Niagara Gazette

Extra

December 4, 2008

EXTRA: How to tell kids Santa's sack will be smaller

By MEGAN K. SCOTT

Associated Press Writer



Children may wake up to fewer presents under the tree this year. And some of their much coveted items may be missing.

Here's how to prepare them for a more economical Christmas:

BE HONEST

Have an age-appropriate conversation with your children about your financial situation, says Bonnie Harris, author of "Confident Parents, Remarkable Kids: 8 Principles for Raising Kids You'll Love to Live With."

Teens can certainly understand financial difficulties and learn a valuable lesson, she says. Explain that until finances are more stable, spending on items that aren't necessities will be tighter, she said.

For younger children, she suggests saying something along the lines of that the whole country — a big family — has to cut back so all the little families have to help out and spend less too. Even Santa has less.

Brenda Nixon, parenting speaker and author of "The Birth to Five Book: Confident Childrearing Right from the Start," cautions against revealing too much detail. Be honest, be brief and keep it light, she says.

"Don't lay the load of an adult issue onto a child's shoulders," she says.

TAKE THEIR LISTS

Let your children put as much and whatever they want on their wish lists, says Harris.

Then as the holidays get closer, explain they need to pick four or five things from the list, she said. Ask them to write a couple of sentences telling you why that particular item is important.

Vicki Courtney, author of "5 Conversations You Must Have With Your Daughter," told her three children, ages 15, 18 and 20, to give her a list of reasonably priced items and prioritize them.

"I also mentioned that if you are wanting something big, talk among yourselves and figure out if this can be a family item," she says.

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