Here are some ideas and tips for celebrating Christmas on a budget, including some gift ideas and yummy recipes for homemade gifts!
Christmas On A Budget – Gift Ideas, Tips And Recipes
With consumers’ fears of a financial squeeze, many people think that a nice Christmas is out of the picture this year. But I say “Not so!” Here are a few ideas to help make Christmas memorable without breaking the bank!
- Go Potluck! You buy the turkey — Have everyone else bring the side dishes and drinks. Turkeys in our area are .59/lb this time of year. If you buy just the turkey, it will only cost you about $10-$15 to feed everyone for a large family gathering.
- Celebrate Christmas the week after Christmas. Take advantage of the after Christmas sales and plan your large extended family gathering for the week after Christmas. Besides being less expensive, it is unlikely to interfere with anyone else’s Christmas plans.
- Don’t give gifts or give inexpensive gifts to hairstylists, babysitters, teachers and others. I found several wonderful small scented jar candles on clearance for .25 each. I will put three of them in a small basket (purchased at the thrift store for .25) with some tissue paper, ribbon and nice note. A great gift for $1.25!
- Break up gift sets. If you find an item that comes in a gift set at Christmas, give parts of it to different recipients. This is great for bath or perfume sets.
- Yard sales and thrift stores equal great savings. You can find a lot of new or nearly new items for pennies on the dollar. For our son, we found a working telescope in the box. It cost $1.00, so we saved $24! He got what he wanted and we didn’t have to take out a home equity loan!
- Make memories, not more junk. Most kids get more than plenty for Christmas from grandparents, aunts and uncles. If you can only afford one gift for your child, make it a memory! Wrap a note in a box with instructions for a treasure hunt.. Send your child all over the house with clues and then have the real gift sitting under the tree when they return. Simple, but a great memory for them!
Here are some more great recipes for Christmas!Print
Whoopie Pies – Mint Chocolate Cookies Recipe
This Whoopie Pies recipe makes tasty mint chocolate cookies that have been a popular dessert for a long time! They’re easy to make and your whole family will love them!
2/3 cup butter or margarine, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup milk
2 cups flour
3/4 cup baking cocoa
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
- Preheat oven to 375°.
- Cream butter and sugar.
- Add milk and eggs.
- Combine the dry ingredients.
- Add to the creamed mixture and mix well.
- Cover and chill for 2 hours until firm.
- Roll the dough on a floured surface to about 1/8 inch thick.
- Cut with a 1-1/2 inch cookie cutter and place 1 inch apart on greased cookie sheet.
- Bake for 5-6 minutes or until edges are lightly brown.
- Cool on racks.
- Combine filling ingredients.
- Spread on half of the cookies, then top with the other halves.
(This recipe may not sound appealing with vinegar in the title but it really is yummy. For something different this year, try having an old fashioned taffy pull! It’s a great party for teens or adults. Use different taffy recipes and play fun, silly games or watch a Christmas movie while eating the candy you made along with popcorn and cookies.)Print
Homemade Old Fashioned Vinegar Taffy Recipe
- Yield: 8 dozen
2 cups dark corn syrup
1 cup sugar
2 Tbsp. butter
1 Tbsp. vinegar
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. vanilla or other flavoring
- Combine the first four ingredients in a saucepan.
- Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly until the sugar dissolves. Continue cooking to 260°.
- Remove from heat.
- Stir in baking soda, vanilla and a few drops of food coloring.
- Beat until smooth and creamy.
- Pour into a buttered pan.
- When cool enough to handle, butter your hands and pull until light in color.
- Pull into long strips and cut into 1 inch pieces.
Herbed vinegars make great gifts especially if you want to give something different than the sweets most people get at this time of year. They’re also good for those who have to watch their sugar. Don’t forget the cooks in your life too!
If you’re trying to make it in time for Christmas, you’ll want to make it soon as it needs to age before it is used.
2 cup white vinegar
1 cup fresh herbs: basil, mint, dill, rosemary, chives or oregano (choose one)
Decide which herb you’d like to flavor your vinegar. Place the vinegar in a glass jar or bottle. Add herbs, seal and let steep for 2-4 weeks. The longer you let it steep, the stronger the vinegar. Remove herbs and put in 2 or 3 sprigs of the herb for decoration. Seal bottle with cork and then pour melted paraffin around the top and tie with a ribbon for gift giving. Makes 2 cups.
My Mom and Dad set up a treasure hunt for my sister and I one Christmas. We looked in our stockings and each had a couple of small gifts under the tree to open. Then we had one small gift with both of our names on it. Inside was the first clue for the treasure hunt. We were sent all over the house looking for our gifts. The final clue led us to the garage and in the cab of my Dad’s pickup truck was a gift for each of us. For both of us, it was the gift we had asked for, and we hadn’t thought we were getting because it was not wrapped and under the tree. LOL! It was such fun and a great memory! I should figure out how to do that for my kids this year!
I want to share a new recipe that was introduced to me by a co-worker last week. It’s a yummy holiday treat recipe that is SO easy to make!
1 bag of mini pretzels (look for mini star pretzels at Christmas)
1 bag of Rolos candies, unwrapped
M&Ms or Hershey’s Kissables
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Place pretzels on an ungreased cookie sheet. Place unwrapped Rolos on top of pretzels and bake for 3 minutes. You don’t want them too melted. Remove from oven and push pecan half or candy halfway down into the melted Rolo. Be sure to share so you don’t eat them all yourself!
My co-worker made these in the microwave at work last week but I don’t know how long she put them in for. I made these for my hubby and kids over the weekend and did them in the oven and they are SO yummy! It’s just like a turtle! They don’t last too long. :)
My kids also told me this weekend that my Mom makes something like that for them when they visit. She uses pretzels with a Hershey’s Kiss on top of each one and bakes them in the oven for a few minutes. Mom has apparently been holding out on me because she never made these for me. LOL! I will have to try it with the Hershey’s Kisses also.
Try the Rolo Pretzels, they are awesome and you won’t believe how easy they are to make. Your families will be impressed! :)
What are Rolos? I’m not familiar with that product.
They are in with the candy bars. They come in a roll and are soft caramel covered in chocolate. They are sort of like a milk dud but softer and come in a round roll. Actually I haven’t tried them but now that I think about it a milk dud might work too.
Oh, P.S. to the Rolo Pretzel post…if anyone is wondering, Hershey’s Kissables are miniature chocolate candies shaped like Hershey’s Kisses and coated in a hard, colorful candy shell.
Rolos are not easy to find here so I am wondering if caramilk bars would work the same.
Going to try those need to go shopping anyway.
hope they will be ready as we are having a friend over for dinner and he is bringing the dinner. Chinese food which we love but I usually make it all so take out will be a wonderful change.
Just him dropping in would be just as nice but he says he feels guilty with coming over every weekend and me cooking for him. So he is insisting on bringing dinner.
He is a bachelor and since I love to cook I love him coming over. He also does not mind cat hair all over his black clothes when he leaves.
grizzly bear mom
1. Love the Christmas potluck. It not only saves the hostess time and money it ensures the guests have something they like to eat!
2. I would call waiting a week to celbrate, celebrating Three Kings Day/Epifany. Fabulous idea to save at after Christmas sales and only purchase what they didn’t receive from others.
Not to make fun of the suggestion of pot luck Christmas but I thought that was how Christmas dinner was for everyone.
At my grandparents grandma and Aunt Marg would have the turkey and all the aunts brought the rest of the food.
There were at least 40 people children and all so 2 people could not possibly cook enough in a week to feed everyone.
We had the farthest to travel so we brought the buns so that if we didn’t make it due to weather it was not a big deal grandma just brought buns from the freezer.
Every time we would get together it was pot luck and the food was always wonderful because the aunts always made what they did best.
Potatoes were brought peeled and in water so were the carrots and turnips and they were put on to cook on the wood stove. So we had all the smells of christmas dinner just not a lot of the work.
My first big family dinner at my husbands family I brought a couple main course things and everyone thought it was strange because Mom always did it all. Seemed strange to me as there were 6 kids who could have helped her out.
different ideas maybe that don’s mom was raised in the city and my mom was raised on the farm where all the chores were done by everyone where as don’s mom was used to doing most of the cooking and stuff since she was the oldest.
In my thinking pot luck is the only way to go.
That’s the way our family does it too . Way too many of us for one person too do all the cooking and baking , not too mention the expense being put all on one person . Most of us bring not only a side dish but , a dessert as well and help with the clean up too
I love the potluck idea. I have been doing all the cooking, cleaning and decorating for years by myself,because, that is the way my Mother always did it. Now that my children are growen, it is becoming to much for me. I think this year will be the start of a new tradition. A week after Christmas is fine for me also. That way the kids can spend Christmas with their spouses family, and allow me to save extra money. I have that week off so it will work out beautifully for me. Thanks so much for the idea and help. It is truely a blessing for me to see this.
Busy Beekeeper mom
We celebrated Christmas with the tree and all but small gifts, and a big focus on God;s Gift to us, Christ and the salvation He delivered 33 years later. Big gifts did not come until afterthe after Christmas/year end sales, when we celebrated “little Christmas” in early January, the date of Orthydox/eastern Christmas, when traditionally the Wise Men arrived bearing gifts according to the eastern church traditions. Muchcheaper.
We all share in providing the Christmas meal. The hostess coordinates the menu. What each one usually bring is what makes it special to ourselves. I like to bring what my Grandma used to make. We end up with a balanced meal.
A long time ago, a friend of mine told me about how they exchange gifts on Epiphany. I thought that was great, but not everyone has that day off, so we moved it to New Year’s Day. I really like the extra week to prepare gifts and take advantage of sales if I actually get out shop. We don’t do it up big. I like to make little things for each person. One year it was the hooded scarves that I mentioned in the comments after “gifts under $1” article. Polar fleece pajama pants don’t take a lot of time to make and it’s such a good price this time of year!
This year I get an extra week, because part of our family will be out of town.
Thank you for bringing these ideas out!
Mama to 8 and Grandma to 5
We have always done potluck because my husband and I come from big families. It would be insane to do it any other way. Also, everybody brings their “best”…..yummmmm. As far as Christmas gifts I bought many gifts last year after Christmas (really good sales). Have been crafting, and sewing. And for my little ones I found a beautiful wooden kitchen on Craigslist that is basically brand new…cost $200 last Christmas, and cost me $40. Everything else has been found at garage sales. Big metal dump truck $5 vs. $50+
American girl doll with extras $25 vs. $100+
Set of little people $1 vs. $25……think ahead and save big. On top of that, my little ones don’t expect me to be getting toys at garage sales so they don’t beg and badger. When they start asking in oct. I just say everything is done…wait….and see. This year everything they have asked for is wrapped up downstairs, or out in the shed. I do like the scavenger hunts. My parents had no money when I was young (farming in the ’80’s didn’t pay well). They hid our gifts in the clothes dryer one year, and many years we watched for rhudolfs red flashing nose (airplanes). If you make it fun and everybody uses a bit of imagination it doesn’t have to be all about “stuff”. I also buy crafting supplies during school sales and wrap presents with fabric that I bought on sale years ago, and reuse it each year…some has been been made into bags, some used flat with tape. This year we will spend $150 dollars on Christmas gifts…we have 3 children, all of our parents and a few gifts for each other. Really keeping costs down is about planning, thinking, and using your imagination, and talents.
I was looking through a craft book I got at the thrift shop and they used the cinnamon decoration recipe you have here. (which I couldn’t find to post this with it.)
They made little gingerbread children and then took craft paper and tissue paper to put clothes on the little dears.
I was thinking that if you made the little ones out of felt or card board you could make a wardrobe for them and give them as gifts. They would be like the old cut out dolls we used to get out of mcCalls magazines or at the dept. stores in kits.
I did this with bears made out of wood with velcro to hold the wooden dresses and pants for the boy bear and they were always a big hit.
Sometimes the old is new again and a lot easier to make now adays.
If you have little ones they would have great fun decorating the clothes and they could give them to their friends so they could play together with them.
There are a lot of cute ideas but I can’t post the pictures but I can give the rough idea and then you can use your imagination to make them your own idea. If anyone is interested.
My biggest money saver for Christmas gifts for smaller children- If it requires batteries, we don’t buy it. We save the long-term expense of constantly buying batteries and the kids get “real” toys that require imagination and creativity to play with. We ease up as they get older and want things like cameras, but no expensive electronic toys that eat batteries and break within a few months!
We always did the same no battery toys.
I broke that rule this year. Found the cutest doll for my granddaughter in China and just couldn’t resist her. She talks saying things like bye bye, I love you, night night. All sorts of things like that in English. Nothing complicated. She runs on batteries and as you move around she speaks. I figured the english was good as my son is the main one for speaking english to her.
It takes triple A batteries so we sent a large pack along with the gift. Batteries in china are not good apparently.
This is one of the few times I broke the rule though and the little ones we buy for never seemed to miss them.
Lynda don’t you know that grandmas are allowed to break all of the rules when it comes to buying presents. : ) Anyway that is what I keep telling my grown kids. I too try to stay away from battery things but sometimes a grandma has to do what a grandma has to do if she finds a perfect present. : )
I read somewhere on the site last year about giving four gifts and now cant seem to locate the article. I know one of them was something to read and have been hunting all year for the perfect books for each of my nieces and nephews but cant remember what the other three were. May have been a victorian Christmas… Any help would be awesome.
Boy Amber I remember the one you are talking about but can’t remember what they were either. It was a comment from one of our readers. If anyone else remembers please help us out.
something you want, something you need, something you wear and something you read.
a read, a need, a want, can’t recall the 4th.
always give a read
a need but to small children never clothes. husband said no way so that became a tradition. no clothes.
a want is a must.
the post might be in the gift giving a different mindset.
seem to remember it there posted by someone.
Please forgive me if I am wrong..but I think it was “Something they want,something they need, something to wear,& something to read.”
I think you got it.
couldn’t remember the wear.
in our house we overload the read and things to wear are given before or just after christmas or birthdays.
but the 4 really is a good way to figure out gifts tha mean a lot more than just clutter.
So nice and so simple. I like that!
I used to hear that saying growing up also. At our house it was: something they want, something they need, something to play with, and something to read. We usually buy clothing as needed or I might keep a piece or two back from thrift store shopping as a special treat. And usually Christmas Eve means new jammies. Tawra and Jill- keep up the great work!! This year has been one of your best for Christmas ideas. Thank you so much!! Have a blessed holiday season.
Laurie I too believe that everyone should have new Christmas jammies. I use to love making matching ones for my kids when they were little.
I too believe in pj’s at christmas eve. but we never claimed them to be christmas presents.
Don always said no clothes and when I found out why I could see his phobia of them as gifts.
christmas morning everyone was opening presents and were getting new sweaters or pants or dresses. He bing the youngest boy would open his and there was a hand me down from his 2 older brothers. The girls got new because of the difference in sizes. His mother said well that is new to you so don’t complain.
Not a motherly sort of person. So no clothes are ever given as a gift unless the person asked for it specifically.
giving a child something that was an older sibling and calling it a gift just doesn’t feel right to me.
thrift store finds are great and even things from a cousin in another town are wonderful. but janey’s old sweater is not a great wonderful gift for younger sister mary.
just my feelings on gifts.
2nd hand fine,
passed to a sibling as a gift is not fine.
even toys can be changed up so each child feels they are made just for them. that is great. paint a bike, or larger toy to make it new and wonderful to a child.
Gift phobias are funny. Tawra on her first birthday got a very large soft quilt from my mom that she drug around and loved for years so I could hardly wait for my first grandbaby to be born and to give one to them on their first birthday. I was so proud of that quilt and gave it to my grandson but when he opened it I saw the look of horror on my daughter in laws face even though she tried to cover it up. I didn’t know what was wrong.
Well I finally found out that her grandma never gave her anything but quilt every year for her birthday and all she wanted was a toy. What she didn’t realize at the time is I wouldn’t dream of giving just a quilt or clothes for a give to a child – I still remember what it was like – and always give toys too. We laugh about it to this day.
I still gave them all a drag around quilt on their first birthday and they all love them so much. My one grandson is 8 and loves his still so much I every 6 months or so have to patch it. It now has about 5 layers of patches on top of patches.
Yes gift phobias are funny. Me, I love anything.
We pass them on as they are outgrown on one end, and grown into at the other end. That’s kinda’ like giving someone a used coloring book as a gift. Gifts should be new or fresh.
It really depends on what it is. Somethings should be new but other things can be used. For example Tawra loves gnomes and I can find some cute ones at the thrift store that aren’t sold any more and she loves them because the are different then what everyone is selling in the stores. My son collects Superman things and he likes the old things better then the new. Then there are things like a shirt with a funny saying on it that was perfect for my grandson that I found at the thrift store I couldn’t find it in a store. We had so much fun over it and some funny mugs I found for Tawra and were dying laughing over them on Christmas Eve.
Also my grand kids don’t want us to buy them new things. They know if we buy used they get 4 times as many presents and that is a plus to them. Now that doesn’t mean we buy nothing but used for gifts. We buy lots of new too. Once again it goes to balance and depends on what it is.
What I meant by fresh, is new to you or the house. Last year I found a sweater vest for my history teacher son. I got it a thrift store. It was pilly, but I shaved the pills off so it looks like new. He likes it! Hand-me-downs work where they are welcome.
I have remade skirts that were my sister’s for my nieces. My sister-in-law remakes her old clothes into skirts and aprons for her nieces. They are all welcome. No, I don’t have anything against used, but they do have to be thoughtful.
No jammies this year, they have plenty! It is normally tradition though. Next year well get back on track. Thank you so much for refreshing my memory.
While out wandering the stores today. only went to 2 of the 6 stores available. But I was in the decoration section it is right next to the toys and I saw a really neat original idea for decorating the tree.
The idea was a ball of wool and they had sewed buttons onto it in random patterns.
This was done to look like a ball of wool that you wind up yourself.
I was thinking anyone with scrap wool could make them in all sizes and colours sew a few buttons or pin brooches onto them and make a really interesting tree or centre piece.
Absolutely no cost and the sky is the limit on the varieties you could have.
Just thought I would pass this on. If we were decorating I could leave my wool out on display and call it christmas decorating.
I thought you might like this recipe for a Christmas Gift.
It’s called “Make-Believe Marzipan”. Marzipan is a candylike sweet that is especially popular in Germany and Austria at Christmas-time. Traditionally it is a rich and expensive confection made of sugar and almonds ground to a paste, that is shaped into miniature fruits, vegetables, and other small figures. Make-believe marzipan costs much less to make and are entirely edible.
1 very small potato
1 (16oz) box of powdered sugar
1/2 cup ground almonds and 1/2 teaspoon almond flavoring
1/3 cup crushed cookie crumbs and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Wash, peel and cook potato in salted water until tender as you would for mashed potatoes. Run cold water over potato after cooking to make it cool enough to handle. Mash it in mixing bowl. Add powdered sugar, a little at a time and knead witn hands. It will be like a thick, creamy paste, like frosting. Don’t add the whole pound of sugar if potato is very small. Judge yourself. If you add the ground almonds instead of the crushed cookie crumbs it will be more like real marzipan, but the cookie crumbs taste good too. Add flavoring (extract). The dough will end up like clay. Roll pieces between your palms into small balls about the size of a quarter. Shape into apples, stawberries, lemons, carrots, or other fruits or vegetables. Place on a sheet of waxed paper. Put a few drops of water in a cup and a few drops of food coloring. With clean, unused brush, paint fruits, combining colors if necessary. Let dry and then store in air-tight container until ready to eat or give as gifts.
As I have said here I am giving nibbler trays to some friends this year.
I am in the process of making meat balls. small ones for toothpick eating or for putting into sauces.
One tip I remembered from a cooking show was to take some of the mixture and cooking it in microwave for 30 seconds. Then take it out and test the flavour. Saves the work of making them if they are not going to taste good. You can change the mix raw but it is not possible after you have cooked 50 meatballs or made 4 meat loaves.
Glad I did this time as they were so bland even the cats didn’t want it.
just a reminder for saving money and time.
Out of the last 5 years we have hosted my husband’s family for Christmas dinner. We always host my family as we have the largest home. My husband’s family adds up to about 23 people. Again we have a large house. My husband I do the turkey, ham and potatoes and veggies. His sister bring coleslaw and rolls and his mother(a pastry cook) brings pies.
We don’t seem to notice any additional work because we have a small kitchen,therefore only one or two people can be in there at one time. We don’t have to worry about stepping on someone else. The food brought is all ready to be put on the table and this makes it easier to “call” everyone to the table.
My sister-in-law and I have made an agreement that every other year she will host on Christmas day and I will host on Boxing day. On the year that we don’t host, my sister-in-law makes me sit and enjoy everyone and when we host I do the same for her because I know how hard she will work next year. I found having two dinners two days in a row was too much for me. I tire easily.
Christmas is all about family and every family member should be allowed to enjoy it.
As far as the pretzels/rolos…you can also use the square pretzels with a caramel square on top of that, and a bit of milk or white almond bark on top. Heat just until they melt. So good and easy! It’s best if you use parchment paper underneath so the caramel doesn’t stick.
Potlucks are great! My sister is allergic to starch (potatoes and apples) when peeling, and Mom has a hard time with her arthritis, so I do all the potatoes…usually 15 lbs. worth. My nieces LOVE potatoes and could eat several pounds each. I also usually do a couple of vegetables. My sister usually does the meat, and my mom makes bread (the best ever!). My brother loves to bake, so he often brings pies or cakes along with my mom. We always have plenty of left overs to take home for everyone.
Mom is getting older and having less energy to decorate, so my husband sets up her tree and I, along with our son and maybe a couple of nieces, go over one evening and decorate the tree. I enjoy doing that and she loves that she doesn’t have to do it. She also doesn’t really like to wrap gifts and I LOVE to wrap gifts. I’ll go over one or two nights between Thanksgiving and Christmas and set up a wrapping station in her huge dining room and wrap all the gifts for her. She will put them in piles of what belongs to who, and I have her fill out the tags to put on the gifts. She doesn’t decorate much anymore, except for the tree and some things on the dining room table. She often gives us kids her decorations each year; that special candy dish, etc. One year she gave all the “1st” ornaments for each of the older grandkids who have graduated from college and have homes of their own. She’s trying to give things away while she’s alive so she can enjoy seeing the receipients’ faces. We are trying to get her to cut down on the gifts, and we are finally making progress. She told me this year for the older kids she was giving them a gift card.
We also do a stocking stuffer for everyone instead of a gift. With such a large family and the kids getting gifts from their parents, grandparents and aunts and uncles, it’s just overwhelming. We have a maximum of $5 on a stocking gift, but if it is something someone makes or is some find at a garage sale, that’s fine, too. My sister, Mom and I were spending about $100-$200 each on stockings for everyone and it just cost too much. Now, we spend much less and don’t have as much “junk” and candy. We also do a family Bingo on New Year’s Eve, when all the family is in town. Everyone buys or makes gifts and wraps. Winners get to pick out a gift. It can be stolen up to 2 times, then it’s frozen at the 3rd person. some gifts we “fight” over and some we want to get rid of! :) It’s lots of fun, though.
My sister lets her daughters open one gift on Christmas Eve…pajamas.
I’d say “no” to hand-me-downs for Christmas as far as older siblings clothes. It’s nothing special for the kid getting the used gift, unless they specify to their sibling they want it. Parents shouldn’t do that! As far as used clothes from Good Will or some place like that, I’d say that’d be okay as long as the item is in good condition. It’s still new to the house.
My sister started about 5 years ago hosting the Thanksgiving meal and Mom hosts Christmas meal. Both have large homes and can accommodate everyone. I certainly don’t mind taking food, since I don’t have to try to cram everyone in my little house.
I guess it all depends on where you come from, and what you have grown up with. When I was a kid, getting clothes for Christmas was a treat indeed. It rarely happened, and when it did, it was usually a sweater (store bought) from my grandmother. We didn’t have nearly enough to wear, so anything second hand would be well received. I do think it is unfair for a child to receive a household hand-me-down, and that is all at Christmas. My neighbour’s husband said it was wrong to give any clothes at Christmas, even if they were brand new. Guess he had a bad experience. What I usually got was a “comb, brush, and mirror” set every year. We only got one gift each, so that was it. I desperately wanted a spirograph, or an etch-a-sketch. One year my younger sister got the coveted spirograph, and she wasn’t particularly interested in it. (It was too mature for her), while I got another comb, brush, and mirror set (this one was for my well worn doll). How I envied my sister. The lesson is to know your gift recipients, and give the best gift you can that shows that.
Grizzly Bear Mom
I received hand me downs from cousins, 3 old sisters and strangers all year long, but any Christmas clothes were new. Thank Goodness! I think that children get too many gifts. A few good things such as the equivalent to a spirograph, nice doll, roller skates, etc are good. Lots of little crappy gifts such as candy for 12 aunts is a senseless waste of the child’s attention for Christmas and the aunts’ time and money. tI like giving sweat pants and shirts as pjs because you can wear them during the day too. (I wear mine to the dog park the next morning. (The woman go au natural, the men shower and shave before going. I wonder why?) I read that 33% of people don’t read books after graduating from high school and 43% don’t read books after college so one year I gave every one a book from the dollar store or goodwill. They weren’t happy even though they were gifts and not exchanges. Oh well. I think that the Christmas pot luck only is fair and used to help my mom with preparing everything until I got chronic tendinitis. Now I just bring wine. Why should the hostess bare all the stress, expense and work?
When our boys were 5 and 8, they found lots of books on their Dad’s interests/hobbies at the library book sale for a quarter each. I think they were more excited to see Dad open his presents on Christmas Eve than they were to receive their own.
At the school I attended, there was a rule that teachers did not accept Christmas presents, only cards. As a teacher, I still think that’s a good idea.
Reading all of these posts I realize more and more how much money I waste. I thought I was pretty good but I’m realizing I’m lacking imagination. My father would take my sister and I to thrift stores. The things we would bring home would horrify my mother every time. I got the idea thrift stores were disgusting. A few yrs ago we moved to a very rural area. Our sweet old neighbor loved the thrift store and had me drive her at least 1x week. I had gained 30lbs and needed clothes. When we went I bought plenty of clothes for $.25 each. Really nice designer sweaters etc. I only paid $5 for whole new wardrobe. I know God blessed me. I am a believer of thrift stores now. I’m also realizing from all the posts and comments that I don’t have to wait for the $ to buy the expensive decorations I thought I had to have or go without(always going without) in order to decorate for Xmas etc. I am so very thankful for all of you!!
Just re-read this post, and I wanted to tell you that I took the “Something they want, something they need, something to wear, something to read” rule to heart last year. I purchased books for myself. I usually get a book for the husband, but I have never bought a book for myself for Christmas Day. I bought three craft books from a discount distributer before Christmas, but never read them (just wrapped them up for myself) and put them under the tree. What a treat! I almost never get books as gifts, and though I knew the books were there, it didn’t spoil the surprise on Christmas Day. After opening the presents, when there was a lull in our celebrations, I curled up with my books, and a fresh cup of coffee, while I waited for the big dinner to cook. I plan on doing it again this year.
We have ALWAYS done the potluck thing for any holiday or family gathering. My mom comes from a large family (she has 5 siblings), and my husband too (he has 6 siblings). When we all get together, we’re 30+ people for each of those families, if only the siblings and their kids/grandkids come (my husband’s family is edging close to 40). Not only is that expensive, but it’s *a lot* of work for one person (or host family) to do all that food prep. Generally, the host family cooks the turkey and does the gravy, and generally provides the beverages. Everything else is divided up among the remaining families. Generally someone volunteers to bring appetizers too. It just makes things easier and less overwhelming for all involved.
We just don’t do it at holidays either – my husband’s family gets together about every other month for communal birthday celebrations (there’s so many of us that there’s usually 2-8 people having a birthday at a time, depending on the time of year). We also divide up the “party food” among the participating families, one person bring a cake, one person a veggie tray, one person drinks and paper plates, etc. It’s simply how you have to function with large families in order to stay sane!
These are all good reminders to me! We have been working on living within our means recently. We don’t have crazy credit card debt or anything, but we are living on one income and are halfway through a surprise pregnancy (baby no. 2). Most of our extended family has money and plenty of stuff, but it has become clear to my husband and me that the stuff really just adds stress. I made a great deal on the main gift for our toddler’s Christmas (saved $60, thanks to using Ibotta this year) and I was tempted to spend some of our savings on another big gift for him. My sweet husband gently reminded me that he is way too small to even deal with that many big gifts and that we had agreed to smaller Christmases for our kids. One big/main gift plus stockings. Like you said, grandmas definitely get nice gifts and he really doesn’t need to have that much stuff.
Long story short, thanks for reminding me about not spending so much.
You guys are starting out just right and being very smart. One thing too that many parents and grandparents don’t realize that if they start out too big (and too much) with baby one and two that if more come along the first couple of children/grandchildren will expect the same amount or more next year and in a couple of years you could have 6-8 more children/grandchildren to buy for and it will be hard to cut back. It will be disappointing for the first couple of kids who are use to getting more. So start very small. Your husband is right too in the fact that I go to buy shampoo and can become so overwhelmed with choices and I am an adult so can you imagine what a young child feels like with so many choices of toys to pick from and to be responsible for.
I love homemade gifts. I like to make them and receive them wether they be food or otherwise. I always have. I think that it shows not that someone is cheap but that someone thought enough to come up with something to give and the time to make it. Not so with my stepsons. I used to do cookies and jars of their favorite jams for them, but I met with such unfavorable comments that I quit doing it. We have always give them money in addition to the gift I made but it seemed that they were only interested in getting the cash and then leaving as soon as possible. I would like to spend Christmas on our own but my husband does not want to exclude them.
I am a teacher. I do not expect gifts. The best gift you can give a teacher, especially an untenured one, is a letter of praise, with a copy sent to the principal and the superintendent of the district. I will caution anyone not to give homemade food. I have seen most of it thrown away. Many of my colleagues are on a diet, have allergies, or are concerned with the cleanliness of the kitchen or how hygienic the cooking practices were.