The Saturday Weekend Review #49: Managing the kids Christmas list



Setting a Christmas budget when it comes to buying for the kids can be simple on paper but when it comes to shopping if you don’t stick to the list you can easily blow that budget.

Some kids can create a wish list that is so long and off the charts sometimes you wonder if you are doing the right thing buying them everything they want or desire or stick to a plan like CBB writer Katrina outlines below.

Some kids simply need to learn that gifts are not what Christmas is all about.

Sitting with your children to explain about how some children around the world don’t even get food on their plates let alone gifts under the Christmas tree.

You might even combat double duty with alleviating food waste and having your children think twice about not eating everything that is on their plate.


Creating a Christmas list


My best friend was able to find and print a free printable Christmas wish list for his daughter to get started thinking about what she would like to un-wrap Christmas morning.

Your child might be of the creative type so you can even turn this activity into an arts and crafts time and have your child create their own list with crayons, pencil crayons, markers and other art materials.

It seems that kids either want all toys or outrageous things that no one could ever deliver, not even Santa just like the 7-year-old daughter of Deadspin writer Drew Magary who created what was deemed an “insane Christmas list“.

It was interesting to read what she listed because it’s not every day you read that a child wants “a little thing that can turn into anything at any time” and it makes you wonder what she was imagining in her mind. I’m not sure we could put a price tag on her creativity and imagination but I’m betting it’s colourful.

My wife said when she was a child she never did make a wish list for Santa, rather Santa already seemed to know what she wanted and she was pleased with what she received.

Her parents encouraged her to go Christmas caroling around the neighbourhood at night to spread some holiday cheer which she believes has been lost for years. I have yet to have anybody sing Christmas carols at our door but it would be a pleasant surprise if they did.

I can relate to my wife as my family did the same but Christmas is very commercialized these days and that’s why my best friend talks to his daughter about the meaning of Christmas and why it’s important to give rather than receive.

If you want to know how to raise your kids to be successful in love and life it starts with you giving them the push but also by setting examples as they do look up to you and trust you.

Giving also doesn’t necessarily mean money or gifts it could simply be donating time to wrap gifts or to volunteer over the holidays. If you are handy and creative with the sewing machine or with a ball of yarn you can also make Christmas presents such as blankets, hats, mitts, booties, curtains, table clothes etc. rather than rushing out to buy the latest and greatest. Many times people appreciate gifts that were hand-made for Christmas.


Managing a Christmas list


The approach my best friend took with his daughter was that he asked her to write out what she needed and wanted for Christmas along with any type of educational or reading material she might want. He really wants to see her focus more on reading rather than video games and plush toys which seem to be a big focus in her life.

I was speaking to Katrina who writes for me here at Canadian Budget Binder and she filled me in a little bit more about how she goes about buying gifts for her children and I thought it was a brilliant idea.

Well anytime we are out shopping and the kids say they want something I tell them to add it to their list…a list of things they want we write down and I tell them that gives me options for birthday and Santa…it curbs a fight in the store too.

It could be a toy on TV too as kids shows commercials are all toys!

When planning my list for things to pick up for the kids I stick to buying one thing they want, one thing they need, one thing to read and one thing to play with.

This is a tradition to not overspend and spoil my kids more so than one to make memories but makes creating my shopping list to work away at throughout the year a lot easier.


Christmas toy drive


My best friend also asked his daughter to go through all of her old toys and to pick out the toys she no longer uses so they can be donated to other children that would play with them and love them. It’s a great way to start teaching the kids to give back as well to think about how much stuff they have don’t really need.

There are still many toys with tags or toys that have hardly been used and it’s just filling up so much space around the house. He admits that he spoiled her and still does to a certain degree as he feels bad when he doesn’t make her happy but is working on cutting back on the spending.

He is learning the hard way that it’s difficult to stop something that you started, especially when they start to expect it all of the time when they are out shopping. He is now beginning to realize that it’s OK to say NO to a child and to talk to them about money, how to earn money and how they have to save for things they want. Money doesn’t grow on trees.

She then mentioned that her school was holding a Christmas toy drive asking parents if they are able to donate an unopened gift. I think this type of drive at the schools are a great way to make sure that children are hearing the message that gifts and stuff are not what Christmas is all about.

Christmas can be costly but managing the kids Christmas list can be tough for those parents who want to make their kids happy and try to fulfill ever wish their child has. If you take a list that a child has put together and break it down like Katrina does it’s like taking an item out of each of the food groups to create a balanced meal.

If you have too much of one thing it’s not good for you but if you balance it out then it makes it easier to see the end goals and the same goes with a Christmas list.

How do you manage outrageous Christmas wish lists from your kids and what is the oddest request you have ever seen from your child?


Canadian Budget Binder this week


If you missed any of my posts from the week here is the list of posts you can catch up on reading!


CBB at home and the blog


Not too much has been happening on the home front this week as I’ve been away training for work and will be for the next 2 weeks a few days a week. I’ll be happy when it’s over and done with but the fact of the matter is that technology and our lives are changing every day and so must we if we plan to stay ahead in the job market or desire to move up the career ladder.

We are slowly buying our Christmas gifts and wrapping them as we go along so we don’t have a huge mess of gifts to wrap at the last-minute especially since we are travelling away to the relatives for the Christmas holidays.

The blog has been fairly quiet as Katrina, Nicola and I battle the blogosphere each week we keep on plugging away to bring all of you the best content we can in order to stimulate conversation and saving money in your budget.


Fan deals of the week


Submit your Brag

If you have a brag that you want me to share email me at canadianbudgetbinder (@) [yahoo] [.ca] by Friday each week to have your brag considered for the Saturday post

A big thanks to the lovely Jen Peacock for submitting her brag once again this week who shares how her rewards points are coming in handy for the Christmas gifts she needs to purchase.


gift cards canada

Hi Mr.CBB,

I try to use reward points to purchase Christmas and birthday gifts as often as I can. I use RBC Avion Visa Rewards, Petro Points, PC Points and occasionally Air Miles.
Pictured here are 2 1/2 Christmas presents and my best friends birthday present (Dec 29th).
  • $50 La Senza gift card redeemed 50,000 PC Points
  • $50 Mark’s gift card redeemed 50,000 PC Points
  • $50 Canadian Tire gift card redeemed 6,000 RBC Rewards
  • $25 Subway gift card redeemed 3,000 RBC Rewards

I also have on order the other half of the gift to go with the Subway gc:

$25 iTunes gift card redeemed 3,000 RBC Rewards.

That knocks 4 people off my list and they were all FREE!

That leaves me with my hubby, mom, Mother-in-law (MIL) and friends daughter left to buy for.

I have nothing to buy for my son as he doesn’t need anything and I bought him a toy tool bench and mega blocks at yard sales this summer that will be his Santa gifts.

We bought my MIL a beautiful framed picture off a FB auction site last month for $25 (regularly $49.99).

So 3 1/2 people left seems pretty manageable to me and I will be as financially creative as I can to purchase their gifts below retail to fit them in my budget 🙂



Making a difference



Hi, I’m Maggie from Square Pennies! I go a long way back with Mr. CBB in the blogosphere.

Mr. CBB asked me to share a little bit about what I do at Square Pennies. At Square Pennies my goal is to help you live a rich life no matter what your income!

I started Square Pennies when the Great Recession hit to share what I’d learned in how to live well on less. Now that I’ve been blogging for five years, I find my philosophy of building a rich family life is coming out more. It’s a true richness that can flourish no matter what the economy is doing and no matter what your income is.

I’m a strong believer in setting goals. Write down all your goals and then prioritize them. If you accomplish the things that are most important to you, you will be a success! I post lots of money-saving tricks to make it easier to achieve those goals.

We raised four wonderful children and sent them to college, all on a single income. How? We cooked at home most of the time and built in little celebrations to keep it from being boring.

We went on hikes instead of going to the movies. We traveled to visit family instead of taking expensive vacations. We spent a lot of time reading to and with our kids. We played with them. We talked with them.

We did family projects together. We built a strong family this way and our grown kids say they still value it today. My philosophy is that if you give your kids a strong loving base, it will support them through life’s ups and downs. It gives them an inner strength. Nobody’s life is free from stress and problems, but having a strong family support system makes a huge difference in being able to handle it all.

You can save so much money by cooking and it’s a great life skill to pass on to your children. I post recipes that are easy and wonderful, ones that make a holiday even more special, ones that are healthy and inexpensive, ones that are great for entertaining yet inexpensive, and various combinations of easy/healthy/quick/inexpensive/yummy.

I want a recipe to be well worth my time to make and I want the same for any recipes I share with you.

Square Pennies has some crafts, especially for the holidays. I also post DIY decor that looks great and doesn’t cost much because that saves a lot of money.

I am fortunate to have a very engaged group of readers at Square Pennies. Often the comments section is full of great tips and advice as well. My readers are smart and share their thoughts regularly. I am so grateful for them!

Can any of this help you? I hope so! Come take a look at Square Pennies. I’d love to see you there!


Blog post sharing


I really appreciate when other blog owners recognize my hard work at Canadian Budget Binder and share my posts with their fans or even mention my blog on their blog or website.

Here are the blogs that did just that this past week, so please head over and check them out. If I’m missing you it’s because I didn’t get a ping back so please send me an email and I’ll add you next Saturday.


What is a blog carnival?


Some fans have asked me just what is a blog carnival so a little explanation is due here for anyone reading for the first time or for my long-time fans. A blog carnival is where a blog or website hosts what we call a carnival of blog posts from around the web.

Most blog carnivals have a theme and certain rules for submitting which must be followed. If you are a blogger and would like to learn what blog carnival directories I submit to each week you can find the information in a previous Saturday Weekend Review post that I wrote.

A big thanks to these pages for accepting my blog posts and sharing them in the following carnivals………..


Carnival Glory




Every week I get thousands of people visit Canadian Budget Binder because they did a search online and found my blog. Here are a few of my favorite searches that may have even brought you here and you’re reading this, right now.

  • Should you wait for your Christmas tree to fall before you start decorating it– Hmmmm sure ok.
  • Toothpick with balls- I presume you mean my Chocolate peanut butter balls
  • Rogers the elf– ha ha… is there such an elf? My Rogers post and Katrina’s elf on a shelf
  • Wear ripped jeans to grocery store– No big deal, heck I buy my jeans ripped already.
  • Earn with a passion- This is so true and my favourite search term of the week.




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  1. Great post! It’s so easy to go overboard with presents for kids. As much as I want my girls to have a magical Christmas, I also know going into debt for it isn’t the right answer either. I do have my girls create a wish list . It starts out big but then I have them pare down the list by comparing items to one another to figure out which they want most (I ask give them a price range first). This helps them learn how to prioritize and learn about budgets. It’s worked will for us and I definitely believe because so much consumerism has overtaken the holidays, it is important for kids to learn to give-back and not just focus on receiving.

  2. I am so guilty of over spending at Christmas. I just told my friend last night that this has to stop!
    My girls are 24 and 26 and it’s still happening. My girls are adopted and were age 4 and 6 when they came into my family,. Those first few years of their lives were very difficult and Christmas was not a happy time for them, the abuse they had experienced escalated at Christmas time. I turned myself (and my wallet) inside out trying to replace those terrible memories and make Christmas a happy time. I started all kinds of traditions, trying to build anticipation and excitement, and show them that Christmas wasn’t something to dread. Sadly, no matter how much money I spend, no matter how many crafts we made, no matter how many moveis we watch, or light tours we took, none of it was able to change the past. My youngest daughter suffers from depression and November and December are truly the worst months of the year. This year she is not able to make the trip home for Christmas. So of course again out comes the guilt and the Christmas gift purchases skyrocket. 🙁

    I save all year using a Canada Savings Bond to cover Christmas expenses but this year the CSB savings didn’t cover the cost because of the fact that I went overboard. 🙁

    My grandson is turning three on the 22nd so we have a birthday party (which I organize and pay for) at the same time as Christmas. I only get to see him at Christmas because they live 2000 miles away (and airfare in Canada is far too expensive) so again I go overboard. I truly don’t want him growning up expecting all of these gifts so now is the time to change all that. I love the idea of something you need, something you want, and something to read – that would be a huge change for me but one that I’m going to work towards for next year.

    1. Pam,
      You sound like such a giving woman with lots of love. I think that anyone could easily spend over the amount they budget for the holidays especially when the keep seeing items they think their loved ones would love to have. The key is to stick to the plan. Even though your children are growing up they will always be your little kids but it’s up to you to put the brakes on when it comes to buying while keeping your love and passion for the holidays in check. Happy Holidays.

  3. When the three of ours were young the Santa lists could be on the long side. My comment was that they sure gave Santa lots of choices for their gifts!! Where is the surprise in getting everything on the list????? Plus I took those lists and shared with the grandma’s…. calling both while the kids were elsewhere, like at school or having a nap!! Going by list it was “the other Grandma is getting …… , we’re getting this and this, Santa is bringing this, and this is what is left on the list ……what did you want to get them???? The oldest boy has his birthday in early Feb., so he might get any leftover item from the list for his birthday as I would hit Canadian Tire for the half price toys on Boxing Day!!!! I also made each kid an outfit to wear and sleepwear. The boys got pj’s and our daughter got a new flannel nightie….They were also of the age when Cabbage Patch dolls, Care Bears and Pound puppies were the rage, I still have the patterns for those and clothes for the dolls…. frigging dolls had a better wardrobe than I did!!!!!
    The kids would buy the gifts they were giving their siblings from the book orders at school. These are every month so we would start in Sept. and one kid would be allowed to get whatever from that month’s order. Next month was some one else’s turn to get something from the book order. They got such a kick out of shopping from those things for Christmas!!! It saved me from trying to make sure that this kid didn’t choice something that the other kid was getting them for the big day and limited how much was being spent on the orders. I didn’t have all three of them asking for things from the orders every month!!!
    As the kids got older and past the toys so much we got them each a toolbox of their very own on sale at CT of course. And we got them tools to go in said toolbox. All three kids have at least one tool box and enough tools in there to do any minor jobs around the place. The older two have their own cordless drills too. The younger boy just uses his father’s.
    We still have wish lists and they know I will hang on to the list until I get an updated one for the next Christmas. Covers me for birthdays too. I still share the list around the family. I still keep an eye out for things on the lists year ’round for sales and get it as cheaply as possible. I have a tote upstairs that holds this and that I have picked up through the year for Christmas and birthdays…….
    Square Pennies sounds like something to look over soon!!!!

  4. Right from the start we put the idea of giving ahead of receiving. We focused more on gathering with Family and friends. We told the kids that they should be grateful for what they received no matter what it is. Although they would make their wishes known we ensured that they understood that they may not receive anything on their list. Usually their lists only had 2 or 3 items. Now that our kids are both young adults they share our attitude about focusing on family and friends. They tell us that they don’t think they were deprived of anything in regards to Christmas and if anything they have a deepened appreciation for it.
    I just got my daughters’ list this morning……..a 30 foot extension cord to plug her truck in at work and a flashlight in case she needs a boost in the dark!!!!! HaHAhahahah…sounds reasonable !!

  5. My father and I were talking at lunch the other day about his vacation holdings and how very expensive they are to maintain. I said sell them. He said, “No, no I can’t do that… the grandchildren are using them.” He went on to tell my hubby that he was, “30 years out of date,” when he suggested that the 20 somethings in the family should pay for their own vacations at their age or else stay home until they have saved up for one. What’s with 30 years out of date? It’s now the current thing to remove all the desire and willingness to work for a goal? All I can say is yikes!

    The gimme-gimme generation is a direct result of the over-spending and over-providing of both the parents and grandparents in my opinion. I don’t have children BUT if I did, I would far rather provide them with the skills and inner strength to have a happy and realistic life based on their own efforts and abilities. The value in achieving a dream is that you worked to get it and weren’t just handed it!

    When did my father become over-indulgent? I remember my Christmas list…I was allowed to put 3 things on my list for Santa. They were to be ranked in order of preference because Santa might run out of my first choice. Christmas was going to have 1 item from Santa, 1 item from Mom and Dad and eventually 1 joint item from my siblings. Mom took the opportunity to put a new toothbrush in my stocking along with a Christmas orange a few nuts and a candy cane. To make Christmas last a little longer… Mom took the money that my Grandma had sent for our Christmas and she bought us each a new pair of socks and underwear plus winter pj’s. That was it!

    I am firmly of the opinion that the more that is under the tree, the more it sets up the children for a life of disappointment and depression and quite possibly huge debts… when they try to keep up the “purchasing everything in sight or on the list” tradition of giving with their own kids.

    Time to break the cycle of shopping addiction and debt at Christmas! Lead by example…hubby and I enjoy our holiday together and that is without any gifts. Let’s get back to the “reason for the season” if you happen to be a Christian. And if you aren’t a Christian, then perhaps it’s time to rejoice in the time you have together as a family that needs to be the central theme for the day.

    I know there are those that will feel I am a Scrooge but I am not. I just sent a lovely box of chocolates to a friend on Vancouver Island that has been sick and housebound for the last two months and really needed a little pick me up. I made sure to individually select each of the chocolates as “all creams” since they are easier for the elderly to enjoy. My neighbor is struggling this holiday season with the pain associated with a family rift. Hubby and I delivered her favorite chocolate covered ginger to her yesterday to add a little something nice to her season. It turns out she has friends coming this weekend and it gave her a treat to put on the coffee table. A couple of months back my pal was struggling with going gluten free and was getting ready to throw in the towel… so I sent her a crockpot and a gluten free slow cooker recipe book that I really love. My thought is that a gift has the most meaning when it arrives just in time to bring a little light to a dark period. You notice that none of my gifts are intended for Dec 25th but gifts they are.

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