I was asked to come up with top tips for parents worried about affording presents for their kids at Christmas and Birthdays by the lovely Danny Smith from Radio Verulam‘s drive time show (92.6FM).
I’ve written my tips below, but if you fancy listening to our dulcet tones, then head to the bottom for the audio clip.
The first thing you need to know is that:
YOUR CHILDREN WILL NOT BE RUINED BY NOT HAVING THE EXPENSIVE PRESENT
OR GETTING SOMETHING SECOND HAND!
They will either get used to the idea and work out for themselves that they haven’t been ruined, or they will get off their butts and grow up with a job that will enable them to earn well, so it will give them motivation in future. (Ok so a few will grow up to be whingers, but I think there is more to that than just a few presents).
In fact last year we bought Tracey Island at a school fair for 50p and added extra bits from ebay where they were missing. And when Curly Headed boy was little we bought the basics of a brio set new, but added shed loads from eBay.
When I asked on twitter, the most popular reply was to go for second hand:
Get a mix of toys/useful presents
There is an old fashioned quote that I love that gives ideas for presents:
- something they WANT
- something they NEED
- something to WEAR
- something to READ
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t ‘not worry’ about money. October to february is an expensive time for us with birthday for the Big Northern One, Curly Headed Boy, then Christmas and then Little Dimples. If we are not careful we are in major trouble come the spring with big credit card bills.
Make the most of what you buy
I do take them through a catalogue for ideas. But at the same time I spend a lot of thought about what they ACTUALLY play with and do and their personalities, rather than what they think they want.
It would be horrid to work hard to afford presents and then find that they weren’t worth the stress. So I’ve got loads of tips to make sure that you really get value from your spends:
1) Don’t ruin their imagination, they don’t need things that take away the fun from playing like kitchens and those packs of Lego that you are meant to make into something specific, just get put on a shelf after being made and never touched again.
2) Buy things that will last for years and be added to e.g. Wii, Xbox, Wooden Train, Scooters (buy accessories the next year), dolls houses
3) Focus on outside e.g. balls, scooters, bikes etc
4) Ban plastic tat unless necessary (wood can be expensive)
5) Stick to one system and get rid of the others e.g. Only Lego or Kinect or Mechanno etc
6) Send lists to friends and relatives and explain that you don’t have enough money to cover everything your kids need or want, so their help with sticking to a list is much appreciated.
7) Ignore big toys that will take over your house, kitchen, lounge and life e.g shops, kitchens and huge plastic toys etc
8) Expensive dancing/talking toys are a waste of money
9) Ban Children’s TV with adverts from November; stick to Cbeebies or Disney
10) Look for versions of toys that fold up e.g. we have a wooden fold up house for Little Dimples, which is much easier than the big castle we once bought for Curly Headed Boy (they do fold up castles too).
11) They don’t need 100 teddies, 100 dolls or 100 little bits of stuff, so stop the collecting bug!
12) The old games are the best: ball, teddy, hoola hoop, kite, marbles, dolls, jigsaws, snap
13) Second hand is fine, especially for young ones and things that they grow out of e.g. bikes, duplo, dolls houses
14) Remember that old saying: something they want, they need, to wear and to read. Maybe consider things to make and watch as well.
15) Check out these simple Top 10 games that work for kids and give you a break.
If you fancy listening to these tips check out the audio here:
Feel free to add your hints and tips below, the more the merrier!
Wishing you stress free shopping and happy kids!