Ah….the holidays. It’s that time of year when parents go insane trying to get the perfect gifts for their children. When my husband and I went out in search of Christmas gifts, we were taken aback by how many parents (generally speaking) handle the Christmas frenzy in retail stores after the fleeting Thanksgiving holiday.
We couldn’t believe how many parents seemed overly anxious about purchasing expensive gifts for their children – as if it equated to their worth as a parent and was an expression of how much their children were loved.
It’s hard not to feel inadequate after working hard all year to provide for your little ones and somehow, it still doesn’t feel like enough. That’s mom/dad guilt seeping into your thoughts – and those ridiculous retail marketing ploys, falsely making you believe that material things somehow make up for all those times you couldn’t spend more time with your kids.
YOU are ENOUGH. Your children love you unconditionally and it is not because of what you can give them for Christmas. What they need from you cannot be bought or wrapped with a pretty ribbon. My son and I often snuggle with his favorite book and a blanket after dinner. I’ve learned that my son’s eyes light up the most when we do meaningful things that don’t cost a dime.
While budgeting for the happiest (and craziest) time of the year – especially for parents – I invite you to join me for the Caffeinated Career Mom challenge.
This challenge is fun – and you’ll thank yourself for removing some unneeded stress, brought on by the commercialized version of a beautiful family- centered holiday.
Make this year the year you decide to forgo the need for fancy Christmas presents that will likely be old news by January.
I’m not saying to avoid giving presents altogether, but making them the main focus takes away from the reason for the season – and drains financial resources that could be used for education savings or vacations.
There are ways to prepare for Christmas during the year while keeping intact the true meaning of this sacred holiday – without going totally nuts!
After reflecting on the childhood memories that made every Christmas special in my family, here are the top four ways my husband and I came up with to make our son’s first Christmas extra special.
Focus on Experiences
The best things I remember about childhood holiday celebrations had nothing to do with presents. I loved going to Christmas parades, looking at Christmas lights around the neighborhood, going to beautiful Christmas church services, and eating way too much food at those yummy holidays dinners. My dad’s side of the family used to do Secret Santa gift exchanges, which were limited to $10 per gift. All of these experiences were fun, inexpensive ways to enjoy the season.
My husband and I decided we would take a friend’s advice and start a tradition of giving our son four Christmas gifts:
• a gift he wants
• gift he needs
• a gift he can wear
• gift to he can read
We also had a daily routine to sit and look at the Christmas tree lights while playing on the living room floor, then read one of his favorite books and snuggle with a blanket. He loves it and it is wonderful quality family time.
Get the Kids Involved in Giving
Children learn early on what Christmas is all about – and so much of that depends on what they learn from family and friends. We bought several of our son’s gifts from consignment stores (barely used and in great condition) and one main gift that was new, but still not expensive. This year, our son will be a toddler (cue the mommy tears) and we plan to bring him to church to select from the giving tree and help us pick out a gift for a needy child.
Stick to a Budget
We kept our budget for our son’s gifts in 2018 at $100. I realize that’s a lot harder to do as children get older, but it’s easier to keep the budget realistic if kids learn the true giving spirit of Christmas. Small savings from each paycheck throughout the year, such as $25, add up quickly and make the financial strain feel much less stressful. By saving $50 per month, you’ll have $600 by December.
What steps have you taken to prepare for family Christmas celebrations during the year? I want to hear your story! Please comment below!