Keeping your kids content during the holidays isn’t always easy.
Marketing during the Christmas season is everywhere—all over the TV, radio and internet—with most companies doing everything they can to get your kids’ attention. These marketers are smart. They know the easiest way to get to your pocketbook is through your kids and at Christmastime that’s easier than ever.
But that doesn’t mean you have to buy in to all the holiday hype. You can still celebrate the season and give some special gifts without saying yes to everything. You’ll enjoy the season much more—and appreciate it for what it’s really all about—if you can begin demonstrating and teaching contentment to your children.
Here a few ideas to help.
Set expectations early. Make sure your kids have an idea of what’s coming. Discontentment starts to happen when the kids expect the whole toy store under the tree then only receive three or four gifts. Expectations should be set long before Christmas morning. If a new bike isn’t in the budget then be upfront and let them know.
Make a top 10 list. Encourage your kids to think of 10 things they are grateful for. You might consider doing this around Thanksgiving, right at the beginning of the Christmas season. That way this list of gratefulness will be at top of their mind until the end of the year—and hopefully long after! This is also a great way to remind your kids about the truth in Matthew 6:21: “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
Donate old toys. After all the new stuff wears off, kids usually want more. This cycle won’t stop unless you teach them that stuff is just stuff and that stuff never brings happiness. Give their old toys to Goodwill or to another charitable organization. And make sure you let them take part in the process of picking which toys to donate!
Give to someone in need. Many organizations will help you find kids in need during Christmas. And a lot of their needs are actual needs, like clothes, shoes and even food. Knowing other children don’t have as much stuff could be an eye-opening experience for your kids. If possible, volunteer to help deliver to the families and kids. Being able to meet the recipients, even if for just a few minutes, is even more impactful.
Go serve. No matter where you live you can find some opportunities to get involved in your community and serve. Take a Saturday afternoon with your kids and go serve for a few hours. Whether that’s a homeless shelter or a church community project—it doesn’t matter. The important thing is your child will get to experience what it feels like to put giving into action.
Don’t misunderstand. There’s nothing wrong with buying nice stuff for your kids during Christmas or any other time in the year. I just want to encourage you to keep your kids engaged and involved in giving through the holiday season. This time of year is perfect for flipping the switch from “What will I get?” to “What can I give to others?” The older your kids are, the more important this will be.
So have fun this Christmas with your family—both giving and receiving—and make this holiday season one you’ll never forget!
As a #1 New York Times best-selling author and seasoned communicator, Rachel Cruze helps Americans learn the proper ways to handle money and stay out of debt. She’s authored two best-selling books: Love Your Life, Not Theirs and Smart Money Smart Kids, which she co-wrote with her father, Dave Ramsey. You can follow Cruze on Twitter and Instagram at @RachelCruze and online at rachelcruze.com, youtube.com/rachelcruze or facebook.com/rachelramseycruze.
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