Last year, Forbes reported that parents spent an average of $495 per child for Christmas. That number surprised me and was confirmation that many of us have lost touch with what the holidays are supposed to be.
Perhaps I should reserves judgment until I have teenagers.
It is easy to get swept up in the momentum of the holidays. Parties, shopping, decorating and myriad holiday activities and traditions stack up early and often.
Parents feel an instinctual need to provide for their children. That gets manipulated during the holidays through clever marketing and even competition with other parents. Parents don’t want to feel like their children have been given less than others.
One of the worst parts of the holiday season in my house comes a few short months after the holidays when we start to donate the gifts we just bought.
We tend to buy gifts based on curb appeal and the excitement of Christmas morning.
This year, my wife and I laid out a plan to only buy gifts we thought would be kept for the long term or would help improve their lives in some productive way.
Education, exercise and productive hobbies were the priority.
Sticking to that frame of mind has been more difficult than I expected. There just seems to be so many good deals on things that I know won’t be needed or wanted after a short period.
Forbes also reported that the total amount of American holiday spending for 2016 topped $1 trillion. Yes, that is trillion with a “T.”
I don’t mean to sound like Ebenezer Scrooge, I love the holidays for many reasons and giving and receiving gifts are a part of it. But perhaps a trillion dollars is a bit excessive.
I know people tend to measure holiday success by how much people like our gifts or how much like the gifts we have received. That needs to change to some other measurement.
Perhaps there is a way to measure the holidays by how much we improve our relationships with our friends and families.
That Americans don’t save very much for retirement is well documented. While some Americans don’t save for retirement because of real financial hardship these statistics also prove that many others don’t save because they just don’t make it a priority.
With a little research, you will be able to find all sorts of gift ideas that will be useful for years to come. Investments like coins and stocks with creative certificates may not bring the same excitement as a video game, but will still have value for decades.
Buying an experience is also a great way to build relationships and create memories that will last a lifetime. Tickets to a show, a trip or some class will bring value that can’t be measured with a price tag.