How to have a great Christmas when money is tight
Our friends at the Orlando Sentinel Moms at Work blog have a terrific set of tips from child psychologists about how to make the most of Christmas when money is tight. I especially like the tip of showing a younger child a picture of Santa and his sleigh and asking them how many toys he thinks it holds to illustrate why they can't expect 500 presents. Or explaining that we will be making presents for each other this year, just like the elves do.
The clincher, of course, is focusing on the gift of time and traditions, playing games together. I think many families will be surprised by how much more the kids enjoy a Christmas spent playing as a family vs. a pile of toys. And it's also important that if you do talk with your kids, not to scare them but to be honest about what is going on.
There are still ways to have a few gifts under the tree even if your usual holiday budget has been cut by half or more. And there's even a tough-love school of thought that going into debt to stock the Christmas tree is plain old bad parenting. This certainly is a teachable moment we could be missing out on if we plunge into debt out of a sense of guilt.
-- Sharon Kennedy Wynne