.


Keep a Wish List

This tip goes both ways – have them write up their wish list for Santa, and come up with one for yourself too. You can put simple items they'd be able to make, like "breakfast in bed" or "knit scarf," or add in inexpensive things they can purchase with spending money. It's important for them to learn that the holidays are about others too, not just about getting a new shiny toy or the latest device. On their end, you can get an idea for what they'd like, and then move on to…



Prioritize Their Top Picks

Have them rank the top three items on their list, so you know what they really, really want. Then you can discuss how they might not be getting every single thing their heart desires, but holidays are fun because of the element of surprise.

This is a good time for you to start thinking about your holiday budget. Of course, we all would like to get our kids everything they want, but even when the budget doesn't make it financially possible, it's not the wisest decision for them. Still, it's always best to think about holiday spending in advance, and get the deals from the sales, instead of at the last minute when you're fighting your way through hordes of holiday shoppers.



Set Limits

Setting limits is not only crucial for your child and their mental health in a gifting environment, but it is important for your peace of mind as well. Maybe that means that as a family, you all agree to a spending limit for each person. Or you could make a pact only to do handmade gifts this year.

Whatever limits you set, be sure to make them together as a family and agree to abide by them. This can help you keep the atmosphere fun and festive, while still helping the kiddos have realistic expectations.



Use an Allowance

Your average ten-year-old is rarely rolling in dough, so if you want to help make them autonomous for the holidays, consider giving them a gifting allowance. Make sure they understand that the money is for providing others gifts only, and then let them go from there. You may want to put them under the supervision of a co-parent or close friend, but that's up to you. This will help them learn how to budget, just as it enables you to stick to yours. 

This can be the perfect time to set up their first savings account, so they can deposit gifts from other family members and learn about saving for their future too.



Memories Over Stuff

Commit to making memories as a family instead of accumulating more things. Reinforcing the economy of shared experience over the pressure of finding the perfect gift can provide a tradition that they will want to pass on to their children and stories that will mark the season rather than purchases. This can be a great way to save money in the long run, grow family bonds, and avoid clutter. 

Maybe a family trip to the theater is in order, or a nice dinner out. Head to the museum for a day, serve in a local shelter, or take them whitewater rafting and ziplining. Sometimes the best gift is spending time together! 

We here at RMCU want to help you enjoy your holiday season to it's fullest. We have holiday programs, budgeting advice, and more financial tips and tricks to help you get the most bang for your buck. Check out our blog here to find out more. 


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