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Parents blog: The best gift of all?

Lots of families have tighter budgets this year. For many, that means fewer gifts under the Christmas tree.

Instead of feeling guilty or worried about not being able to buy your children the toys and other stuff on their wish list, experts suggest using this experience as an opportunity to teach them about the importance of being together instead of getting lots of gifts.

Be honest about your budget, some parenting experts advise. At the same time, keep the holidays special by finding free or inexpensive activities, such as baking cookies and making homemade gifts, and emphasizing the need to spend time together as a family.

“ ‘Cutting back’ this year actually may just be a blessing in disguise, a way to help your kids understand the true meaning of Christmas and bring back the real magic of the holidays,” Michele Borba, author of “The Big Book of Parenting Solutions.” told North Carolina’s Gaston Gazette.

Borba offered the following advice:

•Set a budget.

•Share new expectations. Explain to kids that everyone will receive fewer presents.

•Reframe Santa. Don’t build false hope that he’s guaranteed to bring everything your child desires.

•Make the holidays for the kids. Instead of shopping for friends and relatives, forgo the gift exchange and put that money towards the kids’ gifts.

• Stress time together. Suggest family members give the gift of time to your kids instead of purchased gifts.

•Make kids prioritize.

In this tight economy, what else can families do to spend less money but keep the holiday spirit alive?

– Posted by Virginia de Leon

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