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How to talk to your kids about having less money at Christmas

Talking to kids about money at Christmas

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As the festive season approaches, the sad reality for many families is that the cost-of-living crisis means they just haven’t got any spare money to spend at Christmas. Even previously affluent families are tightening their belts this year, and that means that Santa has to as well. This means you will have to talk to your kids about having less money at Christmas for gifts.

There is no doubt that it is tough to start these conversations, but handled sensitively, it can be an opportunity for children to begin to learn to budget. These tips will help you prepare your kids for a different festive period from usual.

Tips for conversations about money at Christmas

1. Reassure them

There is a lot of talk on TV and online about inflation and people having less money. Some of the other kids at school might talk about it too. Take ownership of the topic and reassure them that you will still have a Christmas and it will be a fun time. It isn’t being cancelled, despite the gloom.

2. Discuss what makes presents special

This is probably a good idea any year, but it is worth explaining especially this year that Christmas is a time for giving but that doesn’t have to mean expensive gifts. Many of us are guilty of prizing the big, extravagant gifts, but that shouldn’t always be the aim. Explain instead that you’re going to be making gifts or doing something else special for loved ones, rather than spending a lot of money.

 3. Make it age-appropriate

If your child no longer believes in Santa, you can explain that money at Christmas is tight manage their expectations in that way. You can set them a small budget and get them to decide the gifts they want, according to what you can afford.

With younger children, try taking them to a toy shop to try out toys to put on their Christmas list. Prioritise the cheaper options when they write their lists. At that age, they rarely understand how much things really cost and will not be suspicious that Father Christmas only picked the less expensive gifts.

Talking to kids about money at Christmas

4. Use the ‘fair share’ explanation

Santa doesn’t have enough space in his sleigh to carry loads of gifts for every child, and getting just one or two means everyone gets their fair share. Not only does this expectation make them appreciate what they get, but it also encourages empathy and sharing.

5. Get them involved in festive saving

Make being thrifty an activity the whole family’s involved with, to help the kids understand money at Christmas is tight. Hunt down discounted festive food bargains, teens can search for discount codes on the internet or you could make gifts together. Turn it into a fun opportunity, rather than a problem. Children love a challenge that gets them involved and it brings the whole family together.

Don’t feel pressured to overspend

After you’ve done your best to help the kids understand money’s tight, don’t get yourself into debt by spending what you can’t afford. No matter what is on the gift list. When you think back to your childhood Christmases, you probably can’t remember how many presents you received or how much they cost. You just remember them being special because Santa brought them or your parents went out to get the for you.

You can still create that festive feeling for your kids even when money’s very tight. If you begin with this aim in mind, all the other conversations about money at Christmas become much easier.


How have you talked with your kids about having less money at Christmas? Leave a Comment below


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1 Comment

  1. Jo Spolton

    This is great, what you have missed though is the option for secondhand. kids don’t care whether its new to the world, if its “new to them” and what they want they will love it. My kids are 12 and 13 and have surprised me with how much they know about environmental issues caused by demand for new.
    We have always saved cash by getting good quality used things and this year its even more important.

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