The Santa factor puts parents on dangerous ground when trying to explain the cost of Christmas.

When children want piles of expensive presents and say they will ask Santa for them, parents need some strategies to retain the magic of Christmas in their families, says MyBudget founder and director Tammy Barton.

One option is to tell them that space on the sleigh is tight, she says.

"You can still give your kids extra gifts, but the one-kid-one-gift-from-Father Christmas policy alleviates applying the magical Santa factor to every present.

"The rule frees you up to talk with your kids about what's affordable within your household budget and give them choices - 'we can't afford a new bike and a scooter this Christmas, but it's up to you which one you choose''."

MyBudget’s Tammy Barton suggests telling children there’s not a lot of space on the sleigh.
MyBudget’s Tammy Barton suggests telling children there’s not a lot of space on the sleigh.

Barton says another strategy is to refocus a child's attention from receiving to giving, asking them who they will buy or make presents for this year.

Shopping for gifts can deliver children some handy consumer skills.

And children can be taught about the spirit of Christmas by involving them in charitable donations, Barton says.

"At most schools and shopping centres, you'll find charities looking for toys and food for less fortunate families," Barton says.

"Use the opportunity to explain that Christmas is also about sharing and helping each other."

Or you can simply tell the truth about Santa, Barton says.

"Research shows that most kids cotton on at around seven but continue to believe because they enjoy the excitement," she says.

Christmas is expensive enough without having to fork out big bucks on lavish gifts.
Christmas is expensive enough without having to fork out big bucks on lavish gifts.

CreationWealth senior financial adviser Andrew Zbik, who has three children under six, says parents should choose quality over quantity when it comes to Christmas presents.

"My son is five and I have told him every time we walk somewhere and he wants something, 'you can choose it for your birthday or Christmas, so put in on your list then choose one'," he says.

Zbik says parents who continually give too much to their children risk creating bad financial habits right through their children's lives, which can culminate in bailing them out of credit card debt once they are young adults.

"Then you can never break the bank of mum and dad," he says.

@keanemoney

Originally published as How to cope with costly Santa requests



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