First of all you absolutely don't need a tree, or you could do like my late mother did one year, when she saw the idea in a magazine. She took an empty coffee container and painted it white, then she filled it with sand (I imagine dirt would work too).
Then she went out in the yard and looked for a fair sized branch, when she found what she wanted laying on the ground, she spray painted it white and when dry stuck it in the can. She then decorated it with our regular decorations. She received a lot of compliments from various visitors because of her originality. You could make paper chains and cut out paper snow flakes for decorations.
For help with gifts (by now it might be getting too late, to apply for help). Call 211, that is the number for a nationwide organization called HelpLine! They keep a list of different organizations that provide various help for people.
You can also call the Salvation Army, I would recommend speaking to your pastor, sometimes if a pastor knows somebody in the congregation is real hard up, he will call for a special offering to be given to a member that needs help.
If you can't find any help, you should be able to afford to to a thrift store and spend $1.00-$2.00 for a little gift for each kid. Also if you are so hard up you must have a social worker, either from housing assistance or food stamps and they might be able to point you to organizations that can help.
From the day my kids were born to the current day (they are in their 40s) we have never given them more than one gift each. They had two sets of grand parents and a few aunts and uncles that always sent gifts. I'm sure you must have some of these relatives too. People now seem to think kids need tons of gifts in order to be happy.
Now might be a good time to explain what Christmas is. You could do this my baking and frosting a cake and spell out the words "Happy Birthday, Baby Jesus" on it. Tell the kids that is how you are celebrating Christmas this year.
However, we all know Christmas comes every year and could plan ahead. I start shopping in January and have been done for at least a month. I spend $20.00 each on each of my kids and four grandkids that range in age from15-25. If I find a $20.00 item on sale for $10-15.00, it still gets counted as a $20.00 item. All it takes is a little planning. I would never be able to buy gifts for my whole family if I didn't start my shopping in January.
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