Holidays, Shopping

Instituting a Frugal Santa

Christmas season is in full swing, and the stores are packed.

I fought traffic and lines at Walmart just to get some milk for Monkey for the next week.  I hate to see what it will be like to get some as it gets closer to Christmas.  It might be worth paying more for the milk if I don’t have to fight the traffic and enormous lines full of overflowing buggies.

Seeing all of the parents with carts full of toys, I sincerely hope Santa doesn’t also go overboard.  I mean, how many toys can one child really play with?

Monkey meeting Santa

Growing up, I had plenty.  I never went without.  But I also never got a four wheeler or a new car.  I had a somewhat modest Christmas but got at least one thing I really, really wanted.  (We discussed the Giga Pet in this article.)

I even got cake every Christmas morning for breakfast as we sang Happy Birthday to Jesus.  Who gets to have cake for breakfast?  It was great!

After Christmas, when school would start back, everyone would come to class all excited and showing off what they got for Christmas.  I could not help but realize that some people got way more from Santa than I did.

One year, a kid in my class got a four wheeler, a new bike, and about a hundred video games to go with his new game system.  And there I was, excited that I finally got a telephone for my own room and a doll with a bassinet (among other smaller stuff).  Man, I must not have been as good this year as that boy who got in trouble every other week in class.  Where did I go wrong?

I mean, my parents always got me presents, also, but Santa seemed to be more modest for me than other children.

Monkey, excited to see what Santa brought last year

As I got older and now have a child of my own, I see Christmas and Santa in a whole new light.

I love the idea of Santa.  It adds a little extra magic to Christmas.  And it was always fun to see what Santa picked out for me, things I didn’t even tell him I wanted.  Children are only little for a short while, and I fully believe we should foster their innocence as long as possible.  But can you do that when Santa seems to have favorites?

While Santa is great, we all need to vow to institute a frugal Santa in our houses. 

Everyone around us has different income levels.  Some people make half as much money as I do, and some people make twice as much as I do.  Some parents are living on minimum wage and food stamps while others are making millions each year just by endorsing a product.  But if Santa gives some kids $10 worth of gifts and other kids $1000 worth of gifts, is there any magic left to Santa?  Why would Santa favor one child over another?

Children are going to talk at school.  Their parents’ money doesn’t really mean anything to an elementary school student.  Their only thought will be comparing the awesome gifts they all received from Santa. And sometimes a new book does not sound as awesome when it is compared with a cell phone or iPod.

As they get older, they will begin to understand that some families don’t have as much money as others, but why prematurely take away the love of Santa from a child just because Santa brought more presents to one child than another?

That is why, in my house, we have instituted a frugal Santa rule.  Santa will bring gifts, but they will not be overly expensive or extravagant.  All other presents will be from Mom and Dad.  This year, we kind of chose which few presents would be from Santa as the ones that would be hard to wrap because they were odd-shaped.

Some people institute a 3-gift rule from Santa.  This is great as long as those three gifts are not a dirt bike, a full-sized swimming pool, and a full wardrobe of the hottest new clothes.

While it sounds like I am restricting your Christmas, there is a loophole here.  You can buy your children however many gifts you want, within your budget, but they should be from you, not Santa.

If you want to put off your retirement (more time to actually spend with your children) to give them every gift they want now, by all means, do so.  That is absolutely your choice.  But Santa should be frugal with his giving. 

If every household were to institute a frugal Santa, children would be less worried about keeping score with Santa and would be more likely to enjoy and relish in the magic of Christmas.  Join us in making this Christmas from Santa the best and most frugal one yet!

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Don’t forget to track how much you spend on your children this year.  There is almost always room for improvement and ways to spend more efficiently.

Are you going to take the plunge with us and institute a frugal Santa in your household?

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