For all the people asking for help locating Christmas charities, it might be a little late to be looking at this time. You really have to listen to the news and read the papers carefully, starting around Thanksgiving time, because that is when most of charities start taking applications. Some charities have income guidelines. Some ask the Department of Social Services to submit names. Just because a family feels low income doesn't always mean they are.
Any kid above first grade should be able to understand if their parents explain that they don't have enough money to buy a lot of presents. All any kid needs is one gift each. This gift could even be purchased at a dollar store or thrift store. WalMart has adult t-shirts for less than $10.00. They also have toys in the same price range. You can usually find a selection of DVDs in the $5.00 price range as well as a fair selection of card games and some jewelry.
There are all kinds of gift ideas in an expensive range if you don't plan to get real expensive gifts and if you don't think the kids need designer brands and electronic equipment. All kids want that stuff, but they don't need it. All kids want what they can't have. My four adult grandkids were raised looking at prices and deciding what was affordable and not, because their family didn't have a lot of money.
Don't forget that most kids have grandparents or aunts and uncles that will most likely be giving them gifts.
Basically when a family is low income it takes planning ahead. The KMart stores have lay-a-way programs. I have also heard that Gordmans and TJMaxx have lay-away too. Another trick is to buy one gift a month starting no later than February.
For Christmas trees one year my mother went out in the yard and found a tree branch, spray painted it white and stuck it in an empty coffee can and put a string of lights and some ornaments on it. She received lots of compliments on it. The most economical way to have a Christmas tree is to get an artificial one. Stores like Walmart have some that are 3-4 feet tall for less than $20.00 and they will last for years. I would be willing to bet right before Christmas they will be marked down.
Good luck to all the people that have asked for help.
Source: My own experience over a lifetime ranging from the 40s until the present time.
By redhatterb from Sioux Falls, SD
Way back when we were first married, my parents gave us an artificial Christmas tree they had found at a yard sale. It was old (and looked it), but we used it anyway. Our plan was to save the money that we'd save by not buying a real tree for a few years, then use it to buy a nice artificial tree. Once covered with ornaments, the tree looked nice. Finally, about 20 years later, we bought a nicer artificial tree. I was raised with real trees and love them. However, being frugal, it is amazing how much money one can save using an artificial tree. Even the cheap ones you can buy now look great when decorated.
Excellent, wise advice, RedHatterB. From my own past experience. If you have to ask for help, start around November 1. Resources are usually less scarce then. Salvation Army has helped me provide a gift or two for each of my four more than once. They're all grown now and three (including my "son by marriage") are parents themselves.
Since we're pressed for cash as usual this year, we're either giving things we'd originally bought for ourselves and didn't care for (to the grown kids,) or letting a parent mark a gift they purchased from Grammy and Grandpa. The kids will never know the difference, and that's a burden off our finances.
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