Christmas: How to rein in spending

Thursday, April 01, 2010

In a few weeks, my husband and I may experience our best Christmas yet. It will be Sienna's first and the weeks leading up to the big morning have been like reliving my childhood.

Remember the list you used to make up& four, even five months in advance? As a child, you certainly don't have any concept of a budget. Why should you? Santa doesn't spend any money, he just makes all his toys. Well, as a new parent, it's tempting to forget about budgets. After all, it is Sienna's first Christmas and she is at an age where she is beginning to actually use toys.

A couple of nights ago, my husband and I were searching online for Sienna's Christmas gifts (I highly recommend reserving the mall trip for a Santa visit only, it's just too hard fighting the crowds with a baby!). I was astonished at how many toys there are for the age group 6 months and under. What's even more shocking is the marketing that goes along with it. Almost all of the toy descriptions outline how this particular toy will "enhance your child's motor skills, coordination and language skills". Which makes me wonder, how did any baby possible develop into a thriving toddler before the introduction of Baby Einstein?!

We stared at the computer for a good two hours adding toy after toy to our cart, contributing to the ever-growing plastic collection in Sienna's room and our basement. The bill was adding up and so was our anxiety. Not only are the toys expensive but they are all designed for children in three month increments; meaning by February, Sienna will need new toys in the 9-months and under category!

Then I remembered something a few parents had told me a while back. Buy a few toys and divide them in half. Let Sienna play with the first half for a few weeks and then put those away in a good hiding place. Then, take out the second half and let her play with those for a few weeks. Repeat. It is a good compromise for keeping her playtime fresh while keeping our bank accounts balanced, and our plastic consumption down.

It is tempting to buy up all the "educational" toys. But I keep reminding myself that Sienna is learning everyday whether it be from her 'exercer-saucer" or from my husband and me making funny faces at her and singing the alphabet song. And of course the best part of Christmas won't be what we get Sienna but that we have Sienna with us.

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