Spending comes naturally for most of us, and holiday shopping is the perfect learning moment if you want to teach kids that buying decisions should involve time to think and evaluate. That’s why it’s called holiday shopping and not spending.
1) Follow Santa’s lead: Make a list and check it twice.
Shopping with a list is more efficient, and keeps us on track…and on budget. Kids (and some adults) might even go so far as organizing by the envelope system. Just label envelopes, one for each person you want to give a gift. Put the amount to spend in each envelope, and on the envelope write individual gift ideas, prices and places to purchase. Then, when purchased, place the receipt in the envelope.
2) Remember, It’s the thought that counts.
Yes, gifts cost money, but putting a little thought into what Aunt MIllie likes means more than cruising down the aisles to quickly pick up the latest and greatest. In fact, your friends might be more impressed that you focused on something special for them than if you spent a lot of money. So when kids have small sums for shopping, encourage thoughtful gift-buying so money will stretch farther.
3) Detective skills prove profitable.
Teach kids to plan a strategy: dig for coupons and ads (newspapers, websites, Twitter, store flyers) to find discounts and the best prices for items. Holiday shopping (and after) is a time to find discounts and sales. And actually, scouring the ads and planning the shopping trip can be half the fun.
4) Don’t by shy; be resourceful and speak up.
Newbie shoppers (and most kids are) gradually acquire negotiation skills. Help your kids learn to interact with clerks. For example, don’t be afraid to ask:
• if there is free gift wrap, which saves time and money.
• if the retailer will match the price of a competitor’s ad.
• if there is a gift with a purchase.
• if a discount or coupon can be applied.
• if the sals clerk can check the chain’s other stores if your desired item is out of stock. Items can often be located and shipped free.
5) Score TOP points: Timeliness, Originality, Presentation.
You don’t get many kudos if you buy several friends the same token, are late in giving or don’t wrap the gift. Sometimes, it’s the little things that count, things that don’t cost a lot of money.
6) And speaking of originality…Custom-made can be awesome.
Nothing says “I value you” as much as spending time to make something for another person. Some ideas:
a-Find a soup or cookie/bar recipe, buy the dry ingredients and make mixes. Fill and decorate glass jars and attach the recipe.
b-Get a flower pot and plant an herb, flower bulb, or seeds. Or, fill the pot with gardening delights (seeds, bulbs, fertilizer stakes, gloves, small tools, labels).
c-Use websites and find interesting recipes. Make a personalized recipe book.
d-Collect special photos and arrange in an album or collage frame.
e-Start or make a journal of “Memories with My Friend”.
f-Find a small basket or tin and fill with someone’s favs (teas, coffees, candy, lotions, sticky notes & pens, hair accessories, baseball cards).
g-Crafty kids can create bead jewelry, weave a simple scarf, stencil bookmarks or book covers, paint bags or memory boxes (not recommended for the craft-challenged or very young).
h-Make your own wrapping paper or cards to go with a purchased gift.
i-Make home-baked goods (breads, candies, muffins, cheese ball, chocolate-covered pretzels, popcorn balls.
j-Recycle something (dip candles by melting old crayons, collect pine cones and make a wreath, make a potpourri and fill a basket, repaint a flower pot or picture frame).
Not so crafty?
• Create a coupon book, redeemable for babysitting, yard work, kitchen clean-up hours, even hugs.
• Customize a calendar using a computer template (great way to remember birthdays).
• If you plan piano or another instrument well, record your play and make a CD (what grandparent won’t treasure that?).
• Make a tape recording as you read favorite storybooks (great to give young siblings).
7) Haste makes waste, especially last-minute shopping.
It’s frustrating when shelves are empty, crowds are rambunctious, and time is running out. Don’t try to cram in your own shopping errands, so that it becomes a miserable experience or feels like a burden when your kids deliberate about what to buy.
Shopping is a great learning moment: you want to impart that decision making involves time to think and evaluate.