The holiday season has lots of traditions, and for most of us, one of them is hitting the mall. It can be challenging enough to ensure your teens don’t overspend or buy an incredibly inappropriate gift for dear Aunt Edna. (I know Edna’s hip, but really a One Direction CD is not going to be well accepted in the nursing home.) But it’s even more challenging to navigate the crowds at a time of year that sees tempers frayed, lines long, and clocks not watched.
Sure we have good intentions. “Let’s all meet here, outside the burger joint in the Food Court in two hours exactly” is a good beginning. But with those horrible checkout lines and distracting cheesy Christmas music, your teen who was already likely to be distracted by something shiny will almost definitely forget to check their watch, causing you to run the gamut of emotions as you tap your foot waiting in the designated spot. Then they’ll turn up, empty handed after two hours of shopping – except for a single One Direction CD for Aunt Edna.
This year, make it a little different. Your teen’s cell phone can be used for good instead of just saying “hey” to every friend they have.
First up, well before you hit the mall, sit down and make a list of who they are buying gifts for, and price ranges for each one. Play around with some ideas for appropriate purchases. This is where you get to be the most influential on directing your teen’s budget, but remember to be reasonable. If your teen thinks you’re being extreme, then there’s no way a budget will work. There will be negotiating, directing, but try to stop short of tears. You’ll also want to remind them they are buying for others, not themselves. (That’s something we all could do with a little reminding about.)
Next, remind them that calling you on their phone before they spend more than the budgeted amount on a gift is not just a good idea – it’s necessary. It’s going to save them the heartache and you the time of returning the gift, and then buying something else. We all know a pouting teen is not a pleasant addition to your day. Don’t set yourself up for failure!
Finally, even though you will have agreed on a time and place to meet up during your shopping expedition, make sure you are all checking your phones regularly throughout. To save everyone a headache, make sure you’re checking in, by text or voice, so all are aware of what’s going on. I’m always taking pictures of things I’m looking at in the shop, asking their opinions on whether they believe it’s a good purchase. Even if they’re not standing with you, they can be useful advocates and sounding boards for purchasing gifts for dad, grandma or (if you’re lucky) even Aunt Edna!
Disclosure: This post is part of a series produced for and compensated by NQmobile, the company behind the fantastic NQ Family Guardian, follow the link to find out more about how NQmobile’s apps can help your family work together so you don’t have to play bad cop all the time. The company doesn’t pay me to say nice things about them, and you know I only work with companies I believe in. Check ‘em out!