I can tell that Christmas is right around the corner not just because all the stores are starting to set up their displays – and are already selling artificial Christmas trees. But, because I have started receiving emails asking for ideas to celebrate the holidays when you have very little money. Instead of responding to each one individually I thought I would share some ideas here.
As a mother I know the desire to create magical experiences where the memories will last my children’s lifetime! Not having the money to be able to provide a Christmas experience (Yes, that means more than just gifts) would be stressful, but all is not lost – I promise that with a little creativity and some planning – you have have the best Christmas ever!
Note- Let me just take a second to say this before I get a million messages – YES, I know that the Holidays are about so much more than gifts… I get that. However, that does not mean the desire to give and receive presents goes away – simply because you cannot afford it.
- When money is tight, buying gifts can cause a lot of stress! I think it is really imperative that you contact your family to give them a heads up that money is tight this year – and that you will be focusing your finances on your immediate family first (spouse and kids). If you find some wiggle room, by all means buy / make what you can for your extended family!
- Presentation can make a HUGE difference. Maybe there are only two or three presents under the tree, but when wrapped and decorated beautifully everything seems more exciting. I love how these gifts look, and it is so inexpensive! Brown craft paper – plain red ribbon and a marker!
- Wrap EVERYTHING! Seriously. Unwrapping the presents is thrilling. Especially for younger kids.
- Growing up every.single.item was wrapped. Everything in our stocking and every gift.
- When Scott and I started dating he thought that wrapping stocking stuffers was insane. It is not. It makes Christmas morning last longer – and it is fun!
- If you bought a 4 pack of lip gloss or matchbox cars from the dollar store open up the package and wrap each item individually. You just went from one present to four.
- Has your child been given a gift over the last year that they have completely forgotten about? Likely not even open? Depending on their age – grab the toy and re-wrap it – and stick it under the tree.
- In the boy’s stockings we put some little toys and fun things – but we also put items like a toothbrush and body wash. If you already have an extra toothbrush stashed in your linen closet – grab it and wrap it up. They have no idea when you bought it!
- Start NOW! Start early – start stocking up on clearance items today. Buy what you can afford this week, and slowly start adding what you can. Buying what you can afford now will save you big bucks come December! Not only can you grab the best deals – but it won’t seem like such a hard hit on your budget.
We have a tradition of having creating a special Christmas morning feast. It is not really anything more than fancy Sunday morning – but the way I display everything it makes it seem extra special.
- Decorate the table! I like to have the table decorated and have it “set” once the kids go to bed. Little touches like these super inexpensive candy cane name cards – make the day feel so special. Combine that with a few other touches and you are golden! *These are so easy to make!
- Grab a holiday themed plate or cup or straw. *Seriously, it is the little touches that makes it extra special* You can grab a Santa themed curly straw and cup at the dollar store.
- Use the decorations you already own to create a holiday tablescape. Here are a few Holiday tables that I have done over the years.
- Grab some decorations off the tree to place on your table. The kids will be so busy with the gifts they will never notice the tree missing a few ornaments!
- Use copy paper and make your own paper snowflakes
- We did this one Christmas Eve and covered the living room floor with snowflakes, and hung some from the ceiling. When Greyson woke up it looked like a winter wonderland! It cost us barely anything (we have copy paper on hand) and it made the living room feel magical! I do recommend starting this before Christmas Eve. Do a few every night for a week and you’ll be all set.
- Pinterest! Search Christmas Tablescapes, and go crazy. (with items from around your house!)
Get your craft on
I am well aware that you cannot completely ignore everyone else who does not share your same address. As well as you shouldn’t! that being said, you do not need to shell out hundreds of dollars on store bought gifts.
- Get your kids involved to make gifts for people. You can go the cute / crafty route and make ornaments. I LOVE these!
- If you do not own one, borrow a pasta roller, and make homemade pasta and sauce. Pair it with a cute tag, and bag and you have an awesome present – that is useful and delicious and very inexpensive!
- Sugar body scrubs! These make wonderful gifts – they are beautiful and useful (Especially in the winter months!) Emily from My Love For Words has some AWESOME sugar scrub recipe that are holiday themed (Peppermint Candy Cane, Gingerbread, and Cranberry)! Bonus – She even has really cute labels to go with them. Put these into little mason jars, wrap a ribbon and label on and you are good to go! You can take it up a notch by including one of these adorable mini wooden spoons. *I know I would love a gift like this!
This is the real game changer. Even if you can purchase anything and everything you want this holiday season, these are some great ideas to make Christmas even more special. Once all the presents are open, there can be a sort of downfall after the high. So to avoid it – keep the excitement going all day long!
- After gifts have your “fancy on the cheap” breakfast. Everyone sit down together and enjoy your beautiful table and eat. Pancakes are so inexpensive, but when you pour the batter into cookie cutters on the skillet it automatically makes them special. It does not cost you a dime extra! *Tip- spray the inside of the cookie cutter with olive oil, otherwise your pancakes will not come out… and make them “thicker” than normal!
- We always start a family puzzle after breakfast, that is Christmas themed
- You could have a special movie afternoon. Have one of the gifts be a new movie, and snuggle as a family while eating popcorn and Christmas cookies and enjoy the new movie.
- If you do not like the idea of spending Christmas in front of the television, make the movie a family game instead! So much fun!! Click here to see some of our favorite games to play with our boys!
- If you live in a snowy region get out and go sledding or make a Christmas snowman
- Make Christmas dinner as a family
Make It Last:
I personally dislike how much time and effort I put into making Christmas Morning exciting – just to have it all done in an hour. The kids rip through their gifts (they are excited)… and then it is 7:30am, and it is over. Some ways to make the day last a little bit longer
- Gifts are opened one at a time. Do not let it be a free for all!
- Open your stockings, then get some breakfast. Once your special breakfast is done, you can open the gifts under the tree.
- Make opening gifts more exciting. I am thinking about building this plinko game, and whomever’s name the chip lands on, gets to open a present.
- Let the kids play with the gift that they just opened – rather then making them wait until everything has been opened.
- Make the first present the open a treasure hunt to find it!
Also, be sure to check out my other Holiday related posts