33 answers

Two Questions - Finances and Holidays

This past year has been financially difficult for us. We are self employed, and because of the economy in the U.S., it has greatly affected our business. This means for Christmas, we can not spend a lot. My husband and I are not sure what to do for this Christmas, and our kids keep telling us what they want for Christmas. My oldest wants a Wii which is definitely out of the question. We are thinking about giving only one gift for each child. What do we tell the children about Santa Claus? My oldest said "Well, Santa Claus can give us one gift, and you can give us one gift". Are there anyone out there who is in the same situation as we are? I am trying so hard to be in good spirit about Christmas, but I really am dreading it because we have to watch every penny until after the New Year. The holidays tend to be the slowest time of the year, and the economy is so bad right now.

Also, can you suggest of something fun that we can do with the kids that doesn't cost anything during the holidays when they are home for Thanksgiving and Christmas? My husband has to work thru the holidays so that we can take care of our expenses. Just so you know, my youngest one is a real handful which that is something that my husband and I are working on with her.

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What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

Wow! Everyone thank you so much for all the wonderful suggestions and for sharing your stories. Many of you are a wonderful inspiration, and thank you for sharing lots of wonderful ideas. Now I need to start planning my calendar with some exciting fun things to do.

UPDATE: 12/12/08 - Everyone - again, many thanks for your wonderful suggestions, and for taking the time to give me and others who might need help with this too. We actually are doing better now since I last posted this, and my husband has a busy month with work for the month of December. I actually am feeling alot better from lots of encouragement from my family and friends. in fact, my husband got a "used" Wii from Craig's list for a good price, and we actually were able to come up with a plan how we wanted to spend money for Christmas. I hope everyoe has a wonderful holiday with your families!

Featured Answers

I'm glad that things have improved for you and that you have dealt with the challenges of this year. One last thought on the Santa issue, however. I tell my girls that Santa will give them (as another response mentioned) things that he determines are appropriate and enjoyable for them. I don't have them write lists -- Christmas isn't about a wish list but instead the thought of the giver. I also tell them that Santa is giving extra this year to children who have nothing -- who are lacking in the things that they take for granted. And, if you want to read an inspiring story about this same issue, read L. Ingalls Wilder's chapter on Santa Claus in Little House on the Prairie.

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FUN FREE CHRISTMAS: www.thevillageatallen.com Allen: has their Tree Lighting TONIGHT: sat.11/22...starting at 5:30
The BIG GUY Santa is there!

2 moms found this helpful

just a thought, but right now at walgreens all of their 9.99 toys are 4.00 off. There is a coupon in their ad- tomorrow is the last day. They have a range of toys for different ages. You could get 3 toys for under 20.00. I thought it was a great deal!

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More Answers

I hope it's not too late to give a reply. I didn't see your post right away. Here is something that I found that you may be interested in. http://organizedchristmas.com/

They give some ideas as such:

Christmas camp-out: One evening, roll out sleeping bags in the living room, and hold a family camp-out underneath the Christmas tree. Don’t forget the hot chocolate and carols around the fireplace!

Lights Night: Put younger children to bed as usual, but wake them an hour later. Tumble the family into the car pajamas and all, and drive out to see the Christmas lights. Pack hot drinks and popcorn for a surprise treat.

Shopping Date: To encourage children to give, make a one-on-one shopping date with each child. Together with a parent, help the child shop for gifts for other family members. Be sure to stop for a sweet treat. Make memories!

Pet Patrol: Visit the local humane society or animal shelter, and volunteer to walk homeless pets during the season. Fresh air and family time are a bonus!

Candle-Lit Dinner: Make an everyday dinner special by dining by candlelight. Share stories around the table as you enjoy the glow.

Glowing Toes: Share a mother-daughter moment: a girls-only pedicure party, complete with Rudolph-red nail polish!

Library Lane: Visit the local library and check out books about Christmas. Read one book each night in December as a special holiday countdown.

Cracker Crafts: Save enough toilet-tissue tubes to supply the family. Create Christmas crackers by stuffing tubes with tiny candies, toys and treats. Wrap crackers, and use them as place cards for holiday dinners.

I hope this helps you :)

10 moms found this helpful

Your story reminds me of something that happened when I was a child and I think this will bring you comfort. I was a thumb-sucker from the very beginning and by the time I reached 7 years old, it was having a terrible effect on my teeth. My parents tried everything to get me to stop with no success. Finally, they said that if I stopped sucking my thumb, they would get me a Barbie Dream House for Christmas. That year, I did stop sucking my thumb, but my father lost his job. My mother was a part time teacher, so Christmas was going to be very slim that year. They couldn't afford to get me the dream house and this tore them up (though they never showed that to me). One day, while driving home from a job interview, my father saw a garage sale and something told him to pull over to look (he doesn't ever shop at garage sales). That's when he saw a used, 10+ year old plastic doll house (the perfect Barbie size) that was on it's last life. He bought it, brought it home and cleaned and fixed it up as best he could. On Christmas morning, he almost wanted to throw it out because he was afraid I would be disappointed that it wasn't like the ones I'd seen in the store. But, of course, I LOVED it. It was unique and just the right size for the Barbie furniture I already had. My dad remembers very fondly, in the weeks and months following Christmas, passing my bedroom and watching me play so lovingly with that doll house. It still brings a tear of joy to his eye today when he talks about it.

The point of this story... get your children things that you know they will enjoy, but stay within your budget. You never know - the toy you buy might end up being one of their most favorite. Yes, Nintendo Wiis are fun, but they are expensive - the console, the games, the extra controllers, etc. Your 8 year old boy is old enough that I think you can sit down with him and explain that although you can't afford to get him a Wii this Christmas, that doesn't mean he can't ever have one.

6 moms found this helpful

Sit down and figure out how much you can "afford" to make Christmas this year and stick to it. Think of things you feel your children would like. I know the Wii sounds fabulous but if you can't don't do it and take away from other more important things this year. When things get better you can surprise him with it (good grades or end of year passing to the next grade). As said in other postings, kids remember all the good things done as a family. Whatever you do, please wrap up all the gifts. One year we didn't and I overheard my son say that he wished Santa had wrapped up the gifts.

As far as doing things together go driving through the decorated neighborhoods at night. Take in a movies or play this is about Christmas. Sometimes a church has a program check on those. Make craft gifts to give to extended family and just enjoy each other. Ask your kids what they would like to do to start new traditions you might be pleasantly surprisesd.

May you and your family have a happy and safe holidsay season and a prosperous new year. Ddn't go on any guilt trips. I recall kids getting many things I wanted and never got but I did get over it. It's a lesson in life that we can't have everything when we want it. Sometimes we have to wait and then we enjoy it all the more. The other S.

5 moms found this helpful

Just wanted to add that it really is the feelings you inspire in your kids and the time you give to them that shapes them and that they will carry with them their whole lives. When I was about your son's age the cabbage patch dolls came out and my parents happened to get one even though we didn't have a lot of money. I was happy, but it really didn't make a difference in my life and a few months later everyone else had one and it was no big deal. As I'm sure you know, toys often wind up forgotten in a few months, but your memories will last a lifetime. Your kids will pick up on your attitude, so just fill your house with love and laughter and that is what they will remember.

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My kids' favorite gifts last year were the gift certificates I gave them for my time. Each child received a certificate for 3 hours of "mom time", that was theirs to spend however they wanted. I was amazed at how they each chose to spend it. I baked, played cards, built a house of cards, took hikes, played football and soccer, even gave a driving lesson to my oldest. They were so thrilled to have their very own time with me (not shared), where they got to pick the activity. My rule was that I wouldn't say no to anything, as long as it wasn't dangerous, illegal, or outside my capability. A free gift with long-lasting memories for all!

4 moms found this helpful

This may be too late but my 11 yr old daughter wanted a Wii also. Like you we can't afford that so I found her a Zone. It has 7 games with it that are non violent. It cost $50 instead of $250. You can get this at Deal of the Day on line or a couple stores in my community had them advertised on sale. This is her main present and like the others responding, her other presents are small toys. I am also making robes from towels for her and her grown sisters. Christmas is about sharing. We always give at least one gift annonymously to someone in the community....An elderly single man with no family has been the person we picked the last few years.

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Dear L.,

One activity that's good for all ages & all generations is an afternoon tea. It can be extremely inexpensive and might be the most cherished memory that your children hold dear for the rest of their lives.

The first key is to turn off the electronics and make it special with your full attention. The food can be very simple. Tea and toast can be quite enough. My mother used to make cinnamon toast it continues to be one of my favorites treats.

Using real cups and saucers and a real teapot is another important aspect of the family teatime. But you can get these at a yard sale or thrift store. Each family member can have their own cup.

Take turns being "mother" (the one who serves the tea).

The main activity should be conversation with everyone having a turn. But I love it when I hear that families gather to read aloud. This can be a tradition where the parents always read or where everyone takes a turn.

One of the greatest blessings of introducing your young children to tea is that it replaces some of the harmful beverage options with something incredibly healthy.

If you want more information, I have a monthly newsletter, "Emma Lea's Virtual Tea Party". Your electronic subscription is free. Every month we feature a seasonal menu with recipes, a new tea story and a short article about tea.

As the author of picture books with family tea themes - the Emma Lea Books. I try to inspire children to drink tea because it's fun and healthy.

You can subscribe to the free tea party newsletter at the website:


I visit schools, libraries and bookstores where I consistently find boys and girls becoming interested in tea. Teachers are using tea creatively in their classrooms with great success to create a calm environment.

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Merry Christmas!
Remember the reason fo the season and this will help. Also at the Gaylord we went a couple of months ago just to walk around and had our parking validated so it was free.
Maybe get everyone together and do a cookie/baking day for Santa and some friends. One year we did not have a lot so we had a friend get together...everyone had a blast. Remember the reason for the season and explain we are doing something special with having friends over for the real reason of Christmas. Everyone brings something to eat. A friend of ours did this on Christmas day...an open house! If kids brought a toy that they got that day to play with everyone would have a blast seeing what each other got and forget that it was minimal, and the real reason of the season family, friends and Jesus would be shared.
Dollar store great idea! This year our neighbors are getting cheese graters with a festive bow saying it is GRATE having you as Neighbors :) Merry Christmas. Inexpensive but with meaning! Look some of that up on the internet corny but fun! Doing that for my kids this year as they already think I am corny...ha! They are 18 and 23! Then they will get one big gift each for the most part.
Happy Thanksgiving!

4 moms found this helpful

Tell your kids that they were bad this year so Santa won't be coming...JK! I think it's all in presentation - EVERY child asks for WAY too much - my kids also asked for electronics...they are lucky their dad is a geek so he wants electronics, too...haha...but I just remind them to be thankful for whatever they get and even if they don't get what they want now, maybe they will get it next year or they will move on and want something else in the future. (or get one big gift for them to share...my kids both wanted Nintendo DS's, but two kids can share one gaming device....etc). If they want at least 2 toys (one from you and one from Santa), then I would get them two gifts - but put a lot of thought into it so you don't spend too much but each one is special in some way - one gift could be a dollar store hunt - buy a bunch of little things and hide them around the house, wrapped...and they have to go on a 'scavenger hunt' - or play the hot/cold game until they find all the miniature packages....and then they can open one 'Santa' gift on Christmas morning - and of course Santa will deliver it Christmas Eve night when they are sleeping so when they wake up they are amazed he came...and another fun activity - baking! Then you can eat what you make and spend time together doing it - plus the kids can decorate their cookies, etc....and even make some for Santa and leave them out at night - then he will eat them while they are sleeping also....it's all about the memories and not the actual 'stuff.' And you can always tell your kids made up stories around the fireplace...how Santa is sharing his joy with less fortunate kids, so can they be generous and maybe let other kids have more toys this year, etc...maybe they will be more willing to let go of their wants in order to share with others....also short story time - that's a fun family activity - and some stories could be about less fortunate people (one of my FAVORITE stories of all time is "The Gift of the Magi" by O'Henry). Stories like that remind us of the true meaning of Christmas. Also - not sure if you go to church - but getting the kids involved in Christmas plays, candle services, etc are a great way to remember the season and get them involved, and thinking about others.

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I am sure you have gotten all the advice you need but I just wanted to share this with you. My family is currently in your position my husband works in construction sales so this is normally a slow time but this year is the worst ever. We aren't getting presents for the adults even our parents it just costs to much. My daughter is making gifts for them and we'll all bake for them. A few days ago my daughter was playing on line when a child's questionnaire popped up asking her favorite part of the holidays i was sure she would pick the gifts. To my surprise she didn't she picked spending time with her family, baking, wrapping gifts for other. I admit i teared up a little because my hubby and I have been stressing trying to make her Christmas great when we already have without her opening a single present. She at age 7 reminded me its not about the gifts she gets but the memory she makes. So relax alittle set a limit and stick to it that is my moto this year even if it isnt all that easy.

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You've gotten some great ideas. I just wanted to add too that maybe next year your son could help with a garage sale to get the Wii. Last year my husband wanted a new flat screen tv but we couldn't afford for it to come out of his paycheck. He sold old computer parts and an older game system (not too old obviously) on ebay and made the money to buy the tv that way. My parents never really gave credit to Santa for gifts. I remember them telling us or reading about an "original" santa claus- a man who would go through town at night and put coins in the shoes of the kids. They taught us that Santa was about giving. Santa was still magical and wonderful but he fit into the season better. And it taught us about the goodness in people. My parents got credit for our gifts - My dad worked hard and wanted the credit- who can blame him. :) I think they gave Santa credit for our stockings if he got any credit at all. I am making all of my gifts for my kids this year. And they are only getting a few gifts each (really- my house is already full of toys and they will get gifts from grandparents too). They are too young to know the difference anyway...

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A"Double" Wow !!! All of these touching suggestions has surely brightened up my day. In fact, I can't wait for my 11yr. old to get out of school today to discuss some of ALL your Grand Ideas!! Single Mom here, and my precious soft hearted son has really always only wanted a " Family ". I have assured him many times "we" are ,.."Our Family" and this does reassert his happy go lucky , cuteness!!and reminds him of how Blessed we two really are. Thank-You all, it's such a delight to be able to click my buttons here ..and read such kindness and thoughtful responses from alike loving Mom's..
Happy Holidays to you and yours ,..May you be Blessed with ,"Good Times,..Good Health,..and Good Fortune!!
From our Home to yours ,..ToniToniR and ,(my gift
always),.. my son .

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Well I read all of your responses you received and most of them said make things together, do things together, bake together, read stories together, play games together. I do think it is good to teach them about giving not just getting. Having your children make coupon books of gifts of their time is always a welcome gift for anyone. You could give them suggestions and then let them make the booklets. Example: This coupon entitles you to one big hug and kiss, or this coupon entitles you to me doing the dishes or folding the laundry, walking the pet or feeding the pet without being asked etc. Setting the supper table, clearing the dishes, sweeping, just chores that normally mom gets tired of doing all my herself. Help them to see being helpful is a gift of love. Merry Christmas. Luv, C. a gramma with 10 grandchildren this year. Wow!

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I know it's kinda late to respond now, but I got excited with all those great suggestions and stories that everyone posted. I agree that it means so much more to kids (and to us!) to spend time as a family and create traditions together. I am also being more purposeful this year in doing that. Especially, now that my son is 6 (and there isn't a lot of money). We have planned to help my mom this year with making cookies and candy (a tradition - and she's SO good at it - cakey, carrot cookies, chocolate chip cookies, buttercream candies, and sometimes chocolate covered pretzels, which I think we'll push for this year since we're helping). We helped her this year before Thanksgiving with the making of her pies (14 pies!- pumpkin, apple, cherry, and blueberry --she's a very serious baker!). It was me and my son, my sister and her boyfriend, and my nephew. We had SO much fun and my son loved it so much that we're going to do it every year. Anyway, I've always gone to Walmart in their cheap, little toys section and gotten a bunch of fun, silly, squishy, whatever toys to stuff in his stocking. A lot of them are only $.88 (better than the dollar store). And I pick up cheap $1 items throughout the year as I see them, either for his stocking or for his reward chart (reinforcing good behavior by filling up rows with stickers to recieve a surprise). He loves opening his stocking full of stuff, and he always plays with the cheap, fun toys more than the expensive ones. Finding stuff that's inexpensive but related to their interests is always more meaningful to them, too. I hope you have the best year ever because there is more love and family time and less "stuff". I'm so glad you asked your question, and I got to laugh and cry and read all those awesome suggestions. God Bless you this Christmas and always!

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My two older girls wanted a couple of very expensive (in my view) items this Christmas & being the momma I wanted them to have what they wanted. In our financial situation, it just can't happen. I felt guilty for a bit, but realized that they WILL survive! ;) Infact, NOT getting what they want is probably a much better lesson than always getting what they want, right? So we told our girls that Santa doesn't always get you what you think you want, but what he knows you'll have fun with, will appreciate & is appropriate.

The Dollar Tree is great for inexpensive stocking filler. Also, there are GREAT deals to be had on Amazon during the holidays; we found most of our gifts there last year; by spending the requisite amount to qualify for fee shipping & not having to pay tax, we saved even more. I'm also not ashamed to get some "gently used" gifts at thrift stores. The kids are to young to care or even know that what they've got has been previously loved.

To make sure we have Christmas cheer in the house no matter what our bank account is like, we like to put up our decorations all together as a family, drive around & look at Christmas lights, make hot chocolate, bake, do crafts, watch Christmas specials on TV & play Christmas music. I plan to stock up on Christmas themed crafts at Joann Fabrics; the craft kits will be 50% off the week after Thanksgiving, ranging from 30 cents to four dollars per kit. Also, we like to make wrapping paper by painting on white butcher paper. Eating dinner on Christmas paper plates is fun, too.

I think if you plan some fun things to do with the kids & make the season a whole family experience they'll have a great time! Don't let thjem know that things are different or the family is under a strain...just have fun with them & they'll be sure to remember this year fondly, no matter what the gifts are.

3 moms found this helpful

Christmas will be tough for alot of people this year. My baby is 13 months old and doesn't know, or care if her things for Christmas are new or not. I've been buying like-new board books, and toys from goodwill and craigslist.com. If you want more things for them to open on Christmas morning, go to the dollar store. Dollar Tree has a ton of toys for all ages. Coloring books and crayons, stuffed animals, etc. will be great for the girls and cheap action figures, etc. for the 8 year old. I have a 7 year old, so I know the pain of them wanting expensive video game equipment. Mine wants a Nintendo DS! I told her it isn't happening. She already has a playstation 2, a gameboy advance and a v-smile that she never plays with.
As far as Santa, Tell them that they can ask Santa for one thing that's under a certain amount. You can tell them that Santa is sticking to a budget this year. lol!

3 moms found this helpful

I think the economy is effecting us all, and it is hard to get into the Christmas spirit, when we are thinking about finances. I was humbled the other day, when I took my 3 year old son to Wal-Mart of all places. When we walked in the door, he spoted the Christmas tree that was decorated very pretty for Christmas. His face lit up, and he gasped, and said mommy look at that tree. It was at that very moment, that I realized that it doesn't matter how much money we spend on him. He just wants to see all of the pretty decorations and lights, and just wants to be with his family.
As far as fun things to do with your family that doesn't cost very much, we have a family tradition of going to the Gaylord Texan every year in Grapevine. They have the hotel decorated beautifully every year. You can visit the hotel for free, you just have to pay for parking. The parking was $10.00 last year, I don't know if they have gone up or not. Santa is there, and also Mrs. Claus. You can have your picture made with them, and they will also let you use your own camera. You can have the kids picture made with Santa, and then have the pictures developed, and give as gifts to extended family if needed. They also have many model trains that are fun to watch. There is usually a sleigh that you can get into and take pictures. You can also ride the shuttle at no charge to downtown Grapevine. There are lots of beautiful decorations down there.
The important thing, is to just be together, and enjoy each other.

Merry Christmas!!!!!

3 moms found this helpful

My children - 2,5, 11, and 13 - have never believed that Santa was a man outside our family who brought them gifts. That makes it a whole lot easier this year to explain that everyone is getting $20 a piece, you're welcome very much. They will also get underwear, socks, and some grooming stuff... all wrapped for appropriate Christmas melee.

We're still going to adopt an Angel off the tree though - everyone will chip in $10 from November and December allowances. We'll still invite people who have less to eat with us. Because that is Christmas here.


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Hi L.,
I must have missed the original post because I sure would have chimed in. Here is what I have done this year
A. TJ Maxx has a ton of toys that are really cheap. I put stuff on layaway at the end of November I bought 11 items for $95.00 and really good stuff (I have 2 girls 2yr old and 5yr old)
B.CVS, Rite-Aide, Walgreens all are having a really big sale starting this Sunday I am going to p/u two kid tough digital cameras for $25 each.
C. The dollar tree or any 99 cent store usually has alot of stuff for cheap.
D. Burlington and K-B Toystore have really good sales and alot of items that you could pick up for real cheap.
In regards to a Wii I found a like new one for $175.00 at game stop in Yonkers, NY. Maybe you could look into that. TJ Maxx is also is selling Wii's. YOu could put one on layaway for next month and tell them Santa couldn't bring it now however you will pick it up next month. Or rally the family the grandparents, aunt's, etc if they ask tell them to pitch in for the gift.
Good luck. This christmas actually turned out better than I expected but only because I have been a Maverick at checking prices on-line, comparison shopping and Thank-God for TJ Maxx!!

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I'm glad that things have improved for you and that you have dealt with the challenges of this year. One last thought on the Santa issue, however. I tell my girls that Santa will give them (as another response mentioned) things that he determines are appropriate and enjoyable for them. I don't have them write lists -- Christmas isn't about a wish list but instead the thought of the giver. I also tell them that Santa is giving extra this year to children who have nothing -- who are lacking in the things that they take for granted. And, if you want to read an inspiring story about this same issue, read L. Ingalls Wilder's chapter on Santa Claus in Little House on the Prairie.

2 moms found this helpful

Not sure here you live but the Dollar Theatre is always a great place to hit over the holidays. They usually have lots of family movies running during the school breaks and you could do that once or twice. Bake cookies,my kids looooove that.You can buy a gingerbread cookie house kit for less than $10 and work on that together too(maybe you can do that when the baby is napping). Make crafty holiday gifts for your family family fun magazine is a great resource for this kind of thing online.My kids have also always enjoyed driving through the different neighborhoods and seeing the holiday decorations and that certainly is free.

Hang in there.This is a rough patch for our country and we're all going to get through it. Sounds like you are approaching it wisely.


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FUN FREE CHRISTMAS: www.thevillageatallen.com Allen: has their Tree Lighting TONIGHT: sat.11/22...starting at 5:30
The BIG GUY Santa is there!

2 moms found this helpful

I know sometimes broofield zoo has free days. Now I am not sure if that also includes parking but it may be work looking into. How about a family night of baking cookies, which can be an awesome gift to others. We started this tradition with my 1 year old son, he did his best to decorate, we would give that to family members who would buy him a gift but I had never in the past had purchased a gift for them and for people who said we want to buy your son something but please don't buy a gift in return. My son in now 6 and everyone looks forward to getting the cookies that we have made.
Good Luck
and Happy Holidays to you.

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Have family game night! Your kids are still young so go to the Mattel store in Ft Worth. They have some good sales.

Good Luck to you!


1 mom found this helpful

Northpark Center has many activities for Christmas, and several are free (like the puppet shows). You can go online and search Northpark Center to find their website. I remember going as a kid, and I want to start that tradition with my son.

As for the finances question, I understand. I left my job earlier this year to stay at home, so our income was cut in half. Fortunately, our son is too young to understand anything. It's hard for me though, knowing I can't give him everything I want to get him. I have to remind myself that Christmas is not just about the gifts. It's so much more than that. When I think back on my favorite Christmas memories, I don't remember all the cool toys I got. I remember time with my family. We always have a big breakfast after presents, and now we rush through the gifts so we can enjoy our breakfast and the rest of the day together. Make this year extra special by starting new traditions, or celebrating old ones. When your kids get older, they won't care they didn't get a lot of toys. They'll treasure the memories you are making as a family!

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just a thought, but right now at walgreens all of their 9.99 toys are 4.00 off. There is a coupon in their ad- tomorrow is the last day. They have a range of toys for different ages. You could get 3 toys for under 20.00. I thought it was a great deal!

1 mom found this helpful

Check the newspaper and your local rec centers. There are always free events you can go to such as parades, holiday craft shows where they have free enterainment. My kids and I bake cookies and treats for each holiday.. They enjoy spending time with family. We watch charlie brown and some other movies that come on.. Maybe for the one that wants a WII give him a gift card or a small set amount and say you can work your way to getting a WII or something like that. My son saved and bought his own WII. I was shocked but he did. I am not buying gifts for the adults in my family this year. I am only buying for the kids.. The economy is really bad and I am not for sure when things will look up.

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I agree with the Dollar Tree for stocking stuffers. They are great. I don't know where you live but Mansfield has their Christmas parade on Dec. 6. We went last year and it was alot of fun. Free also. Another thing that is really neat is in Waxahachie - Bethlehem Revisited. You can Google it and it pulls up under Waxahachie Chamber of Commerce site. It's free and is just awsome. We went last year for the first time and will go again this year. As far as during the day - you might have the kids make Christmas decorations - string popcorn, do the colored paper chains, cut out shapes using cookie cutters and have them decorate them (colors, markers, glitter glue, etc). Make a paper Christmas tree for a door or wall and have them decorate "their" tree.

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Hi L.. I must have missed the original post and am I'm responding based on your recent post, but I'm curious to know what type of business you have. Is it a home business or a traditonal business away from home?

Oh L. dear doI feel you. I to am self employed and the economy has pretty much dried my business up. My husband has not worked in 4 months and want take a job less than what he was making. Yes keeping my mouth shut has been very hard, since its me trying to pay all the bills and feed 7 people. I to am dealing with the christmas crunch of what to do. Pretty much they will get one santa gift and a few small gifts from us. My 7 year old said the other day at school that he wrote santa a letter asking him for the remote control dinosaur he saw at walmart which was 129.00 dollars. Also informs me that santa's elves are going to make it for him!! Me too how do I explain? I cant' wait to see your responses I to have some explaining to do. Good luck as with me I hope your family's situation improves.

Hi! I am so glad that you are doing better financially. It is also good to emphasize that many kids do not have much for Christmas . My son takes his kids to Blue Santa, or Brown Santa events and they bring several toys that they no longer want for kids who need the toys. You could also adopt a family in need and get things for them if you can do so. That is more of an obligation though. My community did this a few years ago and it was very successful. Ideas for shopping include buying things during the year when they are on sale, or at a good price. Two stores that I did not see mentioned that I find useful are Tuesday Morning and Half Price Books in Austin. Also, I am a teacher, and Scholastic has very good quality books on their web-site for very low prices. There is a sale on their site right now. The books are very educational and also high interest.I could also recommend taking the kids to see the houses that are lit up for Christmas. There are two streets in Austin that have beautiful displays each year. They are, I believe around 36th street. Good Luck. J. K.

Santas Village in Richardson is free. We go every year and it's wonderful. Lots to do with the kids and great for taking pictures. I know that there are parades in Plano, Richardson and Downtown Dallas on December 6th. I am also spending Saturday the 6th volunteering with my son for Christmas after the parade. That way he understands that even getting one or two presents is special. I also cannot afford a lot this year and I explained that Santa would only bring one toy for him. As for a game system, Gamestop sells used ones for cheap. I doubt they have a Wii though. I second looking on Craigslist for gently used toys. I have done that several times in the past and honestly they don't know any different.

Northpark Mall is always festive during the holidays and a place we always go. The Santa at Northpark is fantastic, realistic and has a wonderful personal story....he has been in magazines...and articles written about him. I don't know about right now but he used to be a psychology professor in Austin.

My daughter will be 14 next month and has not seen Santa since age 6 or so but all of her Santa pictures are with this Santa and every year I display them on the mantle.

There is usually a LONG wait for this Santa. You take a number now and go back when it is about your turn. Used to...at 10am he would come down the chimney for story time before he started having each child on his lap. This was all free and great picture opportunities.

The trains are located there as well. I do think there is a nominal fee to see those.

Gamestop and Blockbuster sell gently used items but I am guessing there are no Wii's because they are still hard to get. I agree with checking out craigslist and maybe garage sale shop some...

Best wishes to your family..

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