Many families experiencing financial difficulties are even more distraught around the Christmas holidays, but there are ways to still have Christmas for your children. This is a guide about planning Christmas for children without any money.
Is there any way I can give my family a Christmas. I have 6 kids that I cannot give Christmas to. My husband lost his job. Anyone have any ideas?
Rachael from Lawson, MO
I have been there. I have always figured out a way. I have been poor, poor, poor. I am a single mom of two boys and they recently told me, "Mom I had no idea we were ever poor. We always had presents and we thought we always got most of what we ever wanted." I will admit it was easier to "fool" them when they were young. Before I went back to college and earned my engineering degree...here was my game...Check out ALL churches, Salvation Army, Goodwill, St. Vincent DePaul, wherever you can find help. There is no pride when it comes to giving kids a Christmas. I don't care-work every angle you can. Speak well, and explain your situation. Tell a person you trust at their school about the predicament. Do what everyone should do but doesn't when they lose a job-TELL EVERYONE. That means everyone. Tell the lady at the grocer that the Reaganomics, trickle down economics finally worked, and that the Wall Street meltdown hit your family and you just don't know what you are going to do. You would be surprised the kind of information, and sometimes even help, you can get by telling everyone. And when all else fails, do what I did, look around the house and everything you see of any value that is less important to you than giving your kids Christmas, collect it all up and decide where to sell it. Craigslist, newspaper ad, ebay, whatever, however...do what you gotta do. Tell people in your posting why you are selling it. Period.
I am going to try to get them something from toys for tots but I really don't know how well that is going to work out. We are in the process of getting our car, so at the present time we have no car either which is why my husband doesn't have a job.
It is really hard for me to do anything during the day since I am at work, I really am stumped, I don't know what to do or where to go if anyone has any ideas for me they would be greatly appreciated, we really have no luck with this time of year, I don't want to be greedy, just want enough for the kids to open up on Christmas morning. The ages of my children are: 13, 7, 5, 4, 3, and 2.
Kim from Detroit
Editor's Note: Do NOT post requests for help. Read the feedback and look for local resources. ThriftyFun will not post your personal information, it is not safe for you or your children.
Please contact your local Salvation Army and tell them your story. Also local churches in your area. I live in a small town and there are dozens of organizations that love to help folks like your family out at Christmas. Many people are just afraid to ask for help because of their pride, but when it comes to kids and Christmas that wouldn't stop me. Just start making phone calls. I bet you end up with a very nice Christmas! (12/11/2004)
I agree with jeangnome46 about calling the Salvation Army and local churches. Also check at any local food banks. Another thing you might consider is joining your local Freecycle group:
Because you are in a big city, I'm not sure if it would work but here in small town Washington State our group helped a family who was living in the woods without transportation, shelter or food. They really came through for this family through churches and personal donations providing them with a trailer to live in, transportation, clothing, blankets and food.
One year when I was really broke, a family adopted us and gave my children lots of presents, toys, clothing, etc. It doesn't hurt to ask.
Take care and here's wishing you and your family (and any other families in similar situations) have a very Merry Christmas and a better year next year.
Susan at ThriftyFun (12/11/2004)
Where I live (suburbs) there are many organizations collecting for families in need. We have a Community Action Council, and Adopt A Family Program for families just like yours. My children's schools have also started collecting for families in need as certainly more families than ever seem to be struggling now. Our church also collects heavily for various groups from families to immigrants to vet's to people in other countries. Talk to the Pastoral care person at your Church, or contact other churches. Look in the yellow pages to see what Community Service organizations are in your area and definitively talk to the principals at your children's schools. Also, although these things are not "toys" or material items, I (and my kids) often give each other coupons for services or future activities.
I love getting back rub coupons and ones to relieve me of chores. I give me kids coupons also for back-rubs, but also one-on-one trips for an ice cream, movies, bowling. I am a single mom with four kids ages 9-16, going to school full time and living on support, but we too have experienced the effects of unemployment with their dad (who supplies support) and sometimes it is not easy. As one who used to be on the giving side, now I am often on the receiving side and have learned to accept that with gratitude and hopefully grace, so don't feel ashamed to ask for help now when you need it.
It is sometimes hard to do so, but teaches us humility. You will be on your feet in the future and able to repay the generosity shown to you by helping others. The important thing is not to lose hope and whatever happens, to give your children the best gift of all and that is your love. (12/11/2004)
I have several suggestions. First read the article further down this page entitled Christmas is for the frugal. Also there is another article posted in this section that gives you directions to make your own games. I think reading stories esp. Christmas stories like Gift of the Magi by O Henry would be wonderful. Making cookies and playing games would also be nice. I bet it would be a Christmas you would all remember the rest of your life. And I bet the kids would too! (12/11/2004)
By toni k.
Its really hard knowing your kids are going without and I hope you can find some agencies that will help you. But remember the best gifts come from the heart. Use your imagination and find ways to make this tough time special.It will be difficult to make the kids feel comfortable fitting into their peers standards but this can be a great bonding experience for you and your kids if you are open to making the little things count. One year we was really hurting money wise so I did thing that was unusal with my kids and they remember the fun we had without really thinking of the rough time we was having. For example on a snowy morning I made muffins and hot chocolate. put the hot choc in a thermos and went to a nearby park and played in the snow with our "picnic breakfast". The kids thought this was the coolest idea and had a great time.
Since your oldest is old enough to get a grasp of your situation have them help with ideas, projects for the little ones. It will help them from feeling so left out for it is much harder to come up with create things for teens-- not saying it imposible, just harder.
You may be able to go to your local printing shop and get their discarded cardboard tubes. (They are very strong and are about the size of mailing tubes.) put together with about a yard of fabric - felt works best and tends to be cheap( I paid about 1.20 a yd) now sew three loops of elastic to go around the ends and middle and you have a puzzle saver. If you have a dollar store or Big Lots near you you can get puzzles for a dollar. If not try thr thrift stores , I would count the pieces to be sure they are all there. This could be a gift for any age that is old enough to work puzzles.
You could make puzzles for the younger ones by pasting a coloring picture on cardboard and cutting in different shapes.
paint wooden blocks for the younger ones to play with.
There are many things we have laying about that we just need to take time to look at in a different light to find another way to use them.
Hope you find ways to enjoy the season and may the New Year bring many blessings to you and yours.
Great ideas already posted! May I add a few things? Buy Christmas mugs at the thrift store for about a quarter. Slip a plastic bag inside the mug and fill it with candy or cocoa mix. Tie a bow. You might want to paint the kids' names on the bottom of each mug. If you don't have any paint, maybe some cheapo nail polish? 2) Have a Thankful Circle. Sit in a circle and each person can say what they're thankful for. Somehow it keeps things in perspective. 3) Go to a church celebration together. It doesn't cost anything and is a good time to cuddle the kids on your lap while the program is going on. Hope this helps! (12/12/2004)
There's help for you out there -- in my city, the 2 places I'd contact are The Boys and Girls Club and the Salvation Army. God bless you and your family. (12/12/2004)
Besides your church how about calling a local fire station and see if they could adopt your family. I would also go to the local food stamp office, and apply for everything, that way if they help with Christmas they could include your family. Good luck with school and your husband getting a new job. I will keep your family in my prayers. (12/12/2004)
If your area still has garage sales at this time of year you could be able to buy toys and clothing for next to nothing. There are so many expensive toys at the garage sales we go to that sell for next to nothing (same with clothes). Most are just like new. Another alternative is to check your local paper or 'Shopper' - people are cleaning and getting rid of their children's toys to make room for the new. You might even consider putting an ad in one of the free papers yourself stating that you are looking for certain toys at a given price. I wish you the best. (12/13/2004)
This is a variation on the coupon theme, but as someone pointed out this is a great time to get the kids involved -- try gifts between the siblings. For example, an older sister might give "free makeover" coupons to younger sisters. A child who is good at particular video games (if you allow them?) might give a coupon for lessons to other siblings. "Free chores" are always great -- to the brother who hates raking the yard, let the others give a freebie. Children (no matter how much they "hate" that annoying sibling) are going to have a lot of natural empathy for their brothers/sisters in this situation, and this will focus them on the joy of giving by helping make their siblings' Christmas enjoyable. (12/13/2004)
Please read this entry to the end!
Your story touches me because growing up in the 70's, there wasn't much help out there for single mothers OR families in need at all. My mother raised myself and my brother and sister on her own with no help of child support, little to no welfare, etc.
We have had some interesting Christmases to say the least! My husband as well. His family shares with this generation of children how they did a "love Christmas" where they were taught it was the thought that counted and they were to each go into their rooms and find a gift for each member of the family that would be special to that person. They got to wrap their own gifts and place them under the tree. His mother said that they were more excited about that Christmas than most any other.
Almost every year my mother put an orange, an apple and candy and nuts in my stocking. We rarely got toys. One year we each got our own purse size pack of kleenex and lotion and we each got our own can of soda. That was special, let me tell ya! You could put a packet of Kool-Aid in each child's stocking, bake cookies and put a few in a ziplock for each child and place in the stocking, etc. Ideas are numerous from what you already have at home.
Call your local Marine recruitment office. They work directly with Toys for Tots, but are also known for adopting families. My friend is an ex-Marine and when he was still serving he helped us adopt a family in our church.
Also Catholic Social Services will help as well. Even if you do not belong to their church or organization.
Your local food bank may be handing out food baskets as well.
Also, if your husband is collecting unemployment, try asking the employment office if they know of any agencies that may help.
I know that times can be so tough that you can't even go to a garage sale or second-hand store, but you could pull up games and coloring pages on the internet and print them off. Buy the kids a new box of crayons and give them each a stocking with their own activity book made by mom, along with their own pencil and crayons. Inexpensive and easy.
I want to give a gift to you though... I was inspired to write two poems a few weeks ago while listening to the national radio personality, Delilah. She sent out requests for people to call in and share their most memorable Christmas stories. I was unable to call in, but I sat and thought of two of mine that led me to write these poems and the one titled, "The Shopping Spree" I even drew pictures to go along with and made my own children's stlye book and sent copies to my mom and brother and sister for their Christmas gifts this year. I hope it blesses you as they have me! Merry Christmas from Alaska!
THE GARAGE SALE CHRISTMAS
It must have been
our first Christmas without Dad.
I remember very little,
but I now know that times were bad.
I remember putting up
our Christmas decorations with care.
It seemed that Mama
let us put them here and there.
We listened to Burl Ives
sing Christmas cheer.
Each of the kids put up their own decorations
as they had done every year.
I know that Mama fixed them later
when we didn't see.
I remember bragging to all
that the KIDS had decorated the tree.
We were so young.
I cannot remember worrying about a thing.
I think we just knew
that lots of toys "Santa" would bring.
Little did we know,
that Mama had plans of her own.
She had shopped at garage sales
or wrapped the gifts that she had sewn.
When we woke up
on Christmas Day
we could not believe
all that "Santa had brought our way!"
A little tin doll house,
for Lynnette and me.
A rhinestone cowboy hat
for little Timothy.
I am not certain
whether we knew or not,
that none of our presents
had been store-bought.
I know that years later,
we always had to ask.
"When are we going to have
another Garage Sale Christmas?"
THE SHOPPING SPREE
This would be the saddest Christmas
for Leah, Timothy and Lynnette.
Every Christmas money was tight,
but this would be the tightest yet.
Their mother and father
had divorced a few years before.
Father had moved out
and left the family poor.
Mama worked hard
to make ends meet.
she would cry herself to sleep.
"God, I know that Christmas
is to celebrate your birth.
I know that my children
have been taught your worth"
she said, "Lord, I just want
to give my children the best that I can.
If it be your will Lord,
provide me with your plan".
The Lord answered,
"Mama, you are in my care.
Your children will know
that I am near".
Mama had to let it go.
She had to trust God
that He would pull through.
Every night she prayed
for the courage to believe.
And every night she felt His warmth
give her calm and ease.
Just before Christmas,
there was a knock on the door.
A very wealthy woman appeared and said,
"Mama, I'm taking you to the store!"
"Get your purse
and get your coat", she said.
"We have shopping to do
for Leah, Timothy and Lynnette.
that this wealthy woman so kind,
only intended to buy a gift or two
so this family in need was not left behind.
To the store they did arrive
and the shopping carts were rolled out.
The wealthy woman nudged one toward Mama,
stating, "This will be fun, without a doubt!"
To the toy aisles they began.
The wealthy woman grabbing left and right.
"What would your kids like for Christmas, Mama?"
Mama was speechless and could not believe her eyes!
The wealthy woman shopped with delight.
Filling their carts for Leah, Timothy and Lynnette.
Mama thought with a smile.
"This will be the best Christmas yet!"
Other than a few things the kids had made in school
and some perfume that Nanny had helped to buy (for Mama),
there was nothing under the tree
and the children began to wonder if there really was a Santa.
"Just pray to Jesus", Mama said.
"Pray and believe
that you are not forgotten
while you are in bed asleep".
Leah whispered to Lynnette,
"Will Jesus bring us gifts this year?"
"I don't know", Lynnette replied.
And as she rolled over in bed, her eyes were full of tears.
Mama was happy.
The time had finally come.
The presents were wrapped
and put out for everyone.
On Christmas day,
they awoke to Timothy's screaming delight,
Jesus was here last night!"
Mama had warmth in her heart.
The first time in a while.
"Thank you God, for allowing me to believe",
she said to herself with a great big smile!
I love you Mama, thanks for teaching us to believe!
These were true stories. My mother returned to school to learn a vocation after my parents divorced. It was still odd for women to be doing this in the 70's. Her vocational school turned her name in to be chosen by a woman that adopted a family every year through the school. My only hope is that somehow my words reach this woman, or others like her, so that she knows what a blessing she was to us. And that the seed was planted. Every year, money is tight for us as we have five children, but we always pick from the Angel tree at the mall and give to others before we give to ourselves. The only gift we would have gotten that year was a towel and washrag with Holly Hobby (for the girls) appliqued onto it and a horse on my brothers.
One year we were given a Children's Christmas album called, "The Birthday Party". I would love to have that now. A little character receives an invitation to a birthday party for the king (Jesus) and he arrives with no present and while waiting on the others to arrive, his curiosity ends up getting the best of him and he peaks into each gift. Each gift is a song on the album. So that year we did a birthday party for Jesus. My mother made a cake and everything and the gifts were our words of thankfullness for what we already had.
It is so easy to say that we should be thankful, but we all still know how it is not to be able to give to our children. My prayer is that you find it in your heart to believe that God will pull through for you and your family. Merry Christmas!
You could also call your local soup kitchen and ask if you and your family can volunteer. Many times the volunteers get to eat as well and the children get a visit from Santa Clause.
It is amazing seeing how others are suffering so much more than us and how even young children can understand what a joy it is to help others and to bless others. (12/14/2004)
Hi, My son & I are on Disabilty, my hubby is out of work, My daughter is on welfare, We dont have much funds for Christmas this year, We are receiving alittle help with food and stocking stuffers from one place, and a toy each from another, if theres any other help we can could receive this would be a blessing, my son is 10 , my daughter is 7, they both know the meaning of Christmas, Jesus, and I just would like them to be surprised to see something under the tree for christmas, thanks, if you can be of help, email me at Lynnrose2 (at) yahoo (dot) com
I live in Maine , USA. (12/15/2004)
May I suggest freecycle.com You can go on that site and find the freecylcle area thats closest to you. There is always someone on there that is giving free clothes or toys for children. Your bound to find something that your children may want or can use, also you can post a need, people go on there to get rid of things they no longer want or need but they don't want to throw away, and its all free. Good Luck and God Bless (12/18/2004)
I wish we could all agree to have "life" without any money. It's not that money is so evil but it seems so unnecessary at times. Even though before my husband ran off and we had some money, I used to make "stilts" for my kids out of those big juice cans and some rope.
I took all other sized cans' lids off, wrapped the tops with tape (no sharp edges) and made nesting cans that could be turned upside down and used to build castles and such.
With an old upside down wooden crate (maybe a plastic one will do), you can glue down cardbord which can be painted or colored to look like a two-burner stovetop. Add a shallow plastic dish for a "sink".
I saved the lids from frozen juice tubes and when I had about 18 or more, I glued magazine pictures to one side and I made a memory game. It can be stored in an old colorful sock tied with ribbon or yarn.
If you sew, old clothing can be cut up and sewn into teddy bears or other dolls. Clothing like robes, old jackets, flannel nightgowns, etc. can often be found for $1 each on sale days at the thrift stores. JoAnn fabrics is currently having a $1 a pattern sale and I just bought teddy bear patterns myself. (This isn't free but close.) And sometimes there's a free box at yard sales and old clothing perfect for craft projects will be available.
I save the odd paper bag I get at the hardware store. Several will make hand puppets. (Years ago when my kids and I would get to take a plane trip, I used to make puppets on the spot with the barf bags!)
If you get an origami (paper folding) book from the library, you can cut squares from any magazine and use the colorful paper to make most anything.
And don't forget to use the library every week! There are story-telling groups, books on tape for children, all sorts of things.
Maybe these ideas are coming to late for this year, but Christmas is every day if we want. That doesn't mean you don't want gifts for your children now, but one thing I loved to do when we had so little for so many years, was to plan for Christmas all year long by saving up these household items and learning to make simple games and dolls. They were really my children's favorites and they lasted. Most store-bought things don't last very long.
And during the year, as you are making a doll and your kids are watching, you can teach them to follow your lead by giving them a sock and yarn and buttons and glue (needle and thread if they are older) and they can make something themselves. Make an extra doll from an old robe and teach your kids that no matter how hard things seem for yourselves, there's someone else in need also. You can donate that extra doll to a shelter.
Merry Christmas everyone! (12/20/2004)
When you have a lot of kids, a family gift is cool. Go to the local kids resale store (under used clothes in the yellow pages), because they have used toys and games, too. Get a game most of the kids can play. It's a family present. Cook some special things for a fancy breakfast for everyone, and set the table. Use decorations from the yard, or outside, like boughs of evergreens.
Cut out hearts from paper (even brown grocery bags) Write what you feel about each person on one, then cover it with a matching heart, and write TO ____ on the other and stick them together. Each person gets a heart from everyone else in the family. Then at the breakfast, after eating, everyone takes turns reading what's in their hearts. This is a great gift.
Then play the game.
If you have a special gift for the 13yo, do that privately, and explain why. If not, treat them like an adult, and say so, and involve them in the making of the breakfast and hearts.
By the Oracle
It was mentioned at the very bottom of this post...Salvation Army. They do the angel tree were you mark down the sizes and likes of your children, and people select the "angel" off the tree and buy presents. It is wonderful, and let us have our first "divorce" christmas be special. My mother still made things for us, and dinner was always the main event! When I was pregnant with my second child, I bought all my son's gifts at the goodwill and dollar store. He was 3, and enjoyed it so much, because he got a flashlight. Since you remove the packing anyway, kids usually don't know or mind. Also check out Craigslist.com and select the nearest metro area. Many items are available for trade, either for services or goods. I'd clean toilets for my kids! (09/11/2006)
I totally see where you are coming from. I am also in the same boat as you. The only difference is I have no job right now, neither does their father. We have applied just about everywhere we possibly can and still no luck. I have 4 children at the ages of 4,2,1 and 6 months. I don't know exactly what we are going to do either. But I am doing any and everything to get my children what they deserve. My 2 year old has a birthday December the 14th and I have no money for a birthday party for him either. Life is ruff....And I am sure we will make it through the rough patches. Just pray and hope for the better. Someone or something will step up and help you in anyway needed just as they will my family. God is with you and will be until it's that time. God bless you and your children and have a happy holiday! (11/25/2006)
My heart goes out to you and your family. Have you contacted local agencies? Goodwill, Salvation Army, Red Cross? Please call them maybe they can help
call your local churches, township supervisor. In illinois we have a program called Urban League they help with power bills. Your township supervisor can also help with rent, power bills, phone bills, etc as well as groceries and so can the local churches and food pantries. Please don't give up.
Go to http://www.Freecycle.Org this organization posts items on their website to be given away free perhaps you can find a few things on their site.
We are a paycheck to paycheck kind of family. We struggle through Christmas each year but some how make it. This year we knew it would be impossible with cut backs at my husbands work and all. We are going to be fine though and i know that everyone out here can do what we did. We reached out and told people the situation we were in and they opened their hearts and pockets and really helped us. My children will have a Christmas because of their generosity and because my children are more important than my pride. Here are some places you can ask for help. http://www.freecycle.org Pick your state and area. Salvation army . Goodwill. Quigley house (in Florida). http://www.craigslist.com. Local flea markets. You wont believe this but I bought brand new shoes for my kids at the flea market (nike air) for only $5.00. I bought literally a huge box of used toys (used but they could be cleaned up) for only $1.00 at the flea market.
People often give us free things at the flea market because they don't want to pack it back up. There are many many places you can look to get presents for your children. Call local churches. They will help you often with food, bill money, presents and even household things. Don't give up because your children are depending on you. And lets face it, our children are our lives. Thank you
I agree with IMAQT, you can't give up! Get on the telephone and call everywhere you can think of to call. Start with the mayor's office, call the banks in town to see if they have "Giving Trees", even our insurance companies in town have "mitten trees" so call some of your town's insurance companies.
I was at St. Vincent De Paul's yesterday doing some gift shopping, they have a shopping day on Friday that you pay $3 for a bag, do you have a St. Vinnie's near your home? They also have a food bank there. I asked if one would have to be on state assistance for the food bank and the worker there said no. Anyone who is in need can get help and if there is a special case they just need to talk to the store manager.
Have you called your children's school? The school that I used to work at had a fund for purchasing hats, mittens and scarves for children in need, maybe your children's school has such a program or perhaps the principal would know of someone you could call. Don't feel bad about having to cancel your satellite tv, tell the kids that now you can REALLY have some fun and pull out the board games, play cards, go to the library and rent books, especially
Christmas stories and either read to your kids or have them read to you! Have the kids get out their crayons and color up some Christmas cards to mail to grandma, grandpa, or aunts and uncles. Can't afford the stamps? Then make up cards for the neighbors and walk over to the house and hand deliver them...won't they be surprised!
Do you have any baking supplies that you could bake some cookies with your kids? Use cookie cutters and cut out shaped cookies, use a drinking straw and poke a hole into the top of the cookie before you bake it, put string, yarn, or thread, through the hole and hang them on your tree, if you have no tree hang them in your windows!
You have to make the best of your holiday no matter what your finances are; ours is not the first generation to experience financial difficulties and won't be the last. (12/06/2006)
The Best Slippers. When I was little, we had a Christmas like yours. Mom and Dad made gifts for me and my brother, and there was no money for us to buy gifts for each other, nor for our parents.
So Mom had us go through the catalogs and pick what we wanted to give to each one in the family. We cut out the pictures and boxed them up. We drew pictures on brown paper bags from the store and used that for wrapping paper.
Christmas Eve, we had colorful boxes under the tree. When it was my turn to give a gift, I picked the box I had wrapped for my Dad -- a picture of wonderful leather slippers, just the kind he liked -- and gave it to him to open.
To this day, I can hear my Dad's voice as he opened the box, "Oh, boy! Those are the BEST slippers I ever got!"
I had a wonderful Christmas.
I hope someone takes care of YOUR heart this Christmas. Your children will be blessed by you, but your hurting heart needs to be deeply blessed by someone else.
Please call the nearest church and ask if you and your family can be given a ride to and from their Christmas program. Tell them of your plight, and let Jesus fill you up to the brim.
Lord, provide for this family in the fullest way, from your riches in glory in Christ Jesus.
Reading that some of your children are 7 and younger it reminds me of my nephew who is now 7. and how typical of a youngster he got a gift one day and spent the rest of the day playing with the box it came in. If there is a walmart, or supermarket, or anything near by they'll usually give you the boxes from the back that will probably get thrown out anyway my sister's done it when she moved. You could make a great big fort out of boxes if you luck into some bigger ones (we got one from a love seat once) you can cut doors and windows in it. they're like huge leggos. who doesn't love a good living room fort? (12/11/2006)
RE: Making Money at Christmas Time
Hi Kim -
Try this to make some extra money immediately
It's no secret that one of the fastest ways to generate some quick cash is to sell stuff around the house that you don't use anymore . . .
But even if you're an Olympic gold medalist "pack rat" like me, you'll soon run out of things to unload.
So go to http://www.ExtraMoneyForChristmas.com and download my FREE report that explains one of the absolute best strategies I know for finding an endless supply of items at NO cost.
In the mini-report, you will learn *exactly* how to find FREE stuff to sell . . .
Then it's up to you whether to have a garage sale, advertise for free on Craigslist or hold an auction on eBay . . . whatever cash you rake in will be almost pure profit!
Hope that helps ...
Merry Christmas to you and your family!