Talking to kids about holiday spending

November 18, 2008 9:03:57 PM PST
Jolly Old Saint Nick can expect a substantially lighter delivery schedule this holiday season. Margaret Lamonica recently broke the bad news to her teenage daughter, who told us she watches the news. She knows what's going on.

"It says the economy is very bad and I know my Mom isn't making that much money to begin with, so we're getting less now. So we just have to deal with what we've got," Sarah Lamonica said.

"I told her that things aren't going to be as good as they were a couple of years ago and things are getting tight. And we have cutbacks on everything," Margaret Lamonica said.

But the gloomy news delivered to teens is far different from the parental message directed at young children.

Rachel Fishman-Feddersen of parenting.com says to keep things honest and simple.

"You might even make a little joke out of it. We're getting fewer presents this year because there is an elf shortage at the North Pole or Santa is very busy providing for everyone around the world and he can only stop over for a short amount of time, so we're just getting a few very important gifts," Fishman-Feddersen said.

Another tip for parents: For many young kids half the fun of getting gifts is opening the gifts. So instead of one or two big presents from a name brand store, try a whole bunch of little gifts from the dollar store.

London Deehan says that's a strategy she will employ this year with her three young boys.

"This year we're doing an advent gift bag thing where we are putting like dollar store toys in each bag leading up to it. So it's larger in terms of time but less in terms of money," London Deehan said.

Finally, experts say the economic crisis and the thrifty approach to holiday shopping provide a unique opportunity to focus less on money and more on family, a priceless gift destined to last a long time.

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