Overspending on children’s gifts can create unrealistic expectations. Budget tips for parents

It’s hard to resist the holiday messages to buy gifts — and lots of them — to make the season brighter and more fulfilling.

However, supply chain disruptions can make shopping this year stressful, especially for parents looking to purchase toys in limited quantities. Shortages aside, overdoing gifts for your kids could create budget stress and unintentionally create unrealistic expectations for years to come.

This year’s added pressures could offer parents a chance to rethink their holiday shopping and budgeting strategies. These expert budgeting and parenting tips can help you cut through the noise and find what works for your family.


A budget is essential to control expenses. If you’re having trouble making a realistic vacation budget, review spending from previous years.

“You can literally look at your credit card statements from last November and December if you want to get a general idea of ​​where your money is going,” says Andrea Woroch, a money-saving expert who focuses on advice for mothers. . Ask yourself if you want to repeat this spending pattern or if it left you feeling stressed when January rolled around.

Budgets change from year to year. “Things can change drastically in a year,” says Woroch. “Have you had another child? Did you get divorced or married, bought a house, found a new job, lost your job? Either way, you kind of have to re-evaluate based on your current situation.”


Things get lost in overflowing toy chests. Taking inventory of what you already have is a great way to determine what your kids need and an opportunity to set aside items they have outgrown.

Items in good condition can be donated or sold on online marketplaces to other parents looking to strike a deal.


Gifts bought weeks or even months ago may have fallen off your radar, especially if you hid them well. Before heading to the stores, make a list of previous purchases.

“If you don’t write down what you bought, you’ll forget what you had,” says Woroch, who suggests using an app called Santa’s Bag – though a note on your phone or a pen and paper old-fashioned can work. just as well. Tracking purchases throughout the season can help avoid overspending.

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A budget is essential to control expenses.


“Something they want, something they need, something to wear, and something to read” is a popular phrase, and for good reason: it sets the parameters for gift giving and works no matter what. or the age of the child.

Another strategy is to buy fewer toys and focus on what supports your child’s development, which is especially important for young children. Kathryn Humphreys, an assistant professor in the Department of Psychology and Human Development at Vanderbilt University, suggests finding toys that allow for collaboration and open-ended play.

“Fewer well-selected toys are probably better than a large number of toys that would be difficult for the child to keep up with during a busy day of opening the present,” she said in an email. . “I find that with my own children, anything beyond two or three gifts is quickly forgotten given that Christmas is already exciting enough.”


Woroch suggests buying a subscription box for the kids for a “gift that keeps on giving” after the holidays are over. There are tons of options for kids that offer everything from art projects, Montessori toys, and various books every month. Some of these services may offer holiday promotions, so be on the lookout for a deal.


It’s hard for parents to resist comparing themselves to others, especially when social media is overloaded with vacation photos. Remember that you don’t know what’s going on behind the scenes.

“It’s so easy to get carried away with what other families are spending and what moms are doing that you feel bad and end up spending more,” Woroch said.

You’re watching a highlight reel and you’re not sure if this family is spending beyond their means.


If the holiday gift-giving frenzy grips you, just remember that this time of year isn’t just about things.

“At the end of the day, it’s really important to remember that the holidays aren’t about physical gifts,” says Woroch. “Creating memories and maybe starting traditions that don’t cost a lot is a great way to connect and bond with your kids.”


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