Share this article

Your free personal budget template
MyBudget will show you how to make budgeting your friend.

Managing kids’ Christmas expectations: The Santa factor

When it comes to Christmas morning, the excitement and anticipation can be overwhelming for kids. However, as parents, it is important to manage their expectations and ensure they have a realistic view of the holiday season. With constant advertisements bombarding them, it’s no surprise that children often have high gift expectations.

But there’s no need to worry! There are strategies you can use to help your kids develop realistic expectations and avoid disappointment. By setting boundaries, encouraging gratitude, and focusing on experiences and meaningful gifts rather than material possessions, you can create a more memorable and enjoyable holiday season for the entire family.

Of course, children may have questions about how Santa accomplishes his magical feats, such as flying reindeer or fitting down chimneys. It’s important to delicately address these inquiries without compromising the wonder and magic of Christmas or straining your budget for gifts.

How to manage kids’ expectations for Christmas

When it comes to Christmas, it’s important to manage your children’s holiday expectations. With the rising cost of living, it can be difficult to afford everything they may want this year. Santa Claus represents the spirit of giving and joy during the holiday season, however he is not responsible for providing every single item on their wish list.

By having open and honest conversations with your children, you can help them understand the limitations of what can be realistically afforded and teach them the importance of gratitude and appreciation for what they do receive.

Explain the difference between Santa Claus and reality

As a parent who values financial responsibility, I have always emphasised the importance of money to my children. When my son Seth presented me with an extensive Christmas wish list totaling hundreds of dollars, I had to have a conversation with him about the reality of our budget.

Seth, being a typical child, reassured me by saying, “It’s okay, Mom. I’ll just ask Santa Claus for everything!” Ah, the classic “Santa Factor.” The enchanting figure with a white beard and rosy cheeks who has the power to fulfill every Christmas wish. From skateboards and dollhouses to Nintendos and puppies, Santa can seemingly provide it all without us incurring any credit card debt.

However, it’s crucial for children to understand the difference between Santa Claus and the real world. While Santa’s generosity is a cherished part of the festive season, it’s important for kids to recognise that our family’s budget and financial responsibilities exist outside of the magical realm. 

Set Realistic Expectations for Christmas Gifts

When it comes to managing kids’ expectations for Christmas gifts, there are differing opinions. Some believe that it’s best to be honest with children and tell them the truth about Santa Claus. After all, they will eventually find out anyway. However, there are others who argue that embracing the magical aspects of Christmas is important for fostering imagination and joy.

But for us parents, it’s important to consider the financial aspect. Children may not fully grasp the concept that parents have to stick to a budget when buying gifts. Therefore, it’s necessary to set realistic expectations and not overspend. This can be done by gently explaining to children that they may not receive everything on their wishlist, but that they will still have a wonderful Christmas. By managing expectations in a thoughtful and compassionate way, parents can ensure that the holiday remains joyful and stress-free for everyone involved.

Teach gratitude and appreciation during the holiday season

During the holiday season, it’s important to teach children about gratitude and appreciation, rather than just focusing on receiving holiday gifts. Encourage your child to think about who they can give presents to this year.

For children who earn pocket money, you can suggest that they set some of it aside to buy small gifts for their grandparents, for example. For younger children, you can help them make something special to give as a heartfelt gift. By shifting the focus from receiving to giving, you can teach your child the value of gratitude and appreciation during the holiday season.

Create traditions and memories that go beyond material gifts 

By shifting kids’ focus from material gifts to the experiences and traditions of the holiday season, you can help them to focus on creating happy memories that go beyond material items. Take a moment to reflect on your own childhood memories of Christmas. Chances are, your most cherished moments are not centered around specific presents, but rather the lovely times spent with loved ones, like decorating the tree or going to see the Christmas lights.

Consider creating special Christmas rituals and traditions within your own extended family. It’s never too late to start! These holiday traditions can help create lasting memories that go beyond actual gifts. By emphasising the joy of shared experiences, you can help your children appreciate the true meaning of Christmas and foster a sense of togetherness during this special time of year.

Let the MyBudget elves help you

If the Santa Factor is causing you some tough times this Christmas, give the caring elves at MyBudget a call on 1300 300 922 or enquire online. If you’re currently going through a difficult time, we’re here to make Christmas memorable for all the right reasons.

Ready to find out more?

Call 1300 300 922 or get started today

This content has been updated from the original post published in November, 2020.

This article has been prepared for information purposes only, and does not constitute personal financial advice. The information has been prepared without taking into account your personal objectives, financial situation or needs. Before acting on any information in this article you should consider the appropriateness of the information having regard to your objectives, financial situation and needs.