Need Ideas for Extremely Cheap Presents for Family

Updated on January 10, 2010
J.J. asks from Kearney, NE
50 answers

Last year I was laid off from my job. I, however, did find another job. Unfortunately it was a huge pay cut and I did not find it for at least 7 months. Our problem is that Christmas is coming up and I want to get everyone something nice (especially our children) but just can' really afford anything. We have to buy something for my parents, my husband's mom and stepdad, his father, his great grandmother, my sister and brother-in-law, their 3 kids, my sister-in-law's 3 kids, plus our own 3 kids and santa still has to come too!!!! I just don't know how we are going to do this this year. HELP!!!!!!!

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S.C.

answers from Des Moines on

HOME MADE play dough for the kids! That's what I'm doing for my neices/nephews and for my day care provider! I found some really cute "snack containers" at dollar tree to package it in! Almost everyone else is getting home made peanut brittle....

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L.Y.

answers from Minneapolis on

One idea I've used over again is family package gifts. For example, I buy one dvd (classic so it's cheaper) & packages of popcorn and wrap it up in a basket. I get really creative with the gift tag and add a personalized message about 'Family Movie Night', etc.

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A.P.

answers from Minneapolis on

One idea we are doing to save on costs is buying each child a book from Half Price Books and including a hand puppet from Ikea that were somewhere between $3 and $5 each.

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M.H.

answers from Minneapolis on

We are in a very similar situation. DH was unemployed for 1 year (I'm a SAHM) and his new job is half of his previous salary. I bought all of our gifts from deals I found at www.dealsucker.com. They compile a list of all sorts of deal sites daily. It's great. Other sites to try are www.woot.com , www.kids.woot.com , www.1saleaday.com, and www.ihavetohavethat.com.

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J.F.

answers from Rochester on

The adults should understand that times are tough this year, and Christmas is not about receiving presents, it's about celebrating and spending time with our families and loved ones. We're in the same boat this year, so here's what we did:

*Grandparents*: Christmas ornaments made and decorated by the kids. We found clear ball ornaments at Hobby Lobby (12 for $3) and we're inserting their pictures into them and they are decorating them with glitter, ribbons, etc.

*Great-grandparents*: A framed family photo, with the matting decorated by the kids (frames and matting found at Wal-Mart for $10 total).

*Cousins*: Thankfully, all of the cousins are girls, so we got really lucky with Avon. We made them little gift baskets with mini shower gels, lotions, bubble bath and lip gloss. Total for each cousin was $4. (Avon has all the items for $0.59-$0.99 right now - if you're interested in looking at their products I can send you the link to my Avon Lady's website, she's fantastic!)

*Siblings/Siblings-in-Law*: The ones in college are getting gift cards to their campus book store and care packages of dorm/apartment essentials. The ones not in college yet are getting an array of music and movie discs that we've burned (we have Netflix, so we have unlimited rentals. Each brother is getting 5 movies that we've copied). Price of discs/jewel cases was $15 for 50.

As for the kids, we cut down how many gifts they're getting this year by one (we usually do 3 each from us, then a gift from siblings), and Santa is only bringing one gift. I found some great fabric on discount, so I am sewing curtains and pillow cases for each of the kids, and then they will get small toys for the other gift. Target has a little dollar section where we've picked up bracelets, hair ties, memory games, playing cards, Hello Kitty stuff (my girls are OBSESSED with Hello Kitty...), pencils, fun erasers, etc. that are being used for stocking stuffers. They also have an area near the toy section with toys for $2.50 where we found a lot of cute (and sometimes nostalgic) items that we picked up, as well.

For the close family friends, as always, we're doing our Great Cookie Bake. The kids and I sit down for a week straight of baking and decorating cookies for everyone. I went a little over-board this year and got candy making supplies, too, so to cover about 25 people/families I spent $41. (usually it's only $15-$20).

All in all, to cover about 75 people, we spent only $250, and are already done with our Christmas shopping. A lot of our gifts are being handmade this year, which I think in a way makes them more special. Sure we spent less money, but we spent far more time and love on them. I hope you're able to have as much fun with your gifts this year as we have. :)

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A.H.

answers from Milwaukee on

What about making handprint ornaments (your kid's hands) for your relatives? They are really simple to make and all you need is flour, salt and water. If interested in getting the recipe, email me at [email protected]____.com

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E.T.

answers from Rochester on

One thing I did this year is buy family gifts. For one family (with 2 kids) I bought a kit to make your own root beer (about $15). For another family (with 3 kids) I bought a kit to raise your own butterflies (about $25). For another family I bought an ice cream ball where you add ingrediants to the middle section, add ice to the outside section, and then roll the ball back and forth until it has made ice cream (about $30). For grandparents I bought cheap double frames, enlarged a picture of each of them with our baby boy, and found poems online about grandparents that I typed up and printed to put in the frames. For your kids you could give them "gift certificates" for a special day with you and/or dad (a trip to the zoo, a movie "date", a children's play, a day at a local nature center, a high school or college sporting event). I would give my grandma a box of cards for all occasions along with some stamps since it was difficult for her to get out and buy them herself. I also gave her amarylis plants (you can find them a lot of places this time of year). I am going to have our daughter make Christmas ornaments for grandparents and my sister-in-law.

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B.B.

answers from Minneapolis on

Do you have anything at home that you can "re-gift"? I know it sounds tacky, but sometimes you get gifts that you just don't need. For your kids, go to the dollar store and get them some cheap toys. Kids don't know the difference, especially the younger ones. Michaels has a big bin of $1 toys for stocking stuffers.

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S.B.

answers from Minneapolis on

One year I made "stockings" for each person. I went to the dollar store and bought socks for each person. I stuffed one sock in the tip of the other, and filled it the rest of the way up with dollar store items and a scratch off. Then I hung the socks on the mantel (we had like 15 adults to buy for that year). So, each person got a pair of socks, plus the goodies inside. Everyone liked the idea so much that nearly 20 years later, they are still doing it in their own families.

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M.M.

answers from Omaha on

I come from a family of 8 kids and 6 of us are married! That is just not finacial possiable! So what we have done is we spend 1 dollar on everyone buy buying scratch off ticket! One year my brother won 1000 and ended up giving each family 100! Every year we all look forward to who's going to be the "lucky one"! Its cheap and its fun! If not make some goodies and take it for your gathering!

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J.L.

answers from Minneapolis on

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K.C.

answers from Milwaukee on

I think money is tight for everyone this year with this tough economy so I am sure the adults will understand. I shopped at rummage and consignment sales for our 20 mo. old son during the summer...he'll never know the trucks I got him have been gently used before. Check out craigslist.com in your area...you may be suprised how many toys/gifts are available at very inexpensive prices. You can also try amazon or ebay...they have some great post black friday sales going on this week. Good luck and happy holidays!

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C.O.

answers from Minneapolis on

This was a very expensive year for us, so we cut back on Christmas a lot.
We got games (less than $10 each at Fleet Farm) for our married siblings an my in-laws, hand-made cards or and Avon jewelry for the single ladies, a CD for each of my parents, and out kids get books, some hand-made things, and a few toys they REALLY want.

Last year, we made rice bags that you can heat in the microwave and use as heating pads. It's super easy to do if you have access to a sewing machine, and the only cost is some flannel (you need about 18 inches square for each) which you can get for cheap, and rice. My husband's grandma apparently refuses to go to bed without hers. =)

My in-laws, who are retired, made bread and jam and popcorn balls for everyone. Most people love home-made goodies.

My husband's aunt gives each family a movie with some popcorn and candy.

One idea for you is to make ornaments for everyone. It's a great tradition to start if you don't already do it. You can either buy kits for fairly cheap at craft stores, or re-purpose things around your house, like used CDs. FamilyFun.com has tons of great ideas for ornaments, as well as other gifts you can make.

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S.S.

answers from Dubuque on

I agree with kids first. Maybe you can do a toy swap with other families - just gather some toys your kids no longer play with (without them seeing of course) and trade them for 'new' toys from friends/family.

For the adults, bake items, make ornaments. I know I've seen recipes for baking gingerbread ornaments. You could also go to a fabric store and possibly get some fleece on sale and simply cut it into lengths for scarfs and cut fringe on the ends - quick and simple! Sometime you can find nice books and other items at goodwill. If the other adults live nearby you could give coupon books for helping them clean their homes, do yardwork, babysitting, running errands, or just about anything.

Hope this helps!

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K.H.

answers from Minneapolis on

kids 1st...money is tight everywhere..with your situation-your family should understand...bake them something..

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A.R.

answers from Des Moines on

Since my family is large, we draw names for the kids, and do not exchange gifts for the adults at all (except the two grandma's.) I'll bet your family would be understanding if you asked to do something like this this year, considering your pay cut.

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C.D.

answers from Omaha on

I would be honest with your family and tell them you can't exchange gifts this year or try making something homemade like a batch of cookies or fudge etc. I understand your pain, I will only be buying for my 2 kids and 2 grandchildren. I think alot of us are in the same boat so please don't feel bad. You could also offer cleaning services, a meal at home along with clean up that sort of thing. Good Luck to you!

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J.P.

answers from Minneapolis on

One year when money was tight (and I was feeling crafty), I picked up a bunch of unfinished ceramic houses and ornaments, along with some little tubs of paint. I painted them myself (and I admit I'm not much of an artist, but it's the thought that counts). For our family this year, we have one "big" gift for the family to enjoy together, and I'm planning on picking up a bunch of little stocking stuffers to fill in the gaps.

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S.W.

answers from Minneapolis on

Ever since I took a large decrease in income to go back to grad school, my Dad and his wife have gotten one or two cute 5x7 pictures of my daughter for Christmas. The first year I bought them one of those frame "books" so they have somewhere to put them.

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L.M.

answers from Minneapolis on

You already have great ideas and I didn't have a chance to read them all , but I wanted to share one of my favorite holiday gifts to get and give adults. Since my Godson was a baby, his mom sent me an ornament with his picture in it. Each year I look forward to unwrapping and hanging each of these wonderful ornaments. Now that have my own children, I continue this tradition for their aunts, uncles, Grandparents and special friends. I saw some at Michaels this year (watch for them to go on sale and they do almost every week) and even Target had some for $2. You can't get much less expensive than that!!

Regarding the kids, other than your own, I really do suggest a gift exchange, but if you have to buy for them, go with some books or a game under $10. I hope it all works out for you! Happy holidays!

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K.O.

answers from Minneapolis on

I agree with the others -- you don't *have* to buy anyone, anything! I'd get appropriate stuff for the kids and tell them that things are tight so gifts will be small (or useful, like clothes) and santa brings something more fun. And the letters of appreciation to the others is a nice idea. My folks love that stuff, if its thoughtful, and it's certainly free. If your family is the type that guilts you and makes you feel bad if you don't give gifts(and I know they're out there), you're probably in a lose-lose situation b/c whatever you do, it won't be enough, so just tell them you can't do gifts this year (and don't want any). I think if you tell people ahead of time you don't want to exchange gifts b/c things are tight, you might find they appreciate that as well. We don't exchange gifts anymore, except for the kids, and frankly I'm glad not to be getting more junk I really don't need, even if it is nice! Good luck and be strong. Don't put yourself in a bad financial position just due to peer pressure.

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M.M.

answers from Milwaukee on

You dont have to buy for all those people. Christmas is for kids. I am sure your family will understand. If not, try restaurants.com. You can get 25$ gift certificates for 60-80% off. Good luck.

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C.F.

answers from Rochester on

What about drawing names for the adults, and just giving small gifts to the kids? Or just saying that this year you're only giving to the kids (and you are fine with everybody else doing that too). We are doing that with my sister in law. Otherwise it just gets too darn expensive!Parents and grandparents always appreciate pictures, so if you can either take a family portrait or pics of just the kids and make prints, they'll love that. You can also customize and make calendars and other personalized gifts if you want. Another idea I've done in the past is make homemade fudge. It's really inexpensive, and makes a ton, plus you can customize it (Rocky Road, add nuts, etc.). I have a great recipe if you need one. You can either put it on a plate or in a Christmas tin. I found inexpensive, cute ones at Hobby Lobby. Anything homemade- food or crafts, from either you or the kids, will be appreciated. You can get a ton of ideas for projects online.

For the kids, the dollar store is a great place to go, or craigslist.org (I've noticed a ton of people putting toys up for sale). The younger kids don't have any idea how much things cost, they just know if they like it or not (which is a great thing most of the time!). I love the idea from a previous poster of a coupon book for things like a trip to the library or museum, or movie night at home, an extra book at bedtime, a sleepover, or something like that. Also, you could get a little more bang for your buck if you got some things for the whole family (like movies or family games or craft type things). Also, think about some of the things that you normally buy that you could give as a gift instead (like giving bubble bath as a gift instead of just automatically getting it). Not sure if that would apply to anything, but it's an idea.

Also, there are many organizations and programs and churches that have toy drives- you may want to check to see if you could get anything that way. I do think that your kids will understand if you tell them that you won't be able to give them as much as you wish you could this year, but you hope next year is better, and you're thankful that you have jobs and your family and health, etc. I think a lot of people are getting back to the Spirit of Christmas this year, so don't feel too bad about it. I'm glad you have a job and I hope things are looking up for you. Have a very Merry Christmas!

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S.T.

answers from Des Moines on

i always find awesome deals in the target dollar bins. last year used stuff from there to make 4 gift baskets of manicure/pedicure stuff for my relatives and they loved it.

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K.S.

answers from Wausau on

J.-
I understand how hard it is. I make homemade cookies last year for my elderly grandparents, who have everything. This year, I am baking zucchini bread, banana bread, and homemade cookies. The kids can help with something like that and family members appreciate gifts that come from the heart so much more! As for kids gifts, don't feel bad if you can't gove them much, they won't remember how much they got for Christmas, they remember the memories that are made. Good luck and I hope you have a very blessed holiday season!

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J.L.

answers from Milwaukee on

I agree with some of the previous posts...the kids should get presents, everyone else doesn't really need them. Talk with your extended family and explain the situation to them. If you must do something for the adults, baking or pictures are always nice. Or maybe you could do a white elephant exchange? Those are always fun (and cheap). For the children: I bought most of my kids' gifts at children's consignment shops this year and got very nice toys at a greatly reduced price. Do you have anything like that in your area?

Good luck--and try to enjoy the holiday!
J.

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D.M.

answers from Des Moines on

Why do you have to buy for all those people? At the very least the adults are old enough to understand that money is tight this year and you simply can't afford it. You should only have to buy for your childern. Perhaps you can make something. I used to count stitch Christmas ornaments or tea towels for family members and made candy and cookies. When that even got too much I laid my foot down and said I simply can not do this. Turns out other family members felt the same. We did trying drawing names a few years but even that got to be too much so now we take care of our own families and things are much better for all of us.

Good luck. Remember Christmas isn't just about giving/getting presents.

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S.F.

answers from Madison on

That's a lot of people to buy for regardless of if you're on a tight budget or not! What we do with our family is each child draws the name of one of their cousins and each adult draws a name of another adult. Otherwise it gets really expensive for everyone. We also put a limit on what can be spent on each person.

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K.H.

answers from Minneapolis on

I haven't read what others have written, but my first thought would be to trim your list and focus on kids. Adults understand the situation you're in, and would (hopefully) be understanding that money is tight and you can't afford to give what you have in the past. Maybe rather than giving "gifts" to them, give them time with you or offer to do something for them that you have a skill in. (I've "given" my mom the gift of getting her digital pictures off her camera and onto her computer for Mother's Day before!) Then with the kids, just do something small. Depending on the age, you really don't have to spend much to get them something cool.

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J.J.

answers from Omaha on

I think you need to be honest with everyone and tell them that you just can't afford to buy for everyone this year. I would suggest a name drawing and then put a limit on the price of the gift. This is what our family started doing. Another idea is to have all the adults buy one gift for their own sex (male buys male gift) and then on do a Christmas gift exchange. It's fun.

As far as all the children, you need to just set limits or possible buy a nice family gift for the kids - like a nice game or something, depending on their age. I would focus on your own family and children. People do understand these situations and you will probably find out that other adults feel the same way that you do about not being able to afford to give as much as you want.

J.L.

answers from Minneapolis on

Christmas ornaments for everyone the adults. Have the kids make them...sentimental and can be inexpensive. Call your sister and sister in law and ask them what family game they would like. Set a price limit!! Or go to the dollar store and get creative. Better yet be honest with the extended family and let them know it is just too much this year. That's what we did. :)

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B.H.

answers from Minneapolis on

I would suggest scoping craigslist for gently used toys for the kids. I know a used toy is really not the norm. but most kids won't notice if you buy it, set it up ready to play.

Maybe give your family (mom's dad's etc.) a coupon good for cutting the grass, or some kind of favor you could repay them. Help taking the xmas tree down something like that.

Popcorn tins are cheap and good!

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M.A.

answers from Bismarck on

I come from a big family, and I am on a fixed income. I'm also not the only one in my family in that situation either.
So to resolve this, anyone from age 13 and up, we draw names.
It makes it alot easier. And we also have a spending limit. Then I only have to worry about the one person and my 3 children.
Some advice for next year, buy really early! I start getting christmas presents abnd christmas supplies as soon as the weekend after christmas is over and they have clearence sales for chrismtas decorations. I have bought my kids some nice presents at sidewalk sales, and clearence sales.
My stocking stuffers come from the dollar store.

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T.H.

answers from Minneapolis on

An idea for the adults is a nice picture of the kids that is blown up. Maybe one of them in a special place or something like that. If you go to a craft store you can buy kits to make picture frames relatively cheap that way the kids can personalize it.

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S.H.

answers from Minneapolis on

I would suggest drawing names for the adults like your parents and sister & brother in law. Then do the same for your husbands side of the family. Buy for the kids only if you can and your kids are a priority over everyone else.

We only buy for the kids not the adults. we pick names for the adults in our family and it works great. Or we play a dice game and everyone buys a give for $5 or $10.

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T.S.

answers from Minneapolis on

A few years back we switched to no gifts for the adults, except a few cheap items we put in the dice game (roll doubles to win a prize, then a round of "stealing" gifts by getting doubles). A really hot prize is a hand soap from Bath and Body, or a big bag of M and M's. You can really keep the cost down, and don't have to buy with someone in mind because everyone plays for what they want. It is always exciting, and everyone leaves with something. Also, nobody has to break the bank to make it happen. We still all buy for the kids, but this will not be a banner year for them. Times are tough, and that affects the kids as well. We do a separate round of the dice game for the kids, and they think it is a blast too. Suggest that to your family, and I'll bet they love the idea. Really Christmas should be about getting together with your family and having fun. It has become way to commercialized. For your own kids, shop Craigslist. It keeps stuff out of landfills, and you can get way more for your money. You can find new and used, and I bet your kids could care less if it is used. Good luck.

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M.A.

answers from San Francisco on

New gift idea...Bed, Bath and Beyond is selling a Dish Drying Mat that I wish I would have invented after years of using a towel on the counter. $4.95 and a great gift. I have two, one to use while the other is drying.

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S.S.

answers from Milwaukee on

My husband was laid off for one year. Was, thankfully, able to find a job 2 wks ago, but at a 40% pay cut.

THis year, I've told our families, by email: that we will be making them their gifts.

The response was so positive! They all emailed back, and said that they didn't even expect gifts this year, given our circumstances. But, we will be making a token gift.

We went to the craft store with out 40% off coupon: and purchased ceramic ornaments and blank wooden nutcrackers that we will be painting and decorating, from the kids.

Everyone is looking forward to this: and it may become a tradition!

The only gifts we will be purchasing, will be for our 3 children. As I said, everyone on both sides was very understanding. It sure beats sweating it out and buying things that are just not possible at this time.

Good luck!

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C.C.

answers from Sioux Falls on

My husband and I have been through years where Christmas was hard. Fortunately you kids are young enough, as long as they have something they will be happy. As far as the rest of your family the wickless candles from Scentsy are a great inespensive gift. Or maybe you could bake some gifts for your family. I have a really good recipe for orange rolls that I always make and give away for Christmas. If you would like it I would be happy to share.
You can get the candles from www.danacarey.scentsy.us hope this helps!

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K.L.

answers from Minneapolis on

First of all, you don't "have to" give anything to anyone. Second, you don't have to BUY anything. Now, what do you WANT to do? Perhaps some of your relatives would treasure a heart-felt letter, listing some of the memories you appreciate about them. Or a memory jar, in which any/all members of the family could put little notes of appreciation. (Kids can help decorate the jar.) Or a piece of cloth on stretcher strips (from an art store) which the children have "embroidered" with bright yarn and their own design (or randomness!). Many people would rather receive something that gets used up rather than one more thing to fill the house--so, baked goods, postage stamps, certificate for one free hour of baby sitting or whatever other task you'd be willing to take care of.... It's all about giving your Self and your love and celebrating your friendship, not about stuff and things. And no need to apologize for spending less--you'll actually be giving them something BETTER!

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N.V.

answers from Milwaukee on

I would make your kids gifts a priority, and then once you have shopped for them get something small for the the other kids in the family, and maybe make something, for the kids, like a ornament that will be kept as a keepsake. Once all the kids are taken care worry about the adults. All the adults in my family are getting homemade canned goods I made this summer, homemade candy I'm making with my dad, and a current picture of my daughter (framed for grandparents), which I give every year. I know when things have been really tough, I will actually just give non-grandparent (sisters, brothers, etc.) a nice Christmas card with a family picture in it. This year people are getting more, because I actually planned a head for once. ;-)

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N.B.

answers from Milwaukee on

My husband has been working on his PhD for the last 6 years. He is a teaching assistant at the school he is getting his degree from, but the pay is VERY low. Almost indentured servitude if you ask me. He will finally graduate in May.

About 3 years ago, after our son was born, we could just not afford the big Christmas anymore. So we talked to my family (brothers, cousins, aunts & uncles) and my hubby's family (immediate plus extended) and told them that they should not buy us presents because we were not buying for others --- we just couldn't afford it.

That has morphed a little over the past few years, but our hard and fast rule is that we are only buying for the kids (anyone under 18 yrs old). Being that my brothers both bought houses and one had a child of his own, everyone is FINALLY on the same page and we all agree that Christmas is about the kids.

To keep things fun, this year for the adults we are doing an ornament exchange. Everyone is to bring one wrapped ornament and we will pick/steal ornaments until everyone has one. You can spend as much or as little on the ornament. My hubby and I each got ones for around $5. Just in my family alone this saved us from buying for 5 couples (including my parents).

In my hubby's family they all exchange gifts (no kids except our son) -- but we just don't participate. People have finally stopped buying for us -- they just buy for our 3 year old.

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J.F.

answers from Minneapolis on

The adults in your family should understand your limited budget. My suggestion is that you have a family photo done (someone who has a decent camera can take it) in front of a nice setting or blank wall. Have copies made in either 5X7 or 8 X 10 at Walmart (if you send them out they are even cheaper). Give a framed photo of your family to each set of the adults. If you feel like you need to add something to the gift, have your kids help you make a couple of baked goods and put them in disposable Ziploc containers that are holiday themed.

As for the cousins, ask the parents if it isn't too late to trade names and set a dollar limit for the gift. We did that this year and are trying to make it more of a surprise of who got whom and make the kids wonder. We also set the limit by VALUE and not actual price with all of the great sales out there this year. This will save money, make it more fun, and keep the kids from getting way too much.

This should save you some serious money that will help buy your kids some gifts. There are a LOT of great sales out right now, so keep your eyes open each weekend. We made the choice to limit the number of gifts from us and Santa each year to a total of 10 per child. We make sure one is a physical gift, one a creative gift, one a snuggle gift, one a toy or game, one a keepsake ornament, etc. When you have a list of what type of gift to buy it makes it easier. You can also have the kids make their lists and figure out which items match your list.

And, don't be afraid to check out the thrift stores or craigslist. You can find toys, games, books in EXCELLENT condition.

My mom made Christmas work on $11 one year with 4 of us. It was one of my favorite Christmases. She made a lot of our gifts and went to Goodwill. It can be done!

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J.M.

answers from Minneapolis on

I know you want to get everyone something, but this year, lots of people won't be able to afford to. So try to scale back on what you give. I'm sure your parents, and siblings, and sibling-in-laws will understand if you don't give them anything of monetary value this year.

With that said, I know there's still pressure to give SOMETHING to everyone. Here's a few cheap, more personal ideas:
- Framed pictures of your family for the adults
- Rolls of pre-made cookie dough, frozen and wrapped in plastic wrap
- Have your kids make a handprint Christmas wreath with their picture on the inside
- Homemade Christmas tree ornaments with your kids' pictures.

I like pictures :) I assume most people do too.

As for the kids you want to buy for, I don't have any great advice.

Good luck and try not to stress over it too much!!

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J.B.

answers from Minneapolis on

I've always felt that the best gifts I've ever received have been "from the heart" rather than store bought. I'm not sure how crafty you are but Archivers (a scrapbooking store) always seems to come up with awesome handmade gift ideas. Many keepsake boxes can be made out of recycled tin cans, shoe boxes, etc. You could put together an apron and buy some cooking items for your step-dtr. Quite honestly, I always think "time" is the best gift. So, whatever their interest is . . . focus on that and use your creativity to highlight their special talents or interests. If your kids have more specific items they want and you need to cut back on the older family member gifts - again, the handmade ones always seem to be their favorites (and talked about every year). I'm speaking from experience. This year I have the "grandkids" giving their grandparents handmade placemats and the rest of us plan to give them a tablecloth (that I found on sale).

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S.P.

answers from Minneapolis on

Why don't you buy cheap frames from Marshall's or somewhere like that (even Goodwill has frames) and then print a picture of your children and give those as gifts.

Better yet, don't buy gifts for everyone, but write them a letter telling them how much they mean to you, etc. Or bake cookies. Or have a dinner party and invite everyone that you would normally give a gift to and tell them how much you love them. Everyone understands the financial situation, and hardly anyone needs any more things.

Check out internet sites like groupon.com - you can't control what the deal is, but there are phenomenal things on there. Everyday there is a deal for a local business, and if enough people sign up, you get crazy deals - up to 80% off. There have been everything ranging from gift certificates for restaurants, to museum memberships, to portraits, to massages and spa services, to.. you name it.

Lastly, now that you are able, give a gift to a charity that helps people who are having a tough time, and tell your family members that in lieu of gifts, you decided to give back to your community, because there are people who need the help right now.

For your children, shop at Once Upon a Child, or another used store - you will find nearly brand new toys and clothes for a fraction of the cost.

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K.S.

answers from Green Bay on

How about coupons? -free house cleaning on a Saturday, free 10 minute shoulder rub, free homecooked dinner or soup, free car wash in May, free window-washing, free computer clean-up.

Or home-made gifts, like jam, chocolate covered pretzel rods, etc.

Best wishes!

K.
http://K..myshaklee.com (check this out for extra income)

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J.C.

answers from Lincoln on

Give the adults a nice (preferably hand made) card with a thoughtful letter of well-wishes and thanks inside and a candy-cane attached outside. They know your financial situation and won't think twice about not receiving a "gift", but will appreciate the fact that you thought about them. For SIL's kids go to dollar tree and spend $5 on each kid, a bag with craft items always goes over well and they have a great selection. For your kids check out craigslist.org, you can get great used toys for a fraction of the price and kids do not care if they don't come in their original boxes! We're very tight this year too, the biggest thing is not to feel guilty that you can't do what you're used to doing for Christmas. Just be grateful for what you have and what you can do.

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S.K.

answers from Minneapolis on

J.,

My husband was once laid off in October and we were expecting our second baby in December, so I understand your Christmas season stress. I had to keep reminding myself that Christmas is about celebrating the birth of our Savior who's Father chose to have Him come to the earth in the most humble of circumstances and be cared for by a poor family. It's not about money.

I can't imagine your relatives expecting presents this year if they are aware of the layoff. As far as the kids go, there is a lot kids like at the dollar section of Target or the dollar store. If there was something the kids really were hoping for, check on Craig's list and see if you can get a used one. Candy is cheap and always a big hit.

Rainbow Foods has coupons for turkey at 37 cents per pound and you could have a nice Christmas turkey for only a couple dollars. I picked up an 18 pounder for $6 and we are still enjoying the leftovers. You could take a 40% off coupon from Joanne's or Michaels and get a package of ornaments and glitter glue and have the kids decorate ornaments for relatives.

If you needed a little extra cash, there may be places that are still doing seasonal hiring - gift wrappers or other mall jobs, movie theatre, Salvation Army bell ringers. When we went to Chuck E Cheese the other day and there was someone filling out an application.

Good luck,
S.

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D.P.

answers from Minneapolis on

start by cutting out the adults!! tell them privately about your situation. or make mini photo albums, photo calendars, etc...for in laws that have small kids, give them babysitting coupons or a coupon to help with a project they might hire out for (painting, cleaning, baking etc). for your kids, check thrift store or craigslist for new or near to new toys etc...or also make them coupons for a moive night or game night or a free activity: sledding, trip to the library etc. if you really want to give adults something, see if you can contribute to a large gift with other siblings. set a budget and stick to it. make christmas more about the season rather than the gifts. have your kids come up with craft ideas for adults and then make them together...they will remember the time with you more than they will ever remember the trinket they purchased for grandma.

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