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Christmas on a budget?


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Sounds kind of like something I should've been tooting about years ago! Sadly I wasn't. This year it's come to our attention that from here on out all things we do have to be on a budget.

 

This will be our first Christmas on a REAL budget. I panic'ed at first at the thought. Now that I've begun building the lists with the kids and bringing their "wants" and "needs" into reality with our budget it's actually kind of fun!!!!

 

What sort of things are you getting/doing this year to keep your Christmas gifting within a budget? Previous years I would spend $1,000 on Christmas without blinking! Now that's not even something we can think about. We have a SKINNY budget. This budget is requiring me to spend more time getting to know my kids on a different level. No more getting the hottest toy on the shelf, finding it on sale and rushing to buy it, wrap it, and be done. This year I'm really finding myself taking the time to create each gift specifically for THEM.

 

Have you started a list yet?

 

My number one thing that I'm finding to be a BLESSING to our budget Christmas is second-hand shops! WOW!

 

And for those that think I'm crazy for posting something about Christmas. Well it's 90 days until Christmas. I need that amount of time to create what I've got on my list for everyone. :D

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I bet you will have the BEST memories of Christmas this year! I love the way you write about getting to know your kids on a different level. I love it!

 

This year, my siblings all surprised my parents with an upgrade on their cruise vacation. We decided that it would be our gift not only to our parents, but also to each other. That simplifies a LOT as I have six siblings. I shop the Target toy section year-round and put those toys in bins to look through when we need a gift. I just did that and got all but three nephews/nieces done for Christmas.

 

For our kids, we're calling our vacation in January our gift to everyone. Not cheap, but it keeps Christmas simpler.

 

I'm hosting Christmas and I will have anywhere from 10 - 18 people here for three nights. I'm keeping the meals VERY simple this year. In years' past, I've tried to impress and I've killed myself trying. No more. Simple meals. Hopefully it'll save money too!

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My budget last year for Christmas was about $300. I literally made a spread sheet and after I purchased a gift, I wrote it on a spreadsheet under their name. I got really lucky when I did some Black Friday shopping at CVS. I scored $30 of ECB for FREE and was able to purchase 2 FREE Christmas gifts for my kids (one was a doll, the other was a race track car set for DS)

 

For this Christmas, we are doing things differently. N-O T-O-Y-S! (or Clothing!) :lol:

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We have decided to keep this an electronics-free Christmas. We had entertained the thought of getting each girl and ipod touch, but we changed our minds.

 

I did splurge on the girls' big gifts. But other than that, there will be stocking stuffers, and that's it. Thankfully my Christmas list is short (less than 10 including my 3 girls) so that makes working with a budget a lot easier!

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OP I would love to hear more about how you have put this into practice. What things have you learned about your children that have helped you to pick a gift for them? I'm in the same boat financially. I know that this year 1 thing in their stockings will be a coupon for "time with mom". I know that sounds horrible that they would need a coupon for that...they don't but I know that they love having that individual attention and time to do something special with Mom. I have some really nice art supplies that I had put away and forgotten about, so my 2 oldest will be getting some of that as gifts.

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We have always been on a budget. We allow them to ask "Santa" for 1-2 items. They know he will pick what he wants to bring, and it has to be parent approved (ie: no dogs this year, since momma says no!)

 

I usually do try to get them one hot toy item, within reason ($40 or so, except for 1 yr each they got an American Girl doll. And those were in separate years.) Mainly because in our family, that is the only toy besides bday gifts from others that they will get all year. We don't buy bday toys for them, nor do we as parents buy Christmas toys. Santa brings one. This has worked well for us. I as the parent usually buy new pjs, an outfit if they need one or shoes, and a book or educational item or art supplies. When they have expressed interest in expensive electronic items like Nintendo Ds or the like, we just explain to them that that is out of our budget. They get that it means out of "Santa's" too. I know not everyone does Santa, but we do.. They really do get a lot out of new craft supplies, and I can watch for sales on that stuff and make a nice gift from us. I have been able to find really nice quality like new hard back books at our thrift store and put for Christmas some years too. I also do the CVS ECB thing and watch the Target $ bins for stocking stuffers.

 

Then we do stocking stuffers which I try to keep as useful, but cutesy useful items: hair stuff, socks and und*es, bath items like chap sticks, etc. and some candy.

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Can you find things at garage sales, rummage sales, and used book/CD/DVD/video game stores?

 

Have you checked eBay for anything yet? I remember when my ds was into Calvin and Hobbes, I bought him a big lot of the books on eBay for an incredibly low price -- and they looked like brand new.

 

My ds has collected certain things for years, and a lot of the stuff is no longer being manufactured, so he knows that some of the stuff will come from eBay (or wherever else I can find them) each year, so he's not upset if all of his gifts don't come in shiny new packaging. (I told him ahead of time that I was looking on eBay, so he wasn't surprised.)

 

We don't have a set budget, so I can't help you with personal experience on that, but even without a spending limit, I still don't like to pay more than necessary for anything, and I love a good bargain. I also shop year-round, so whenever I see something interesting, I get it -- which makes it "feel" like I'm spending less at Christmas. (We buy stuff for ds year-round, though, so we don't have any "only on birthdays and Christmas" restrictions on gifts, toys, video games, or whatever. Usually if ds sees something he really wants, we just buy it, but the really big stuff like game systems or computers/big electronics are usually for some kind of holiday.

 

For the hottest toys and games, keep a close eye on Amazon as it gets closer to Christmas for Lightning Deals -- and put your kids' "must-have" items in your Amazon cart and check it frequently, because your cart will have a little notice on top when prices change on the items in your cart or "save for later" section of the cart.

 

I know a lot of people who find great stuff on CraigsList, particularly toys, but I have never looked for gifts on Craigslist, so I don't have any amazing bargains to brag about.

 

One last idea -- can you make some cool stocking stuffers for your kids?

Edited by Catwoman
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We've been on a tight budget for the last 16 years so Xmas has always been low key (which is exactly the way we want it to be). We do stockings which comes to about $4/kid (using a lot of sales/thrift store finds). We don't do individual gifts, rather a family gift (zoo membership, air hockey table last year (found on Craigslist), ping pong table the year before that, etc. We love the family gifts as it serves to bring the family even closer together and doesn't put the focus of Xmas on "us" (we have birthdays for that ;)). I'd say we spend about $300 on Xmas, maybe?

 

The best part of Xmas for us is getting the Samaritan's Purse catalog, giving the dc a budget and watching them "shop" for those truly in need. Talk about putting the focus where it should be. I cry every year as I watch my dc make their shopping list. :)

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We've always done xmas on a budget, this year were looking at:

 

dd6:

Playsilks and dress up (I make them myself for half those prices)

Play kitchen stuff (home made, thinking something like this, this and this)

Tea set

Duplos (has fine motor issues and has trouble with legos)

 

dd12:

Legos

about 100 Small moving boxes lol, yes I'm serious, she has a blast building castles and stuff with them and gets annoyed when we start taking them away for packing.

Playsilks (even at 12 she still loves playing with them)

Art Supplies

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we love christmas.

 

here are some ideas our family has used:

a) last year, dd age 26 knit scarves for everyone. she picked free patterns from the internet. she thought about each person, and the colours they love, and the colours they wear. then, she wrapped each one beautifully. they were lovely, and cost her the cost of one pair of knitting needles, and the wool.

 

b) we give useful things as part of our giving. eg. a giant jar of olives for the olive lovers, a giant jar of pretzels for the pretzel lover.... each morning, my dh makes coffee for the two of us. christmas morning when he gets up, i've left several different kinds of coffees in a christmas basket by the coffee maker. each christmas morning, he gives me a case of wine. the beauty of these, is that we will use them, and we would have had to buy them to serve our extended family anyway, yet they still feel like gifts. we also give one another a gift just for us.

 

c) most years, i make photo books for people. i get them ready, and then wait for a sale so that they aren't as expensive. sometime between now and christmas, usually around thanksgiving, the site i use has a "buy one, get one free" offer, which is great for extended family.

 

d) each christmas, there is at least one "gift" hunt. we wrap something, hide it, and then lead the recipient all over following clues. it is very fun, and can make simple gifts seem extra special. eg. a star trek dvd might have all star trek clues. one year, we gave dbil a bush he had really wanted for landscaping, and led him all over, inside and out, using monty python clues until he found his "shrubbery".

 

e) we give Christmas pajamas on christmas eve. those are the winter pajamas for everyone that year. (ie. i don't buy others). but the kids grow out of theirs every year, or every other year, and we turn those into gift bags, so that under the tree is full of beautiful memories.

 

f) and we make advent special somehow, too. one year, i wrapped christmas story books, and we opened and read one each night after dinner in december. some were ours, some we returned to the library. one year, each morning i put something in an advent calendar for the kids, but each one was something we could do. eg. one morning it said, "make advent shortbread stars". another said, put up christmas lights. etc, etc. it built anticipation, and was all things we would have done anyway. (or things that didn't cost anything. eg. "go back to bed, and wait for breakfast to come to you").

 

hth,

ann

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I've went from a $1,000 Christmas spending spree to a skinny $200 budget. Previous years I never saved for Christmas, I charged it. DH left me in charge of all things finanically for the past 10 years and I've been pretty irresponsible. WHEW! Now that I've got that off my chest! :glare:

 

Here is how I've put this into play so far.

 

 

My dd9 is the most creative child in our home. She can create something from a mass of mess. She really sticks to getting toys and things she asks for on her list. When she wouldn't get it she'd have a poor attitude about it and acted confused as to why she didn't get what she asked for. I didn't realize this up until this year that I was helping create this attitude in her! Now I've explained on HER level that we simply can't afford to have all the things we really WANT. When we get something from someone we need to really think about how it makes us feel that someone thought of us. It took several calm sessions for her and I before she grasped what I was explaining. I always thought of her as being super crafty and creative. She will make animals out of duct tape, spare boxes, mom's pillow stuffing from my sewing tub, use buttons for eyes, pom poms for warts, and use almost any material she can find and just imagine something with it. I was happy to see her create. It wasn't until recently that I realized that this is something I need to CATER for her. She loves dinosaurs, chimpanzee's, monkey's, dressing up and being fully in roleplay mode, creating something amazing out of spare materials around the house, and most of all she loves to draw! So for her this year I've created a list just for her of what I'm creating.

  • Create-A-Monster Kit (I will toss in a little bit of everything for her to create the ultimate monster. I will even take a trip to the fabric shop to get her a couple small pieces of fake fur, this will be a BIG deal to her as she's asked for it alot and we never get it. I even want to pick up some hands and feet in the doll creation section. Creepy I know! But she'll LOVE IT!!!)
  • Build-A-Fort Kit
  • Finger-Puppet Kit
  • Science Experiment Kit
  • Jurassic Park Throw Blanket (I found a jurassic park panel at a thrift shop for $2! I already own the backing material for her blanket)
  • Jammie set (I bought her slippers on clearance for $2 at Walmart, found a nice robe at a second hand shop for $2, and a cute pair of dinosaur jammie bottoms for $1)
  • Stuffed dinosaur toys (Found both at a seond hand shop for $3 each, but they are BIG!)
  • Stuffed chimpanzee & monkey toys (Found both at a second hand shop for $2 each. She will be OVER the moon about these!!)
  • Stocking Stuffers - Mini marshmellow catapult, slime, marbles, hair brush, vending machine toys in the bubbles, dinosaur kite (found this at Walgreens on clearance for $0.59!), halloween decor rats (found a 4-pack on clearance for $0.98), and vegan gummy worms, rice boo boo pack

My dd7 is the biggest girlie girl. Sadly she doesn't get ALOT of mom and her time. She is really pushed to the side alot. She is SUPER smart and because of that she does alot of school work on her own. Whereas my dd9 has SPD so she requires ALOT of my time. You rarely find my dd7 complaining about things she didn't get! She's so thankful for everything she gets. I really had to step back and LEARN from her! My dd7 always wants to help clean house, cook dinner, bake with me, and even just sit next to me while I read. I catch myself saying go play or let mom be alone all too often!!! I've really focused on changing the way I am with her. Just because she isn't a child with SPD, a toddler, or because she is smart doesn't mean she deserves to be pushed aside all the time!!! I now see so obvious why she gives me struggles on some days. She just needs MOM!! Her list this year is really focused on HER and really going to bring her BIG SMILES. I'm smiling just writing this out. She really is a very beautiful and bright child. There isn't a day that goes by that I don't catch her humming or singing. She should be awarded for it, not ignored. She loves painting her nails, creating pretty outfits, putting on makeup, jewelry, playing mommy, dressing up, and helping mom whenever and however she can.

  • Build-a-Fort Kit
  • Radio/CD Player (She is using an old Dora the Explorer one they have that is really on it's last leg. I want to get her a new one or second hand)
  • Jewelry Box (She doesn't want the small boxes I've always gotten her. She told me that she really loves the BIG older style jewelry boxes she see's at the second hand shops. I'm on a mission now! I'm even filling it with new jewelry. I've got some pieces I found at second-hand shops, clearance racks, and stuff I have that she loves that I'm willing to give to her.)
  • Cookbook of Mom's famous foods (I've purchased a small binder at second hand shop for $0.50. I already took pictures of her in her chef hat and apron to use for the cover and back cover on her cookbook I'm creating. I even took a silly picture that I will use for creating a section; "About the lil chef". She already told me the recipes she wants. I will have to take pictures of the food and the steps to help create the book. Each year I will add more recipes for her book.)
  • Stationary/Scrapbook Kit (she LOVES drawing on paper, putting paper in envelopes, stickers, post it notes and all that jazz. I'm going to create a box full of all those goodies for her!)
  • Mom and Me cooking together Kit (she asked to cook with me with a special kit that has her OWN bowl, whisk, measuring cups, muffin pan, wooden spoons, and etc.)
  • Jammie Set (I found slippers on clearance for her at Walmart for $2. I am on the hunt currently for a new robe for her as well as a jammie set)
  • Finger Puppet Kit
  • Stocking Stuffers - Barbie Kite (Found this on clearance at Walgreens for $0.79), necklace, hair brush, makeup, hair accessories, coin purse, mini marshmellow catapult, and vegan gummy hearts, rice boo boo pack

My lil guy is so energetic. I find myself many times thinking of how super LOUD and messy he is! I didn't realize how thankful I am for the LOUD and MESSY boy I have. I was so busy trying to make him into something he naturally wasn't! I couldn't get him to stop jumping off things, throwing balls in house, or stop talking so loud. He is so smart and enjoys having time with me in the kitchen as well. He loves having his sister's at home with him all day. He is the completion of our family and he needs to be treated as that all the time.

  • Build-a-Fort Kit
  • Finger Puppet Kit
  • Car Racing Launch
  • Jammie Set
  • Noise making remote car (Found this on clearance at Walgreens for $3.49!)
  • Boxing Gloves (Found these at second hand shop for $3! They are little just for his hands.)
  • Stocking Stuffers - Mini marshmellow catapult, shuttle kite (found at walgreens on clearance for $0.59), slingshot airplane (found at walgreens on clearance for $0.49), vegan gummy balls, rice boo boo pack

Edited by mamaofblessings
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Our budget is $100 per kid. I shop all year and find things on clearance or yard sales. I use MyPoints all year and turn points in for giftcards. I think I have enough for 2 $25 giftcards from Walmart. I use this to get "family" gifts like games or dvds.

 

My boys are getting a set of Skylanders I got for $40 and they are each getting a ds and 20 games each that I got at a yard sale for $140. I have $20 left for them and will be getting them some stocking stuffers.

 

Not sure what to get dd10. She rarely ever asks for anything :001_smile:

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We are definitely on a budget this year for both christmas and birthday. Dd7(will be 8) is getting some toys but I am going to try to encourage interests that she can continue as an adult. Some things along this line will be a sewing/embroidery set, an archery set, armor for SCA youth combat, an inexpensive bow and arrows, and a crocheting set. several of these sets will include things that I am making such as her quiver and the armor. She will also receive books about several of these subjects.

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I've started on the gifts for my in laws. I have to make 10 sets of whatever I send them.

 

This year I picked fabric drink coasters. I started cutting them all out on Monday. Yesterday this was what I had finished. Took the day off today and will finish the other 3 sets this week sometimes.

 

Total Cost: $0.00! I had EVERYTHING for them on hand, including the ribbon and the cardstock for the tags!

 

coasters.jpg

 

Now that my dh seen the finished products he's asked for a set for our home and to have a set sent to his closest buddy and his wife. :tongue_smilie:

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Our budget is about $200 for our kids.

 

These are my preliminary thoughts:

 

For ds 8- some sort of Fischertechnik kit or physics kit or such, books for kids for building-perhaps Steven Caney's Ultimate Building Book(if I can find a deal) or some the older Popular Mechanics for Kids series and a few tools of his own, Murderous Math or Horrible Histories books perhaps, Settlers of Catan game

 

Dd5- dress up clothes- little lab coat and real(ish) stethoscope and such- she loves to play Doctor,

fancier crayons and paints w/ some more Dover coloring books and perhaps a stationary kit- she loves to draw!!

 

 

dd2.5 (will be 3 by Christmas)- Balance bike or such, dress + purse, coloring books (she loves to steal dd1's), some dress up outfit, ???

 

The Action Bible for everyone

 

I've got to see what I can find deals on to see how much we can get and then think some more.

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I hate budgeting at Christmas. I really do. I'm not too good at it either. In the past we've spent between $125-$150 a kiddo. This year I have less than that in the gift budget.

 

Santa only brings one gift for the whole family to share. The kids don't even ask for anything from Santa. He just picks. Some years it's been board games, Wii games, basketball goal... This year it's season passes to a museum.

 

We are only doing stockings this year I think. It's going to be hard to stick to it but that's the goal. I may end up putting one gift per child under the tree. I'm not sure though. The thought came from the fact my kids are as tickled and excited and happy with their Easter baskets as they are on Christmas morning. So why then am I breaking the budget at Christmas with tons of gifts??

 

I could just as easily limit it by saying one gift under the tree or whatever... but stockings are just fun and fitting.

 

Now of course if they asked for electronics it would add up fast anyway but my guys don't even think of asking for electronics yet so I'm safe. It could still add up but for the most part I think limiting the size will help.

 

For the girls(4 of them) I'll do things like manicure kits, craft supplies, hair things, doll clothes, and gift cards. The gift cards are for things like starbucks and will be enough for kiddo plus a parent. The kids have found a few toys they would like to have too. DS wants legos. He said open the box and pour them in the stocking, lol. Technically it would work!

 

I'll be looking for more ideas though! I'm hoping this year to limit it to 50-75 a child. Less would be even better.

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We shop at thrift stores and consignment sales all through the year, so we don't have a crunch in the late fall/early winter. I take my kids (seperately) with a few dollars to the thrift store and they find a toy or book or movie for each other, no problem. We do stockings and and a nice book and one large item (fun to open - large size, not necessarily expensive) for each kid.

 

DH and I often do just $20 for each other and some years not at all. This year we are going to see the Hobbit and out for dinner as our date/gift. Kids are staying at my mom's overnight! :D

 

We do spend a bit on a real tree b/c I hate fake ones. DH wishes I would change my mind on that, but it's not happening!

 

Like everyone, I guess, we try to emphasize giving and just enjoy being together. We are Christians and our Christmas is about Jesus and not Santa. We have a very different take on Christmas than my inlaws and that does make things stressful, mostly for me. We purposefully do less b/c DH's family does a lot (sometimes quality/nice, sometimes not) and my mom will get them each one very nice thing (which she always asks me about first!).

 

We have a crazy busy Christmas Eve with both church and DH's family celebrations, so Christmas Day is relaxed and slower. And nice! We read books aloud, play with new toys and make a yummy meal. We try to emphasize giving and spritual themes throughout the whole Christmas season - which is not that hard to do, honestly. Lovely concerts and opportunities for service and fellowship abound.

 

Our total budget is usually around $300 for four. Not counting meals or baking. Sometimes as high as 500. Not this year!

Edited by ScoutTN
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This is an interesting thread! We are also on a much tighter Christmas budget this year since we are working on debt reduction and plan to be debt free by the end of next year - whoo! Anyway, these are my plans. My son, who will almost be 2 at Christmas, is getting a dress up tub from Santa. That will be his big gift. I have been shopping garage sales and thrift stores all year and have several different costumes already that I bought for near to nothing. My plan is to finish it off by shopping costumes after Halloween when they go on sale. Then I am going to decorate a plain banker's box with fabric and stuff I have on hand and put all the dress up clothes in it. From us, mom and dad, he will probably get a few books and stocking stuffers and that's all. We are lucky in that we have very generous parents who don't have a lot of grandkids so they will get ds toys as well. DH and I are just going to do stockings for one another. My problem always comes with extended family. How do you navigate your parents, grandparents, siblings who are still children themselves (my brother and sister are only 14 & 15). I have tried mentioning doing the "draw a name method" but I always get shot down. Usually with something like, "Oh, if you're in a pinch this year you don't have to get anyone anything." But of course THEY will still spend money on us and it makes me feel incredibly guilty :001_huh: Sorry if I am highjacking this thread but I would love suggestions! Who exactly makes your "list"?

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My boys are getting a set of Skylanders I got for $40 and they are each getting a ds and 20 games each that I got at a yard sale for $140. I have $20 left for them and will be getting them some stocking stuffers.

 

Wow! Those were INCREDIBLE BARGAINS!!!! :thumbup: I never find good stuff like that at yard sales. In fact, I rarely even go to them anymore, because I haven't gotten anything good in a long time, and it seems like eBay dealers are out of the house at the crack of dawn to snap up anything interesting. :glare:

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We're always on a Christmas budget, though some years are much more liberal than others. ;) DH usually gets a December bonus (though it depends on the state of the company and some years, no bonus.) So, we usually wait until mid October and calculate what it's going to be and Ta Da, our Christmas budget.

 

We highly suspect this year Christmas will *not* be covered by the bonus and that is pinch-y, and we're hoping we're wrong.

 

We do not participate any longer in the whole exchange names between siblings (ours) and between cousins. It is simply too much. I know our families were disappointed, but frankly, when they have nine children to provide for, then they can complain.

 

We have always done three gifts per child. Usually one is their "big" gift, and the other two are small to moderate. We fill stockings with silly stuff we refuse to buy the rest of the year - nail polish or trinkets, bubble bath, etc.

 

And then they get swaddling clothes. The three gifts and swaddling clothes is supposed to remind them of the point of Christmas.

 

To save, I usually make all of their "swaddling clothes" a.k.a. pajamas. I often make at least a few of the gifts as well and DH usually does too, but his gifts are wood-working, so they are usually either the child's "big" gift or a group gift between more than one child. That usually saves us quite a little.

 

We love to buy practical gifts - things we know we would eventually be buying anyway like camping gear or art pencils, or whatever the child's unique "bent" or hobby is. The baby will end up with wool soakers & a new carseat. ;) Practical!

 

We were just talking this morning that if we move home (Iowa) between now and Christmas that Christmas will look very odd this year, lol. As we will be moving back to a farm, the kids would probably get livestock and seeds for Christmas! Oldest DD said, "I just want to open a box Christmas morning and find a Nubian goat." (Grin.) That is fun to hear from a sixteen year old girl! ;)

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Who exactly makes your "list"?
Grandparents. That's it. We gave up exchanging gifts with siblings years ago and even then it was gift cards for restaurants (nothing emotional or thought out). It seemed ridiculous to us to get a $25 gift card for sil and her family only to have her spend the same amount and send a card to us. I suggested we bag the whole gift card exchange thing and she agreed. I don't buy for nieces or nephews, either, nor do I expect any family members to buy our dc gifts.

 

My NICU nurse gets a lovely box of gifts from me, though. I spoil her rotten. :)

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Who exactly makes your "list"?

 

And the list gets longer when the kids grow up. Oldest dd is married and now has three children. Those four extra people really add up...and we still have three more kids- if they all get married and have a couple of kids, our shopping is going to take forever.

 

So we have four kids, our parents, one son in law, three grandchildren, and each other. Dh buys for his sister and her husband and I usually send something small to my two sisters.

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I shop for gifts year round, so it's never too early to start thinking about it! :)

 

I have a big box in my closet where I stash gifts. I'll start going through that this week to see what I have and what I still need. I still usually get stocking stuffers at the last minute, but I *should* have everything else by Thanksgiving. The gifts our kids comment on the most are memberships to places (museums, etc) and the bigger family gifts (like the Wii we got a few years ago that they still play with daily). So this year will probably be lots of additions to the Lego collection and some gift cards or memberships for things to do.

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We just do our kids and parents. I usually make some sort of baked good (or one year I made dog treats because everyone but me is a huge dog lover) and a picture of our family for my aunts, uncles and cousins as a family gift, 10 families in all. My husband is a professional photographer, so we trade with another photographer in the area and do the shoots in November. I've found that these are the gifts my family really loves, and you could do that with a friend, no professional equipment needed. We got a buy one get one coupon from shutterfly last year, so I got four albums for the price of two. My husband hated the quality, but my family really doesn't care :001_smile:.

 

My kids were totally overwhelmed and ungrateful last year so we took a new approach this year. We took the $100 we spend on each of them and split it up into four increments, so they got gifts in Feb, May, August, and will be getting one more set at the end of Nov. They have appreciated and enjoyed the toys so much more! We wanted to use the month of Dec to do things as a family and really focus on the importance of Jesus' birth, rather than the selfish grab-fest it was last year. It is also nice to not worry about the chunk of money coming out all at one time (at our most budget conscious time of the year.).

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What sort of things are you getting/doing this year to keep your Christmas gifting within a budget? Previous years I would spend $1,000 on Christmas without blinking! Now that's not even something we can think about. We have a SKINNY budget. This budget is requiring me to spend more time getting to know my kids on a different level. No more getting the hottest toy on the shelf, finding it on sale and rushing to buy it, wrap it, and be done. This year I'm really finding myself taking the time to create each gift specifically for THEM.

 

Have you started a list yet?

 

We've had lean years and fatter years, in terms of holiday budgets. Weirdly, I almost prefer the lean years, because having less money to spend forces me to put more thought and energy into gifts. When we have money, my husband tends to just keep buying more and more expensive stuff for the kids, and any smaller, personal, made-with-love items I make get lost in the mania.

 

This year will be one of the leaner ones. But my kids are older, now, and I feel less compelled to stress out worrying about how to create magic while insulating them from adult finanacial concerns.

 

Actually, my daughter recently approached me wanting to talk about doing Christmas differently this year. She is missing the days when we were less busy around the holidays and when we spent more time making crafts and doing things together. I was dead sure my son would not be in the same place, but he agreed almost immediately to de-emphasize gifts and spending in favor of more time together doing family stuff.

 

I'm really so incredibly surprised and proud of them.

 

I've also tentatively decided not to send boxes to out-of-state family and friends this year. I have loved doing it, and loved the feeling of staying connected, but the silence on the other end is pretty defeaning. So, we'll send cards and maybe photos of the kids and call it good.

 

In terms of who makes our list, in recent years it's a pretty small number. We are not in touch with my family of origin (which is a good, good thing), and my husband's parents are both gone, as well as one of his three brothers. In addition to the four of us, we usually do something small, sometimes home-made, for the kids' teachers and directors and their closest friends.

 

This year, my daughter wants to help me bake for local friends and teachers. We're thinking mini-loaves of three different fancy yeast breads, packaged prettily.

 

I have started a list of ideas for the kids and my husband. And I have bought one small, frivolous item for my daughter. I have a couple of ideas of things to make for them, too. I am, as usual, stumped for ideas for my husband. But I'm really hoping to get him to agree to scaling back to just one or two token gifts for the adults. Given our budget, I think I have a good shot at convincing him this year (, she said, keeping her fingers crossed).

Edited by Jenny in Florida
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My kids were totally overwhelmed and ungrateful last year so we took a new approach this year. We took the $100 we spend on each of them and split it up into four increments, so they got gifts in Feb, May, August, and will be getting one more set at the end of Nov. They have appreciated and enjoyed the toys so much more! We wanted to use the month of Dec to do things as a family and really focus on the importance of Jesus' birth, rather than the selfish grab-fest it was last year. It is also nice to not worry about the chunk of money coming out all at one time (at our most budget conscious time of the year.).

 

I'm honestly not trying to be rude here, but what constitutes "ungrateful" behavior for 5, 3, and 1 year-old children on Christmas? How grateful could they possibly be for their gifts? They're just little kids. :confused:

 

I'm not criticizing your decision to split up the gifts over the course of the year -- it actually sounds like a very cool idea -- but I can't imagine that kids would be "overwhelmed and ungrateful" for $100 worth of Christmas gifts per child. Are you sure you're not expecting too much of them? I don't really think that even your oldest child, who apparently is only 5, would have the emotional maturity to realize that she should be incredibly grateful for Christmas gifts.

 

I truly can't imagine anything too much different from a "selfish grab-fest" from three little kids who are super-excited on Christmas morning. I would just view it as them having lots of fun and being a little wild because they've got lots of great new stuff to play with.

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e) we give Christmas pajamas on christmas eve. those are the winter pajamas for everyone that year. (ie. i don't buy others). but the kids grow out of theirs every year, or every other year, and we turn those into gift bags, so that under the tree is full of beautiful memories.

 

 

I love the idea of re-purposing Christmas pjs! Opening Christmas pjs on Christmas Eve was a tradition in my family as well and we've continued it with DS. I'm going to brainstorm and consider possibly turning his old pjs into pillows, ornaments, bags, or something else cool!

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DS already has tons of toys and clothes because I find deals (mostly 2nd hand) year-round and gift-giving is my "love language."

 

We're trying to save money this year and not go overboard for Christmas. Our plan is 1 big gift (a massive set of Cars Geotrax that I got on a great sale this summer), Christmas pjs to open on Christmas Eve, a new book, and a stocking filled with edibles (fruit puree pouches, olives, dried fruit) rather than more random plastic trinkets to clutter up my house. From materials we have around the house, we're also planning to make some furniture/accessories for his "mouse house" (dollhouse populated with Calico Critters).

 

We're massively scaling back our gift giving for our extended families as well. We and DH's sister would love to just exchange names for the adults, but that idea hasn't been well-received by other members of the family. So this year each adult will get something fairly small but useful like: homemade vanilla, moose-shaped pasta from IKEA, and a family/grandson photo. For my mom, I'm selecting 5 photos of DS from every month since he was born and putting them in a large album that I can add to for several years. For my dad I'm transferring all our family home videos from my childhood to DVD. My sister will get a copy as well along with some photos and homemade vanilla.

Edited by AndyJoy
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Been there!! The major budget change really affected what we gave to others because we were determined not to lessen it for our kids. It was hard but we opted out of the "silly santa exchanges"that we did with brothers/sisters, and cut way back on what we gave grandparents (but they understood). Fortunately we do a gift exchange with the cousins so instead of buying for all 15 nieces & nephews, we just buy for 4 and we buy at the lower end of the allotted spectrum. It is so hard tho to be the one to give something inexpensive! Last year my husband's siblings pitched in to give grandpa a new laptop, we couldn't, it was too much, so we gave grandpa & grandma a basket full of awesomely home baked gingerbread, sugar cookies, nuts, etc. We worked hard on it!! My kids are easier - we put our full money emphasis on them because that's where we feel it should be. They want a lot but they know to only ask for one thing, then they are surprised by the other cool things they get that they didn't expect :)

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This is an interesting thread! We are also on a much tighter Christmas budget this year since we are working on debt reduction and plan to be debt free by the end of next year - whoo! Anyway, these are my plans. My son, who will almost be 2 at Christmas, is getting a dress up tub from Santa. That will be his big gift. I have been shopping garage sales and thrift stores all year and have several different costumes already that I bought for near to nothing. My plan is to finish it off by shopping costumes after Halloween when they go on sale. Then I am going to decorate a plain banker's box with fabric and stuff I have on hand and put all the dress up clothes in it. From us, mom and dad, he will probably get a few books and stocking stuffers and that's all. We are lucky in that we have very generous parents who don't have a lot of grandkids so they will get ds toys as well. DH and I are just going to do stockings for one another. My problem always comes with extended family. How do you navigate your parents, grandparents, siblings who are still children themselves (my brother and sister are only 14 & 15). I have tried mentioning doing the "draw a name method" but I always get shot down. Usually with something like, "Oh, if you're in a pinch this year you don't have to get anyone anything." But of course THEY will still spend money on us and it makes me feel incredibly guilty :001_huh: Sorry if I am highjacking this thread but I would love suggestions! Who exactly makes your "list"?

 

We buy for all children under 18, this is something my sisters and I decided together. Siblings optional. Parents always. There is no dollar limit but I always stay $10-15 for the kids.

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I've started on the gifts for my in laws. I have to make 10 sets of whatever I send them.

 

This year I picked fabric drink coasters. I started cutting them all out on Monday. Yesterday this was what I had finished. Took the day off today and will finish the other 3 sets this week sometimes.

 

Total Cost: $0.00! I had EVERYTHING for them on hand, including the ribbon and the cardstock for the tags!

 

 

 

Now that my dh seen the finished products he's asked for a set for our home and to have a set sent to his closest buddy and his wife. :tongue_smilie:

 

I just wanted to let you know how much I admire your fabric choices. Those could totally pass as Vera Bradley items! Matching placemats might be pretty simple to make... I think I'm stealing your idea. Thanks! :D

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I literally made a spread sheet and after I purchased a gift, I wrote it on a spreadsheet under their name.

 

I do this every year, and our budget per child usually ends up being about $100-$150. My dad sends money, so they all get a part of that, too. I always make a spreadsheet, and do most of my shopping at Amazon.com.

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Haven't read past the first few posts but thought I'd chime in...

 

I do a spreadsheet like a pp mentioned. I also try to stick with 5 gifts:

Something you want.

Something you need.

Something to wear.

Something to read.

Something from Santa.

 

This is the list we use as well. It's helped me over the years to spread it out without it being a pile of toys. It's also helped all my kids see that gifts aren't just in forms of toys!:001_smile:

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I just wanted to let you know how much I admire your fabric choices. Those could totally pass as Vera Bradley items! Matching placemats might be pretty simple to make... I think I'm stealing your idea. Thanks! :D

 

THANK you!!! I use to run an etsy shop and had alot of top designer fabric scraps stashed away! Now I found a good use for them. :)

 

I'm so glad I was able to inspire you to mark some gifts off your list with this idea. :D

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So, inspired by this thread, I spent some time last night looking for ideas of things to make for my kids. They're both teens, which always makes things harder. The days of dress-up boxes and doll clothes are long gone, sadly.

 

Here's what I'm thinking of thus far.

 

For my son:

- either a scrapbook or a calendar from Shutterfly with pictures of his choir's trip to England this past summer. One of the dads was along on the trip and posted tons of photos of the kids, most of which I don't think my son has seen. I think he'd enjoy reminiscing and sharing stories with us prompted by the pictures.

- herbal-infused honey. This kid loves honey on toast and fruit. And he's a wanna-be foodie. So, I was thinking this might be fun.

 

For my daughter:

- a Shutterfly calendar with pictures of our dog, whom she adores. I'm thinkiing I'll start with puppy pictures in January and move up through the months more or less chronologically. I'm hoping to take a Christmas-themed picture of the dog to use as the December photo.

- herbal hot oil treatments for her hair (I've saved some recipes and ideas.)

- reversible bag like this one: http://verypurpleperson.com/2010/04/making-reversible-bag/

 

And for each of them:

- a blank journal with a personalized cover (like this: http://www.homemadegiftguru.com/homemade-journal.html)

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SORRY if this thread is depressing some of you!! I'm actually finding it very inspiring!

 

I just had ALOT of fun scanning the thrift store lastnight while my 3 kiddos were enjoying AWANA. I found the PERFECT briefcase for my dd7 and all her stationary/scrapbook items I've been picking up here and there. I was over the moon to see it was in EXCELLENT condition and I snagged it for $4! I also found her a nice EXCELLENT shape warm and cozy purple with butterflies ROBE! She loves butterflies and her favorite color is purple!! I snagged it for $3.50! Even though I walked out spending less than $8, I was able to mark some pretty big things off the list!

 

We don't do much candy if any at all on Christmas since I bake cookies and pies. For Easter we do candy and the kids and hubby are Gluten Free Vegetarian's. So finding candy that fits that category can be tough. For those of you that have allergies or children with allergies here are some of our favorite treats! They are all gluten free vegan OR gluten free vegetarian. No artificial dyes which is a BIG deal here and they are not GMO either! I personally have only tested the products that are gluten free vegan friendly. I like to buy most things vegan instead of vegetarian because I want to have some too. :tongue_smilie:

 

Animal Crackers - I buy these once a month. I purchase these ONLY for AWANA snacks for the kids to take with them since the options for snacks for kids with specialty diets is kind of hard for many teachers to find anything affordable to make for an entire class.

Vanilla http://www.vitacost.com/orgran-gluten-free-mini-outback-animals-fun-packs

Chocolate http://www.vitacost.com/orgran-gluten-free-mini-outback-animals-fun-packs-chocolate

 

Gummy Snacks - We get the organic as they are vegan. But the swirls are vegan too but not organic, which we love those too. The kids each get their own bag in their stockings and a bag in their Easter basket. That's the ONLY time we buy these.

http://www.vitacost.com/productResults.aspx?x=0&y=0&ntk=products&ss=1&Ntt=Surf%20Sweets

 

Lollipops or Hard Candy - My kids like the watermelon and strawberry the most. My dh LOVES the rootbeer hard candies in his stocking each year! :) I buy 1 SMALL bag of strawberry and split them between the kids for stockings. On Easter they each get their own bag.

http://www.vitacost.com/productResults.aspx?previousText=Surf+Sweets&ss=1&x=0&y=0&ntk=products&Ntt=Yummy%20Earth

 

Gum - This is new so we haven't tried it yet, but it's in my cart to TEST out with the kids. I won't be eating it as it contains beeswax. The kids are vegetarians so they don't mind.

http://www.vitacost.com/productResults.aspx?previousText=Yummy+Earth&ss=1&x=0&y=0&ntk=products&Ntt=Spry

Edited by mamaofblessings
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These threads are so depressing. Maybe because I love giving gifts.

 

 

LOL. What in the world would make you think the rest of us don't?

 

I love giving meaningful, purposeful, intentional, well thought out, personal gifts.... Usually handmade inspire me the most. Why would limiting gifts due to a budget or being creative or being handmade be depressing? Odd.

 

Making socks (@ a cost about double what a pair of socks from Wal-Mart would cost) isn't cheap - it's personal.

 

Taking five hours to sew a gift isn't depressing, it's thoughtful.

 

Limiting to what you can actually afford isn't being stingy, it allows you to be joyful without being worried about January's bills. It allows you joy in the moment.

 

I *do* resent when a certain family member requests expensive gifts. I try not to because I love the family member, but I feel that she thinks if we really loved her, we'd spent it. It feels like a test. That truly does suck the joy right out of it. We do handmade. We often do inexpensive. When we do expensive it is only because it fits someone niche - like DD's violin.

 

A budget NEVER means not personal, often the exact opposite. It usually means deeply personal because you have limited amount, what you do get has to be extra meaningful! ;)

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LOL. What in the world would make you think the rest of us don't?

 

I love giving meaningful, purposeful, intentional, well thought out, personal gifts.... Usually handmade inspire me the most. Why would limiting gifts due to a budget or being creative or being handmade be depressing? Odd.

 

Making socks (@ a cost about double what a pair of socks from Wal-Mart would cost) isn't cheap - it's personal.

 

Taking five hours to sew a gift isn't depressing, it's thoughtful.

 

Limiting to what you can actually afford isn't being stingy, it allows you to be joyful without being worried about January's bills. It allows you joy in the moment.

 

I *do* resent when a certain family member requests expensive gifts. I try not to because I love the family member, but I feel that she thinks if we really loved her, we'd spent it. It feels like a test. That truly does suck the joy right out of it. We do handmade. We often do inexpensive. When we do expensive it is only because it fits someone niche - like DD's violin.

 

A budget NEVER means not personal, often the exact opposite. It usually means deeply personal because you have limited amount, what you do get has to be extra meaningful! ;)

 

Perfectly said!:grouphug:

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Aside from our immediate family (me, dh, kids) We give gifts to most of our parents, which include my mom, my dad & stepmom, and dh's mom. His dad and stepmom opted out a few years ago. We also give gifts to all the nieces and nephews (total 7) and typically my brother and SIL. I have a better relationship with my dh's brother and wife, and we agree to just spend money on the kids - not the adults. And my grandmothers get gifts. Unfortunately three of these people had the audacity to be born +/-12 days from Christmas, so that adds extra gifts.

 

All the gifts for "outside" family really do add up, so in past years, we've done the family photo as a gift, which works well for parents and grandparents.

 

This year, for my brother's five kids, I'm going to make puppet theater as an everybody gift: http://craftycupboard.blogspot.com/2010/12/handmade-2doorway-puppet-theatre.html. I think I'll print some characters on card stock and laminate them and them attach them to sticks for easy puppets.

 

For the adults this year, I'm going to have my oldest make coasters which I saw from another poster on an earlier Christmas thread (http://allsorts.typepad.com/allsorts/2006/11/crisscross_coas.html); my middle child will make hot cocoa mix and i'll put it all together in a basket with mugs and k-cups of tea and coffee (selected by the youngest so she has a part in it). Voila! Homemade inexpensive gifts from the kids.

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Our younger 2 have Jan bdays and we are strongly considering a Lego robotics kit for Xmas/bday for both.

For our 3 adult kids- it's going to be simple, or we'll go intogether on stuff. Last year the 3younger kids went in on a netbook for our now 22 yo.

I did get some Playmobile for 70% off ;)

And they've all asked for Nutella -lol!

DD 22 has gotten into knitting lately so gifts might go to supporting that habit.

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I have NO idea what our budget is going to be, but it is small. Here is what we're going to try this year!

 

We're going to choose categories of gifts and then get each child one item in that category.

 

For example, "Favorite Snacks" or munchies is one category and we know what each child loves. Ds18 is a huge Skittles fan so he will get a big bag of those. Dd17 loves Haribo gummy bears....etc. We have a GREAT candy store near us that has every candy under the sun.

 

Every year our kids love that we wrap gifts for each person in ONE kind of wrapping paper and they just search for packages in "their" paper. So this year we're going to change it up (without telling them) and wrap each category of gifts in the same paper. With names on them, of course, but for some reason my kids get a kick out of finding their gifts. We could do a scavenger hunt with clues for some of them, too! My kids would eat that up, even the teens. LOL

 

Another category might be Music and we can do either CDs (we still use a stereo and CD player sometimes) or iTunes gift cards, etc. My kids all like very different music styles, which is fun! Actually, we could do a "DOWNLOAD" category and "give" each child a downloaded movie, show, music, video game or even software that I can find for a really good deal! Then just give the clue to what it is in a little wrapped box or something.

 

One category could be Hobby and I know what I'm doing for my middle dd: Get her the needed ingredients to make 2-3 new dessert recipes (all chocolate baked good, btw, LOL) so that she can bake on her own. My other dd likes to knit and always loves new yarn.

 

All of these items are NOT expensive and then I go a little nuts with candy and goodies in the stockings because we do not usually buy candy at any time of year other than Halloween! lol

 

We celebrate Advent, so that is something fun we do all month long, too!

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