Christmas is a magical time for children and it is wonderful as a parent to get the opportunity to see them enjoy it. If you are on a tighter budget than usual however this expensive time of year can become very stressful and worrying indeed.
It might feel like you are ruining your child’s Christmas if you can’t spoil them in the way you usually do, but this needn't be the case. You can still have a wonderful family Christmas on a small budget with help from our top tips:
Explain your financial situation to your children
It might be a good idea for your children to be prepared to receive less presents this year than they usually do, so this isn’t a surprise or disappointment on the day.
How difficult this is will really depend on the age and attitude of your child, but consider explaining that as much as you would love to spoil them, for whatever reason you just aren’t able to do so this year, but you will do all you can to still make the day special.
Buy lots of less expensive presents rather than one larger one
This is an especially good tactic if your children are very young and perhaps don’t have much grasp of the value of money. It is a lot more exciting for a child to have a bulging stocking of $2 or $3 gifts than one gift that cost $40.
Look out for sales and discounts
Make every penny count by shopping round for the best deal on the gifts you buy. If you see a book for instance that you know your child will love while out shopping avoid the impulse to buy it there and then. Instead take a look for it online – it will probably be cheaper on Amazon, and if you buy it second hand cheaper still.
If your son or daughter is a little older and into fashion, sigh up for newsletters from their favourite places to shop. Asos offers regular discount codes on different departments and Urban Outfitters also has a good sale section.
This really depends on how skilled you are, but there are a number of simple gifts you can make cheaply. Baking pretty iced cookies or chocolates and packaging them nicely for stocking fillers could be a lovely gift for a child with a sweet tooth.
If you are nifty with a needle there are all sorts of wonderful things you could make; clothes, rag dolls, bags or personalised gifts. If you aren’t one of these lucky talented few however there are simple items you could make; how about buying some pretty fabric that co-ordinates with your teenage daughter’s bedroom decor and make some cushions for her bed? You could embellish with some beads or sequins sewed on, depending on her tastes.
Change your child’s attitude
Every child is used to hearing that they should eat up their dinner because children are starving in Africa, but for most this has so little bearing on their own lives it is hard for them to completely understand and sympathize.
There are better ways to show your children how lucky they are and to start thinking about others. You could make a Christmas shoebox together for the operation Christmas child appeal, which should help your son or daughter think about how happy a less deprived child would be to receive these small gifts.
When your children realize how lucky they are to come from a happy loving home with everything they need it might be easier for them to see that expensive gifts aren't everything at Christmas time, but having a wonderful day as a family is the most important thing.
Emily Bradbury is writing on behalf of The FCA, the largest private agency for fostering in the UK and recent winner of the 2013 Global Diversity Award. Visit our site if you think fostering could be for you.