Frugal Christmas - Geneva,IL

Updated on June 19, 2015
M.S. asks from Geneva, IL
43 answers

Wondering what people are doing this year to save on gift spending. Do you have special stores or gifts that are awesome deals and you'd like to share? I have 13 nieces & nephews plus my own kids (unfortunately they refuse to draw names). Also need ideas for dad. Has everything, and has no hobbies (no- not even sports!)

Something I've done is cashed in all my credit card points for gift cards. I was pleasantly supprized. I'm using them for teacher gifts.

Thanks everyone.

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So What Happened?

You've all given such great ideas! It's my husbands side, and his sisters are in charge of everything, meaning we have no say so in stopping the exchange. So that's why I'm looking for creative inexpensive ideas. Thanks again!

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T.S.

answers from Chicago on

Hi M.,

You have some great ideas here. I just wanted to throw out what we do. For several years, to make Christmas more budget-friendly (we have 10 nieces & nephews), we have been buying family gifts. We try to spend about $30-40 per family, and they have been things like game night items, movie night items, or something like that. One year I bought one family a set of popcorn bowls, popcorn, a movie, and a whole bunch of ice cream toppings, for a movie night. My thought has been that I'm trying to give the families something fun to do together vs. giving individual gifts. The family gifts have been a huge hit...while they take thought & creativity, I think we'll keep it up for a while yet. Good luck!

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M.E.

answers from Chicago on

What about proposing a spending limit or a "theme" like "home-made" or "edible treats" One thing that we do is that everyone buys a gift that says "B" or "G" (boy or girl gift) and all the kids pick a number, so if there are 13 kids, there are 13 numbers. Number 1 chooses, and unwraps. Number 2 can either take number one or choose a wrapped gift. The best number to have is the last one, in this case, 13. That person can choose any of the gifts that other have in their hands, unwrapped or choose the last one. If someone's gift gets taken, they MUST choose a new gift to unwrap. It's fun for the kids. Everyone leaves with a gift, it only costs whatever the set price is "everyone gift must equal 25 dollars"....Hope that helps! Happy Holidays! m

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M.R.

answers from Chicago on

Are you into baking? For the 13 nieces and nephews, perhaps you can bake an assortment of cookies and put them in fun boxes or bags. Everyone would get the same thing (trust me, I know how the "what you get for one, you get for all" goes!). Yeah, I know it isn't terribly exciting but honestly, having to gift for 13 kids seems like a lot!

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C.P.

answers from Chicago on

We buy for our own children and that's about it. We have 1 niece and 1 nephew that we will probably buy something for (in the $20-30 range). But we tell ALL other family members that we simply cannot afford gifts (not even for each other). Personally in this economy I cannot imagine a family expecting that many gifts! You could bake homemade treats and make small packs for each child. We've also given photos of our kids to the grandparents, aunts & uncles.... My husband's family is very large and used to exchanging gifts with every member of the family. We told them several years ago when things got hard for us financially that we just would not be doing it.

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A.I.

answers from Chicago on

I know you've gotten a ton of ideas but here's one more. I like to do 'theme' gifts per family... here's an idea I'm considering for this year:

A camping ice cream ball. You toss it around to shake up ingredients and make ice cream- fun!!
http://www.rei.com/search?query=ice+cream+ball&button...

Then I thought I'd look for an ice cream recipe book and ice cream bowls at a discount shop or on Amazon.

Another things my nieces and nephews have liked is homemade gifts... one year I decorated pillow cases with fabric markers (kid's name and a drawing) was a pretty popular year. And I'm not very artistic so it was pretty basic! The kids were pretty young then (under 7) but it was inexpensive, fun and personal. Not sure if tween/teens would like that!

Good luck! I've enjoyed reading all the responses - thanks for posting the question!

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T.M.

answers from Chicago on

I have a lot of children to buy for as well, so this year is the "year of the board game" for us. I have found deals for $5-15 per game. Kmart, Walmart, & Toys r Us. The rewards card at toys r us is free and you get great perks, so I don't buy anything unless I have a coupon or reward dollars to spend. PLaydough and Color Wonder items have been pretty inexpensive as well this year, or buy one get one free deals as well. I have also adopted an animal at the Brookfield zoo for my niece and nephew (one for the both of them), then the get updates on their animal and I feel the money is going to a good cause and lasts a year. It is called "share the care" at the Brookfield zoo.

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M.G.

answers from Chicago on

I just made my FIL a picture book with photos of our 4 children from this year. I had a coupon for Walgreens so I did that but other websites like Kodak have them too. The cost w/o coupon would have been $12.15 including shipping etc. It was 20 pages, 5 X 7 with a nice cover. It had over 50 pictures in it, and they were labeled. It takes awhile but the results are impressive.

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P.M.

answers from Chicago on

First of all I think it is great that you are using your credit card points for gifts, but secondly I am a teacher and many of my friends are also. It is not necessary or expected to give teacher presents. Especially not expensive ones. A simple thank you is more than enough, or have your children make them an ornament with their picture on it or send in a cheap boquet of flowers during the party. Take your child to the dollar store and have them pick a few things to put in a gift bag like lotion or a piture frame. Some teachers love strbucks gift cards but not more than $5.00. It really is the thought that counts.
One new idea was to renew a magazine sub, I was able to do that for a niece and it cost 20 bucks for 2years worth of her favorite magazines. I also get my DVDs from Amazon.
They usually are about 5 to 10 dollars cheaper than even Walmart and if you buy a few at one time shipping is free. I like to get my nieces and nephews their favorit new releases. I have also found some great buys shopping on line and had almost no disappointments. From books to clothes to electronics.
Best Wishes, I have been there too. Remember the reason for the season and hope ohters will too or they might not deserve gifts anyway.

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J.S.

answers from Chicago on

Have you heard of Freecycle? Google it. It's a site where people offer their unwanted items to avoid them being put in a landfill. Depending on the ages of your recipients, maybe they wouldn't care about the newness of the items? I am doing a trade with my local Freecyclers.

I'm also hitting up the local dollar store. My son loves the crafts I find there. Maybe that's something that would work for the older recipients?

As far as anyone older than 18...they're getting homemade candy. I stopped buying Christmas gifts a long time ago because I never knew what to get anyone. Come to find out everyone loves handmade truffles anyway!

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M.C.

answers from Chicago on

M.,
Last year our family started something different for the holiday. I suggested we do stocking stuffers. My Dad was able to get large (about 2 1/2 feet long) from the dollar store. Then we decorated them for each person with puffy paint and their name. We put no stipulations on it. Times are hard and we said if you can only spend $1 per person then that is what it is. The items were fun and creative. Some people got the same thing for everyone or others got personal things. The kids AND adults had a blast opening a huge stocking. We had many laughs! I think the store was The Dollar Tree. In my home I have 6 of us. It did get intereting. I had to buy items from each of us for the 10-12 people that participated. so it ended up about 60 items. I took advantage of coupons that were for spending a certain amount of money and getting something free or $10, $20 off etc. I alos took advantage of things that can coem in gift multipacks, like nuts.
Hope this helps!
Take Care,
M.

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P.H.

answers from Chicago on

You can do amazing things with duct tape! They come in 20 different colors. You can search the web for ideas. You and your children could make them or just give a roll and some directions to each kid. Wal mart has duct tape for under four dollars. Good luck!

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L.A.

answers from Chicago on

Well I can tell you what we are doing this year. My husbands side of the family is only doing an adult grab bag, and we are not buying gifts for each other kids, as we came to a consensus that our kids already get too much stuff.

On my side of the family we only buy for the kids, and I buy a gift for my mother and that is it. We do not exchange with siblings.

If you cannot afford to buy for your nieces and nephews, then I would just tell the family that you do not want to exchange gifts for the kids this year.

I am buying one big gift for my 3 kids ( Wii), and a few small ones each, that is more then enough.

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M.C.

answers from Rockford on

I told my sister and sis-in laws and anyone else that I'm stopping gifts this year. I didn't give them a choice but we have 2 kids and 2 more on the way that the cost is to much. I feel like a weight has been lifted off of me because we're only buying for our kids. But to go cheaper try shopping at resale stores. You can get cloths or toys there and cut costs. For the grandparents there getting a craft from my daughter.

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J.C.

answers from Chicago on

I hope you can talk them into a gift exchange for extended family!

Check out the "clearance" area of specialty children's sites. I have found great deals at Youngexplorers.com, kazootoys.com, hearthsong.com, discountschoolsupply.com.

I also like the idea of buying a family gift for extended family - board game or Wii game.

Another thought is to talk the extended family into chipping in to make a charitable donation from the whole family this year instead of exchanging gifts. For example, you could buy an animal for a poor family through Heifer.org or oxfam.org. The kids might like helping to choose an animal - the catalogs are pretty child-friendly!

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L.H.

answers from Chicago on

The key is telling everyone what you are doing ASAP, so they know not to buy your kids gifts. I decided to stop it all after seeing how much our kids get, and we went for adopting a needy family and doing everything for their Christmas. The kids really got into it and I had them all come over for pizza, movies and giftwrapping for the family. It gave their parents a night out, and we ate popcorn and twizzlers watched movies and made a Christmas for those who needed it. The kids loved just hanging out without the parents. Then we did Wii tournaments. The kids said it was more fun than gifts. Good luck with whatever you do!

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R.S.

answers from Chicago on

I like Etsy.com. You can find handcrafted items for reasonable costs, plus you're supporting crafters.

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M.R.

answers from Chicago on

Depending on the age of your nieces and nephews- a few things I have done in the past:
Little kiddos: Books -look at big book stores for deals on a setof popular books and then divide them into one or two for each kid, coupled up with a gift card to McDonalds for an icecream cone.
For older kids/teenagers:
Clothing: Look at Old Navy or Penneys for when they have their t-shirts or sweaters for 2 for $20 or often a better deal and stock up. Couple that up with an itunes gift card.
For my own kids: (I have 4!) We do one big gift and accessories that go with it. That seems to satisfy everyone.
I also budget weekly beginning mid October and purchase one kid or group of kids per week, which makes it a little easier on the wallet.

Good Luck!

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S.S.

answers from Chicago on

I have an idea for all the females on your Christmas list. Garnet Hill has a shopper bag, which they personalize for free, for only $10. It's an adorable bag that comes in lots of colors and designs. I'm ordering one for all the nieces. teachers, etc. I had to look at the web site to make sure the price was right because Garnet Hill is an expensive catalogue. And, no, I don't have an interest in Garnet Hill other than I like to dream about being about to afford the stuff.

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C.M.

answers from Chicago on

We're pretty much eliminating gifts to the grownups. I'm using my credit card points for gift cards and other items available through my credit card's catalogue for the kids.

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M.K.

answers from Chicago on

It gets so crazy!! When I got married I went from buying for one niece and one nephew to buying for 10 kids. This year I am buying from LTD Commodities. They have really cute things at REALLY LOW prices. Lakeside is almost exactly the same. They both have online catalogs.

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E.B.

answers from Chicago on

How about calling a family meeting and puting your sister-in-laws in charge of adopting a family living in a shelter? Much better than buying more gifts for kids who already have everything.

Another thing you can do is but a gift in someone's honor from ChildFund International or Heifer International. For example, you can buy a share of a sheep for $10, so a family in Peru can have milk and make wool.

Those of us that still have jobs, homes, etc. should feel blessed with what we have and should share our blessings with those that don't have.

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D.K.

answers from Chicago on

For all the nieces/nephews, you might do a special date night at your home, they pick a movie rental & make homemade pizza - I always tell my sibs that my kids want special time with them, they don't remember a year later what they got, but they remember what they did! I know that's a commitment of say 13 Fridays, but that could be really fun! Depending upon the size/age of each family, you might buy a zoo pass for the family - they're $100 for a whole year. Great buy if it's a big family, but a fortune for an only child lol. My mom always buys our family a pass to a museum or zoo and we LOVE this gift. No clutter & lots of culture & quality time together. My s-i-l & I went in on a children's museum pass for my niece one year & she LOVED that. If you & another sibling could go in for a pass, that would bring costs down, but honestly it's an excellent gift.

My dh's family has stopped their normal gift exchange and started a $15 grab bag game, we each buy one gender-neutral gift for the exchange plus we buy for their parents & all the kids. That made it a lot easier! My family doesn't do limits or anything like that, but my sis & I are both very creative so we like to make things, we particularly take delight in seeing how cheaply we can make cool things. :) One year my other sis made really cool salt dough ornaments for each person in the family then painted them ... they were really cool works of art - each was a rendering of that person in dough, she did my oldest in his plaid pants with rock & roll hair & his guitar. Too cool!

Plan ahead & have lots of fun.
D.

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S.E.

answers from Chicago on

We use by for all the family members until my husband put his foot down and said this is just to much and told everyone that we were only going to buy for the Grandparents (my folks) and our own son. No one needed to buy for us because the celebration of Christmas is not how much stuff you get. Everyone else followed in suit and we all only buy for our own families now.
If you only need to buy small gifts hear are some ideas.
If you know how to macrame you can make some macrame bracelets for for the nieces. It is pretty easy. I have even sold some of the bracelets I have made. I would be glad to send you some picture of the one I have made and try to explain how to make one yourself. To make each one different you just use different beads.

For the boys, depending on their ages, young ones always like cars and action figures or Lego kits. You can always buy a set of books and them give a different book to each child. Sam's always has books sets.
For a girl or Boy you can make fleece blankets. http://www.allkindsofbabystuff.com/no-sew-fleece-blanket-... I know these instructions are for baby blanket but you just need to make it bigger.
For my parents we have given money, gift cards out to eat, lawn ornaments and figurine. My dad feeds all the birds and squirrels so we have given bird seed and squirrel corn. He is a big yard man so we have given lawn fertilizer. One year my husband put gutter covers on their gutters for a gift. Another year he put a roof heater cord down so ice would not build up on their roof.
It should not be how much you spend it should be the thought that counts.
Have a Great Week,
S.

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S.O.

answers from Champaign on

The only other frugal advice I would give is consignment stores. I plan to look for children's gifts there. Toys are often in great shape-be careful about electronic ones though.

They refuse to draw names? Is this your nieces and nephews or your kids? If it's your kids, I'd say draw names or no gifts. If it's nieces and nephews it's harder. I would recommend either drawing or greatly lowering the budget-that might convince them.

Stick to your guns! Everyone needs to be careful with their finances and now's a great time to teach your kids. I'm sorry your family is not supportive, but keep it up, you are doing the right thing!

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M.J.

answers from Chicago on

If I were you, I would definitely cut out all the nieces and nephews individually. maybe do a group thing..that is just too much. years ago, we set price limits on everyone. then, we ended up just trading cash/gift cards and decided it just wasn't worth it. spend some time doing something together instead of trying to find gifts of a certain price just because someone said you should.

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J.C.

answers from Chicago on

We did drawing the names for all the adults for years, and now we do not really do gifts for adults (maybe cookies, if we baked or a bottle of wine or something for the family) I have 10 nieces and nephews, and 2 grand nieces: the little kids we still all get gifts for, the older kids (18 and up) are now considered adults. You could try pooling funds,and getting one larger gift you know a certain child wants. my sisters and Dad pooled their $ and got my son something he never would have gotten from one of them individually (and it was something he Really wanted, not just something they could afford to get him) We also have tried to take the focus off "opening gift time" at our get-together. We started playing games like Apples to Apples or Trivial pursuit, and everyone had a ball. Good luck...It is hard to buck our comercialized Christmas traditions! I would also suggest setting a budget and sticking to it! It's hard, but think about how much $$ is wasted buying stuff people don't need out of some guilt or expectation put on us by the retail industry and our own idea of what people (family members) expect. Gift cards are a Great idea (as you did for the teachers) it makes it easier to stick to your budget, because you are not out there looking at all the "stuff" The really little kids want something fun to open, but I think any kid over the age of 7 or 8 understands what cash or a gift card are for, and most love to go pick it out themselves! It is hard when it is your in-laws you want to change a tradition on. I was lucky that it was my side of the family that I had to say No to, and my husband's side has always been way more practical. Stick to your gun, whatever you decide!

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L.M.

answers from Chicago on

please share what you find

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M.A.

answers from Orlando on

Target usually has a DVD stand with kids DVD's for around $5 a piece. Believe it or not they are decent movies, like Scooby Doo & some of the Barbie movies that kids like. Ross, TJMaxx & Marshalls, you can sometimes find great games at a much lower price than regular stores.

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J.W.

answers from Chicago on

For my daughter's teachers/aides and our neighbors, I've been saving clay "cookies" that she and I make. We'll paint them and put glitter and junk on them.

For family and friends, I'll make some gifts (I'm a knitter) and I'm probably going to cash in my survey points for gift cards for others. Otherwise, it's greeting cards and well wishes. Times are tough and all that.

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S.J.

answers from Chicago on

I have an Arbonne business and I'm shopping in my own mall this year for everybody. There is something for everybody. I'm saving money with the discount, plus I get volume to maintain my status and promote up to the next level. If you would like to make some extra cash or purchase some gifts from Arbonne please contact me. www.spatreats2u.myarbonne.com [email protected]____.com or call at ###-###-####

For your dad, the Sky for Men line (holiday collection) would be good, there is a shave gel, body wash, and aftershave balm. Nice subtle scent. There is also a NutriMenC line which is available year round which includes an exfoliating face wash, shave gel, toner, and moisturizer with sunscreen.

The products are all pure, safe, and beneficial.
Contact me if you would like to sample some of the products.

S.
###-###-####
[email protected]____.com
spatreats2u.myarbonne.com

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L.G.

answers from Decatur on

Im taking a st luois cardinal shirt i got from the old stadium a 2 toddler cardinal one my grandaughter out growed and one that is an adult size differant than mine that i got on ebay for little of nothing and im sewing the arms neck and bottom and filling with stuffing making my oldest throw pillows for his bedroom. he lives on his own and is a cardinal fan. denim is always in and i also have a denim jacket allmost like new that grandaughter out grown and i got real pretty red and white lace to sew on bottom edge and a red st luios cardinal iron logo for the back the above the pocket im emboidring my nieces name.

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A.S.

answers from Chicago on

Hi!
You can go to the Arbor Day Foundation website and order $3 trees for everyone or have a $10 tree planted in someone's name. Amazon.com has awesome prices on books and usually free shipping. There are also websites you can order books that include the child in the story that are very inexpensive. Sometimes you can find great deals on magazine subscriptions. You could also do crafts-plain wood letters, birdhouses, jewelry boxes are available at Micheals or Hobby Lobby and tempra paint cheap. Put it in a bag with some cheap brushes and they can paint away.
Good luck. Good idea with the teacher gifts!

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S.H.

answers from Chicago on

Hi M.,

I'm pulling out my creative crafting skills that somehow got buried after having my 2 boys (14 & 9). I've been snapping pictures @ several family events and I'm gonna buy frames from the dollar store and use scrapbooking paper and decorative materials to personalize according to each niece/nephew....I only have 5 so that makes it a bit easier for me....Since you're working with 13 - If you dont have any pictures of them that you have taken - then decorate a page that will go inside the frame with their favorite character/sport/hobby - making sure to leave room for the opening inside the matte of the frame for them to insert their own picture of themselves with their friends/family....

Good Luck...I hope this helps!!! S. =)

P.S. Start Now =)

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A.B.

answers from Chicago on

M.,

My mom is one of 7 siblings and there are 22 first cousins-we don't exchange anymore, but we did used to draw names and do an ornament exchange. Maybe since nobody wants to draw names, you could just find ornaments for everyone. I'm not sure what your age ranges are, but I used to get a lot of stuffed animals because they were cheaper, and a lot of homemade things-my family tends to be very crafty. How about card games?

Good Luck,
A.

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A.R.

answers from Peoria on

We have a large family as well. There are 10 cousins just on my husband's side, and 3 "young" (teen and tween) uncles on my side. For my husband's side of the family I think we are getting games for the family. My husband's oldest brother has a Wii system, so we wiill probably get them a Wii game, but for everyone else I think we are going to do a family board type game. the ideas for dad I can't help with. My husband is that way! Every year it is a challenge. A coupole things we have done in the past though: For my parents alot of times we get them a gift set from Hickory Farms. They like cheese/sausages so it works real well. We've also done the personalized calandars for parents with our family pictures on them. And we do a fmaily portrait every year. One year we did a box of Steaks. It was expensive ($100 I think) but it came with enough steaks to eat for a few months.

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J.D.

answers from Chicago on

Hi M. If they are over 12 years old give them gift cards.(because it's hard to please people these days) To save money try to wait to shop on Christmas Eve or even now. Sales are being advertised already.

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S.Q.

answers from Chicago on

Wow, that is tough. Does that mean each of your kids also receive a dozen or so presents from just that side of the family?

If this was my situation, I would explain to my husband - and his sisters- that it is up to my husband to take care of the presents this year and from now on. Let him figure out how challenging it is to purchase 13 extra gifts on a budget, and then he may feel up to addressing it with his sisters.

It is so hard to shop for the holidays on a budget. We keep it simple, but we still have to buy for two sets of grandparents, 4 special aunts, a great-grandmother, 5 teachers, two $20 gift exchanges at work and two $50 grab bags for the family! Oh, and then our own personal family!! I could NOT imagine having to buy for all 18 cousins!! It takes us all year to figure out how to manage the first group of people's gifts, only buying on sale, with coupons, garage sale scores, homemade, etc.

Give this project to your husband. Tell him what $$ he has to spend. Then, let's see if he enjoys it. If so, great!! He can do it every year. If not, he can have that conversation with his side of the family.

Good luck!

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G.H.

answers from Chicago on

If they refuse to exchange names, they're not worth being involved with (only out for what they can get so to speak). Get away from those "family" members and remember that the small children are what Christmas is all about and the LORD of course. It's not about how much you give but who you do for. Donate to your church for extra flowers and forget those family members that don't understand.

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B.B.

answers from Champaign on

Hi,
I don't know if this will help you but last year I didn't know what to get anyone and money was tight but I know how to crochet. So I spent $80 give or take on yarn and made 8-10 scarfs it only took 1-3 days for each scarf and everyone Loved them! My mom wears hers everywhere(when its cold)

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L.G.

answers from Chicago on

M.,
I started shopping last week. Every week I pick something up for someone off of the list. As for kids, etoys.com has pretty good deals for toys. Toys r us sent out their big book last week, look it over and see if you could bundle some shopping for those nephews and use the coupon for 10 off of 100.
Good luck,
L.

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S.S.

answers from Chicago on

M., You have already received some great ideas. One we started a while ago is only homemade gifts. be that something baked, sewn, glued etc thats what the kids do for each other. one year my older son made "stationary" for each of his aunts and uncles. they have made crafty things like picture frames and ornaments. I would think that with the economy all of your family would understand if it was stopped this year. or each family bring a gift for their own children and be done with it. we have gradually cut out almost all extra people on our list. the only ones still on are our godchildren and grandchildren. thats it no tother outside family

M.C.

answers from Lancaster on

I'm trying to build up my "gift fund". All my income from my primary business is earmarked for family stuff. But the 15-20 minutes a day I spend on these two income streams is ALL MINE! :)
Here are two ways to earn some extra cash. Check it out for yourself. Both together take about 10 - 15 minutes a day I'm just starting and it adds up fairly quickly. It certainly isn't a huge income, but it's mine! :)
Read News For Cash: http://questofnews.com/p114058
Watch videos for Cash: http://whosurvey.com/?ref=1172669

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J.P.

answers from Chicago on

I also like to spread it out, buying about 2 items per week, depending what's on sale. I always read the sale ads on Sun. and look for the best deals. (If you don't get a Sun. paper, you can buy it at Dollar Tree on Sat. evening.) This week Meier has good deals on Toys. If any of the kids like crafts, you can use the Michaels and Joanne coupons that they have almost every week to buy kids craft items (there are lots of great inexpensive things and you get 40% or 50% off). If they like books, the Scholastic Warehouse is having a big sale in Dec. (more info online or PM me).

For my own kids, I am scaling back on the amount I spend. In the past, we have given our girls each one main gift that cost about $50-$100, plus a bunch of smaller things. This year I have purchased their main gift from Santa already, but spent $30 each. I figured the kids won't know the difference!! And I'm getting really good deals on their smaller gifts. One week JC Penney had a coupon for $10 off any purchase over $10, so I went and got a Disney Princess purse for my 4 year old that was on sale for about $11, so I got it for $1. She'll love it, and I don't have to spend a fortune!

For dad, can you and your boys make something? One year I made my hubby a fleece Bears blanket (no sewing- you just tie knots) with fleece from Joanne. They have a lot of different designs. Or can you frame some of your sons' art? Or make a photo collage that he can take to work? You might get some good ideas at the craft stores.

Good luck, happy shopping, and remember the real meaning of the holidays! It's not about how much we spend!

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