Holiday Planning: Handling Your Kid's LONG Holiday Wish Lists
Welcome to the "I want, I want" generation. Turn holiday planning into a learning experience. It's fine that your kids have created their Wish Lists, but the next step is to have them either go into stores or online and price each of their gifts. Have them really see how much they have asked for. Then decide what you are comfortable with as a budget for holidays, and tell the kids your decision. They now have to decide what they really want within that budget.
By the way, they always have the option of saving to buy something they really want. If they have a simple work-for-pay allowance system already, they can divide their earnings four ways: 10% for Charity, 30% for Quick Cash/Instant Gratification, 30% for Long-Term Savings (ultimately to be used for college or a car) and 30% for Medium-Term Savings (those expensive, over-budget items on their Wish Lists). If they don't earn an allowance, they can do odd jobs to earn extra money.
It also may be time to get back to the meaning of holidays. After all, gifts are supposed to say, "I love you" or "I care," not, "Wow, you've spent a lot on me." Have your kids think of non-monetary gifts they can give to you or Grandma or their aunts and uncles. Those don't have to cost anything at all. They can give a "Gift Chit" that is good for, say, cooking a special dinner for you or helping to put those photos in an album or weeding grandma's garden. My kids gave me a "No Fighting Zone" Gift Chit one year. Every time they started to bicker, I used my chit and they had to stop fighting with each other. It was my favorite gift. And they learned something about investing in the process: the next year, they gave it to me again.