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Helping our kids learn lessons of contentment during a season when their grandparents love to heap them with gifts (and we might get a little carried away ourselves) can be a terrifying challenge. But it just might be one of the most important lessons you ever bestow to your children.

Start with a thankful list.

Whether your child pens wish lists for Santa or Grandma, begin by writing a different one first. Have your child look around his or her room (or if they’re too small to do so, take an inventory yourself), and name their favorite playthings. Write each one down or for non-readers draw them on paper. For older children, you can also collect memories of favorite experiences of the past year.

Spend a few moments whispering words of thanks. Then begin the process of dreaming about what they might like to see under the tree this year. Place the thankful list in a prominent place in your home to observe as you all come and go throughout the holiday season. Just seeing those words on paper might quell unrealistic expectations.

Set boundaries . . . for you.

Sometimes the present grubbing is a creation of our own devices. Set boundaries for your own heart and bank account early in the Christmas season – and your child’s life. This may come in the form of a set number of presents or dollar amount, but sit down with your spouse to determine exactly what those boundaries will look like for your family.

In our house, kids receive three gifts every Christmas – an awesome toy, an article of clothing, and a book. Plus, they open up a stocking filled with small and practical gifts on Christmas morning. You could abide by the adage, “Something to wear, something to read, something you want and something you need” or decide on your own limits. Setting those boundaries prevents the “one more gift” syndrome.

Your desire to give good gifts to your children is a reflection of the image of God. Just don’t let it spiral out of control.

Spend time, not money.

Close your eyes and remember your best Christmas ever. I’m guessing fewer of you remembered things (although that Christmas with the blue eye shadow was awesome) and more of you remembered experiences – caroling, playing games, delicious meals. Make this year about memories instead of materialism. From baking cookies to sledding, from creating cards for the lonely to singing carols at the top of your lungs, there are so many magical ways to celebrate Christmas that don’t require a dime spent and reduce the “gimmes” in an instant.

Cherie Lowe is a speaker, an author and a hope junkie. In her forthcoming book Slaying the Debt Dragon: How One Family Conquered Their Money Monster and Found an Inspired Happily Ever After, she scribes her family’s journey of paying off $127K+ of debt in just under four years. Follow her blog Queen of Free and on social media to save money and slay debt.

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How do you use Christmas to teach your child(ren) contentment?