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Fewer Toys More Christmas Joys

November 29, 2016
By Amber Van Schooeveld

As the mom of daughters, ages 2 and 4, I see the life-size playhouses and 5-foot teddy bears and wonder if I need to buy more for my children, and I'm not alone. According to a poll, parents spend an average of $271 per child for Christmas.

But parents of young children don't need to spend a lot to make the holidays merry. One mom I know wraps photos and artwork in Christmas paper as decorations and lets her toddlers unwrap them on Christmas morning. Another has a box of holiday books they only take out in December. And my brother-in-law's family has a yearly outing to look at Christmas lights and drink hot cocoa.

That is what they do to enjoy a less materialistic Christmas. Here is how I curtail my holiday spending:

Consider the age

One of my girls' favorite activities on Christmas morning is not playing with the presents, but crawling through the wrapping paper. Toddlers don't yet have the expectation of dozens of presents, so these early years provide us with a great opportunity to make Christmas more about Jesus than things.

Set priorities

Before my husband and I rush into holiday spending, we decide whether we want to focus on gifts under the tree or family experiences. Then we plan accordingly.

Consolidate spending

My girls are young and receive gifts from grandparents, aunts and uncles. So my husband and I give each girl a single gift. Whether you go with one gift or 10, setting a limit and putting thought into those presents reins in spending.

Resisting the urge to spend at Christmas can be difficult, but doing so helps create lasting memories and sparks new traditions aligned with your family's priorities.

Posted by written permission from Focus on the Family; this permission does not equate to endorsement of New Covenant Academy, Springfield, MO.

This article first appeared in the December 2016/January 2017 issue of Focus on the Family magazine.