Money Matters: Should Kids Give Their Own Christmas Presents?
The age-old question parents have been facing for as long as gifts have been given is “When do we begin to expect our children to earn their own money and give their own gifts?” This falls right in line with the chore vs. allowance debate, I think, with lots of room for controversy on every side.
Of course I don’t want to force my kids to give gifts, but I also want them to begin to experience the joy that comes from giving. They need to begin practicing an attitude of giving towards others in order to develop that character quality, but I also don’t want to do anything that will be a terrible burden to them.
Help Create Alternative Gifts
One way to begin developing a giving attitude is to find ways children can give to their family members that don’t require money. I remember one year when I was little I spent several spare afternoons sorting and creating an index for my dad’s VHS collection of movies, alphabetizing the movies and numbering all his recorded-from-TV cassettes. It was a meaningful gift that he appreciated, and it didn’t cost me a thing. Help kids create coupons for favors, or brainstorm something they can DO to bless the people in their families.
Create Specific Money-Earning Opportunities
My kids tend to respond best to situations when they know upfront what they are expected to do. So if I give them the option for an extra paid task around the house, I will say, “This money will be for your Christmas shopping so you can buy a present at Dollar Tree for Grammie and Papa.” This way, children have already mentally set aside this dollar as one that will be used towards buying a Christmas present. Now when you go shopping, you are using the shopping money, not their saving-for-more-Legos money.
Help Them Maximize Their Shopping
My parents love candles, so a candle from the dollar store that cost Evan $1 would be a great gift that would be both useful and inexpensive. Maybe you can also shop for baking supplies and make beautiful cookies for everyone, craft homemade ornaments, or work together on other crafted gifts on more of a budget. Helping your kids maximize their shopping spree to get gifts you know the people on the receiving end will enjoy AND assisting the kids in stretching their meager budgets as much as possible will make them feel like their efforts have been a success.
I’ve found that when kids are involved in the gift-giving experience, instead of having parents sign their names to a card they didn’t even see, it gives them pride and a sense of ownership over the whole experience. As our kids enter school and begin writing their own Christmas cards, they usually begin asking to contribute their own gifts, as well. I love seeing their tender and giving hearts, and I want to do everything I can to encourage that.