Friday, October 16, 2009

Readers Question: Practical Christmas Gift Ideas!


A reader emailed with this great question:

"With the holidays coming, can you or your readers please share some practical gift ideas that really get their kids excited? I really don't want a houseful of toys this year, and would like to find some practical things that the kids can really appreciate?"

This is such a great topic to discuss! In the past, I've felt like some of the Christmas gifts I've purchased turn into junk right after being opened! My thinking is, even if you can snag a toy for next to nothing, it's still NOT a good deal if it will be another item collecting dust!

With Christmas around the corner, lets help one another out with practical gift ideas! This will be a great topic to discuss. I'd also be interested to hear how many presents you purchase for each of your kids and what you think is a fair amount. And finally, if you have any frugal Christmas gift-giving traditions, I'm sure we'd all enjoy hearing about those too.

168 comments:

Anonymous said...

My teenagers make baskets for their female friend with all of the free make up I get.

Jessica said...

I don't have kids,but growing up we each got one gift from my parents, and the rest of us kids(8 of us total) drew one other sibling's name and so we received 2 gifts at Christmas and gave 3. Not saying it is the best way,but just what I grew up with.

Lisa said...

I have three daughters, ages 13,10 & 8. I get them each 3 gifts, plus a gift from Santa under the tree and a christmas stocking. In addition to what I buy them, their grandparents and aunt buy them gifts too. So this is more than enough. We don't have extra money to buy extra things during the year, so for christmas I get them things like new clothes, dvds, cds, jewelry, itunes gift cards, pjs, slippers and of course a special toy or something they really want and have on their list!

Anonymous said...

This year our kids are getting each one small present for Christmas and there birthdays. Then Right before Chirstmas we are going to buy a new piano for them. They are all taking lessons and the one we have now is not worth fixing. Any money they get from other family members goes to camps they attend or for sports equipment for summer sports. We can't afford much but when you put presents for 4 kids together you can really get one nice large gift that they can really use for years. And I am sure they will remember that piano more than a truck or doll anyway.

Shopping Frugal said...

I think gifts you can do with your child is great. I loved getting crafting materials that I could do with my mom and sister. You can use a Michael's or AC Moore coupon to make it an inexpensive gift.

Rita said...

We have a theme park near us and this time of year (usually November-December) their season passes are 1/3 the cost. So we get those for our kids. This year, we'll do camping gear so we can go camping

Carly said...

My parents, sister and I have agreed to stop with buying all the expensive wrapping paper, bows, bags, etc. We all wrap christmas gifts in newspaper. Of course we all have enough curling ribbon to last us a lifetime, so newspaper with some pretty curly ribbon and write to/from with sharpie!

Anonymous said...

We have two girls age 4 and age 1. We started a tradition that everyone gets 2 gifts under the tree on Christmas morning...right now it is one from mom and dad and one from Santa. Once they out grow Santa it will be one from mom and dad and one from each other. We also do a stocking that holds batteries and dvds etc. Our girls get way too much from grandparents, aunts/uncles etc. And we just do not want the focus to be gifts.

Anonymous said...

We always got our "practical" big gifts for Christmas. One year I was begging to get rid of my water bed and so I got a twin bed for Christmas (which is what my parents would have eventually bought me anyway) I come from a musical family so one year I got my own clarinet...which they were going to buy anyway...etc... I think it's fun because I never thought my parents were being practical...I thought it was GREAT! For my kids now we usually give several gifts, but they are things that I pick up throughout the year on clearance. It sure does take the pressure off and we don't spend any money around the holidays...other than travel expenses. :)
~Rachael~

Tara said...

I did spend less than 100 dollars for my 2 1/2 yr old and 10 month old for christmas toys and I can assure you that the thing they will love the most is the box that one of them came in. being still young my kids favorite part of the holidays is spending it with all of our family. For my family gifts the best ones are pictures or photobooks of my children. most of which i use all the free ones that we have been getting!

Jane said...

For christmas our kids get 3 gifts (think gifts from the 3 kings got for baby Jesus) and then they pick one that has to be given to a child that doesnt get anything. The get gifts from relatives so they get more than enough, but they are learning the spirit of Christmas is about giving.

Anonymous said...

I like getting craft stuff like Playdoh or those big colorwonder things for my kids. They really enjoy them and when they are all used up you can toss them and not feel guilty. I dont need giant toys taking up space! lol. I will probably only spend around 50 on each of my 3 kids this year.
Katie

Christina said...

My friends and I get together and play "Dirty Santa" We each bring something from our house that we do not want or need. It is so much fun!! Last time I scored some great hair products and one of my friends LOVED my old canister set.(which I hate LOL).

Anonymous said...

We take a family vacation to Disney World every year for christmas. I know that may not be feasible for everybody but we live in Florida and get a better deal than most and can drive there. They get a few presents from "Santa" but usually stuff they need like clothes and 1 toy. My husband and I don't buy each other anything. The vacation is our present. We save all year to make this happen and couponing helps tremendously with that. This way every gets a yearly vacation to spend time together and we don't have a bunch of useless toys lying around that nobody plays with a week later.

Anonymous said...

I'm going to get this wrong, so please correct me if you know the right way. I read a story about the Obama's and his kids are the exact ages of my girls. The girls say their is a Santa because thier parents would NEVER but them that much. To my best memory, the girls only get 1 gift from the parents and the rest is Santa. I like the ideal of the having only once gift. I also really like the innocence that his kids still have....and i want my girls to believe forEVER.

i really like games and crafts that i can do with the girls

i also like books

Jennifer said...

I have 5 kids..13,11,8,4,and 1. I get deodorant,body wash,toothpaste,mouth wash,etc in the brands that each of the kids like. I try to buy enough for a year and that becomes 1/2 of their presents. (For my daughters, I also get them hairspray, makeup, hair ties, curling irons, etc). They appreciate these gifts more because they know that if they use it all up, they have to use what I have in the house. Grandparents give them gift cards to use for anything that I wouldn't buy for them throughout the year. (They can treat themselves to whatever). It works pretty good. I still get them a couple of toys...but coming from a large family, they've learned to enjoy every little thing they get.

Anonymous said...

My 5 year old I will have a $200 dollar budget for presents. But this includes gifts from us gifts from both sets of grandparents and from 2 uncles. (they always ask me to shop for them) And from Santa of course. The number of gifts I buy depends on what good deals I get. Sometimes I think this is a large amount to spend. But she gets no other gifts during the year except on her birthday. Whenever she says "I want" I tell her to put in on her Christmas list.

Anonymous said...

Oh...and I forgot to say that every time right before Christmas and right before her birthday, I ask my daughter to put together one or two bags of toys to give to goodwill. Since I know she will get many new toys to replace.

Anonymous said...

growing up my parents never used wrapping paper...it was always cartoons.

i will sometimes wrap birthday gifts in a brown paper grocery bag and have the kids color it.

SexyonaShoestring said...

Our house is littered with books. My three-year old son just eats them up. Unlike toys - it's hard to have too many books if your children actually use them. However, he is getting a big-ticket item this year: a wagon. Yeah it's a toy, but I have no doubt it will get plenty of use - he pulls stuff around in boxes right now:)

PS Props to all these cool chicks who give more presents to their kids than Santa.

Jaclyn said...

My mom used to give me (in addition to other things) shopping money. After christmas everything goes on clearance so I would use it to buy clothes etc.

That's what got me into saving money. You can spread out your "loot" and really see the savings. For example before christmas that money would have only gotten me a pair of jeans. Now it gets me jeans, two tops, and shoes.

You could really turn that into a fun activity and its a good life lesson.

Couponsangie said...

Every year our kids get 3 or 4 new ornaments for their tree. (They have there own 3 ft. trees in their room) I always try to buy the ornaments that are relavent to the sport they play, or music they like and so on) When they grow up and move out, (which won't be too long for my son) they will have a big collection of ornaments to take with them.
The way I usually do this is buy the ornaments after Christmas on big Clearance! and hold on to them until the following year, although every year there is that way-to-cute ornament that I always end up buying!
My kids look forward to this every year! Then when it is time to decorate before Christmas we always laugh and joke about the ones that were bought during a funny phase in their life! Like when my daughter had a piggy bank fetish, a purse fetish, and of course Hannah Montana! LOL!
Oh memory lane!! Now, I can't wait to get them all out again!

Anonymous said...

I like the 3 gifts just like Jesus!!!!
My kids are spoiled rotten but they also give. My kids love to give to others.
Last year money was really tight and i told the kids I didnt have any money for the angel tree at church and all 3 kids told me that i could thier gift money on another child.
this year, i've been stocking on deals all year thanks to Colin.

Anonymous said...

I totally agree with Jennifer on the gifts.. My mom (mom of 3 girls) always got us lots of our favorite products that she wouldn't usually by us during the year. make up, shampoos, nail polish, lotions, special toothpaste and toothbrushes (character ones when we were little) those are my favorite memories because when I will little I felt like a big girl and when I was older it saved me money!

she still stocks us all up at christmas underwear,bras, socks, fun products!

Anonymous said...

I GOT MY NEPHEWS (11 & 10)GIFT CARDS FOR THE MOVIE THEATER,THEY LOVED IT CAUSE IT WAS SOMETHING THEY COULD CHOOSE TO SEE AND GO WITHOUT MOM AND DAD BUT YET TAKE A FRIEND OR EACH OTHER!

Jaclyn said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
danielle said...

my daughter is 2 1/2 years old and has more toys and gets more toys than she can play with...this year i have asked family members to buy her clothes in bigger sizes for all seasons....

I, like Jane, have started a little tradition with her, where she will be giving a toy to a charity, with all the clearence posts about toys, I have been able to pick up a few things for toys for tots, i'm hoping by doing this she will eventually see how lucky she is to have the things she does...

eabates said...

I bargain shop all year long and pick up great buys for Christmas, Birthdays etc... I usually try to give each kid 1 or 2 gifts (depending on price) that they really want and a few practical gifts that they need. Santa brings 1 gift. On Christmas Eve, each kid gets to open 1 gift that I have selected and it's usually new pajamas. Sometimes they don't get exactly what they want at Christmas but I can usually find it on clearance after Christmas and we save that item until their birthday or next Christmas. We do make cookies, breads and fudge for our neighbors and friends for Christmas. My kids love helping and taking the cookie plates to our friends.

Kristin said...

Wonderful topic. I do have to stop myself and really think... Am I buying this because it's dirt cheap or because I think my kids will really enjoy it.

My mom spoiled the heck out of us at christmas. Our Santa presents were so abundant. think 30 gifts or so each (there was two of us). I can't bring myself to do the same. Though I also can't bring myself to see a empty bottom of the christmas tree. So in an order to feel like I'm giving alot without giving junk I am buying tons of clearance or reasonably priced books for my 2 year old and 1year old. They love books anyway so why not spend the money on something like that instead of a bunch of toys they just chew on or throw or most likely never touch.

Sorry for the long post just to say I am mainly buying books! lol!

Nik said...

I bought up art supplies at Back to School time for my nieces for christmas.

Jenn said...

my girls love building things... but tinker toys/ lincoln logs/ and legos are so expensive and you get very little. I was thinking of telling the grandparents, etc that we want to build a collection of these things (especially the new pink legos) so that even if they get a few packs of them, we can dump them into one container and then have enough to build something great with.

Lynne said...

I purchase Christmas Themed fabric on clearance and sew easy to make gift bags - they are reusable and don't take a lot of time to make. The open end I just pink with shears and tie with a ribbon. No tape, no paper mess! We try to buy clothing, learning toys like Ant Farm, etc., puzzles and games, craft supplies - things we can do together as a family.

Anonymous said...

My grandma got us tickets to the circus one year. It was a lot of fun and very memorable.

Michele said...

last year I gave my 8 year old daughter a canopy for her bed. She loved it and it looks great in her room - I try and get something "practical" but still "fun" for them.

Anonymous said...

Pictures are always the best gifts. Those are things you keep forever. Every year my brothers and I do something with picturs (picture book, posters, blankets) and every year my Mom cries. haha!

Its so heartwarming and I can imagine as a kid and getting something like this would be so great to keep around.

Andrea said...

I have a 13 tech head so we are go to after thanksgiving sales. We are buying a new computer screen for gaming and a hard drive. That will be most of our "Christmas". I then get him small stuff on clearance to open. Last year I bought him clothes from ebay and goodwill. Yeah they are used but he doesn't mind. We couldn't afford the clothes he likes new anyway. I also told him to make a list of his favorite shampoo, body wash etc. I will use those to fill his stocking. We never did santa clause so that was never a problem.

After a Christmas a few years ago we found half the toys he got for christmas on clearance. So we save money for after christmas shopping. No point in paying full price when the next day you can get them half off.

knight2boys said...

Sadly, my husband and I (really my husband) has spoiled our children each year with more presents than they can play with. No including all the presents from family. I really want to cut down this year. I am drowning with toys already. I like the idea of 3 gifts (gift for Jesus) but how can I get my husband to cut back? Also, I am struggling on my kids gifts this year. I'm just tired of JUNK TOYS. My boys are 4 (almost 5) and 7. I need ideas. Thanks for all the tips.
shereepowell@hotmail.com

Anonymous said...

My son will be two this December. Our tradition is to buy an ornament each year for the tree (which I buy on after-Christmas clearance the year before). Also, on Christmas Eve, he will get a fun pair of pajamas to wear to bed that night. Otherwise, we will buy him a few "little" (and inexpensive) toys to put in his stocking that I've bought on clearance throughout the year. He gets so many toys from the three set of grandparents so this year, I've asked my mom to buy a membership to our local Children's Museum. That way, he can enjoy it year-round.

Anonymous said...

This year my family made the decision to sponser another family. We let all of our extended relatives know that we were not buying gifts but would instead be making baked goods and crafts for them. We also asked them not to buy us gifts and instead donate the money to charity if they wanted to. So this year my two sons (7 and 3) will get to pick gifts for children who don't have as much as we do. Since they are little my husband and I will still get them gifts from Santa but that will be it. My oldest son is so excited about this. We have been talking about it with them for a while and now he just wants it to be here so he can buy toys for other kids. If it goes well we will do it every year. I hate giving gifts to people they don't really want or need and I also hate recieving gifts I don't want or need. My boys are so spoiled - they have so many toys they can't possibly play with them all.

Shirley said...

Gosh I'm reading these and thinking there are some great ideas here. My kids do get a LOT with all the aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents but they've learned to give a lot too. We adopt a family through the United Way or whatever group is doing that and send food to church, school and Daddy's office for food drives. We also bake TONS of treats for neighbors, mail and paper carriers and teachers at school. My girls both take various afterschool classes so we've asked grandparents for gift certificates to dance, gymnastics, music class, etc. We also have them work together to purchase a BIG item that they wouldn't normally get----the swingset out back came from both sets of grandparents and was a gift for Christmas and birthdays for both girls. It cuts down on the junk in my house and gets the kids something they wouldn't normally get or something we may have to struggle through the year to pay for. My mom also gets each girl a savings bond each year and my SIL and I exchange pearls for the girls instead of toys. Each girl gets one pearl for Christmas and one for her birthday and they will collect these until they grow up and then have them strung into a necklace. My SIL wears hers all the time and she is thankful for all of the family members who contributed to this gift through the years. Check with your local jeweler to see if they do the Add-a-Pearl program. They keep track of each girl for you so people can come in and spend what they want and maybe get a bigger or smaller pearl depending upon their budget.

Elizabeth said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

We only buy toys for our children that pass the "test": before we spend money on it, it must be good for their minds, their bodies, or their souls. We don't buy "stuff" because we've noticed that crap is free and comes from everywhere and we spend our lives trying to weed it out of the house!

We've always been desperately poor, but last year we spent $35 on a Christmas gift for our four children, and we somehow struck gold: we only bought an indoor trampoline with electronic games and controls attached to it (KidActive brand). My 9, 7, 4 and 1 year old all use it daily, enthusiastically!, and in the winter time it's wonderful for exercise (they have to jump a certain number of jumps each day to earn a certain amount of time video gaming).

Anonymous said...

The first time we took our kids to Disney World, we kept it as a secret 'til Christmas. We planned our trip for a long weekend in late January. We wrapped up several boxes with the clues for our vacation. The kids were so excited to open up packages and then play a guessing game! Disney was their big present! They also had a couple smaller gifts from Santa too!

Mander said...

I have a son that will be 2 soon, and his birthday happens to be 6 days before Christmas. This is very hard because I don't want to cheat him from his birthday or Christmas. He is young enough now to not worry about it.

I usually buy him toys that I see on clearance throughout the year and store them in his closet. Right now he has enough for his birthday and Christmas. Buying on clearance throughout the year works the best for me, that way I am not slammed with extra costs for gifts around the holiday.

I also use my rewards points from my bank card to get gift cards, these work well for nieces, nephews, in-laws..etc.

hopevierze said...

Great topic! Christmas my 3 kids get tons of stuff- because I find things at garage sales that I know they will love and put it away. They never complain that it's not new and I always seems to find the things they like- dress up princess clothes and barbies are a big hit from garage sales. I must say though- that I like the idea of only doing 3 gifts- like Jesus (from the other post) I definately don't want my kids to focus on the gifts. When they get older (they are 5, 3, and 1) I will have to do that because they will most likely want more specific items and things that are more expensive. Although my 5 year old asked for a wiifit this year- lol! Also- when you had the post for $4 Tastefully Simple cookbooks I snagged enough of those nice hardcover Christmas cookbooks for their Sunday school teachers, dance instructors, aunts, etc. I ALWAYS buy throughout the whole year for Christmas and when I find deals I stock them away. I already have all the gifts for the neices and nephews birthdays next spring from the great summer clearance items lately. It works out so good that the only people I really have to buy for at Christmas time is my parents and my in-laws because I don't get a Christmas list from them until Dec. Thanks for all your posts Collin!

Anonymous said...

We get each of our 8 children 1 main gift and 1 smaller stocking gift. We did this even when we only had 1 child. They exchange names among each other, too. They might get a total of one or two other gifts from relatives. I like practical gifts as well. Something I'm thinking of for my 2 little girls is a little box with a few tiny,metal cookie cutters, a little rolling pin, tiny bread pan, etc., with some cookie dough. I make things like dress up clothes when there is a good sale at the fabric store. I am always on the lookout for bargain prices for things I would enjoy giving them as gifts.

Anonymous said...

Also a great suggestion for a grandparent who asks is a family zoo pass. Ours cost about $65.00 for the whole family for a year. That is like us going 1 1/2 times at the gate rate. This way we can go whenever we want and most zoos offer special sneak peaks to members and other discounts once inside as well. We do skip the parking pass, as we are willing to walk a block or two and save the 35.00 extra a year.

Anonymous said...

This year my sister is not giving her kids christmas presents, instead they are taking a family vacation (a weekend cruise to mexico) and then kids will be getting their plan tickets and cruise tickets under the tree. And vacation cruise are pretty cheap I thought it was a great idea!

Lindsay M. said...

I have a friend that only gives 3 presents from Santa to each of their kids at Christmas -- because that's how many Jesus got!

Elisha said...

BOOKS! I look all year long for books for good prices and then give those at Christmas time. Toys get played with for about two weeks after Christmas and then get put on a shelf somewhere, but books last all year long!

Mrs. Buys More and Mr. Saves A. Lot said...

Our grandson has had a big interest in reading and in science. When he was ten we bought him a nice telescope and several space and planets books.

Kept him very occupied for a long time.

For our granddaughter who's into "arts" we try to get crafty things that she can do over and over.

My mother made her a sewing kit with just about everything you can imagine for hand sewing ... including fabric. She actually made some barbie clothes by herself when she was only nine!

Think "interest" and you will surely be able to figure something out.

Heidi said...

I just sold 250.00 worth of toys on Craigslist for 55.00 and they were all in mint condition (played with maybe five times each). I'm sick of buying my toddler son toys that he isn't interested in (and they're expensive!). Any suggestions for a 2 1/2 year old boy that are practical?

Anonymous said...

I also came from a family of 8 (like Jessica) and we each got 2 presents. When I had my first daughter I planned on just giving her a few presents because I didn't want to "spoil" her. . . we ended up OVERDOING it and got her around 20 something presents! All she did was play with the wrappings and boxes. I think her father and I had more fun shopping for the gifts than she did playing with them. Yes, I know that was sooo bad of us but now I have 2 children and I get them about 2 and "Santa" brings them 2 or 3 more. And when they get bored with them we sell them on ebay and they get the money.

Amber said...

Right now we have 2 boys, ages 3 and 1. We try to focus less on things and more on experiences. We take money the Grandparents have given the kids and take them to a water / amusement park, and make sure that the kids know that the Grandparents made it happen (we are sure to take lots of picuters that go on to the Grandparents as a thank you). Or we buy arts and crafts supplies (and send a finished work of art to the giver). We do a lot of hand made / home made gifts at Christmas time. There's so much more meaning to them. Last year I made a huge set of blocks for my son out of empty (and clean) 1/2 gal milk containers and a set of drums out of empty canisters. He loves them. This year, I'm making him a race track for his cars that will go down the stairs (out of 1/2 gal milk containers). We usually buy our kids each a few inexpensive gifts ($10 or less - which $10 can buy a lot if you do it right), to have wrapped under the tree. While our kids are young, we really try to keep Christmas as inmaterial as possible. There will be plenty of years where, due to the influence of friends, Christmas will become a lot more about "what did you get for Christmas?" We're hoping to put that off for as long as possible.

Anonymous said...

I'll admit I've always gone overboard and can count on two hands the number of toys that were "money well spent" - a couple come to mind - Fisher Price Loving Hands doll house, Ripstik, CD player... Anyways, my kids are now 11, 9 and 6. This year, I'm going to be more practical. The two younger ones still believe in Santa so I've got to be careful. I'm going to give them some gift certificates for lessons and things they've been wanted to do - horseback riding, kids cooking classes, paint-your-own pottery place, etc. The last thing we need are more useless toys laying around the house. Last year, I gave the girls tickets to Disney on Ice and they were thrilled. The memory will outlast the pile of plastic junk under the tree. Advice to those with really small kids - don't go overboard in the beginning and that's what they'll expect each year. Start off big and you have to keep it up year after year! I wish I had done the three gifts like what Baby Jesus received.

Anonymous said...

I come from a family that has WAY over-did the gift giving ever since I was little. My sister and brother and I would get loads of gifts on Christmas eve from mom and dad, these were the practical things like clothes, pj's, shoes, etc..(about 15 gifts each). Then on Christmas morning we would get "Santa" gifts. We each had a huge pile in the living room with our name on it. These gifts were toys, games, dolls, movies, etc... this pile of gifts would be at least 20 items. I contiued to get Santa until I married and moved out (and I am the youngest!) at age 20. Christmas in our home is very much surrounded by Jesus and the meaning of Christmas, but the gift giving is huge and so much fun! I bet my mom spent $500 a kid. Now, I have kids of my own (3 of them) and I do the same for them. My parent still have us 3 kids, but now with our spouses also and each of us 3 kids have 3 kids! My mom still spends $100 per person now! so each family, she is spending $500. Chirstmas at our house is so much fun...

Shelly said...

We make Chirstmas ornaments each year with the kids at Color Me Mine. We put the dates on it. It's fun to see how they look better each year and what item they picked out. Plus I don't have to clean up the messy paint! We also have smaller a Chirstmas since our kids are younger and get lots of gifts from Grandparents. We know when they get older, their lists will grow. I took the kids Christmas shopping this year in July when all the Kmart clearance was going on. I just told them it was for their cousins (who are the same age) and asked them what they would like since their cousins would like the same things. They will be surprised when they open the gifts they already picked out!

Heather said...

I have 4 boys (15,13,11,and 4) each year they get 3 gifts. One big one from Santa (something that they really wanted like a DS game) and then the rest is from us. Usually one gift card (Itunes, bookstore, etc.) one piece of clothing (usually a sweashirt)sometimes I do get one more small thing if I find it on sale. I then do fill each of there stockings with small stuff and this is where the gift card goes.
They also then get money from grandparents, I do the money that way they can get something else that they really want.

Anonymous said...

WOW! What fun to read all the comments.

I keep a reusable grocery bag for each of my 3 girls (stepdaughters) and fill it up throughout the year with freebies, deals and personal treats. That takes care of their stocking plus some overflow!

Christmas gifts themselves are typically 1. Our goal is a family trip or "experiance". This year my hubby recieved another FREE laptop and so we now have 4 (all free and in good working order... hubby is a techie) So each of the girls are getting a laptop that will not have internet access for school work and their own games.

Last year we got season passes to a big Broadway theater that included 7 shows.

The year before we went to the Grand Canyon (beautiful in winter!)

While we are able to get them "big" gifts we save all year for them and try not to buy anything else. They get enough from Grandparents, aunts, uncles on hubby and my side of the family... then toss in their Mom's family and it can easily get to be too much!

We do the same thing for Birthdays. One year it was a trip to a water park. Another year they got year passes to Wild Animal Park and Zoo. This year to Universal Studios.

Annual passes are a great way to make a gift last all year.

We also clean out their rooms for donations and pick up clearanced toys all year long for our local Toys for Tots and Firefighters toy drives! The girls love going with us to "give back" to the community.

They also help us package up freebies and stockpile items for AnySoldier/AnyMarine.com each month.

Anonymous said...

Heidi - does he like trains? My three boys were AVID Thomas the Tank engine fans from about age 2 - 7. They would play for hours and hours and never get bored.

While they are expensive, they do last for a long time. You can also get inexpensive track and engines at IKEA. Costco and Target also sell some off brands. And, Collin posted a day or two ago about getting a Thomas engine for 1.99 from Learning Curve, which would be great with a cheap set of track from IKEA!

Kate said...

The Grandmas are always asking what my kids want or need and I'm always saying NOTHING! lol We have too much stuff! And I feel guilty getting rid of things from them - especially things they make the girls. Agh!

Here have been some good solutions: a zoo pass - we enjoyed this for a whole year and thought of them every time we went, a pass to Pump It Up (they have bouncy houses and slides and an obstacle course), and clothes.

I like to get my daughters craft supplies. They love stamps and there are tons of stamps for $1 at Michael's and even scrapbook stores. I have a 4-year-old who can make anything out of tape and copy paper =) and I will be giving her a supply of tape this Christmas, lol! She will love it.

I gave my kids dust busters last year and that is AWESOME! They love to clean stuff up with them. It cost the same as a toy but it's totally functional and helps me out! =) They can suck up their own crumbs out from under the dinner table, lol. They are 4 and 3 now.

I have made gifts for others out of the $1 boxes of candy. I know you can score cheaper candy, but the boxes are cute if you wrap them individually and stack them and tie a bow around them. =)

I love hearing all these ideas!

Kristen said...

This is such a great topic! We have three children and lots of family to buy for during Christmas. We have never based it on the number of gifts but rather a budget for everything we buy for the whole season. Our budget is $350. We buy a mixture of practical and fun things. Our kids typically end up with about 5 presents each. We also go through our toys and fill up a laundry basket in each room filled with toys to take to Hope House before Christmas comes. This is teaching them that Christmas is not just about getting things but giving also-and it clears out space for the new presents they will get.

Kate said...

Oh! And school books. You can throw them out when they are done with them. =) My 4-yo will do an entire book in a day if I let her. She loves it!

Jaime said...

growing up my sister each had a couch in the living room with all our loot spread out on. Nothing was wrapped and this was all from Santa. There were always a couple toys, but mostly clothes, shoes and school supplies and crafty things. I have a 4 year old now and we are doing the same thing with her. Her 2nd Christmas she turned up with over 30 presents to open between all the relatives and us, so we now ask no more than 2 per family. And she makes a pile of items she is going to donate the day after Christmas.

This year I found a lot of awesome deals at Kmart and got the Tag reader from Target for $3. I took a picture of my stash and mailed it to everyone who would be buying her gifts. Almost all of the toys have been spoken for and my family now has great deals for gifts and I get a little bit of my money back too.

Anonymous said...

my mom and my sister were just talking about a good gift to start for my neice who is 11 years old. she is into pictures and making her locker at school fun. so grandma is going to get her scrapbook accessories started. Funky scissors, papers, stickers etc. i thought it was a really neat idea. by the time she really gets into it with proms, etc she will have tons of supplies! granted i think the actual hard copy scrap books are going to go away, there are also computer programs you can get that edit, crop, clip etc.

a great gift idea for adults is a netflix subscription. My husband and I are a netflix home, and well we pay the service charge each month. It would be great to get a gift card to save us a month or two!

not sure about your area's but the H1N1 is flying around here shutting schools down... so use the bath and body works coupons and deals to stock up on antibacterial stuff not only for kids backpacks in fun kid flavors but for you desk at work or whatever!

also, i was thinking about a nice basket for my day care lady. althought it wouldn't be for herself frugals like us appreciate the day to day things that we drudge having to buy sometimes... so I was thinking of things that she uses on my daughter each day - dish soap, clorox wipes to keep her house clean, some pancake mix, maybe some brownie or cookie mixes, some purell, maybe some laundry detergant. A basket of day to day items...

although these may not be the cheapest, they sure won't be dust collectors hopefully. I would love a basket of those things and I am not a in home daycare.

Anonymous said...

My mom was a couoner growing up, but it always drove me nuts that we'd get sale items that we didn't want. One year I asked for a Greek Hebrew Key Word Bible ($80). On Christmas morning I recieved a cheaper one. Why? "It was on sale!"

So for Christmas now we give fewer, more thoughtful gifts. If you're only looking for 2-3 things, and you start early enough (I start looking in August)it is so easy to get a great deal.

We buy lots of items on Ebay. Last year my husband got an incredible deal on a new Burbery scarf for me. I found him a shop vac for his car the day after Thanksgiving for 50% off.

For all our friends I made Jelly last year. It was 3 solid days in the kitchen, but everyone appreciated the homemade jelly so much. This year I'm going to make little seasoned crackers. www.6dollarshirts.com is a great place to get T-shirts. You can buy 10 for $50 and they're so cool.

Anonymous said...

A favorite holiday tradition for us is to also celebrate Epiphany (Three Kings Day) - the 12 day after Christmas. I think it's a Mexican custom to decorate boxes, fill with straw and put under the bed for the camels to leave candy and treats. We decorate boxes, fill with shredded paper, and the kids leave them under their beds.We talk about the camels and the Christmas nativity story. In the morning they each find in their boxes another piece for their nativity sets. We give the children a 3-piece Fontanini nativity set when they are toddlers. (It is a collectible set and the pieces are plastic.) Each year they receive another piece on Epiphany. I buy many pieces on after Christmas clearance and have a stock-pile for several years ahead. Our girls are 9 and 13. They love to set their sets up early in December and are still excited to decorate their boxes and receive a new item each year. I use a Sharpie marker and write their initial and the year under each item to alleviate a mixup and for reminiscing. MKW

Anonymous said...

I gave my daughter a big box that fits under her bed. I filled it with cooking utensils that she can take with her to college. I gave her a cooking lesson certificate and every Wed. she would cook dinner with me for 6 weeks. At the end she cooked dinner on her own for her grandparents. It was a lot of fun, she is only 8 so we will add to her box over the years. I also like to give lessons, she is interested in art, so we did art lessons at the local university Saturday School Art. They offer less expensive classes that the student teachers teach. One year we did swimming lessons at the Y. It was fun to swim in the winter. I always make a cute certificate and some related small things to open. For her birthday it was a date with dad. She and I went and got her hair cut and nails done. All of these had gift certificates so she got to 'pay' which made her feel special. I gave them to her in a little homemade book that had pictures of her and was titled Queen for a Day. Then, when we got home, dad pulled the car around to the front of the house and "picked her up" for their date. (they went to her favorite restaurant)

Kim said...

We have eight children and very limited funds so we try to be as creative as we can. In addition to shopping year round for bargains some of the memorable items we had done are art boxes...purchase a plastic shoe box/bin and fill with fun art supplies...my older girls have made fleece blankets/pillows for their siblings as well as friends and relatives. We also try to give gifts that can be added to each year as well as passed on such as Duplos, lego, lincoln logs, etc... HTH! Kim

Anonymous said...

I grew up in a home where you got a lot of presents under the tree. We still do even though my brother and I have families of our own. So it's really hard for me to purchase only 2 gifts for each of my kids. We usually spend $500 per child. Santa always brings 1 toy for them to share and they get a book signed from Santa. They don't get much on their birthdays and any money they do get/earned is put into bank accounts. They also don't get much through the year of things they want so we just make up for it on Christmas morning.

Danielle Miller said...

I don't get my son many presents because everyone else buys him stuff. This year we'll do more than last year, but money is so tight, so it will be small stuff.

For others, I'm digging into my pile of discount things I've been buying all year. Some stuff from internet offers make awesome gifts. Other things, put together make a good gift. . . . the free blanket from Brylane Homes, the .25 Dove skin revitalizer, a bottle of free Bath & Body Works lotion, and other odds and ends. Put it in a cute bag and it comes across wonderfully. (I used one of the 3 piece bags that were also free from Brylane Homes.)

Lynn said...

I think tickets to an event or show is a great idea. something that you can take them too. They get a fun experience and you get to spend some time with them. College sports games, a local band playing at an all ages venue, local theater. All of these can be very cheap. I'm 28 and my first concert ever was Rod Stewart when I was 12. I didnt really know his music but I went with both my parents and had a blast cause they were having so much fun.

Anonymous said...

I buy white wrapping paper, similar to craft paper, and cover my kitchen table. I let my daughter go to town drawing all over it. Then when she's done, we use the paper to wrap presents for the family in. Makes for a great activity for my daughter, and everyone seems excited to get a piece of her "art".

cblanchard76 said...

I Get great deals all year and store the gifts for giving. I have 2 Fleese jackets that I paid $2 for both XXL, 6 pairs of mens flannel pants that I got for free from JcPenny with my $10 off coupons, I love these mens Item because my Hubby and brother are both Large men. I also have a bottle of Curve cologne I grab for 90% off at CVS for them as well. I just keep adding and adding. My guest bedroom is my storage spot. I have so much girl stuff it's silly. The stuff for my hubby and daughter I hid in bins in the closet so they can't find it. I do also get him 1 big thing and her 1 big thing other then that its all freebie stuff or things I bought for all most nothing. I just want to make sure everyone knows that I'm not cheap when it comes to giving, I'm just very frugal and I take my time in building up the gift piles... Smart shopping.

Anonymous said...

I have two girls, 4 and 19months... I remember my mom always getting us a xmas bear unwrapped infront of the tree so that's from santa. then i do 75 dollars each... jammies always and something she really wants. last year was baby alive! and this year is the cupcake maker... even though they don't play w/ everything and it feels like a waste to us. it's magical to them when they get what they really wanted:)

Eischens said...

We do 3 gifts for each child, just like Jesus recieved: Gold(a fun toy), incense(a spiritual gift), and myrrh(a practical gift). This way we can keep the focus on the real meaning of Christmas!

Anonymous said...

It has become a tradition in our house to make personalized calendars for all of the grandparents. They look forward to them every year.
We take our digital photos of the kids from throughout the year and make the calendars online through Wal-Mart, Office Max, or Staples etc.
It is something that you can't buy anywhere else and they have it to look at througout the year.

Anonymous said...

My parents are hard to shop for (they just don't need/want anything), so we (my 4 siblings and I) go together on something. We have gotten them a nice BBQ, sent them to a Utah Jazz game with a hotel (my mom is a HUGE fan) or some other mini trip. It makes it nice for them to get away together and not have more junk in the house. With hard times for some the past couple of years, we have done a family quilt (my SIL quilts, so we were all in charge of getting a picture to her and so many squares of fabric in colors in my parents bedroom. Then, we all finished it together. It ended up costing each of us under $10 and our parents loved it).

I have 4 kids, 10, 8, 3 and 1. They all draw a name of a sibling to buy for - $10 max. DH and I get them 1 gift - usually a clothing item - coat, boots, pjs etc, but something they need. This year they are getting 2 gifts each and their stockings from Santa. We usually will also get a family gift. Last year we got a nice keyboard (no room for a piano :() and one of the older 2 kids gifts was piano lessons for the year.

For our kids, Christmas is more about needs than wants. DH and I don't exchange gifts either. Our kids grandparents are great! They give clothes, crafts and other things like that. DH's parents give all the kids a suitcase and sleeping bag when they are 2. My parent give savings bonds for birthdays instead of toys!

This all didn't come out nearly as well as it tumbled around in my brain.

Anonymous said...

We have a 3 Wisemen Christmas. Since baby Jesus got three gifts so do our kids. My husbund still wants Santa to bring the gifts so Santa brings each child three gifts. They usually include one small toy (a Barbi or a transformer), a new sweater or PJs, and a dvd or cd. Since we have four kids we usually buy one big gift for all of them to share. Last year they got a big blue pool we found on clearance and swimsuits we also found on clearance. Another thing we do is give them a few extra chores and pay the kids a couple dollars. We then take them to the dollar store and let them buy for their siblings. This may seem like a modest christmas in todays society, but it has taught my children to be very greatful for what they do get. My oldest daughter (8) was just as happy to get the $5 bead set as she was the american girl doll from grandma!

Nikki said...

I am sick of "stuff" too! This year we are asking for swimming lessons, money to go to day camp, piano lessons, children's museum passes,a state park pass (actually 2 since we live right on the border), horseback riding lessons... This way my kids can try out all the things that they may not have been able to before. And my house has less "stuff" collecting dust.

Tiphanie said...

My sister in law gave my 5 yr old daughter the bast gift. She got a scrapbook case and filled it with all kinds of art supplies. Crayons, paper, stickers, markers, ect. and she loved it. You can find lots of cool art supplies at dollar stores, to make these!
Also we have 2 children this yr and we usually set a dollar amount for them. I'm not working this yr, so dont know what it will be yet. We deffinatley dont need more toys and grandparents usually get them more than enough. They a few presents from santa and from us.

Anonymous said...

I think there are a lot of parents that go way overboard on electronic "babysitters". We don't do electronics for our kids, no ipods, cell phones, computers, etc. We have a tv in the family room with a dvd player and a wii. They are limited to 1 hour of game time a day, and 1 movie. They don't usually even use their time. They don't have tons of toys either, they have imaginations and each other to play with. For Christmas they get the clothes they need, and bathroom items (DH has a bathroom bag, so the kids think they need them too :)), and coupons. They love that they get their very own coupons to use. Some that we give them are.....

Good for:
1 candy bar
1 pack of gum
30 minute late bedtimme
Date with dad
Movie with mom
Late night (we don't do sleep overs, so they get to have a friend over until bedtime, up to 1 hour later, and watch movies or just hang out)
1 free chore (yes, my kids have chores!!!)
A trip to the park (for the little ones)
Etc.

Anonymous said...

wow, reading this, i realize how much i spoil my girls and my son, who is now 27. growing up we didn't get much, so i have always overdone it at christmas. both my parents passed away in the last year and a half so my girls age 5 only get from us and their 82 year old grandmother. we do have a tradition where the night before christmas we hide the three wise men and they can't open their presents til after they find them and take them to Jesus. but i think after reading this, we will also start a tradition to give toys away to a charity or goodwill before getting new ones. and to focus on buying an item from a giving tree to an underpriviledged child. thanks for the ideas.

Anonymous said...

We do a big gift from Santa for my daughter (last year it was a play kitchen, this year it will be a dollhouse). We buy her tons - clothes, little toys, knick-knacks. We also buy her an ornament with the appropriate Christmas year (i.e. My 2nd Christmas) and one of something she's into. Between my hubby and myself, we just exchange ornaments. We do savings bonds for nieces and nephews with a small toy. Nothing for anyone else usually. Although I did find $1 scrapbook calendars at Michael's, so I will put pictures of the grandkids in, for the grandparents.

Anonymous said...

I have two girls (3 and 1) and they have too many toys from their relatives so I don't by any. This year we are turning things around with presents to use or learn. They each are getting three presents (we celebrate Epiphany) and I have bargain shopped the whole yr so my oldest is getting things like art supplies, coloring pillowcase, and a necklace making kit. For the little one we are getting books, clothes, and we are making a bowling set from materials in our home.

One tradition we have is that each Christmas each child gets their own ornament to hang on the tree on Christmas day. To make things easier on our relatives I make a list of things for our family that they can get for us like: tickets to shows, zoo, aquarium, classes etc.

Our extended family believes in giving gifts to everyone so this year I am going to try my hand a gift baskets with all the great freebies and ideas I got from here!

Anonymous said...

I forgot to add to Anon: 12:25, we also get our daughter Christmas pajamas that she opens on Christmas Eve to wear that night.

jbubolz-miller said...

This year we filled two shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child- through samaritans purse- I was impressed by how selfless my 4 yr old son was. I shop at Rummage sales for my kids for christmas. They're little enought that they dont even realize and you get the benefit of not having to pull all the plastic off!You can never play all the fun out and I only buy toys in great condition. Also as a parent- you dont feel bad if they dont like it that you just wasted your money!

Julie said...

I am not sure if this true country wide. Our area here in Massachusetts has an active Craigslist free section. Over the summer, many brand new items post garage sale (what did not sell) were available. I picked up a handful of new & sealed free items for our son for Chanukkah.

Our son likes Thomas, Mario, and building blocks (like Lego). I only invest or pick up free items that have resale value.

The other avenue to consider is garage sales. It is a bit of gamble. I've gone to garage sales where the people just want the items out of their house. They will sell their brand new merchandise cheap (cross pen set for $.50, liz clairborne diary $.50, etc). Other garage sales are antithetical. I've had a lot of luck at garage sales this year. Brand new huffy bike, training wheels, and bell for $6 for example.

Of course, Target bi-annual toy clearance is the another consideration.

Anonymous said...

I love the coupon idea! That is great!

Anonymous said...

My side of the family only buys presents for kids under 18. Then all of the adults kick in $25 and we adopt a local family from the school. The women get together and shop (so we still our get our fix). The kids wrap the presents and the men deliver the presents on X-mas eve to the family in need.

As for my family we have 2 little girls 3 and 6. We just moved to an new state last year, and kike most kids today they are spoiled. So this year we are going to adopt a family locally and let my girls help shop.

We also have a few traditions - Each year I get my girls a new set of pajamas and give them to them on x-mas eve. We also get them new ornaments each year.

I love the idea's I have heard on getting rid of the wrapping paper and limiting gifts to just a few. Thanks everyone for sharing.

Erin said...

Last year was the first year my son was really interested in opening gifts, and we ended up going way overboard (he ended up getting tired and opening in two shifts!). Fortunately, I didn't spend a lot--although it definitely wasn't as inexpensive a haul as some of the couponers who post here--and he really didn't have a lot in the way of toys. However, it was all solid, classic toys and books that he enjoyed--no gimmicky, junky plastic stuff. This year, there will be less! He loves the Tag reader, and I have quite a stash of books from TRU, and dad will want in on the action, so I have not really stockpiled for him this year (gasp!). I do have all my nieces and nephews' gifts purchased, though. One thing we do for him (and will continue to do until he's 18) is bank the cash gifts he receives. He gets enough from "Santa" and extended family that he doesn't need the cash. My parents did this, and I had a $10,000 nest egg after college.

Anonymous said...

I have 3 boys ages 10, 12, 14. The only gifts they get at christmas is from my husband and I. They do get a small gift from one grandparent. I try to get at least one big thing on their list. Last year Santa brought them an xbox but that was for all three of them. I try to have at least 8 to 10 gifts for them to open which includes santa gifts. They always get pajamas, a shirt or two, socks and underwear. Their stockings will usually have a new toothbrush, toothpaste travel size deodorant and body spray. I put some candy also. I am sure it seems we go overboard but that is all of the gifts they receive. Their birthdays are 4 weeks apart so they get one gift for their bdays and we go out to dinner. Every christmas we always try to pick names off of the angel tree to buy gifts.

Emily said...

A lot of people have addressed the children for Christmas, but here is an idea for an older person that my sister gave me. For Christmas last year, they gave her husband's grandmother one week's worth of frozen meals (the grandmother lived by herself) as well as a special meal with their family. They went and picked the grandma up, brought her to their house, and let her pick out the menu. Very cute and so appreciated by older people! (For the frozen meals, she just made extra when she cooked for her family to compensate so she wasn't actually making each of those meals individually.)

Anonymous said...

I am the youngest of six kids, and when I was growing up, our present to our parents every Christmas was for all 6 of us kids together to plan, cook, serve and clean up the Christmas feast so that Mom and Dad could relax on Christmas day.

Michelle said...

I have two sons 3 and 9 months. The little one is going to be getting toys that were my older sons when he turned one. No one will know and we are saving a ton of money! Older son wants a bike and will get some other things he is into too. We too are doing Operation Christmas Child this year and will do some other sort of volunteer work or visit a nursing home or something to show the boys that Christmas is not about gifts.

Anonymous said...

I like the coupons idea. We do an advent calendar each year, but it turned into a little greed-fest so I wasn't sure if we would do it again. I know my kids would love coupons for special events with us or their friends.

Thanks,
Melanie

Anonymous said...

We have been planning ahead this year more than normal and trying to be more practical. I picked up a new bedding set for each child at Target for $17 per bed (sheets, comforter, pillow case, and even came with towels). I have ordered them each a magazine through Amazon really cheap thinking that is a gift that will last all year plus they love getting mail. They are each getting a computer game also found on clearance at Target for $4 each. Not sure what else....but we are thinking very practical.

Julie said...

I forgot to mention. We ask family members to purchase I-bonds for our son. My brother just purchased one so he'll receive that for Chanukkah.

I have horror stories of what my son received from my ILs.

Anonymous said...

I have 3 kids ages 6, 5, and 2. We give them 1 gift each Christmas and some stocking stuffers that my husband is in charge of. He makes a trip to the $ store. They get plenty of stuff from other family members. In order to focus more on the giving instead of receiving we encourage each of the kids to make something for each other, then when we open the gifts we make a big deal about the giving by having each child pass out the gifts they made.

Dana said...

With 11 kids, we have really limited how many gifts our kids receive. They get a book and new jammies on Christmas Eve (look great for pics the next day and read themselves to sleep). We have never done santa - we felt that if lied to our kids about that, could they believe we told them the truth about G*d who is even greater?

Our children receive one gift plus stockings from us, and they usually pitch in together to buy gifts for each other - then they get one nice item from their siblings instead of a bunch of junk.

We used to put a dollar limit, but have found that it works better for us to just get them what 'fits'. Mabye one child gets a $500 sewing machine that we know she will take with her, while a much younger brother gets a $30 playmobil set. Our kids have never been ones to compare dollar amounts, and each gift is a fit so they like it. We feel better about buying them something that will last long-term instead of something trendy like clothing...
For us, it actually saves us money to just buy what they will love instead of stocking up on a bunch of great deals that I end up not giving to our kids... though Toys for Tots appreciated it when I used to do that :)

We end up spending quite a bit on Christmas, but we don't buy our children items for no reason throughout the year.

Right now we are taking an extended trip in our r.v. and I plan on getting digital readers for our 4 or 5 oldest. We are avid readers, and the older books that they like are free downloads, so will save us money in the long run. (at least that is how I am justifying it) ;)

Kelly said...

We do a couple of things here in our home.
1.) Each year my husband and I chose 1-2 ornaments for each of our 3 children and we write the year on them somewhere. They always have something to do with something that happened during the year specific to that child. For example, my youngest (girl) really found and loves Tinkerbell and Elmo this year, so she is getting themed ornaments from Disney and Sesame Street. For the middle child he recently took to Toy Story so he is getting those. I am still on the hunt for my oldest teenager, his is always the most difficult but it is SO much fun for them putting up "their" ornaments every year on our tree. My oldest still looks thru his and talks about them with such happiness every year.
2.)The teenager (first born), somehow I started a tradition of getting him a nutcracker every year. As you can imagine this can get costly and space consuming so I started getting creative and last year he got a musical nutcracker ornament. I am still looking for ideas for this season. But I have to say they really make the best nutcrackers if your kids are into them. We have Pirates, Egyptians, etc. You can really find one in almost any genre.
3.) We also buy all of the kids new pajamas to goto bed in Christmas Eve, this makes it a really special night and the photos in the morning are adorable with new jammies on.
4.) Another fun thing we do is hot cocoa and cinnamon rolls on Christmas Eve. It's cheap and the kids love it. They each have their own mug (which is the really special part) and every year when we unwrap them from storage it brings back memories.
5.)Admittedly we go a little nutty with the number of gifts we buy the children. So this year we have decided to sponser a family in need as well as donate what we can to 'Toys for Tots'. I have already started gathering toys on special deals or store clearance that would be perfect for donation to a needy child.

Briar Rose said...

I had an idea driving home today...for my friends and family I am going to go to the dollar store and get baking accessories, and get some mixes and frostings (have found a bunch of coupons lately and the commissary on post has Betty Crocker mixes and frostings on sale for .99!) and sprinkles and put together a baking box where they have almost everything to make a yummy treat for themselves!!! And if I can find cheap and cute dishes or silverware then I will include that too in the box!

moname said...

W don't have kids, but my sisters 3 kids are spoiled rotten. I bring them to the mall and let them each pick a name off of the tree. These are kids that will not get anything for Christmas. Then we shop for them and wrap it up and bring it back to the mall. That is a lesson you can not buy anyone.

Anonymous said...

My boys are 12,16 and 21 and last year they just wanted money so I give them each $200 to put towards something that they would want. It was difficult to get used to the idea of no gifts under the tree but in the end it was much better than lots of little odds and ends. I will also fill a stocking for each with the stuff I've got from couponing. For my little ones from my in home daycare last year I made them each their own book with pictures of themselves. One of their favorite things to do is read books so I wrote them their own story by simply starting it out "You warm my heart when..." This is a treasured item still today so I will make it for them again this Christmas.

McKelvey family said...

Last year we started a tradition, we had to "make" one gift for each person in the house. You couldn't buy it you had to make it. My 8 year old Son made me a candle, and my other son made me a recipe book holder out of wood that we had laying around the basement. I knitted my husband a new scarf and made fleece hats and scarves for the boys. It could be anything. One boy made a poster for his brothers room. Write a poem,sing a song, anything that comes from the heart.

Julie said...

Last post. DS and I made pipe cleaner candy canes and heart ornaments. Very inexpensive and fun to do.

Jennefer said...

I make PJ bottoms for all of my nieces and nephews. They are super easy and they love them. They always rave about them and can't wait for another pair.

Anonymous said...

I have a 2 year old and 7 year old. I love Holidays so my kids get a present for most holidays but I make them practical. Valentines is always a new short set since spring is just around the corner, a swimsuit I bought on clearance the year before,and whatever red or pink items I have picked up on clearance, usually underwear or hair ribbons. Easter of course they get a new dress outfit and 1 item for their spiritual growth (a new Bible as they progress in age, a Christian CD or book). July 4th I always get a family present: tickets to a musical, circus, theme park. Something we do together and make a whole day of. At the start of fall we spend a day decorating the house with scarecrows, leaves, and pumpkins and making fall shaped cookies. At the end of the day I give them a new fall outfit. We do an advent calendar the whole month of December. Most of the gifts are freebies I've stocked through the year. One pocket is always a "date with dad/mom". Another is always a free coupon to sleep in our bed. One is always a new board game. And some are "gifts" to give like I have my oldest read her favorite Christmas book to the younger one. Sometimes they say "call a family member and ask them to dinner" "call a family member and sing them a Christmas song" "make a card for your teacher" etc. The advent is their favorite part of Christmas. And on Christmas eve they get a new pair of pajamas to wear that night. They get 3 presents each from us: one for the body, one for their mind, and one for fun (several years I have used hand me downs or garage sale items for these.) They also get one present from santa. Their stockings are filled with toothbrushes, books, etc, and always an ornament for the year that represents something from the year.
The most frustrating part of Christmas for me is buying for the adults. It feels like such a waste since most of us buy ourselves what we need. If you ask them what they want they always say "I don't know." But every year I suggest we buy for "angels" instead of each other but my husbands family always says no.
My family started a few years ago with the rule that all adult gifts must be homemade or garage sale items. This is more fun, more frugal, and the gifts mean more.

WOW I wrote more I planned!

Briar Rose said...

Growing up...my parents always got us quite a bit of stuff, most of it was awesome but some of it was like um...seriously? As my sisters and I got older they would get us special jewelry (one year they got me an opal ring), watches, movies (my one sister LOVES movies), printer (my other sister wanted a fancy printer one year). Last year they got me a new set of pots and pans and Lucy watches (I collect Lucy stuff). One year they got one of my sisters a cube of dr. pepper because that is what she wanted. :)

Our stockings growing up ALWAYS had in them: favorite candy, orange, apple, banana, toothbrush, hair brush, book, cd, and hair stuff.

For our daughter, it is so hard to shop for her because she is the only grandchild on both sides so she gets SPOILED! By family and friends (our friends who have kids all have boys so they all like shopping the girly stuff for our daughter). So we get her Disney movies, cds to go on her ipod, books, a toy or 2, new Bronco clothes (she is a Bronco fan like her daddy). Her stocking has candy, book, hairbrush, hair stuff, chapstick, toothbrush with toothpaste she likes, and a neat cup or water bottle. Last year I think I spent $150 total on everything for her and that is from us and Santa. And throughout the year we clean out her toys and clothes and take it to kids who can't go and buy new stuff. She loves taking her old stuff to other kids who can't buy it.

Hana said...

I know when I was a kid I liked getting books and craft kits at least as much as I liked getting toys. Oh, and Christmas really isn't Christmas (even though I'm 26 now) without a stuffed animal, whether it's big or small. Christmas ornaments are nice too. When I have kids I'd like to give them one (fairly sturdy) ornament each year, so when they move out they have a collection started.

For stockings bath stuff and makeup is great, and I always liked dollar store toys in mine too.

SuzyQpon said...

My stepson is getting more expensive. At 13 there just isn't much that's cheap that he would like. We always give him 1 large gift then 3-4 small gifts and a stocking. Last year he got more than that but I found some major deals. This year he is getting the Blu ray player that was just on Amazon. That's going to be about it. 2 Wii games that I got on clearance from Kohls and used a 30% off coupon and a stocking. So I guess my budget is generally around $150 but we've gone over that and way under that - just sort of depends upon what I can find. My 1 yo will be getting a fair amount but he has 0 grandparents (I know I shouldn't compensate but with the other son getting so much from his grandparents it's hard). Also, with him being little I've been able to get everything CHEAP and usually with a Q! :) I know some people that will get their kids LITERALLY 30+ gifts each. I have seen their kids get tired of opening gifts and not want to continue. Ridiculous.

Staci @ Designing and Motherhood said...

Here's a few from my blog:

http://designingandmotherhood.blogspot.com/2009/10/hand-sanitizer-bottles-great-teacher.html

&

http://designingandmotherhood.blogspot.com/2009/10/when-i-shop-i-think-christmas-all-year.html

I know it gets expensive so I get creative! Staci

Tracy said...

This year we asked the grandparents to cut back a bit on the toys and help us out with some toy storage. Ikea has a unit I've had my eyes on and 4X the $25 will go a long way towards that. Then they will still get them each a small $10 something like a video or a book.

Last year my SIL made a dvd slide show, all set to music, of all the pics she has ever taken of our family. It was so beautiful it made me cry and the kids LOVE seeing themselves on tv. I think I'm going to make them each a DVD of their own, with pics from birth up, set to the songs I sang them when they were tiny babies and some of their current faves too. I can't wait to sit and watch their movies with them. So fun!

And my dad made a cd of all kid friendly songs from when he was younger like Chantilly Lace and The Purple People Eater...my kids love to get down and dance to it and I don't have to worry about inappropriate lyrics!

Melissa G. said...

How about a custom hand drawn portrait of someone special or a pet? My brother in law is drawing portraits to raise money for his mission to Africa.

He is really good. You can see the picture he drew of my son here...

http://geoffandmelissa.blogspot.com/2009/10/im-going-to-let-you-in-on-secret.html

I'd love help to spread the word.

Anonymous said...

We have 6 kids! With that said...we spend at least $300 on each kid at Christmas. One year a friend of mine was planning on giving her child $100 cash. She asked me if I thought he would like a $100 bill or 100 $1's. So I asked my kids who were the closest in age to her child. Come to find out...my kids couldn't believe that someone would give their child $100! They thought it was the greatest thing ever AND told me "well mom, you'd never give us that much". Little did they know I'd spend at least 3 x's that much on them in the previous years. Needless to say, my kids now get necessities (clothes, etc.), a toy, and $100 cash!

kathymedicus said...

If you get too many free toys give them to an orphanage or shelter. Or give them to your church to give to people in need.

Anonymous said...

I average about 25 gifts per child under the tree. Their ages are 11 and 13. However I only spend $75.00 on each of them. I bargain hunt and buy in bundles. I wrap individuals and dollar candy gets wrapped too. The kids think I am corny, but cool at the same time. It teaches them to budget their lists wisely. Their most favorite time though is X-mas day when we walk around the neighbor and bring neighbors x-mas presents that I have gotten through out the year. The best part of it all-I do a x-mas savings club and I have no debt at the end of the season. So no stress and any leftover money goes towards clearance the next day.

Rolene and David said...

Honestly, I go "garage saleing" a few times a month and get some pretty cool almost new toys for like 90%off there original price! This helps with our family budget a lot!

Brenda said...

When my kids were young, I would buy clearance Halloween costumes, as part of their Christmas, and add it to their dress up trunk.

Brenda said...

Oh, and the children open up advent drawers on a house that thet have filled with things for ea. other.
I also purchase children's Christmas books or toys from Barnes and Nobles at clearance that I set out in a big basket beginning Dec. for 1 mth. only.It gives them something to do during their Christmas break prior to Christmas. It,s the same stuff ev. year I just add 1 more thing after chriatmas ea. year.

Emily said...

Two years ago for Christmas, I got my 3 children new bedsets, each got a bookshelf, and a few other new things for their rooms. It was stuff they needed, stuff they use on a daily basis, and with sales and clearance deals, it all came out to be pretty cheap. Plus, my kids always get new clothes, socks, underwear and shoes.

Rochelle said...

Growing up my parents always bought one 'activity' that we could do as a family. One year we saw Disney on Ice, one year it was a concert with some Irish dancing, and other various outings. Overall, these were our favorite 'presents' because it made memories as a family. I look forward to carrying on this tradition with my family.

Anonymous said...

My daughter will be 11 months come Christmas so i am sure that we are way more excited for it then she is. We have decided to ask her grandparents to put money in to a college fund for her for Christmas. We figure it will be something that will be able to help her in the future and she is to young to know what Christmas is anyways so she won't complain.

Anonymous said...

This is hard for me because my love language is gifts and I love going all out giving to others. I go overboard on my kids. Each year I do scale back but they still have way too much. They get one big gift they really want from Santa and then some smaller ones too. Last year, we gave the whole family a Wii. This year, my 2 kids who are almost 5 and 7 each want a dsi. For pratical, I give them toothbrushes I normally wouldn't spend so much money on like musical or spinning ones and toothpaste, chapstick, etc in their stockings. We also really focus on teaching our children about giving. My husband is a firefighter and I am on the Toys for Joy committee. We spend a lot of time in December sorting toys, shopping for toys,etc. I also teach them that it is not just spending money. Time is also a very valuable gift. We also give food for the school food drive. I give my oldest a certain amount of money and she gets to pick what she can take. This also teaches her about budgeting and spending wisely.
One of my favorite things we did growing up is that my mom had an advent calendar she had made for us. She wrote on a piece of paper special things to do for each day such as make Christmas cookies, christmas crafts,etc. Also, each year we would pick a family and be kind of like secret santas to them. We would make them goodies and leave them at church for them or leave them on their porch. Then, at the end of the season, we would take a goodie plate to them and reveal ourselves.

Lisa in WV said...

HOLY COW....Someone opened a can of worms with is topic...LOL My girls 8 and 15 are getting a Wii and a few fillers. We don't have much...but we have what we need. I wish I could buy for those in need but I'm not financially there yet. My family has been so blessed. Happy and safe holidays to all of you!

Anonymous said...

My boys are 11 and 13 so of course their tastes are a lot more expensive than they used to be. I try to buy them a couple things each but things they really want that I usually wouldn't buy. My husband lost his job so this year I am being super careful to make sure I get great deals. Each week I watch toys r us and other stores for buy one get one free or gift card deals. Another thing that I have done for the last couple years, is I find out what the hot hard to find toys are and when I find them I sell them on ebay or amazon and use the money to cover the gifts I have to buy. I have been able to cover our last couple Christmases with some left over for after Christmas sales.

Anonymous said...

Oh I forgot to add on my post that we use the bogos etc to fill boxes for the Giving Tree Kids at school. My kids know that eventhough dad isn't working there are tons of kids that are a lot worse off (we're in Michigan and it's terrible) and that it's important to be thankful for what we have. My kids love getting presents but they understand that giving to others in need is just as important.

Anonymous said...

We don't spend too much. It is not worth it, our kids get spoiled from others too. We might spend $50.00 a child and we have 4. Last year I bought the boys a football table off craigslist for $25.00 they were thrilled. I got the baby a new carseat and her sister a doll house from a garage sale.

This year I am all about reusing things. I have loads of boxes saved from cereal that I plan to cut into magazine holders. I am making a desk set out of cans and boxes for my hubby. I am also using milk lids and juice lids to make a checkers game for the boys. The girls are getting some home made playdough.

I am thinking about blessing some other members of my family with frozen meals.

Evan&Amber said...

I just wanted to say how great it is to give your children Christmas ornaments as gifts. Last Christmas was my first Christmas with my husband. Since my mom gave me an ornament each year (and my grandma as well) I had enough to fill a good sized tree with my husband. Most of my newly married friends couldn't afford trees, because they would have had to purchase all the ornaments...What's Christmas without a tree? I'm so grateful that my parents started that tradition so now my husband and i can have a tree too!

Daisy said...

I recently had an unexpected surgery and will have yet another on Nov. 12th. Since these were unplanned, there was no way to save money in advance. With a recovery time of 6-8 weeks for the upcoming one, money will be exteremly tight for Christmas this year. I really appreciate all the ideas! It sure will help me as I try to figure out how to do Christmas for my two kids! Thanks again for the great ideas!!

KellyJ said...

I Like personal Gifts. For not too much money u can Make a scrap book for someone. Add Pics. U can even ask them to borrow some of their pics. They will have no idea what u are doing. Then Just copy them and give them back. Also Many people these days Scrapbook. So u can always ask Someone to borrow different scissors and things. U can make a small one that is only like 20 pages or so.
Also there is a pottery place by me that U can paint vases and other things. Or u can make your own glass bowl or candle holder. Its not a bad price also.

Evan&Amber said...

p.s About homemade gifts, my mom use to make my siblings and me stilts out of number 10 cans or tall juice cans...just drill a hole for and tie a string wah law Stilts!!

KellyJ said...

Layaway Is always a great way to go That way u are not spending Tons of $$ in one or 2 outings. Also remember to ask where u put your stuff on layaway if they take off items that u have in there If it goes on sale the next week. Then check adds each week and U can get them marked down.

KellyJ said...

Find out where They get their Hair done and Get them A gift Certificate to their Salon. It helps them save on money. Also Massages, Pedicures, Manicures are great. Not many people take enough time to treat themselves.

Anonymous said...

I grew up in a large family and it always seemed like mom was just making sure the present counts were equal. I know that I received things she just found for a really good price and not so much because it met a need or want. So, when I grew up and started my own family I started a tradition of our own. We do three gifts, just like the wisemen. (If it was good enough for Jesus it is good enough for us!) One gift must be NEEDED. (Something you need, AKA practical.) Another WANTED. (Something you would never buy yourself. Truly a splurge. Does not have to have a large monetary value.) Another a GROWTH gift. (This must be something to cause you to grow as an individual throughout the next year.) We also do stockings with small things from Santa.

This has been fun for our family and takes the pressure off Christmas and really makes you think about what you buy. It is totally fun. (Also, my kids DO NOT get many gifts from their grandparents and uncles and aunts and the like. We have a big family and so money is stretched thin. However, they still seem to be very happy and we can focus on the real reason for the season, at least in our home.)

Anonymous said...

I have come up with an idea for my 7 year old for this Christmas. I'm going to purchase a 2010 calendar ($1 at Michael's) and glue an envelope to each month. I plan to make coupons to go into each envelope with fun things to do with family or friends: bowling, putt-putt, Chuck E. Cheese, hair & nail appointments, beach day, All Your Favorites Day,camp out, Pumpkin Patch, Winter Wonderland,Disney on Ice etc. You can certainly get creative! I'm hoping she will love it.

Christine said...

We're having a "food storage Christmas" this year. We will give a case of cake mixes to my brother and his family and recipes for different uses (dump cake, cookies, etc) (we draw names with my siblings). We also draw names as a nuclear family and set a $5 limit on those family gifts. We will do a food storage theme there, too. What can the kids find for $5 that will go in our food storage? It could be a box of favorite cereal that we don't usually buy or several cans of tuna (a favorite of my daughter).

I've enjoyed all these ideas!

Flippo said...

We have used christmas money for zoo memberships or museum passes. Something very fun that we can use all year and it doesn't sit around my house where we all can trip on it. Very fun!

Ida said...

I have not read all 138 other coments so sorry if this a repeat of someone elses post.
I like to give my children experiences. Last year for my daughters birthday we asked everyone to consider giving towards a dance class instead of geting her a toy. She loved her dance class and it was something that normally was way out of our budget. Giftcards to the movietheater along with a bag of popcorn are nice for small kids that way they get something that feels like a instant present but it will be eaten and then it is gone and it is just such a special thing to go to the big theater to see a movie. There are many special learning opertunities and special fun places that you can take your children and if you pair the experience with an item that symbolises what the tickets are for take pictures and make them a little scrapbook or just write some notes with the pictures in an album that they can look at often so they remember that it was their present. They are more likely to apreciate it for years to come than a massive amount of toys. I still give some toys, but i never ever spend a lot on them, if there is a toy i really want and cant find it on sale i get it used on ebay or craigslist. Chances are that the kids will only play with it for a few weeks anyway.

mybarefo said...

I like to gather all of my Christmas books, such as picture books and wrap each one in wrapping paper. Starting Dec.1st I allow my children (I have 6) take turns and 1 book gets unwrapped a night until Christmas Day.It make bedtime stories even more fun. That tradition is by far the BEST thing ever around here. They love seeing the books all wrapped and on display in a basket in the living room.

Anonymous said...

I THINK ONE OF THE BEST GIFTS MY CHILDREN EVER GOT WAS ONE OF THOSE RAISE YOUR OWN BUTTERFLIES KITS!! It was so much fun, and they were so amazed at those butterflies! It truly was a sad day when we set them free.

Anonymous said...

I love to give practical gifts to my kids for Christmas! I like to make it look like they are getting more, by wrapping things separate. I love to buy my teenage daughter new PINK panties, they are practical and she loves them I will also do this with socks or hoisery! My 7 year old son loves to get snow boots or shoes. So practical and a big hit. I even will wrap camies separarte from the cordinating shirts. It so much fun when they think they are getting a lot more than they really are!

Ida said...

woa, theres a million comments! Well on behaf of the many families who are on the recieving end of charity allmost every year i just want to say thank you! I'm blessed with wonderfull friends who are allmost all better of than I am and there has been times when stuff has been left by our door with a from santa note on it.

Christmas to me is about giving and not getting and I've tried hard to teach my children the same. Our families tried drawing names one year and we really did not like it. It felt like an obligation and not something you did because you wanted to. Sometimes we have given big gifts and not gotten anything back and that was just fine and sometimes we have resived big gifts and not have anything significant to give back, one year we had everyones presents but qould not afford the postage because my husband lost his overtime and everyone got their boxes in febuaray.

When i was growing up once we started earning our own money we payed for everyones pesents our selves.
my children are still to small so for now they are learning to be gratefull for what they resieve and to give, out children give us gifts because i think it is important for them to learn to give to everyone they love as well as people who "are needy".

Roger and Amy Ann Deming Family said...

We also do the 3 present idea -like baby Jesus. This year we are saving for a family trip, but my oldest really wants a Nintendo DS. My husband has an older one that he never uses so we are giving him that with a new game. That way he has something new to go with the "old" system. I also stocked up on the barbies for my 3 year old when they were buy 2 get one free. Look for deals like you all do I am sure! And keep it simple and special. They will keep the memories with them, not the toys! This year I want to teach my children the TRUE meaning of Christmas - giving - and have less emphasis on the receiving.

Roger and Amy Ann Deming Family said...

ALSO, I found a killer find at our local Dollar Store! I have these Disney Books my mom bought for my kids several years ago and they were probably $5 each - we I found the SAME set at the Dollar Store for $1 each and they are going to my nephew. I also stocked up on Snow White on DVD for the fam - with the $10 off coupon I got it for only $10 each and it is a nice gift. :) Happy hunting.

Shelly T. said...

A couple of years ago, my sister and I filled a large Christmas stocking for my parent's as their gift. We filled it with all kinds of fun things and also included a gift card to Starbucks. They loved it. In fact I loved the idea so much that my sister and I each exchanged a filled stocking last year for Christmas. It was so fun to look for all the items and even more fun emptying out my own stocking. Now that I am reading "It's Hip to Save" and getting so many good deals and freebies I could put together a wonderful stocking as a gift without spending a lot of money!!

We also have a tradition that we buy our son and daughter a new ornament for the tree each year that relates to what they are into that year. They also receive a new ornament from each set of grandparents. I always make sure to put the date and who they are from on each ornament or ornament box, so they will always remember who they are from. In addition I buy a personalized "family ornament" with the year on it. That way when the kids move out and take all their ornaments our tree won't look so sad and empty. We all really enjoying seeing all the ornaments from over the years on the tree.

One other thing on gift exchanges. On my side of the family we have tons of nieces and nephews, and their is no way anyone can afford to buy for each of them. We have each cousin draw a name and they buy one gift for that cousin and receive one gift. It really helps with the budget to have the name exchange.

Both of our families(all the siblings) used to do either a name exchange or play Dirty Santa, but even that has to be too expensive. Last year I made ornaments for each family. One year I gave a Christmas Angel figurine I had picked up after Christmas at 90% off and gave as a family gift. We don't all give each other something, but I like to do a little something if I can find a great deal or make something that doesn't hurt our budget for Christmas.

Anonymous said...

We watch how many gifts our children receive. But having lots to open under the tree is always fun. I will take a pack of socks and wrap each pair individually (in different sizes of course - it is amazing how small or long you can make a pair of socks!) Or wrap a set of books individually. With a little creativity, you can look like there are more gifts that there are.

Anonymous said...

Just a note to the family getting the piano. That is what my family did when I was 8 or 9. It was an old one but we loved it. We had it untell my sis got married and 12 years later.The sound board broke in her moving it to her house. Her husband made her get rid of it. She cried for days. He felt really bad. He did not know that it ment that much to her. The whole family went through a mornning over it.

Anonymous said...

I have a 4 yr boy and I got him a few years ago dress up clothes. ( his dad dint like him in his solder sis pink dresses) HE LOVES them. I love him being a cowboy or a knight going out to get the dragon or bad guys. Remember they have a great imagination and only need a little. more is overwhelming to kids

Cyndi said...

Well first of all, I always buy my wrapping paper and cards, etc. after christmas dirt cheap and store them with my tree and stuff.
Secondly, we do the christmas eve gift of pjs also, i grew up doing that and love it.
we also let our boys open gifts before christmas, like Hanukkah, but small gifts like a movie we can all watch or a game we can play.
Christmas Day we do most of the gifts, like the others we do a big gift and some smaller ones, clothes, bathroom supplies, candy, my son who is into computers gets computer maintenance stuff. my other son who is into fishing will probably get fishing gear this year. I can tell you as a mom with teens that the toys are long gone and forgotten, but books, dogs, bikes, sporting gear, think long term commitment stuff is still around. So try to think further ahead than just the next year.
also we have a lot of family members that do savings bonds, and when my son turned 16 this helped him pay for his car!

Anonymous said...

I save my credit card points all year and use them to buy gift cards and christmas presents

Anonymous said...

I am giving alot of books this year, WalMart has their top selling books on sale for at least 50% off (online) Their are some great deals.

Anonymous said...

Earlier this year, my sisters and I sewed the quilt top from the "Quilt Block of the Month" from Joann Fabrics. Then we sent it to my moms church and they are going to finish it for us by adding the middle and back and hand quilting the whole thing. It will be special for my mom because all four of her daughters helped make it along with her church who shes been a member of for at least 30 years.

News From the Inside said...

We are a three present per child family too. We have five children from 1-9 years old. They know the presents are from us. We do not do Santa because we knew from the start that we would not be able to afford a lot of presents and did not want our children to think Santa loved them less then other kids because their friends got a lot more toys.

We love to give books, art supplies, and Adventures in Odyssey. The girls love to get fun girly stuff that I get cheap throughout the year too. Sometimes I'll make a little basket of that stuff as one of the gifts for them. Even little girls love nailpolish and lotions.

We also do Operation Christmas Child with Samaritians Purse. They ship shoeboxes of Christmas gifts overseas. The kids love making up the shoeboxes with the cheap finds I've collected over the year for this purpose. Toiletries (which I'm sure we all have plenty of) and small toys are lovingly packed with lots of discussions about where the children live who might get our boxes and what they might be like. I love to watch my children be more concerned about other children's Christmases then their own.

My mother is a junkaholic and always gives them too much stuff that they don't want. She believes quantity is more important then quality. My father however, gives me $50 for each child and tells me he doesn't care what I do with it as long as I don't just save it for college or something. With the children's input we used that money to buy a Wii last year and other years have gone to an indoor water park in January (when it is really cheap).

Toys break but family memories are what lasts.

Jeannette said...

One year for Christmas my parents got a refrigerator box and a set of paints for each of us and we played with them until the boxes were destroyed. We loved it and very cheap. Also I saw that someone does coupons for their kids, we use to give coupons to our parents, like one extra chore or something like that.

Rebecca G said...

We started a tradition in my family about 15 years ago that on Thanksgiving all the adult names go in a hat and we each draw one name (it can't be our spouse). Whoever you draw is who you buy for Christmas ($20-30 limit). We all buy for the kids (nieces/nephews) and that is our gift exchange for Christmas evening.

In my own family for Christmas morning, my kids (I have 3) each get quite a few gifts from mom & dad, each other, Santa & stockings, but I really plan ahead for Black Friday. Last year I was able to get all of my Christmas shopping done for my kids, plus extended family for less than $200. It takes a lot of work planning and I'm exhausted by 9:00 in the morning (in line starting at 3 AM), but it is wonderful being able to make a nice Christmas for my kids on an otherwise shoestring budget.

Jessica P. said...

Black Friday is a good time to buy big ticket items for christmas (last year my parents bought themselves a flat screen tv. my chore was that I had to wait in line for the deal on Black Friday!)
My mom and I will also make "stocking stuffers" where we'll make these elf shoes and fill them with lots of candy and then hand them out to the little kids of the extended family.
Also, for my significant other's side of the family, we both make his favorite granola and muddy buddies to give to them.
For his mom we buy her something related to the house but then also attach a homemade coupon to help her with it (like last year we bought her a rake, and then we gave her some coupons to rake the yard).

Sometimes, depending on the sales at our fabric stores, we'll also buy collegiate fabric and sew pillow cases (really easy to make fyi!) for the kids who are going to be in college the upcoming year.

Julia said...

My Mom spoiled us growing up. She now spoils my children, but I am doing my best to undo that.

At our house we have bday's and Christmas close together, so I collect things all year long for both.

We don't need clothes for Christmas, because I just did a back to school clothing swap at our church and my kids got all the like new clothes, shoes and coats they needed. We helped over 100 families and all extras were donated. Next step is a Christmas toy trade so, I am sure I will get them a couple of things from that. Most importantly, they will be giving a lot of stuff in the trade.

All year, I have been collecting freebies for them, I have a Hannah Montana poster, a free HM jewelry box from JC Penny's that I got duriing a $10 off $10 promo and pajamas from a simular promo, free books and coloring books and dvds.

I have also been going to yard sales all summer to get bday gifts and Christmas. As a rule, I never buy brand new unless it is someone else's impulse purchase that was never opened at a garage sale. I bought a new in box guitar and barbies and books and dvd's and back packs and a never opened Hannah Montana computer game. I haggled on the price of all of these itemss. It helps the environment to recycle and it helps my kids to not have those expectations that they have to have brand new in the box trendy items. When they started getting the "iwantit" syndrome from commercials on tv, my response was if we have a coupon for it, we will talk about it. That ended the i want it talk.

I plan on ordering FREE personalized Thank you cards off of Vista print for my 5 yr old and 6 yr old, because they have biirthday's close to Christmas and they need to start sending out Thank you's.

I also plan on printing some paper doll sets for all of my girl's. That will just cost ink and it will bring tons of joy. http://marilee.us/paperdolls2.html#Printchildren

Anonymous said...

I must admit that, in the past, we have gone way overboard for our children for Christmas (they would get 3 presents from Santa and about 15 presents under the tree from us plus stockings)!!! That's just how I was raised and am having a hard time with it...I have learned a LOT since couponing though and it's GREAT!

I've picked up items here and there for stocking stuffers (the $1 bins at Target, the $1 store, etc...)

My children (7 and 4) are getting a Xbox this year from "Santa", we are buying that 2nd hand from someone. We are getting it 1/2 price and it comes with about 5 games. They are each asking for bikes (from Santa) and are getting a swingset too (from us).

They will have a couple to open under the tree, PJ's to open on Christmas Eve and then stockings.

LOVED the calendar/coupon idea!!!

Anonymous said...

I am a fan of crafting-type gifts, games, or building sets and other things that can be used for imaginative play (kitchen stuff, train set, etc). We too are careful about how much we give/get for our 21 month old, partly to teach him that he doesn't need a lot of things, and partly because we live in a house with no basement. Not a lot of room to store random toys!

Shian said...

My son loves McDonalds, but I don't take him there very often at all. For Christmas, I get him a $10 or $15 gift card. He can choose when to use it for a special date with Mom and Dad. He loves it!

J said...

So many great ideas to read over. I am considering doing "gift certficates" for "lunch w/mommy" or "lunch w/daddy" for our kids.

Another great idea... a friend recieved a gift certificate for milk & bread delivery from a local dairy for a year from her parents for Chiristmas. Kids LOVE THE MILK TRUCK !! ):

Anonymous said...

Our extended family had so much fun last year playing this bingo game that everyone wants to make it a tradition. I take all those little freebies and cheapies I collect throughout the year, wrap them, then use them for bingo prizes. Once a person has won two-three prizes, they must sit out until everyone else has also won two or three prizes. This way everyone's wins and everyone has FUN!

Anonymous said...

Last year the adults in my family got restaurant.com gift certificates from us. They were $25 gifts for only two bucks!
I use them and recommend them highly.

Anonymous said...

I found a really cute coupon book for kids at Walgreens a while back (it is Hallmark brand so I'm sure you could find it elsewhere too). My kids LOVE it! I noticed some of the comments from others about coupons for Christmas and I think most kids would love this. The coupon book has some really cute ideas that I may not have thought of on my own.

This year we are redecorating the kids' rooms and giving them some fun decorations for their rooms as Christmas gifts. Their decor was no longer age appropriate so this is something we would have spent money on anyway. I like giving them things that we would have bought anyway but that they still get excited about like new pj's, clothes, fun toothbrushes, etc...This gives them lots of things to open but doesn't cost us extra money in the long run.

Also last year we bought my daughter a digital camera (black friday deal!) and asked some friends and family to get her scrapbooking stuff. We showed her how to put the pictures from her camera on the computer and help her upload them to Walgreens or Walmart so she can use them to scrapbook with. She loved this.

Anonymous said...

I purchase items on clearance at Walgreens for stockings like stickers, balls (left over from summer sales) and pens, pencils, color books, paper. I also look for plastic animals from the craft store or Fred Meyer for about $1 for my 1 yr old. I stock up at Target if they have their 50% off colored dots dollar section. The stuff is easy to store for a few months and I am able to buy many items for less than the dollar store price. Walgreens has had great markdowns in their toy section and I have picked up several toys for charity for 75% off. We live on a budget so this enables us to donate but not break the bank! They mark down some good stuff, not necessarity just the store brand stuff!

Anonymous said...

A friend gave me this idea: Buy clearance halloween costumes and make a "dress-up trunk" for your child! She did it for her daughter- with princess costumes. I did it for my son- with super hero costumes and Disney characters like Buzz Lightyear! The kids LOVED it!

dubby99 said...

It's not cheap but it is worth that emotional expression when someone you love opens a book about them. maker a Storybook with Heritage Makers is a great way to write your stories down and give them to family for christmas. We have lots of great gift ideas and if you would like to host a party I can show you some of these great ideas. you can also visit my web site and start making projects today. www.debbstories.com