Advertising executives want us to believe that the only way we can make our children’s Christmas a meaningful one is if we buy them everything on their Christmas list. Have you seen the commercial this season where a teenage girl sits, expensive opened presents all around her, and declares that she actually liked everything? Her father looks stunned and then elated.
Maybe this is Christmas in an ad exec’s world, but I tend to think most kids are happy with a simpler Christmas.
Don’t feel that you need to go out and spend hundreds of dollars on your children to create a “magical” Christmas. Spend what you are comfortable spending and within the limits of what you can afford.
Here are some of my favorite frugal gifts for kids:
1. Give the gift of time
We can shower our children with as many commercial items as we want, and they may be temporarily happy, but ultimately, what they want from us is our time.
Consider making a little coupon book for your child. You can include some freebies such as “one hug from mom” or “one cooking session with dad”, but you can also include a few bigger items like “one movie and dinner date with mom” or “one miniature golf session with dad”.
Your child will be able to redeem these throughout the year, so you won’t have to have all of the money upfront. Maybe you go to the movies in March, but you don’t go miniature golfing until June. Plus, you may be surprised to find that the gift of one on one time turns out to be one of your child’s favorite gifts under the tree.
2. Jar a treat
Is there something your child loves but doesn’t often get? If you have something that is normally only available in limited quantity, why not give a gift of that?
For instance, in our house, our children’s access to sweets is limited. Hot chocolate is a treat. So, each year I pack a pint size jar with the ingredients for hot chocolate, and each child gets one. They can each decide when they would like their hot chocolate throughout the year such as after playing outside in the snow.
3. Make a gift
Homemade gifts can be frugal, entertaining, and appreciated. Thanks to Pinterest, there are a wealth of homemade gift ideas available. Consider making homemade doll clothes for your little girl or accessories. My mom crocheted a baby blanket for my daughter’s favorite doll, and she uses that gift every day to take care of her “baby”. Other ideas for girls include jewelry, bags, and hair accessories. For young boys, super hero capes, car caddies and car road mats are great gifts.
4. Give craft supplies
What child doesn’t like crafting and coloring? When you see all of those back to school sales in July and August, secretly stock up on paper, crayons, markers, scissors and other supplies. You will have a gift that the kids will love for only a few dollars. I also usually buy an extra backpack that is on sale in August. If my son’s backpack is starting to wear out, I can give him a brand new backpack for Christmas that I bought at a steep discount in July.
5. Give second hand gifts
If you would like to buy your child all store bought gifts, don’t assume that you have to go to the mall and pay retail price. Look through eBay and Craigslist. In our area, if I search “new toy” on Craigslist, I get a full page of listings. These are toys that are new in the box and offered at a significant discount. (Don’t forget that you can negotiate to lower the price, too.) Why pay retail when you can get a toy at a steep discount on eBay or Craigslist?
Don’t believe the media hype that you must spend hundreds of dollars on your children to give them a memorable Christmas. There are many frugal gifts that you can give your children such as your time, which will likely mean more to them than a plastic toy that may break in a few months.
What is your favorite frugal gift for children?
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