31 answers

Panicing About Christmas Time Already.

I'm trying to think of presents for my 3 year old son. I'm glad he's not at an age of Wei's or Guitar Hero's just yet. My husband has been unemployed for about 6 months now and money is really tight. What kind of make at home presents do people do at low cost or no cost? I don't know how to sew. I am checkng on freecycle for legos, lincoln blocks, and puppets. Any other ideas? And how does one get on toys for tots?

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I just wanted to add that I recently found that Ross has a toy section- and the toys are pretty cheap. My friends two sons love Spiderman, and I found some Spiderman lego sets with characters and blocks for 3.99- and the price normally would have been $15, which I would have spent.

You have some great ideas- good thing you're starting out now with plenty of time.

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How about a used book, a bouncy ball, new shoes, crayons? Hand-me downs from a friend's kid?

I gave a friend an old Thomas Train set that my boys had outgrown, and she says her son SLEEPS with it, he loves it so much! He is three or four.

My MIL gives literal mountains of gifts to our kids every year---last year it took so long to go through the pile they got bored and wandered off halfway through!!! I see them perfectly happy when we give them gifts of new pencils, or some cozy pajamas---that's all they need to be happy, seriously.

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Do you have friends with older sons? If so, I've found that hand-me-down toys are fine for kids this age! Just clean up the toys and wrap them. He'll never know they aren't brand new, and even if he did, they are still new to him, right? =)Toys that do very well for hand-me-downs are any kind of trucks (like Tonka trucks), matchbox cars, train sets, that kind of thing. Christmas is about the spirit of love and joy, not about buying tons of cheap plastic junk from China! Please don't let this stress you out. We've actually started a trend in our family of not giving gifts at all except to kids under 18, and even then, it's ONE toy or item, and it may or may not be brand new. The kids are just as happy with this plan (maybe more so - fewer thank-you notes to write!) and it has really decreased our stress levels.

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It's not about the GIFTS!!!! It's about the family time together. Gifts are not important and kids need to learn that at a very early age. How about a date at the ZOO or Tilden Park? Many of our friends do not give material gifts, they give gifts of time. If cildren learn at an early age the holidays are NOT about $$$$$$$$$$ and gifts, you ahve done a huge service to the world.

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Sorry you're feeling stressed. I hope you get some helpful responses. Like you said, it's a great year to have a very young child who doesn't have strong or specific material leanings yet! A few thoughts I had:

-Package up some wonderful experiences for him like tickets to ride the train along with a special hat for the day. Tickets for the movies or the zoo.
-Maybe make a simple sandbox (sand in a kiddie pool) http://www.ehow.com/how_###-###-####_own-sand-box.html
- Giving him his own space in the garden along with some seeds and a shovel and the promise to do it together?
-A homemade nature kit with magnfiying glass, jar and a book on bugs?
-Thrift stores?

1 mom found this helpful

Wow, you've had some great responses from wonderful moms. I was also going to suggest a swap party with your friends who have children of a similar age. A good friend of mind recently held this type of party for her girlfriends. We all cleaned out our closets, brought our old clothes, handbags, shoes, etc... and spent a fun evening drinking wine and trying stuff on. Everyone went home with something that was new to them and the rest went to goodwill. Something similar could be done with toys. Did I mention it was a potluck?

As far as shopping, I think IKEA is great and my daughter has LOVED some of the toys and stuffed animals we've gotten there. I would not encourage you to shop at the dollar store for toys because what you find there may contain lots of lead or other harmful chemicals. Shop owners can't be too discriminating when they're selling stuff for a dollar.

best of luck and it's a good thing you're thinking about this early. Hopefully you can get the bulk of the stress out of the way and enjoy the holiday!

1 mom found this helpful

I'm not sure if anyone suggested this yet, as I don't have time to read all the advice (I see you've gotten lots!). In addition to Dollar Store and such (which is where I bought all kinds of craft things for my daughter's 3rd birthday present and she loved it), what about making a 'coupon book'? If you have a computer and printer, you could do it that way or make it the old fashioned way. You could draw or use clip-art for the illustrations to help him 'read' it. Example: "This coupon good for Matt and Daddy to bake one batch of oatmeal cookies" and have a picture of a cookie. You could do all his favorite activities and those fun things that we often say no to such as "Good for all the puddle splashing you want the next time it rains". Sure, you have to think of things you don't do often so it's more special. But seriously, at age 3 they haven't been too damaged yet by commercialism. And remember to start limiting what's on TV soon...the ads are coming!!! That's when we tend to watch more PBS or DVD's so we don't see commercials and I don't have to hear, "Mommy, I want that!".

Good luck--and remember, he'll like the box just as much as what came in it!

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at age 3 he's not concerned about it so dont you be!! my sons favorite xmas gift was the box whatever he got came in. the bigger the box the happier the kid. one year my dad brought him a huge box (they got a new stove) wrapped with one end open (but still wrapped) and talked him into running into the wrapped box. when he burst thru the wrapping into the almost empty box i thought he'd never stop laughing. tapped to the inside top was a box of crayons. we spent the whole day drawing on that box and playing in it. another year we got several large boxes from behind the sears store and made him a box city. he thought it was the best present ever! at 12 he still loves boxes. is there something like that your boy loves?

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Hi T.: You just hit a hot button for me.
We have 5 children and now several grandchildren. When our children were young we were military and if any one checks they make less than anyone!
My Grandchildren are STILL playing with the blocks he made out of scrap wood, that was cut, sanded, some have the paint worn off now but the memories will always be there. We have never been ones to give tons of presents. We give each child 2 main gifts and then the stocking is the grand prize. Even as adults they say they never know what mom will put in there-- bubbles- tennis balls - toys from the ceral boxes alll those things that come with childrens meals. We make it for fun. On the 8th birthday we make it a really big deal. For that person they get a tent and lantern, and then each year we add one item for camping. When each child moved out they had all of their own camp items.
3 y/o are not impressed as you are with piles of things. It is over whelming. Lots of story books that you can have one on one time are good. My girl friends are getting together becasue several of their family members are out of work-- and they are having a swap meet-- with no money exchanged JUST TRADES--- it cleans out the things we don't need and helps someone else that does need it. I just went to a consignment store and bought 2 large sontainers of leggo's for 6.00 each. Leggo's are a gift that can be played with by adults-- our family doctor says that it releves stress.
We have a son who has a birthday, the day after Christmas, we have made it a tradition to get him a small tree FREE from a tree lot later we got him a funky fake one, and put his birthday cards on it and his 1 gift goes in the middle.His friends always were jelouse. The things that we center on is doing things for others at Christmas. We find a family that we can everyday leave a small gift for on the porch. When we had no money my kids would write notes to say thank you for the things they do, and draw pictures. We don't sign them because we want them to think its from everyone they know.At age 3 they like to dress up so why not get things for dress up clothes-- pirate, cowboy, spaceman, teacher, janitor, whatever-. Heck my little ones have me go to the grocery store and we get empty boxes and they decorate them and they are 2-4. My friends and I also started a special thing years ago where were would get a fake tree after Christmas, we were blessed to have store managers donate several over the years and we collected decorations and left it on a familyies porch. My children are still carrying on this tradition in all the states that they live in.Nana G

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