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18th Dec 2022

This is how to manage your kids’ expectations this Christmas

Christmas is one of the most joyous times of the year but for some, it can be a burden.

With the cost of living rising and many people struggling to heat their own homes, Christmas presents are not at the top of the agenda.

Many people are cutting down on costs this year, with less gifts and smaller dinner options and the hardest part of all of this is managing children’s expectations.

The last thing any parent wants is to have to leave their children with nothing on Christmas morning and most will do whatever they can to ensure their child’s day is as magical and as festive as possible, despite the struggle.

So how can we manage our children’s expectations during this crisis and avoid disappointment? Experts say it’s all in the preparation.

Recent surveys on consumer spending show that most people are cutting down their Christmas budgets, with GoCompare Money claiming that the average family is set to spend 14% less this year.

One in five are expected to find the festive season financially difficult while 34% are worried about how they’ll even keep the house warm.

“Christmas can be a lovely time of the year, but it also comes with a lot of pressure for some,” says Matt Sanders, personal finance expert at from GoCompare Money.

“It’s really worrying to see how many people seem to be anxious about money and may struggle to make ends meet. It’s also concerning that a significant number of people will be using a credit card to pay for some or all of their Christmas costs.”

Meanwhile, Wicked Uncle says that a third of parents have made their budget for gifts a lot smaller and more reduced in order to save on presents.

The solution to ensuring children aren’t disappointed on Christmas morning is to prepare them in advance.

Giving them a price limit to choose from for their Santa list can ensure they get something they want while you stay within your set budget.

Parenting coach Jo Mitchelhill, who runs Parenting For Change, told Metro: “I would always explain to children that there are limits on the amount and types of presents that they can expect for Christmas and just because it is on the list, doesn’t mean that it will appear under the tree.

“For children who may still be believers and want more expensive presents, I speak to them about Santa who has a limit on what he brings price wise. So set the limit, e.g. £20, and allow them to choose something that is within that.”

If children do end up disappointed on Christmas morning due to the cost of living, they may not understand what is really going on. Taking time to explain the circumstances can be beneficial. We need to give children more credit when it comes to issues like this as they really do understand more than we allow them to.

The best way to do this is by mirroring their emotions and show you’re also disappointed by the situation. This way, they will feel more seen and heard and thus will be able to comprehend it more.

By going on to then explain that the cost of living crisis won’t prevent the family from having a good Christmas, letting them know that regardless of the gifts, their Christmas will still be fun will allow them to feel like there is so much more to the day.

Creating happy memories and finding other positive aspects will stick with them. When we think of Christmas as children, we often forget what we got from Santa, we rather remember the moments spent with family and the feeling of festive activities.