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News Release

Re-think Gift Giving: Five Strategies to Take the Stress (and Expense) out of the Holidays

December 06, 2010

WASHINGTON, DC, December 7, 2010 – Even with a sour economy, many parents will continue to agonize over finding their child just the right present, whatever the cost in time and money. Instead of stressing over what to buy, CFP Board Consumer Advocate Eleanor Blayney, CFP® has five creative strategies for parents (and grandparents) to tackle their toughest holiday challenge – making a child happy this holiday season:

  • Use a Gift Giving Structure: Many parents buy and buy until time and/or money runs out. By thinking more about the types of gifts to give, parents can buy more effectively. The gift categories might include: most wanted, fun, practical, educational or totally unexpected. By buying a present within each category, parents will be less likely to over spend.
  • Make a Privilege Coupon Book: Give your child a book of privileges in the form of coupons that they can use at will. The privileges could include being able to stay up an hour past bedtime or taking a day to visit a favorite zoo or museum with Mom or Dad or getting to make (and eat!) a special dessert with Mom or Dad.
  • Give Gifts of Time and Experience: Giving gifts of experience is consistent with the current advice on investing in experiences instead of things. Look for gifts that can provide lasting memories, like an invitation to go out to tea, tickets to a show or sporting event, or a series of Saturday “dates” to explore the city or neighborhood.
  • Gifting Games: Too often, the kids find and open all their presents before Mom and Dad even make it to the living room. This year, hold some gifts back and incorporate them into a “present game” where each player gets a turn at picking a gift, according to rules that you create. This idea speaks to the need to move away from the focus on the “what did I get?” question. This is also an opportunity to enhance the holiday experience and create new inexpensive - but meaningful - traditions.
  • Use this Holiday for Teachable Moments: Holidays are a great time to teach children the importance of giving to others and certain financial principles. If your child gets money or gift cards encourage him or her to think of the many ways the gift can be used: spend some now, save some, give away some to others or a charity. Help your child understand the idea of gift exchange, which involves choosing gifts for others as well as receiving gifts. Gift giving also provides children an opportunity to create and work within budgets.

“The gift-giving process can be extraordinarily stressful, difficult and expensive for parents. Trust me, I know. I’m a parent and grandparent who always looks to make the holidays a season of memories,” said Blayney. “Now is a time to re-think gift-giving so that parents stay sane and solvent, while still making the season special for their children.”

Listen to our national radio spot for the holiday tips.

Look for additional holiday gift-giving tips over the holidays on Twitter and Facebook.

Download a pdf of gift-giving tips.

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