Does anyone have any frugal Christmas gift ideas for me? I am already fretting about Christmas. I am a single mom with 2 teens on a disability income. Their father left me (after he went to business school) because of my disability. He has a super income now. I cannot compete. He gave our son a car for graduating and our daughter a lap top for her birthday.
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First of all, you need to be happy that the children's father is being a part of their life. Plus, how awesome that your son has a car and your daughter has her own laptop. A great deal of children have nothing. Stop trying to keep up with your ex, it is not a game. Loving them and raising responsible adults is the only thing that matters.
Look at all the positives in your life and your children's. Make a list of how the kids have improved your world. List all the memories of birthdays, vacations, school, activities, sports, organizations, time with extended family,etc. Make a journal and give it to them as a gift. Money can not buy things like that.
Make a picture scrap book for each child. Include their art work, report cards, etc. They will cherish it long after the purchased gifts have faded.
The best gift you can give your children is helping them make a Christmas gift for their father. Take time, effort, and thought with it. It will be a lesson learned by your kids that can never be forgotten. You will teach them that no matter what, whom, or how they decide to make things, people, and interests a part of their life: that since it is important to them, it is important to you.
Kids will forget about store bought presents. but they do not forget the ones that shape their world.
I'm on an extremely low income myself so I've come up with tons of ways to save. Find out what they want and go online to see what sorts of coupons you can find on the gifts. Also, don't forget about ebay...you can purchase a lot of items still new but much cheaper than retail. For a 15 year old girl think of jewlery that is in style...someting that will last forever. I'm assuming your son is around 18...on the bright side at that age expectations drop a little in general. There are a lot of cool things you can get for fairly cheap...think something cool for his vehicle possibly. I find sometimes a few cheap things make me just as happy as one big expensive thing.
When my daughter was 15 or so & every year after that, I would buy her a brown bag full of 2nd hand books. I picked these up at garage sales, the 2nd hand book store, etc. She always loves getting books.
In the end, the kids will remember the times you spent together & not the gifts. I've had some really fun Christmases when I was very broke & not too many gifts went under the tree.
I feel for you guys its tough buying stuff with little or no money heres an idea for ya the site is slickdeals dot net. I hope they don't boot me for this. They have everything on there; some free, some cheap, just great deals. God bless and good luck.
The best thing you can give them is experiences of things you did together. Would your daughter like horses? Maybe a trip to a farm to see them and care for them as a volunteer, grooming and such. Does your son like race cars? My girlfriend wowed her son no end, he still sleeps with it, when she took a common plain white painter's cap to a local dirt race track. She took along a marker and his photo, and collected autographs from drivers (who never get to give autographs anyway, such a small track). He was blown away because so many started with 'Hello Eric!'
Why not focus on the holiday and what you and your children can do for others? Serve together at a food pantry, or a soup kitchen, or help get and wrap gifts for the disadvantaged. Teach them the art of giving, not receiving and then maybe they can appreciate whatever special (not costly) gift you give them.
Your kids are old enough to understand the realities of finances. I would ask them to make a Christmas list of up to 3 things that cost less than XXX dollars each. Remind them this is not a shopping list-it is a suggestion list. Have them include one "to do with mom or family" item on the list. Maybe a coupon book of one item a month like "1 meal of your choice", 1 "no chore" weekend", 1 baked item of your choice, 1 sleepover at our house for X friends etc. Be creative.
Sister, I grew up with EVERYTHING I could have ever wanted. Seriously, my dad totally spoiled me. But, you know what? My mom died when I was 7 and he drank and drugged like I don't know what. He basically bought me stuff to keep me out of his way. But, at Christmas, I only received one gift from him, and that was always A-OK with me. After all, Christmas is not about stuff, it's about family and love and helping others.
I guess what I'm getting at is this: Don't try to keep up with anybody else, sister! I know you are looking for frugal ideas for gifts but the BEST is just something that comes directly from your heart. You know, I would have absolutely LOVED to have my mother (before she passed) or even my father just write me a letter and tell me how much they loved me, or how proud they were of me. THAT is something I would still have today, even at age 31, and something that would have totally comforted me during bad/blue times in my life...and there have been a lot.
My hubby and I are getting ready to have a baby here in 9 weeks. We have discussed the "spoiling" thing, and he grew up very poor, with nothing in the house to eat sometimes but old cereal. But, you know what? His mom did the best she could with what she had at the time (she has a mental illness) and he turned into THE MOST WONDERFUL man. I'm sure there are things she wanted to give to him along the way that she could not, but he survived just fine and so will our child, because while I might have had everything material that I could ever have wanted, stabiility and unconditional love were not a part of my childhood. That, my friend, cannot be bought but they do foster and empower children of all ages.
I would suggest writing a heartfelt letter to your 2 kids. And maybe you and they can go volunteer at a soup kitchen or something like that. You know, help those who are less fortunate. Then you could come home, open a small gift or two and just be thankful you have a happy, healthy family who love you very much. As many other posters have said, they will ALWAYS remember the times you've spent with your children but may not necessarily remember that you bought them a $200 pair of jeans or a cool video game or whatever....
Good luck to you, and hang in there. You sound like a really dedicated mom, and trust me, the world needs more good mothers! :) Have a merry Christmas, and a blessed one, too! :)
Christine, I was in the same boat as you several years ago, so I can understand your frustration and sadness. I'm sorry you're going through this, but please know you'll end up the better person if you take care of yourself, constantly try to keep a sense of humor and focus on your blessings, never, never apologize for what you can't provide your kids (they know!), but instead look for and do things that money can't buy: prepare a scavenger hunt or road rally for them to look for a special gift; make a photo collage of them doing different activities; plan a themed get-together for their friends (all-you-can-eat snack night) with everyone bringing their favorite snack to share; plan something your kids can do to "give back" to the community (visit a children's hospital, help illiterate folks learn to read, make cards for nursing home residents, etc.). The library has tons of idea books for things that are free or inexpensive to do. Your kids might look down on your efforts at firts, but if you keep a positive, up-beat attitude, remind them of their blessings and how much you love them and how much being with them means to you, it'll wear off on them (eventually!). Good luck, and God bless.
Thank you all so much. Staying positive is what I needed to hear. The ideas are SUPER! I am so glad for posting, I really needed the boost you all gave me! Now I am off to start some of these projects!
I agree with some of what the others have posted, but not all of it. Your ex did you wrong, and now he is trying to buy the love of his children. It is true you can not compete, and you should stop trying. If you do, two things will happen. You will fail and make yourself feel even worse, and you will teach the kids that not only are material things the most important things, but that those without much money do not deserve respect and acceptance.
Drum me out of here if you will...but I am right. Your kids sound like they are already being pulled and squeezed by the "money pit" that is advertising these days, (did your daughter cause you grief when she didn't get the school clothes she wanted)??
If your husband has the money, let his spend it on them. It's his duty and it sounds like since he left you, it's also his obligation!
Now, as for gifts, if you know how to crochet or sew and can come up with some yarn or fabrics (heck, repond to me or many of us and we will send you some!!), then make them quilts or afghans. My grandson is 17, and is very excited about a cookbook I am going to make him that has good meals he can make with three to five items (see womansday.com for more, by the way). He is sensible and sensitive and knows I am not able to spend a lot on him either.
Once your teens are no longer teens, I hope they grow up some (and we all do...) and will look back on your rearing of them with pride and respect. That is the best gift you can give them.
I wish you a wonderful Christmas!!
POOR BUT PROUD
As a girl who grew up in a large family with very little money, I can tell you that Christmas was hard. There were many years where we got no gifts. Nothing. Not even socks. That wasn't the hard part. It was dreading the question from your friends "What did you get for Christmas?" I started lying and having vague answers like "Oh, some clothes and stuff; the usual." Peer Pressure and being singled out for being different is really hard at that age.
I think if you do something generous and kind with your kids for Christmas, like volunteering at soup kitchens, Food Banks, or even making small donations as a family or in the kids names to organizations they would care about (i.e. if they like animals, a donation to the animal shelter; if they like sports, donating to a kids sport charity for underprivileged kids), then at least your children may face less "ridicule" for not getting the expensive gifts at Christmas. Their peers would be less likely to criticize a charity, and if they do, your kids will have a good retort.
More importantly, your kids will learn that there are others who have much less than they, and they will be more grateful for what they do have.
You can shop at a thrift store/tag sale and buy sometimes new items. If you are handy you can alter a used item to appear different. How a about a memory or scrap book. You could gather items from when they were young photos and etc and make memory books. Good Luck!
Oh you poor thing! God bless you. You just continue to be consistent with your kids, especially your daughter. Keep on with the same rules and values that you have always had for her, and it will get better; she will see, in the long run, that it was you who stayed the same and truly loved her. I know that it's hard now, but "this too shall pass." And remember, that she has been through a lot lately too. She also has had to deal with Mom's dissability and Dad's abandonment -- she's probablly still hurting a lot too. Of course, at 15, she would never let you know that. So just keep on loving her.
As for the gifts, I started a tradition with my girls when they were pre-teens that they always got a "beauty basket." The first year, my oldest girl was about 10, and I simply boght her a premade basket from "Bath and Bodyworks." But, the next year, I started making them. This is the one gift that they look for every year to see just what is in it. You can get everything you need at the dollar store! It doesn't have to be an actual basket -- half the fun is chosing the container. Then you add things like bubble bath, shower gel, lotion, powder, bath poofs, sponges, deodorant, etc. You can do the same for guys with guys products. Or you can do other types of baskets -- tools for the handyman; popcorn and snacks for the movie lover (you can even find videos and DVDs at the Dollar store now); kitchen gadgets in a measuring cup for cooks -- the only limit is your imagination!
Good luck sweetie, and may God truly bless you.
I'm making homemade gifts for all my teen friends this year. :) but last year I went to the dollar store and picked up a bunch of beauty items that had looked like they have come from a nice store. You could buy lotion/bath beads/and shower gel for each daughter and only spend about $6. Also they had $1 winter scarves at the Dollar Tree too!
I have read everyones suggestions and agree with all of them. the one thing I would like to say is the children that are handed everything have no concept of the real world and costs. My children worked for what they wanted. Car etc... yes they couldn't believe the kids that came to school with new cars, expensive clothing and Bling. But now with the economy the way it is some of these kids had to return the car and come to grips with reality. These "spoiled kids" are now in shock. Many parents have lost their jobs, cars and houses and the kids don't know how to "work".
There is allot of people who can help you. A church, school, elks, etc. Your kids may not realize it now, but your LOVE is the best thing.
You also may have family members that could help or friends. It sounds like your kids are teens?? I like the movie night but invite friends ask them to bring a dish and a homemade gift to pass. or a white elephant gift mabey something they have that is in good shape that they no longer use. Have a few extra for those who forget. It cannot be bought or new. this can be very fun
If you have access to a video camera make a video of yourself including old photos of each child. Talk about things that happened when they were small. Some holiday taditions you did when you were a child or you remember. This is priceless. My father used to read," THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS" I WISH i HAD THAT ON VIDEO. what may seem corny to them now will mean the world to them tomarrow.
Don't try to compete with their father. Right now and always the greatest gift you can give is Love.
Organizations will be happy to drop off items to you when the kids are not at home. They wouldn't even have to know. When you do get back on your feet remember to help someone else.
Good Luck I know you will have a Merry Christmas because of the love you have for your family.
Thank all of you for your encouragement. I have already started some of the ideas. It means a lot to me that you have shared with me. xx
We have a tradition of pajamas for my kids x-mas eve. They are Christmas theme and often picked out before hand by them. The girls especially love the anticipation the boys, now that they are older get a hoody because that is what they love. We open them and all put them on Christmas eve, we stay up till mid night. Sometimes it is a robe instead. What they remember the most is the anticipation, the smells of home made baked goods, Christmas dinner and boiled fruit punch, the Christmas Ivy and tree.
Just know that spending time with your kids is something that they will remember, not gifts. Last year on Christmas Eve we took our kids out for lunch at Arbys and then to a matinee (we never go to the movies) and just spent the day with them. That was their favorite part of last Christmas and have requested that we do it again. Honestly, your children are old enough to know your financial situation and I'm sure that they are not worried about what kind of gifts they get from you.
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