Christmastime can be overwhelming not just for adults but for children too. “You want this! You need this!” scream the ads on TV, on the radio, at the mall, in the mail—and it’s all designed to incite greed and the desire for more. Sure, we love to see those happy smiles when our kids get something precious they’ve longed to own, but Christmas is primarily about the blessing of giving. By teaching your kids how to develop their own Christmas gift budgets, you’re reinforcing that focus on giving and encouraging financial responsibility at the same time.
Making a List
Sit down with your kids and create a Christmas list together, not of things they want to receive, but of people they love—close family members, other relatives, neighbors, teammates, and friends. For some of the people on the Christmas list, each child will want to make or purchase a separate, special gift. For others, the gift could be a joint one from your whole family. You could have your kids color code those who will receive individual gifts and those who will get a joint gift.
Setting a Total Amount for the Gift Budgets
Whether your children are planning on buying the Christmas gifts or making them, they’ll need a budget. Explain that even a handmade gift costs something in time, effort, and supplies. Since your kids may be new to this concept, suggest a total budget amount for each child. This amount could be money they earn or money that you give them to spend.
Dividing Up the Funds
Here’s where the math comes in! Ask each child to divide the total amount of his or her budget by the number of people on the Christmas list. The result is the per-person Christmas budget. You could also suggest that your kids spend a little more on the people closest to them and a little less on others. Younger kids need help with this part, but the older children can figure out the math on their own.
Making the Purchases
As your children are shopping for gifts or supplies, they’ll probably be tempted to overspend or to buy something for themselves. Encourage them to stay focused, stick to their per-person amount, and look for items of decent quality. It’s all about planning ahead and resisting the impulse buy, yet still finding or creating something that shows love.
Are you ready to refocus your children on giving rather than getting? You’ve got two months before Christmas—plenty of time to help them work on a budget, make some gifts, shop strategically, and enjoy the sweet spirit that comes with thinking more about others and less about self. After all, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35).
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Rebecca is a work-at-home freelance writer, novelist, wife, and the mom of two bright-eyed little ones. She credits her success in writing and her love of books to her own mom, who homeschooled three kids from pre-K through high school.