In this five-part podcast, family life counselor Diane Moore shares helpful tips for families to survive the holidays.


Parents are worried about materialism at Christmas. Our culture is all about materialism, bbecause billions and billions of dollars are spent on advertising to make us feel discontent with what we have, and especially to make our children feel discontent with what they have, so that they can write their Christmas list in great detail.

Materialism creates money woes

Materialism at Christmas creates money woes for families

So, we come by it honestly, being bent toward looking at Christmas as a time for what are we going to get.

One of the things parents can do is to model “different.” What we do in our home sometimes is that we let the kids lead, and they choose the topic. I would say to parents who are concerned about materialism this Christmas, be proactive.

Check out World Concern, World

They have a global gift guide. And you can buy animals. You can buy a lot of things, but I think for kids the most interesting thing is the animals.

You can say, “Hey, you know what I think we ought to get for Christmas this year? I think we need to get a goat!” And, so, go on the website and say, “Let’s buy a goat.”

Have the family give a goat as a way to assuage materialism. Photo courtesy of

That will get the kids attention until they realize, well, we’re not going to actually keep the goat, and actually we probably won’t even ever pet the goat. But we’re going to get a goat for someone. We can imagine what it will be like for this family to get a goat for Christmas.

When I was a kid, we actually raised the goat and I remember helping get that wiry thing into the trunk of my mother’s car, so she could take it to Lodi where it would be put on a boat and taken to Africa.

But, we are not going to be doing that. So, you get to do it the easy way. Just go to and buy an animal. Let your kids choose. You’re modeling anti-materialism.

And what do you do with the ringing bell as you walk by it?

We had a plan where we never walked by a bell without putting money in. I’d always save up money in the car so the kids all had something, they had something to put into the Salvation Army bucket.

Their motto is doing the most good. And that was a way we helped our kids deal with when they are going shopping and they are looking in the street corners and they see cold people, who are holding cardboard signs, and they are saying we need food.

What do you do with that, do you give money to everyone?

That’s a tough question. And our answer, in our family – and everybody has to wrestle with that themselves – was we want to give to organizations that can help people like this, ’cause we don’t know how to help them very well. We’re not smart. We’re going to do what God tells us to do. And sometimes He calls us to do extraordinary things that we don’t really understand what’s happening.

But we try to be smart in our gift giving. And Salvation Army, World Concern, find something like that to model what Christmas is really about.


Known by some as the parent whisperer, Diane Moore is a Certified Family Life Counselor and parent mentor with a private practice in Vancouver, Washington. Her radio talk show is Parent Talk heard in Portland, Vancouver and Boise.

Audio captured and edited by Ed Stortro
Audio transcription by Ed Stortro