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CNN Student News Learning Activity: Holiday Budgeting

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  • Students will learn about the importance of budgeting
  • Students will create their own budgets for buying holiday gifts
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(CNN Student News) -- Students will learn about the importance of budgeting and create their own budgets for buying holiday gifts.


Begin this activity by posing the following questions to students for class discussion:

  1. Who is on your holiday gift list this year?
  2. Do you know what types of gifts you'll be giving?
  3. Are there gifts that you can give that don't have to be purchased? If so, what are some examples?
  4. How do you determine what gifts you can afford to buy?
  5. What is a budget?
  6. Have you ever created or used a budget? If so, describe your experience.

Following the discussion, inform students that they will be creating their own budgets for buying holiday gifts. Next, ask each student to calculate his or her total weekly income from allowances, jobs and other sources. Then, have students determine how much money they think that they will have available to put towards gifts for this holiday season (i.e., total income + savings). Inform students that they will be using this figure as the basis for creating their budgets.

Next, help students to brainstorm a list of holiday gifts that they might give to others. Write this list on the board. Then, pass out copies of the Holiday Gift Spending Worksheet to students. Instruct them to list the names of the people for whom they plan to get gifts, what gifts they plan to purchase for each person on the list and the amount that they expect to spend on each person. Remind students to include costs for wrapping and postage as they create their budgets. Point out that the total cost of their gifts (including wrapping and postage) cannot exceed their total budget.

As students do their holiday shopping, have them track what they actually spend on the worksheet and compare it against their budget. If they end up spending more on a person's gift than the budgeted amount, then they will need to reduce the cost of another person's gift. Encourage students to shop within their budgets by telling them that if they come in under budget, they'll have extra money to buy something for themselves, get an extra present for someone else or make a donation to a charity.

After students complete their holiday shopping, have them share their worksheets with the class and discuss the challenges that they encountered during the budgeting process. Ask students: What advice might you offer your peers about managing and budgeting money?

Correlated Standards

Economic Standards

Standard 1: Scarcity

Students will understand that productive resources are limited. Therefore, people can not have all the goods and services they want; as a result, they must choose some things and give up others.

Standard 11: Role of Money

Students will understand that money makes it easier to trade, borrow, save, invest, and compare the value of goods and services.

The Economics America National Standards ( are published by the National Council on Economic Education (


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