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Parents Panel: How do you manage to stay within budget at Christmas?

Supervising Santa lists, buying second-hand – and turning off the TV.

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AS PART OF TheJournal.ie’s weekly Family Magazine, we wanted to create a space for parents to share their views. A place where mums and dads could share their experiences, lessons learned, and even mistakes along the way. With that in mind, we’ve launched TheJournal.ie Parents Panel.

With December rolling in, this week we’re asking our panel all about Christmas gifts, Santa’s arrival, and managing money: How do you manage to stay within budget at Christmas?

Here’s what our panel had to say…

Parents Panel All 7

Top L-R: Olly Keegan, Alan Dooley, Denise, Ken Hyland. Middle L-R: Ríona Flood, Ross Boxshall, Marta Lisiecka, Denise Cumiskey. Bottom L-R: Kait Quinn, Susannah O’Brien, Derek McInerney, Suzie Kelly.

Facebook buy-and-sell pages are a lifesaver
We have quite an easy time around here at Christmas, which I reckon is due to the lack of TV channels. I don’t even think the kids are aware of the Toy Show. I don’t have a budget, but I try to buy as much as possible second-hand. I started my Christmas shopping about two months ago using mainly the Facebook buy-and-sell pages. They really are a lifesaver! I have found some incredible deals on those, and my shopping is almost done.

- Susannah O’Brien

Three presents – that’s the rule
This year, we are buying one big present and one or two small ones for Tymek. He doesn’t understand the concept of Christmas and gifts yet but I think we’re going to stick to the same rule in the future too. We’ve big enough families on both sides so he’ll get plenty of presents from relatives.

- Marta Lisiecka

No specifics, just a ‘surprise’
We encourage the kids not to ask for anything specific but to request one surprise instead. It’s generally fairly clear to us what ‘surprise’ Santa should bring, which means the kids are of course very satisfied come Christmas morning – and they get a few smaller surprises too. We don’t set Christmas budgets, but we spread the cost by buying over a number of months, and avoiding credit cards.

- Ross Boxshall

image2 Christmas morning in the Boxshall household.

We give out lots of homemade hampers
We have a budget for Christmas gifts and food/entertainment. It’s not hard and fast, but we do try to stick to it as much as possible – though there will still be credit card bills to deal with in January! We make up homemade Christmas hampers for people with homemade jam, shortbread and things like that.

- Olly Keegan

Christmas shopping starts in January
I start my Christmas shopping in the January sales, and continue buying throughout the year. It is an old habit of mine – while working in the toy industry I didn’t get too many days off before Xmas, so all the shopping had to be done and wrapped by the beginning of November. I don’t have any restrictions on Christmas… I will be maxing out the credit card on the two older kids this year as they are looking for an iPhone each.

- Denise Cumiskey

No budging on our budget
Santa letters always went off in early November to give us time to get organised – although one year Santa did have to write back to Daniel because a particular Lego set was nowhere to be found on the island of Ireland. In general, we strictly manage our Christmas budget and have never been tempted to max the cards or take out loans. No matter how badly the kids wanted something, I wouldn’t comprise the financial stability of the household for a the sake of a toy.

- Ken Hyland

mike-arney-174173 Source: Unsplash

Sales and deals keep our costs down
My wife does a great job of making Christmas magical. She buys lots of smaller cheap items, leveraging 3-for-2 deals or sales to keep costs down. The kids generally get what they want, but what they want has been coached in to them over months of effort. We have to be on our game to give the right messaging so that they don’t end up asking for something that’s not affordable, something they don’t need or something we don’t want them to have.

- Alan Dooley

I’ll try not to make Christmas commercial
I think if kids get too obsessed with the finer details of what they’re getting (eg. demanding certain brands or models), the real meaning gets lost. Christmas morning becomes more about the receipt of a particular gift than the joy of Santa bringing a special surprise. I can’t wait until Charlie is old enough to understand what’s going on, and hopefully we can help him enjoy the magic of Christmas without it getting too commercial.

- Kait Quinn

I once bought the presents in August. Bad idea
The boys get one gift from me, one from their dad, one from Santa, and one from the extended family’s Kris Kindle. Four gifts are more than enough and I’m quite strict in that regard, so they don’t expect any more than that. One year I did buy the Christmas gifts in August, but by December they had changed their minds. I won’t be trying that again…

- Suzie Kelly

Want to win a delicious selection of Christmas chocolate treats from Lily O’Brien’s? Enter here – and don’t forget to like TheJournal.ie’s Family Magazine on Facebook and Twitter!

More Parents Panel: How do you keep your kids active during the colder months?

More Parents Panel: What rules do you have about sugar and junk food in your house?

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