All parents are familiar with the term pester power, and will notice it stepping up a level in the run up to Christmas as advertisers pull out all the stops to capture little minds and hearts.
As well as the adverts on television, children are also influenced by their peers, and will soon latch on to what the latest ‘must have’ is among their school friends.
Of course, if you shop smart you can make sure that you get the most for your money, and Moneysaver.ie could very well become your best Christmas shopping companion. At Moneysaver.ie we pull together all the best deals, discount codes and offers, onto one easy to use website, so that you can see where to head to find the cheapest toys, games and gifts this year.
However, even with a virtual purse full of voucher codes it’s necessary to draw the line somewhere. Unless you want to bankrupt yourself this Christmas then it’s important to manage your little one’s expectations.
Here are some handy tips for making sure that there are no tears from the kids this Christmas morning (or from you when the credit card statement drops onto the mat come January!):
Set a Budget…
It’s a good idea to set a clear budget well in advance of December, so that you don’t find yourself getting swept up in the madness that inevitably takes over in the run up to Christmas. The average spend per child Christmas 2010 was £168 but this figure will differ depending on the child’s age, your financial circumstances and your spending habits in general.
And Make It Known!
When Father Christmas takes credit for gifts it can be difficult to convey to children that they can’t have everything that they want. After all, if little Ben down the road can have a £300 bike then why can’t they?
One way to get around this is to tell your little ones that parents buy the presents and then send them off to Santa, who delivers them if they have been good. Some families also follow the line that Santa brings one special present, while parents buy the rest.
This makes it easier to introduce the idea of ‘a budget’ and is also a good way to extend the magic as it explains away why there are piles of gifts hidden at the back of your wardrobe, should little treasure hunters be on the loose.
Turn ‘Wants’ Into ‘Wishes’
It’s important to make it clear that a Christmas list is a list of ‘wishes’, rather than a list of what children can expect to receive. One good idea is to get kids to do their lists in order of preference, so you will know if there’s something that they particularly want.
If kids are prepared for the fact that they are unlikely to get everything on their list then it will save tears on Christmas morning, and they may also be more selective about what they put on there, rather than simply rattling off everything that they’ve seen in the Argos catalogue.
Make it magical and let the kids send the lists off to Santa – if you send them to Santa, Santa’s Grotto, Reindeerland, SAN TA1, with a return address, your child will receive a free reply in the post. However, it’s a good idea to also keep a copy in case relatives ask for ideas on what to buy.
Put Things Into Perspective
If you find that your children turn into unrecognisable, ungrateful little monsters over the festive period, put Christmas back into perspective for them by reminding them of those much less fortunate. Operation Christmas Child is a great way to get kids involved in giving, rather that getting, and they’re sure to enjoy putting together a shoebox of little gifts for those who will receive nothing else on Christmas day.
Plan Low Cost Treats
Show that Christmas isn’t all about the gifts by planning some low cost special treats to enjoy as a family. Ideas include festive movie nights, a trip to the cinema to see this year’s must have Christmas film (Arthur Christmas!), wintery walks in the woods and afternoons of Christmassy baking.
While everyone loves to see stacks of gifts under the tree come Christmas morning, it is also a good life lesson for children to learn that there are limits on what they can expect to receive. Setting boundaries and sticking to them, in the face of turbo-charged pester power, will result in children who are overall far more gracious and grateful for the gifts that they do receive.