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Holiday joy on a budget: How to create magical Christmas memories and a strong family bond

As the holiday season approaches, many family budgets will be strained as a result of the cost-of-living crisis, and parents and carers may find it harder to provide a memorable Christmas for their kids. Yet, with a few simple parenting tips from the experts at Triple P – Positive Parenting Program, families can create the gift of connection, strengthen their bond, and build a lifetime of memorable moments, even on a tight budget.

Triple P International Country Director, Carol Markie-Dadds said that with many families in Australia needing to tighten their belts as mortgage rates and rental prices hit an all-time high and living expenses are sky rocketing, parents and carers may be feeling stressed and under pressure to provide a happy festive season for their children.

“One of the best ways families can create a positive, nurturing environment is by focussing on building connections these holidays. By incorporating Triple P’s budget-friendly ideas, families can create lasting memories and celebrate the festive season with a little less financial stress,” Ms Markie-Dadds said.

Triple P’s budget-friendly ideas

  1. Give the gift of time
    Giving your undivided attention to your child – even the smallest of moments – is a great way to help them feel special and will strengthen your relationship in the years to come. Best of all, it’s free and can even be used as a creative present, such as giving your children a ‘gift voucher’ to spend time doing the things you both enjoy, like cuddling on the couch reading a book together, doing an outdoor activity, or playing a game.

  2. Explore fun family traditions
    The best traditions are often free or low cost – think visiting local light displays, holiday parades, or having a themed movie night at home. Children can feel a sense of family belonging and have lots of fun with family traditions, as well as add new ones! Make an event out of tree decorating with homemade decorations, have a festive baking session, or let your kids create a song playlist for holiday festivities.

  3. Encourage ‘less is more’
    It’s normal for kids to dream big and want lots of presents, but in the current climate, this is getting harder for parents to achieve. Set a realistic price range early on and ask children to name one or two presents on their “top wish” list. This helps manage expectations and makes it more likely the presents will be appreciated and used. There are often alternative versions of expensive items that won’t break the bank. This is also a great opportunity to talk to children and young people about the value of money, and healthy saving habits like putting money aside for bigger items. It’s never too early for children to start saving pocket money towards a treat and can boost their self-esteem and sense of achievement when they reach their goal.

  4. Inspire the spirit of giving
    Encourage your child to create handmade or upcycled gifts like cards, ornaments, or personalised crafts as a low-cost way to give to their friends and family while turning it into a creative activity. Helping your child to learn about the joy of giving, and focusing on the effort and thought they put into the gifts, will be appreciated by the recipient. You could also give back to the community by volunteering as a family. Whether it's at a local charity initiative, event, or organising food for other families in need, spreading kindness and joy helps build your child’s social skills and emotional wellbeing and is a great way to celebrate the true meaning of the festive season. And let’s not forget the warm inner glow that comes with doing something thoughtful for another person.

  5. Take time out for self-care
    It might sound counter-intuitive, but caring for your own needs first and taking the time to recharge your battery by doing something healthy and beneficial can make it easier to remain calm and positive during stressful times. Modelling this behaviour can in turn show kids how to cope with uncertainty and difficult situations. Asking for help can be challenging, but oftentimes reaching out for a little assistance from your partner, friends, family, or health professional makes a big difference in coping with life’s challenges. 

Carol said “The true spirit of the festive season can be found in spending quality time together and giving children the love, nurturing, and sense of security that comes from a strong family bond. These tips are not just saving money; they’re about creating cherished memories and strengthening your relationship for the years to come.”