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Keeping Holidays Happy in a Tough Economy

The current economic situation is a teachable moment to help your children learn about saving and spending and realize that sometimes life is difficult and this may mean not getting as many presents. Try to stay positive and spread the holiday spirit by keeping up with other holiday traditions and activities. Your budget might be a little tighter than usual this year, but you can still have a happy and fun holiday season with your family. Even though you may have less to spend, it’s a wonderful time to remember that the greatest gift is family and the best way to celebrate any holiday is by spending time with family.

Talking to your children about the economy

Talk about it. Although children generally aren’t concerned with the economy unless it directly affects them, they do know more than you think. Younger children may not need as many details, but do ask them what they have heard and explain to them that a lot of people don’t have too much money right now. If things are tight for your family, let them know that there won’t be as many presents this year but reassure them that things will get better. Try to think of any positive things that may come out of money being tight. For example, instead of going out for pizza once a week, maybe you and your child will make pizza together at home instead. This is a good time to teach your child how to save, and it can even be fun and educational to clip coupons together or make a menu based on what’s on sale in the grocery store.
Be creative. Although you may need to cut back on giving gifts to family and friends, think of creative, inexpensive gifts to give some special people like grandparents and teachers. Your child can help you by creating some artwork, baking some goodies, or taking a family picture. In fact, this is something you can start this year and continue every year because it is fun and meaningful!
Be practical. If you have family and friends that generally give your child a gift, ask them for things your children need that you may not be able to afford right now, such as clothes or winter gear. If you have budgeted some money for gifts for your child, maybe buy one small gift and one outfit. If you don’t have any money for gifts, try to be creative and give your child the promise of a special outing, like a sledding adventure the next first time it snows a lot. This is the kind of present your child may even want year after year!
Share your wealth. Even if money isn’t tight for your family, there are many other families who are struggling right now. Ask your child to consider giving one of her gifts to a child whose parents could not afford one, or think of something you both can do to help families in need around the holidays, like organizing a winter clothing drive in your child’s school. In addition to being a fun activity, a way to spend quality time with your child, and teach your child an important lesson, this could turn into a holiday tradition!

For more tips on having a less expensive holiday season, visit http://www.stretcher.com/stories/07/07dec03f.cfm

For more information on talking to your children about the economy, visit


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