‘Tis the season to be stressed out, falalalala lalalala yikes. While Christmas brings a lot of happiness to families, it can also be a frantic time, and the biggest causes of stress (according to a recent Leger survey conducted for PCFinancial) are associated with gifts; the buying and the giving. Fourty-one per cent of Canadians surveyed listed budget one of their top sources of holiday stress, not surprisingly.

For parents, it can be especially challenging when dealing with children, particularly those who assume it’s Santa bringing their gifts, not penny-pinching mom and dad. But what can parents do when they know the most-desired gift is well outside even Santa’s budget?

Have the kids make out a wish list, and check it twice to make sure they have listed more than one item. Budget or availability may make delivering that single desired object impossible. Explain to the kids that even Santa can be “out of stock” or have to spread his spending around.

Older kids (age 7-9) should understand the value of money, even if they are expecting Santa to bring gifts. Suggest to them they can contribute earned chore money, or money saved in a bank account, to leave out for Santa, who can pocket the cash and deliver a more expensive gift in return.

Have a number and stick to it. It’s easy to get stuck in the “evening out” trap when you have more than one child. If they are still counting the number of presents, fill some boxes with inexpensive candies or dollar-store items.

Equally as stressful for Canadians is choosing just the right gift, but the biggest joy of Christmas, according to the survey, is spending time with family (65 per cent), so it makes sense to give a (budget-friendly) gift that families can enjoy together.

Many kids ask for electronics; look for one that can be shared. Kobo has some terrific options to get families reading together, and their gift cards are an easy way to get new e-books which can be given by other family members. The Kobo Kids Store offers nearly 100,000 child-friendly titles, and the Kobo Arc7HD is perfect for reading colourful picture books.

Moms will love the Kobo Aura for its convenient size and built in Comfort-lite that allows her to read in the dark without disturbing Dad. Dad can be kept busy with the Kobo Arc 10HD which has a 10″ HD screen, perfect for watching movies, TV shows, playing games and reading magazines. All creatures stirring will be quieter than mice with these smart gifts of reading.

Cashing in loyalty points (as 46 per cent of Canadians say they will do) is a great way to purchase gift cards. The new PCPlus points program offers Loblaws store customers an easy way to stretch their dollars at this time of the year. Using the PCFinancial Mastercard makes the points add up even quicker. A Cineplex gift card lets you share time at a movie with a family member. Give yourself a gift and deck those bills with vows of holiday savings.

Give the gift of Kathy, “I Am So The Boss Of You” available at bookstores everywhere, and on Kobo. Visit kathybuckworth.com.

This article first appeared in Huffington Post and can be found at this link: http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/kathy-buckworth/christmas-budget_b_4425136.html

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