5 tips for keeping your kids content during the holidays

by Rachel Cruze & Dave Ramsey, Money Smart |

ASHEVILLE, N.C. (Christian Examiner) -- Keeping your kids content during the holidays can be a difficult task.

With all the marketing and consumerism during this holiday, it's easy for your kids to get sucked in and expect everything they've asked for on Christmas morning.

So, how do you keep your kids happy and content during the holiday season?

1. Set expectations early. Discontentment happens when kids expect the whole toy store under the tree and only receive three or four gifts. Make sure their expectations are realistic long before Christmas morning. If a new bike's not in the budget, let them know.

2. Make a Top 10 list. Of what, you ask? Ask your kids to think of 10 things they are grateful for. Thanksgiving might be a great time to do this, but keep it around all year!

3. Donate old toys. After the new toys wear off, kids usually want more. This cycle will never stop unless you teach them that stuff is just stuff, and it will never bring happiness.

4. Give to someone in need. Many organizations will help you find kids in need during the holidays. And a lot of their needs are actual needs, like clothes and shoes. Knowing other children don't have as much stuff could be an eye-opening experience for your kids.

5. Go serve. Every city has opportunities. Take a Saturday afternoon with your kids, and go serve for a few hours. Every child needs to experience what it feels like to put giving into action.

No matter what you plan to spend this Christmas, make sure you've made a budget. We've created mychristmasbudget.com, a free online tool to help you put a plan in place long before the Christmas season. As you try to teach your kids about discipline and contentment, this budget tool is a great way to make sure you have reasonable expectations as well!

*Rachel Cruze is a seasoned communicator and presenter, helping Americans learn the proper ways to handle money and stay out of debt. Her new book, Smart Money Smart Kids, co-authored by her dad Dave Ramsey, released April 2014 and debuted at #1 on the New York Times best-sellers list. You can follow Rachel on Twitter at @RachelCruze, online at rachelcruze.com, or at facebook.com/rachelramseycruze.