Christmas is one of the most enjoyable, albeit stressful times of year.  Chief among stressors is a lack of money.  Many families struggle to live paycheck to paycheck during regular months and feel the need to resort to credit cards or small loans to “have” Christmas.  Even worse, feeling out of control of your finances can lead to “panic shopping” where you actually buy more because you are already so deep in debt it seems inconsequential.

“Black Friday” and “Cyber Monday” have done little to help the situation as parents and children alike are inundated with ads and offers of free shipping with a minimum purchase, door busters, and bogo deals encouraging quantity over quality.

However, since the season is already upon us, here are some tips for having a max of four gifts for each child that will not break the bank (average cost for all four gifts is $50 per child, but could be less) that will enrich your child by focusing on their mind, body, heart, and soul, otherwise known as “The Big 4”:

1. The first gift is the Mind Gift.  The Mind Gift provides the recipient with a physical item that enriches their intelligence in some way.  The best gifts in this category, (depending on age and mental capacity) include new or used books, exploratory items like binoculars, a journal or diary, stationary kit, or jigsaw puzzles.  Typical cost is $5-$10.

2. The second gift is the practical Body Gift.  The Body Gift is typically a garment of some sort.  Examples in this category include robe, slippers, hat, scarf, sweater, zip up hoody, and snow boots.  However, the Body Gift may be extended to body care/beauty items such as shower items, jewelry, nail polish kit, etc. Typical cost is $10-$25.

3. The Heart Gift is one that brings joy.  The Heart gift is typically a toy or hobby related item that has been mentioned many times before, and is most often the “big” gift.  Some examples include a special doll, video game, skateboard, or train set.  Typical cost is $20-$30.

4. Last, but not least, the Soul Gift is probably the most important gift of all.  The Soul Gift is one that is homemade or related to core beliefs/values that the family shares.  Examples include a passed down family heirloom, homemade toy, copy of the family tree, photo album, or a Bible. Typical cost is $0-$10.

Having a variety of gifts makes it feel like you have more, even if you have less.  For example, if all you get your child for Christmas is video games, it could be rather dull.  Instead, selecting a minimal amount of thoughtful gifts will prevent toy overload while enriching their mind, body, heart, and soul year after year.