- Life & Money
- Family & Work
- Your Family
- Cathie Ericson
- Nov 21, 2022
How to Avoid Holiday Overspending and Still Give Your Kids Meaningful Gifts
Ask your kids what they are looking forward to for the holidays, and you’re likely to hear them reciting the items on their wish lists. So it’s not surprising that a recent survey found that 69 percent of consumers admit they have previously overspent during past holidays.
This year, the economic environment is also weighing heavily on consumers' minds, so many shoppers are planning to purchase fewer gifts. While the “less is more” mentality may be a tough sell to kids who’ve spent all year doing their best to stay on the nice list, parents know the magic of the season isn’t solely reliant on gifts. If you’re looking to avoid holiday overspending in this area without sacrificing the magic of the holidays, these tips can help.
A teen with her heart set on an iPhone upgrade is sure to be disappointed if she gets some new outfits instead (even if they are exactly her style). So request your kids’ wish lists early, maybe even before you’re finishing off the Thanksgiving leftovers. That way, you still have time to work out a budget or reframe their expectations if you know a particularly pricey gift won’t make it under the tree in time.
If your children’s lists include several of the same types of items, suggest they prioritize what they consider the top gift. It’s also wise to discuss their opinions on quality versus quantity: Some kids would prefer to open one big gift, while others favor the fun of diving into several boxes, even if those items are not as expensive. Setting the scene in advance can help ensure that everyone enjoys a shared holiday vision.
Spread gifts throughout the year
It’s easy to feel financially drained in December because all of your spending is being concentrated. So why not try extending the gift giving to the coming months? Not only will it ease your end-of-year wallet worries, it will also keep the merriment flowing all year long. Here are some ideas:
- If you believe your children can appreciate the anticipation, provide them with IOUs for what you plan to gift in the future, and schedule when you plan to give it to them.
- If you have a kid who is a collector, spreading the love is easy. If they collect something that comes out regularly, such as Lego sets or Barbies, get them one for the holidays and then find the production schedule for future collectibles. Mark your calendar to preorder those items when they are available. There’s no doubt your child will be delighted when an exclusive shows up in the mail.
- Plan an entire year of fun activities and wrap up a memento that signifies each of the places you might go, such as a postcard from an amusement park or a napkin from your favorite ice cream place.
- Choose 12 clothing retailers your teen loves and wrap up a box from each. Each month, he or she can pick a spot for the two of you to browse together to make a purchase. It’s a great way to ensure a little monthly together time while you’re stretching out their clothing budget.
Of course, if you wish to pare back your spending heading into 2023, you can downsize even these ideas and go with a gift every other month or whatever feels appropriate. You can always spring a surprise addition if you’re feeling more flush.
Introduce the “4 gift rule”
You may have seen this idea floating around social media for the past few years. Its genius is in its simplicity: Tell your kids to list four gifts: Something they want, something they need, something to wear and something to read. Then, commit to giving them just those four gifts. The “want,” “need” and “wear” categories can be as extravagant or moderate as your budget commands.
Be choosy about stocking stuffers
Stocking stuffers may be small, but they tend to add up fast. Often you find yourself buying small novelty items that aren’t meaningful and eventually contribute to household clutter.
But if forgoing the stockings simply isn’t an option, explore some creative yet inexpensive ways to fill them. For example, assign a theme to each child’s stocking based on their favorite hobbies Your artist child will likely love a collection of sidewalk chalk, paints and crayons, while your sporty child will be happy with a new water bottle, jump rope and sweatband.
You could also fill everyone's stocking with their favorite snacks — things that are fun to eat, affordable and, best of all, gone by New Year’s. (Also, here’s a simple hack: Get smaller stockings this year — they’ll look full with fewer items.)
Drop future vacation hints
If your family typically takes a spring break or summer vacation, consider using the holiday to "gift” the big reveal. Drop some breadcrumbs first to make it into a guessing game. Kids will have the anticipation of looking forward to your getaway and you can do some group planning together over the next several months. Think of it as the biggest and most exciting gift you’ll give them, as well as a new family tradition they can look forward to for future holidays.
Take the next step
Our advisors will help to answer your questions — and share knowledge you never knew you needed — to get you to your next goal, and the next.Get started