It's officially a month until Christmas, check your calendar, take a deep breath, it's going to be okay. Even if you have little children like we do, that Sears commercial boasting something to the effect of, "Even if they won't remember this Christmas, you will!" tugs at the heart strings of parents everywhere, even anti-consumer ones* in a way that makes you feel like a cheap louse for not showering your child in hundreds of dollars of crap that they don't need anyway.
Here are five ways to help save some money on gifts for your kids and provide some holiday memories that won't indebt you to Sears corporation for the duration of 2014!
1. Look into your rewards points: check out catalogues and what's available online. If you don't see any items that meet your gift list, you can order some gift cards that will help pay for items or make great gifts for older kids on your list. Be sure to order early as delivery can take 2-3 weeks.**
2. Buy gently used items. From books to CDS and DVDs to toys, you can get some pre-loved items from local thrift stores, used book stores or sports equipment stores at a fraction of the cost.
3. Arrange for an annual "present trade" with parental friends and neighbours. I purposefully don't remove price tags from items until my children are going to use them because you never know when the next growth spurt is coming. Because of this habit I have a gift drawer full of items that never fit Molly and Jack at the right season as well a few duplicate toys and books to re-gift. Why not connect with some other parents and have a trading party to exchange items of similar value for something you can gift your own children this Christmas?
4. Older kids can be given some memory based gifts rather than physical presents: swimming lessons, babysitting courses, indoor soccer league, dance lessons*** or a family trip to the museum, Lego Land or another pre-planned activity.
5. Give the gift of giving back. Get your kids to help you purchase a toy to donate to the less fortunate, have them clear their own toy box of things they've outgrown to gift to someone else, or help you select canned goods for your local food bank.
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*Editors of Ad busters, I'm sure you can do something brilliant with this Sears commercial.
**Two $25 Baby Gap gift cards are currently en route to my mailbox courtesy of my air miles points.
***Note to Canadian parents, some physical activity programs qualify for a tax credit up to $500 per year, per child: http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/vdgllry/wtchds/menu-eng.html?clp=wtchds/chldrnftnss-eng