You are currently viewing 6 things you can do for Christmas with your kids when you don’t have much money.

6 things you can do for Christmas with your kids when you don’t have much money.

We are closing in on Christmas and your kids have high expectations.  Right?  They can’t help it.  Something about Christmas brings out hope, expectations and even a little magic in even the most bah-humbug person around us.  Our kids have made their Christmas lists (and seriously, why are they so long and detailed?  If they spent as much time doing homework as they did making their Christmas lists they’d be the next Einstiens).  They talk to their friends about what they are going to get for Christmas (“oh yeah, well my mom is going to buy me a pony”.  “Well, my mom is buying me a mansion”) and they spend (what feels like) hours looking at store flyers and watching commercials.

As a parent, we want to give our children everything they want.  We want to be able to buy them the newest and best toys, the newest technology, the coolest clothes (and yes I did use the word “cool” even though its “an old person word”).  So what do you do when you are financially in a rut around Christmas?  How can you give your kids a good Christmas when you aren’t even sure how you are going to pay your bills this month?  How do you even start the conversation about how you cant buy them that new video game system because you bought the whole family a new washer dryer set because yours broke and you like clean clothes?

As a single parent to 2 boys, I have had to be a little creative from year to year.  I can’t buy my kids all things Nike AND the newest video game systems AND the other crazy expensive things on their lists.  I just can’t. (Especially not when I had to replace one child’s school Chromebook due to negligence and my other son is blowing through his shoes like crazy.  You know what I’m saying.  It is always something.)  One year my oldest told me how disappointed he was that I couldn’t buy him an island for Christmas, because that’s what one of his friend’s family did.  How in the world can I compete with an island?

On a particularly difficult year, I didn’t have much money to spend on my kids after all was said and done.  They had a place to live, clothes to wear (thank God for Walmart) and food in their bellies, but beyond that it was tight.  I ended up buying smaller, less expensive gifts, and wrapped them all separately. Their gifts were small and cheap.  The kind of toys that as you are wrapping them, you are envisioning how they are going to immediately break them.  I even bought them socks and underwear and  wrapped them all separately so they had extra gifts to unwrap.  I felt like a bad parent because I didn’t get ANYTHING on their Christmas lists.  I couldn’t afford it.  I felt like the biggest loser.  My kids’ friends are Christmasing on an island and I bought them what will be tomorrow’s garbage. So I made a game out of it.  I hid the gifts all over the house with clues to find the next gift.  You know what my kids said when they opened their gifts that year?  Not “Mom! These gifts are the worst” but “That was the best Christmas ever!”.  I cried when they told me that.  Best Christmas ever?  How is that even possible?

As it turned out, that Christmas was a turning point for us.  We made a mess.  We made memories.  We laughed and threw wrapping paper “snowballs”.  My kids smiled and went to school and told their friends about their fun Christmas.  It wasn’t about what I bought them (or even what I didn’t).  It was about memories.

Recently I was talking to another mom and she was lamenting about how little money she had to spend on her child.  She was in tears, beating herself up for not being able to do something big for her kiddo.  We started talking about fun things she could do that were inexpensive.  As we talked, she was more and more excited about what they could do together.  I have no doubt, her kiddo is going to have a great Christmas this year.  He may not have everything he wanted, but he will get everything he needs (and some great memories to pass on to his kids someday).

So, fellow parents, if you are feeling bad this Christmas season, take heart.  Do a little Pinterest searching for fun Christmas traditions to start.  Even if they are stupid.  Do something fun with the gifts you could purchase.  Years down the road, your kids are not going to remember the gifts you bought them.  They will remember making snowmen with dad in the front yard.  Or making cookies with mom on Christmas Eve.  They will remember having Christmas paper “snowball” fights and drinking hot cocoa while watching a Christmas movie on TV.  Be creative.  If you focus less of your attention on gifts and more on making memories, you too can have the “best Christmas ever”.

I compiled a list of 6 of my favorite things to do with kids during Christmas when you don’ thave lots of money.  Hopefully these will spark your creative juices and you can come up with a fun Christmas for your family! 

Merry Christmas!


Leave a Reply