How to Use an Envelope to Help Kids Budget, Save Money, and Christmas Shop by Themselves

I will never forget the day that my then second-grade children ran in the door from school, ecstatic about a piece of paper they held in their hands. “LOOK, MOM! I CAN GO CHRISTMAS SHOPPING FOR YOU!”

Up until that point, our sibling Christmas Shopping for one another involved hand-held baskets being covered by their winter coats as we split up and descended upon some unsuspecting in a dollar store somewhere. It wasn’t fool-proof, because the littler ones never remembered to keep their voices down, (“OOH! I’ll get her a BARBIE!”) and the older ones weren’t as stealthy as they thought they were, not realizing most shopping baskets had holes, and their siblings had prying eyes. This also didn’t help them purchase things for us if we were supervising their selections.

When my children barreled through the door that day, proud with stiffened back and smiles from ear-to-ear, I knew before I even read the paper that the school had somehow come up with something special.

Back then, though, their “school store” had consisted of mostly donated and second-hand items – the gifts you’d been given that were lying around you had no need for. They did receive new items from local dollar stores and online shopping merchants, to beef up what they offered in their fundraiser. It didn’t matter what they were offering wasn’t the best, what mattered was the children were allowed to shop for us, pick out something themselves, and be able to keep it a surprise from both myself and my husband, as they’d wrap their selections in class, too.

Not everything has lasted the test of time from that year, but I do still have my “Mom” pin from my daughter:

budget christmas shopping with children

When my (now) second-grader came home with announcement paper, he, too, was ecstatic. “Mom! There’s going to be a Christmas shop at school! And I get to buy stuff there!”

budget christmas shopping with children

Unfortunately, he didn’t quite grasp the whole, you’re-supposed-to-buy-for-others-and-not-yourself thing. And when told, he wasn’t particularly pleased. “Awww, man!”

But he came around to the idea, realizing he could secretly shop for us, without our knowing. And I have to admit, I was surprised, though, to witness the great lengths the school went to for this Holiday Store idea. We received so many materials to look over and plan with, and I think it’s a wonderful idea.

budget christmas shopping with children

This idea goes well beyond a fundraiser for the school and present-buying for my children – it gave my son independence and the ability to count money, budget and plan for himself, making lists and using addition. He was able to use the following list with which to circle and choose items, secretly.

budget christmas shopping with children

He then wrote his choices on the envelope provided, with prices, adding them up so that he could ask me for the appropriate amount of money.

budget christmas shopping with children

On the back of the envelope, the school store wrote in each price, verifying it matched the front, tallying up what was spent and what was owed.

budget christmas shopping with children

And he did it all by himself!

It gave me the idea to do the same for my other children, too. They may not have gotten the chance to have an in-school store like my second grader did, but I made copies of the envelope (as seen above), so they could write (in pencil) their gift ideas for their siblings. We could then research, then write in the prices we’d find, allowing for them to do the same with saving, budgeting, adding, and hiding their choices from others by placing the slip in the envelope as we shopped.

I love this envelope budgeting idea for their holiday shopping, don’t you? It fits pretty well with our envelope saving idea, pairing quite nicely with our Kidworth accounts, too.

Do you do something like this to help your children save/spend money?

I’m a Kidworth Ambassador and this post is sponsored by Kidworth

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