Seeking Advice on What to Do for Holiday and Birthday Presents.

Updated on November 12, 2008
T.S. asks from Burnsville, MN
47 answers

First off I would like to say, "Thank you" this is such a wonderful site and so many wonderful people on here with great advice!

Ok here is my issue I am a single parent who is suposed to received child support but does not. (As a matter of fact the father of my son wants nothing to do with him.) So I am struggeling to keep us above water financially. I have requested assistance but I have been told that I make to much money to qualify. I had to file bankruptcy last year about this time. I am trying to better myself so I can become more finacially sable for my son and myself. I work full time and now go to school full time (on line courses). So here is my issue I am not able to provide a good holiday or birthday for my son because I can not afford it. (His birthday is January 5th) I know I am not able to get any assistance so I am not sure what to do. My son will be 3 in January and he is alread excited for the holidays. Also all the holiday commercials are coming out and he keeps asking I am a good boy, so santa will bring me that toy right mommy? Or I want this for my birthday mommy. I keep saying we will see and telling him I am not sure what santa will bring you. So it is breaking my heart because I do not know what to do. any suggestions would be much appreciated. Thank you all so very much. T.

1 mom found this helpful

What can I do next?

  • Add yourAnswer own comment
  • Ask your own question Add Question
  • Join the Mamapedia community Mamapedia
  • as inappropriate
  • this with your friends

Featured Answers

Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

J.P.

answers from Madison on

I also am a single mom and have been for 6 years. What I have always done is tried to find one "big gift" (usually no more than $20-$25 worth)one of the things on the "mommy I want that" list. All other gifts are the boring ones like underwear and socks and all the new winter stuff and other of those things that kids need. You wrap those little things all individually and have him open them first and save "the one" for last. Also the dollar store is great for cheap little toys that children have just as much fun with if not more than something you might pay $50.00 for. That way he feels like he gets a lot but you don't have to spend that much. He is three, he will forget all of those commercials and will be happy with whatever you can do for him. It's really about the unwrapping more than anything for those little ones.

Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

D.M.

answers from Duluth on

Great ??? T...I almos have a TIGHT Christmas coming up...Kids will get meaning THIS YEAR of "It's the thought that counts and the MEANING of Christmas..and NOT the gifts!!!"

Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

S.F.

answers from Minneapolis on

T. - Hi

For the Christmas holiday - there are several locations such as Toys for Tots, Caring Hands - maybe you should contact them prior and see what if any there restictions are - Good Luck!

More Answers

Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

J.M.

answers from Milwaukee on

T.,
My mom and I were in a similar situation when I was growing up. Christmas isn't about commercialism - it's about family. She would make cookies with me or we'd string popcorn for the tree or drink hot coco on cold nights and play in the snow. We'd decorate the house together. I loved the holidays because my mom and I had so much fun. She couldn't afford big expensive gifts so she'd get me little things and wrap them all up separate. Then she'd play with them with me after they were opened. Your son will be thrilled with what ever it is he gets. It's all the excitement that is the fun part.

Now in my own family we really try to downplay all the materialism. How much junk do we all need? We decorate together and make cookies and spend a lot of time with family and friends. We watch all the silly Christmas shows. It's the memories --- not all the gifts that are made in China.

You being a great mom is the best gift of all for your son. The time you spend making Christmas special is what will make the holiday memorable for him. Not all the plastic junk.

2 moms found this helpful
Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

J.F.

answers from Minneapolis on

Good for you to better yourself and for setting goals that will also better your child. I wanted to share my perspective with you.

I grew up DIRT poor. My mom only had $11 for Christmas one year (4 kids) and it is one I will always remember. She made a lot of things for us and shopped at Goodwill. My husband and I have struggled with finances with my husband returning to school and with me being layed off when I was 9 months pregnant. We're getting out of it with my husband's new job, but we've decided that we won't over do it for gifts for birthday (Nov 13) and Christmas just because we can. Setting limits is really important to us and making the few very thought-out gifts that much more special.

Definitely look into the available resources everyone has mentioned, but feel good knowing you are a fantastic mother even if he doesn't get EVERYTHING he wants.

1 mom found this helpful
Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

T.H.

answers from Minneapolis on

You are an amazing person, being there for your son when no one else is and working full time while going to school full time. I don't know how you do it, kudos to you! I just want to say that yes, hearing them ask for this and that and asking if they have been good to get this or that can and will break your heart but remember the holidays are meant for family and love and this is an amazing time where you can help instill this in your son, kids now don't understand that at all...it is all about the stuff and the money. My suggestion is to get him one or two gifts for Christmas and one for his birthday that you know he will enjoy and will benefit him. They don't have to be expensive. Keep being an amazing mother, your son is very lucky to have you.

1 mom found this helpful
Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

J.C.

answers from Appleton on

hi T.,

first off i want to say you are a strong mom and woman taking on so many roles! it's not easy with a full plate like that, but the struggles will pay off!

i also wanted to let you know that the uw oshkosh women's center does offer an "angel tree" program for christmas. the focus of the program is to reach out to low-income parents by offering them a gift that fits their needs. our primary focus is to offer a gift a that helps a parent. there are so many community agencies that collect gifts for children, that we thought our contribution would be to give something to a low-income parent to remind them how important they are as well. however, we have also adopted a few single moms and their children in the past. please keep us in mind if we can be of assistance. our mission is to help empower women (on campus members as well as in the larger community) to fulfill their personal, academic, and professional potential.

our contact info is as follows: http://www.uwosh.edu/womenscenter/ (more details about program & other opportunities)
phone: ###-###-####
email: [email protected]____.com

hoping you all enjoy a merry christmas and happy 3rd birthday for your son:)

J.

1 mom found this helpful
Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

S.K.

answers from Des Moines on

Hi T.,

I quit letting my daughter watch TV in September. I go to the library and check out 5 dvd movies and some VHS. She only watches those...no TV/commericials. I asked her yesterday what she wanted for Christmas and she said she didn't know. Last year, she was watching TV and had a list about a mile long. Do yourself a favor and check out movies at the library for him to watch. Next, do an online search for organizations in your area for single moms or income based holiday help. I know if you contact almost any church, they would be willing to get him presents. He deserves a magical Christmas and a wonderful birthday. If you let us know what area you are in, we may be able to give you names and places to contact.

1 mom found this helpful
Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

S.D.

answers from Minneapolis on

See if you qualify for Toys for Tots, or any of those gift donation programs. My sister qualifies years ago for her 3 kids and they got a lot of great stuff that she could not have afforded on her own. Or check with your church (if you attend), they is always people who want to donate to needy families at the holidays.

Otherwise watch the sales, especially for what he really wants. Shop the day after Thanksgiving, if you can, lots of great deals will be out there. Or give him some items that can be paid for later - like make up a coupon book that he can use once a month for going to the movie theater, library, play area at the mall, McDonalds, etc.

As for your ds' bday, wait til after Christmas when everything is cheap and you will be able to get him a lot.

Good luck.
S., mom of 3

A.H.

answers from Omaha on

Hi T.,

I am financially strapped as well. What we do is go to children's consignment shops. I have gotten some awesome deals from there for really inexpensive. Tons of toys that are like brand new. Their kids just grew out of them and their is nothing at all wrong with em. Check your area to see if you have them or ask other mothers on this site from your area. The one by me is called Big Wheels to Butterflies and Reruns. It's hard times for people out there and those places are just great. They buy clothes and toys so when you get ready to sell you can take them there and get cash for your items.

Hope this helps.

Ann,

Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

M.J.

answers from Omaha on

You are doing a good job of trying to better yourself. Here's the good news... right now he is still very little and doesn't care so much about what you buy or how much. This is a blessing, and use it wisely as it will not last long. Go to the dollar store and get lots of little things, you can usually get wrapping paper and detergemt amd stuff there too. Also, go to walmart and get like the packs of hotwheels. Take them out of the package and wrap them individually. Seriously, at this age, they are just happy to open a present. Chances are good that after three, he will be too busy playing to open more. Make a nice dinner with what you have, and maybe get a cake mix and icing for his birthday. IF you really look you can find the cheap writable icing too and write a birthday message. Be creative and have fun. Make it a challenge to yourself to see how thrifty you can be. This year when my son turned 3 we took him to the local "spraygrounds" and invited a few of his friends. My daughter made decorations and I made his cake. He loves cars so I got him a couple and put one on top of the cake for decoration. The party was free and the cake less than 5 bucks. You can do it. Don't waste the money now that you don't have when he won't know the difference. keep plugging away at that school and saving and you will be fine in no time. God Bless! (If your son's birthday is in winter, you could do like a McDonald's playland and go back to your place for the cake, then dinner is taken care of too)

Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

L.A.

answers from Lincoln on

You have received wonderful advice already hopefully I can share some more. No matter the income level kids see things and want them. My daughter just went thru one of the store toy flyers and the average price of the things she wanted was $150. Not going to happen! Like others have suggested there are many fabulous places that love to help.

On the financial side of things please look into DaveRamsey.com he is a financial person with a very common sense point of view. He is wonderful on setting up a budget and sticking to it. We do his plan (it's FREE) and we have budgeted in throughout the year starting in January for Christmas even if it's $20 a month so we know we have X amount for Christmas and once that money is gone present buying is done for the holidays. I know this won't help this year but hopefully in the years to come it will help you have a more stress free holiday time.

Just remember that having your love and support is more of a Christmas present than any expensive toy that they will play with for about 20 minutes and then play with the boxes. :-) If you would like more things under the tree for him to unwrap consider going to a dollar store where you can get 10 items and only spend $10.

Best of luck to you!

N.K.

answers from Minneapolis on

You should check out www.freecycle.org it's a site sort of like craigslist except that EVERYTHING is free. You do NOT have to offer things in order to receive things but think of all the stuff you have and don't want that someone else might want.

Your son is young enough yet that he wouldn't realize something is gently used and he isn't to the age yet to be embarrassed by something from Goodwill.

Actually, when we go to our local Goodwill my daughter points out things that she wants - I told her to put it on her Christmas list and was a little surprised when I didn't get the eye-roll. So now she has a list full of things that end in "that I saw at Goodwill".

Good luck & God bless

Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

C.S.

answers from Omaha on

I do agree if you are a christian promoting all that but you are also blessed that he is 3 and very easy to please. They just want thing and want to open stuff they think that is the best. I know how it is to have no money I know I grew up with very little but my mom always seems to make the holidays special. I used to get one things that I for sure asked for then other lil things more to open ya know. Also Goodwill is not a bad place to look when there this age. I mean kids at this age go threw things before they ware them out. I know my grandma has gotten things for my kids from there and my son was always happy to get the gift and never had no idea that they were used. That is just a idea and like I said at 3 they are so easy to please!

Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

C.L.

answers from Minneapolis on

You may be able to qualify for other forms of assistance or limited assistance for the holidays. Most churches and some other organizations collect toys and provide them for needy children. I know my church does. You might want to look into a variety of organizations, not just government aid, to see what is available. It sounds to me like you should qualify for something. What about that organization that provides gift bags for birthdays? I can't remember the name of it, but there is an organization that collects books, stuffed animals, crayons, etc and puts them in a gift bag and gives them to children for their birthday when they might not otherwise recieve birthday gifts. It has a kid-friendly name; maybe you can do some sort of search on the web. Best wishes.

Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

S.P.

answers from Minneapolis on

YOu've gotten a lot of great advice already, but here's another thought: Three year olds are very vulnerable to the media messages, and commercials will cause them to desire things that they wouldn't even really like. It doesn't matter how much or little money you have, the advertising creates a want for MORE in children. I would try turning off the commercials, or have him watch channel two with no commercials, or you could even just turn off the tv and provide alternatives- books, puzzles, paints, ...

Your attitude is very important - if you give him a few little matchbox cars all wrapped up and you believe that it is a great gift, he will too. But if you feel sorry for him, he will pick up on that, and it will influence how he feels.

Finally, know that you are not alone. Many of us are needing to resist the materialistic messages of our culture these days. The best gift of all is a loving mommy, and he has that already!

Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

P.G.

answers from Sheboygan on

God Bless you T..
You are working so hard to give your son a good life, keep up the faith, it will pay off someday soon for you.
All the moms who have responded have given you great advice, I would like to add that you could buy him some matchbox cars and wrap them individually, they are 97 cents each at Walmart.
Also, Target has a dollar section at the front of their stores, some really cute stuff, also Good Will and Toys for Tots would be a good option. Also, Kohl's Department stores have Curious George merchandise for 5 dollars each which benefit Children's Hospital. You could get him a stuffed animal and a book for $5.00 each and the money goes to a good cause.
I think the best thing you can do for your son is just create memories with him. Make the holidays as happy and carefree as you can for him. As long as he knows he is loved, that's the most important thing you can do for him.
Another thing to consider is getting him involved with Big Brothers/Big Sisters organization through the United Way. He may be on the young side for that, but something you may want to consider as he gets a little older.
I wish you a happy holiday season, keep up the good work, and God Bless you and your son.
P.

Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

E.M.

answers from Des Moines on

As far as his birthday goes focus more on what you can do with him not get for him. Tell him ahead of time what will happen on that day. Like saying we will go to the zoo for your birthday, then talk about it it will help biuld the excitment. Or do something at home plan a small party even if it is just you and him and your mom. At that age it is about exciting things that are different then the normal everyday hum drum. I have done the Christmas shopping for my neices and nephews at goodwill or the clearance aisle since they were first born. Your son is probably not half as worried about it as you are. Bottom line is you love your son, disapointment from holiday gifts will pass but he will always know that you loved him and tried your best. Keep your head up!!!

Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

K.S.

answers from Minneapolis on

I have a huge list of gift ideas you can make. I can PM it to you if you are interested. Also plan a special outing with him instead, either to Como Zoo or get a Museum Pass from your local county library for a free visit to a huge list of museums.

Visit some thrift stores or shop craigslist for gifts is another ideas. A 3 yo is not going to care whether a toy is new in the box or slightly used.

And please, please, please get the state to go after the father for child support by garnishing his wages. That $$ is for your son's care and feeding.

I really like the idea of not allowing TV watching in regards to the commercialization. My son only watches PBS and videos and he never asks for things from commercials. Keeping toy catalogs away from him and having him beg for stuff he sees when we shop is a whole different matter :)

Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

A.G.

answers from Minneapolis on

I grew up in a family with a single mom and a sister, and my mother didn't have much extra money to spend. We would do other traditions to make Christmas special. We always made an evening out of decorating the tree, for example. We would play Christmas music, drink eggnog, unpack the ornaments, and decorate the tree and house. Of course, we were all female, so we liked stuff like this. When we opened presents we would take turns and open slowly instead of in a mad rush. This helped make the gift opening longer and we enjoyed it more. There are free events you can attend like Christmas tree lightings, the Holidazzle Parade, etc... Go to the library and get some fun Christmas books to read for the season. Let him pick or make his favorite food on Christmas eve or day. Make Christmas special for other reasons than gifts. One year we visited my Dad for Christmas because my mother was in the hospital. He knew I liked sardines (I know, weird), so he filled my stockings with sardines. I loved it! I told my husband about it, and he did it as well one year. I have mostly wonderful Christmas memories. It is my favorite holiday, but we really didn't get a lot in the form of gifts compared to others I knew. We made it special in other ways.

Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

M.R.

answers from Minneapolis on

We read this book from the library "A Little House Christmas" and Laura and Mary only get a new cup each, a cookie, and a couple of pieces of candy. That's it. And they are thrilled. It might be a good book to use to talk about Christmas and what it is really about. We don't even do the Santa thing around here. I think Christmases can be more memorable and special if they are about spending time with one another and a few gifts that the child will really appreciate. If you decide how you want your holidays to be (and the library has some great books to skim on creating meaningful traditions that aren't about stuff) than you will feel good about it. Study after study shows that Americans aren't happy besides all the stuff they have. Perhaps you have an opportunity to raise your kid to find joy in what he has and WHO HE HAS (his loving, wonderful mom). Plan some special games for him. Some special activities for the day (baking and decorating cookies?). Hit the thrift stores. You can extend the unwrapping time, by creating scavenger hunts with pictures of things in the house for him to go to and find clues. We do that with our little one and she loves it. One of the presents my 2.5 year old is getting blocks made out of food boxes I've saved and am covering with contact paper. If you can limit the commercials your kids sees and keep him out of the toy aisles that also helps with the "wantitis." Good luck. Don't feel bad. You are giving your son the essentials. Your love. And if you honest and positive with him about things he's going to be well-grounded.

Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

T.C.

answers from Minneapolis on

Ditto on what the other moms suggested...and here's a few more...

Call the United Way...211. They have all these resources! They can even get you in touch with other organizations that may help you with your holiday meals and gifts. I know they helped me a few years ago...

Along with Craigslist, there's also Freecycle.org...local chapters, etc, and everythiing is FREE! Do a search on Twin Cities and Free stuff...you'll find a lot of resources there. www.twincitiesfreemarket.org is another one that's good.

You're lucky... at 3-4 years old, they usually don't have much of a concept of how much something cost...AND, its a great time to teach him that it's the thought that counts and the true meaning of Christmas. I know one family that wasn't doing well, and in the Spirit of the Holiday (and their budget), they only gave three presents.

That being said, I remember one great Christmas, my boys were 2 & 4. I went to the dollar store, spent about $20 on silly little things and coloring books and crayons. I wrapped everything individually, and they had the best time! Their "big" presents (approx. $10 each) were hidden and we played hot/cold to find them. I got them a game that they both could play (the fishing one, I think, and we still play with it!) and a flimsy racetrack. I think that Christmas was better and happier than the one last year when I had money and got them nearly everything they'd asked for...Wii included! (Now, why did I do that?!?) :)

Look around at the toys he has to see if there's anything to make him excited about something he already has. I guess I'm thinking about a racetrack...if he gets a new car, he'll play with it again like it's new. ($15 - 20 for the racetrack, $2 for 2 cars.) I have to admit I've done this for a couple of years, now...and it still works! :)

Another thing is to get his outgrown clothes and toys to Once Upon A Child...you can either get cash (or check) back to spend somewhere else, or get him some toys there.

One last thing. The stuff he sees on TV that he wants that costs more than $20 will more likely than not be played with for 15 minutes and tossed aside for an empty box or the ribbons off the presents. :) We joked around that this year, we're getting them both empty big boxes and plastic grocery bags. They were hiding in the boxes, and running around making the bags fly for almost an hour (at 5 & 7 yo!).

Good luck...and have a wonderful Christmas AND Birthday...it'll be wonderful for him regardless if he can have time playing with you!

Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

L.H.

answers from Milwaukee on

First I should say that your son deserves child support and his dad has an obligation to pay whether he sees him or not. You should fight for that for your son. I usually try to buy a little all year long for holidays. I know it's easier said then done. If you belong to a church some times they will help if they know your situation.

Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

L.D.

answers from Minneapolis on

Do you belong to a church? Churches are good at helping people when no one else will. I remember my parents getting help from church one year when my dad was unemployed.

Did you look into Toys for Tots or Salvation Army?

This would be a good year to teach your son holidays should be about family and being thankful for the things you do have. I would try to think of some way to let him know Santa will not be coming this year. My parents never forced the Santa thing so that wasn't a problem for our family.

Look into Fare for All for food. There is no income requirement and can be used all year round.

Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

M.M.

answers from Milwaukee on

Didn't read all the other responses so I'm not sure if I'm duplicating any responses but I find that when my son sees a commercial for something he likes I say "let's put it on your list". He is usually satisfied with this and by Christmas or his birthday I'm sure he can't even remember what all the things were on his list anymore. Pick out one thing that was on "the list" and forget all the other stuff. Even if you could afford it it can get out of control. They need to learn that they can't get everything they want, just like we can't. Also, with his birthday being in January you will have the perfect opportunity to stock up on birthday gifts and goody bag supplies with all the after Christas clearance sales! The dollar section of Target is a good place to get little trinkets for goody bags and after Christmas you can get it clearanced out for .50 or even .25. And after Halloween you can get huge bags of candy on total clearance to use to fill goodie bags with also. And their will be aisles of toys on clearance to choose from after Christmas for a birthday gift. Good luck and have fun searching for all those bargains!!

Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

A.H.

answers from Waterloo on

Hey T.. As a single mom myself who also doesn't receive child support I know exactly where you are coming from! I try to keep the holidays away from the commercial aspect, but I'm a sucker for gifts I have to admit. My suggestion is direct sales companies. There are quite a few who have great kids products (Usborne Books, Discovery Toys) and if you host a party you get lots of free stuff. There's also the option of joining one yourself that you're passionate about to make some extra money for the holidays. I am a consultant for The Body Shop at Home and it's awesome to know that if I need some extra money I can go out that night, work for 2-3 hours and make about $100. There's also tons of holidays expos going on this time of year (I just did one today actually) so these and/or a couple home shows and you've got Christmas and his Birthday all paid for! Check out my site if you'd like or dsa.org for all direct selling companies. Good luck!

A.
http://www.thebodyshopathome.com/web/abbeyhall

Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

L.K.

answers from Omaha on

Hi T.,
Sorry to hear of your situation. Three years old is a tough age because they understand Christmas & Birthdays as well as expect gifts. For Christmas I would check with your local church as many have tree of angels for the members of the church take a tag and purchase the gift for the family. If you don't have a church you can call many of them and they're usually good at helping. So if you can get a gift or two from a church or local community center then all you have to worry about is his Birthday. Believe me the sales after Christmas help alot for these presents. I know as I have twins born in late January. Hope this gives you some ideas.
L.

Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

N.C.

answers from Duluth on

Is child support set up through the courts? If it is, go to your county to see what can be done. If child support is not set up legally, why isn't it?

A person who thinks that he or she can get everything is set up for a life of unfulfillment. Even if money were not an issue, getting a child everything he thinks he wants is dangerous. Values set by "things" is impossible to sustain, because there are always new things or other things that one must have to fill that need. Think of this as an advantage and allow him to define who he is by what he does, not by what he has. At three he will mirror your attitude toward all those things and a couple of special things is better than 30 things that are just things. He has you and you love him and that is enough.

Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

N.S.

answers from Minneapolis on

No guarantees, but here's two resources to maybe check out. They are both geared toward single moms and are part of Catholic Charities in the Twin Cities area. I know someone who does work through the first link and understand this is a great program for single-parents lucky enough to get in. The program helps you get nice housing, school assistance both financially and academically for both the parent and their children, and job placement upon graduation. Because these are through Catholic Charities maybe the guidelines for assistance are more flexible;

http://www.commonbond.org/ourservices/advantageservices/f...

http://www.ccspm.org/moms_connection.aspx

Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

C.S.

answers from Milwaukee on

This is a tough issue, that I am dealing with myself. I have 5 children, and I am not able to give them as many gifts as I have in the past. Two of my sons are 17 months old, so I feel like I have a fresh start for dealing with the holidays. Christmas is a perfect opportunity to teach your young child that it is not all about getting, but giving, too. For example, you could help him to make a "coupon book" for grandma (ie. good for one hug and kiss, etc.). Also, you could set a precedent of giving him only one or two gifts, and then a stocking with fun little gifts from the $1 store, etc. In our house, the stockings are from "Santa", and that's it from that guy! You could also give him an alternative gift, like his own "coupon" good for a half-day with mom doing his favorite thing. Good luck, I'm working through this too, and I have even considered not doing the "Santa" thing with the babies, so I am just a work in progress with this whole holiday thing! ps. For his birthday, you could try throwing a low cost party at your home the day of his birthday (again the $1 store has good stuff for goodie bags that he could help pick out, and decorations that your son would like). Invite 5 of his little friends, and waa-la! he has a party thrown by you (your gift), grandma could bring a cake (her gift), and he will get 5 gifts from his friends!

Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

K.W.

answers from Cedar Rapids on

Dear T.,

The best present you can give your son is the gift of time with his mommy! Make a card and write down a couple of free/almost free activities you and your son can do together. Wrap the card and then on Christmas have him open it and you read off "My Special Day with Mommy". Pick a date and take him to the library, mall (if there's a free play area), hiking,etc; then grab a free kid's movie from Blockbuster or Family Video and have a movie and popcorn night.

Good luck and God Bless,

K.

Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

G.

answers from Minneapolis on

I know that you would be able to sign up for toys for tots thru the marine corps or the Salvation army- just need to get to website to find ot info- I do not belive there is any income requirement, however they do want the social sercurity # for the child to ensure that there are not duplicate registrations. Best wishes to you!

Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

E.B.

answers from Duluth on

Lots of good advice. Yes check out to see if you qualify to Toy's For Tot's or any other local toy/clothing drives. Many chruches have lists of families that members take names for & buy gift when the family cannot afford to. Don't let pride get in the way. Ask for help, you will be surprised how may people are wanting to help out in situations like yours. I worked with a young mother who couldn't buy her two girls xams present & our compnay put togethter a pool & bought toys & clothes from Santa for her.

Check out consigment & thrift shops, look at the special deals for Black Friday & see if what your son is asking for is reasonably priced that day. Also wait until after Christmas to buy his Bday present. Everything will be on sale then.

Perhaps suggest to your mother that she could skip you for Christams this year & focus soley on your son instead. Let her know that seeing him happy would be the best gift you could recieve.

Also keep the gifts small with maybe one larger gift. At three he will be more happy to receive lots of small things than just one large item & really at that age their focus is so scattered that just one big gift would bore him quickly.

And lastly be hoenst with him. Let him know that money is tight & you will not be able to get him everything he wants. Even at 3 they can understand this concept. & to help foster this understanding you can always have him go through the toys that he does not play with any more & encourage him to give them to another family that is also having troubles. This will help him to understand that Christams is more about giving than receiving.

Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

C.W.

answers from Minneapolis on

Hi T.- check with your school district. I know that the Anoka Henneping School district has a big "adopt a family" program. If you are doing any ECFE classes, or using the Home Visiting program, thoes staff can get you in contact with the right people. Another mom suggested a "trip" or "outing" for a gift. You can check out passes from the library to places like the Childrens Museum and other fun places.

Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

M.C.

answers from Fargo on

I hope the state is seeking child support and you are staying on them to get it, becuase sometimes we let it go when in all actuality it is the child's money we are fighting for. If it's an exhausting end then just let it go. Sometimes God gives us miracles in funny loking boxes, I was in your situation and then when the father of my twins came into our lives at about age 6 it went great til age 8 and it has been a livin "he--" ever since. He and his family has SO much money and makes life very difficult. We have had to try forgive alot for our sanity. The twins are 18 in February.

YES!!! Contact an area church and they might even help with a single mom support person, besides holiday needs.

Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

D.S.

answers from Minneapolis on

T. - I understand how much you want to be able to give your son things and it is hard when they are that age and want everything. The most important tbing you can make sure he has is you and a loving and encouraging environment to live in. You are setting a terrific example for him by working and getting an education to be able to have more options.

There are many wonderful organizations out there that are helping single moms like you. The United Way has many programs, and churches are very generous in helping, especially during the Holidays. The Salvation Army, Toys for Tots, Santa Anonyouus, and other programs are out there. Go on-line or call a local paper or news station to find out about how you can become considered as a recipient for these programs.

Best of luck to you! Be grateful for all you do have, keep a vision of what you want your life to look like, and keep working toward it...you'll be amazed what gifts and good fortune will come your way!

Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

R.K.

answers from Appleton on

Contact the Marine Corps, ask about the Toys for Tots program. You can also get on a list from a church group or Social/Human Services and see who is giving out holiday packages. I did this one year and we got something for everyone. We also got a complete turkey dinner and a lot of other food. Sometimes you can ask for a specific toy that your son really wants and they will do their best to get the toy for him.
Good luck to you I raised 4 children and was a low income Mom the entire time. They are all grown up now the youngest is 17. The older ones are doing great.
You are doing the best you can and you are going to school. See if you can get the courts to order child support and have the money taken out of his pay and sent directly to you.

Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

S.G.

answers from Rapid City on

You have a lot of good suggestions here. It is hard for a lot of people this year with the ecomony like it is so it is good that you asked this question. I am sure it will help many.

First of all, through out the year put your change in a piggy bank, money saved with coupons can be added to it. this will be your Christmas fund. Next if you see something on the clearence shelves that would be a good gift for the next birthday, Christmas or Easter, it will give you bigger gifts for less. Some garage sales in the summer will yeild a nice bike that might just need a can of spray paint and new seat to make it look nice and new. Buying things through out the year will help in the future.

For this year, sit down with your son and let him go through a catalog with you, making a list of things he wants. If something costs to much say so. I use to get a long list of what the kids wanted from Santa and then told them that it was to give Santa a general idea of what they want and he will pick some from the list, the choices are his though. This way I could pick only the things I could afford and yet Santa brought what they wanted from Santa. At 3 this will be easier then at 6 when they go to school and see that santa brought Joey that new bike he wanted while he got something else. Most of all teach your son about the real reason for Christmas. Make sure that he sees the holiday as something other then the presents he gets, so he will be satisfied with what he gets and not disappointed by what he doesn't get.

Last but not least, even if dad doesn't want anything to do with him, he still should be supporting him. Talk to your lawyer and get that support coming and the back support paid up. Do it soon so they can attach his income tax return or wages if need be. This is for your son.

Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

L.K.

answers from Milwaukee on

Hi T. -- Lots of people I'm sure have good ideas about presents and things you can do. My advice has more to do with the long term. I recommend you find and join a church community. You'll discover a new extended family that can assist you in many ways, and as your son gets older it will be good for him to have a peer group that has grown up with positive and healthy values. Look for a congregation that is not too large, that has young families and obviously one that feels right. Best wishes!

Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

D.P.

answers from Minneapolis on

check with your local church to see if they have a christmas family program. if you are in ECFE, check to see if they have any christmas programs where you can sign up. Also, since he is little, try shopping at the thrift stores or goodwill as they sometimes have great stuff that is gently used or brand new. another tip is shop at a store like kmart...they have lay away so you can put stuff away on sale and pay a little at a time. You may not want to/or qualify for food at the food shelf, but check to see if they have any christmas programs that you could sign up for to get gifts for you boy.

Also, I like the idea of making him coupon book where you can give him gifts of time: like one hour of playing together, one super bubbly bath, a trip to the zoo etc...things that can be free or cheap!!

Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

B.B.

answers from Minneapolis on

Your story is heartbreaking. But 3-year-olds are still pretty easy to please. You could go to the dollar store and just get few little toys from Santa. He is too little to know how much you are spending. Or if he hasn't seen or played with one of his toys in a while, you could wrap it up and give it to him (if he wouldn't know the difference). That's too bad you don't have family who will give him gifts, too. It's too late to hit garage sales, but you could go to Once Upon a Child to find cheap toys and save a little money. I would also talk to him ahead of time and tell him Santa has a lot of little kids to give gifts to, and he can't give too much. Just do what you can. He'll understand. Good luck to you and happy holidays.

Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

B.P.

answers from Minneapolis on

T.....
Times are hard.......and it is even more difficult when you are alone. When you are trying to better yourself and do the right thing, it seems people want to beat you down, and make you dependent on the "system".
It is a good tool if you need it, but don't want to have to use it to survive.
I would see if you could get on a "shopping list" through a church, or an agency that serves single families.
You can put your sons name on a list with his age and things he likes and get help that way.
There is nothing shameful about asking for help.
I have a friend that works in the Alliance for Domestic Abuse and they get entire families that get to go shopping for what they would like!
Or, check with your police agency. There are MANY now that do "Shop with a Cop" programs too.
Girl Scouts, see if they may have some that are doing a group project....confirmation groups at a church....sometimes school student councils do fundraisers.
There are a TON of options.
Like I said, there is NO shame in getting help. You are trying to better yourself, and it takes a little time to do that.
Good Luck and Merry Christmas.

Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

C.B.

answers from Minneapolis on

i get a lot of my kids toys at goodwill. i don't know if this is true of all of them but the one on robert street in west st paul gets returned and overstock items from target so i always find stuff that is still in the box. plus if you go on thursdays all the kids clothes and toys are 1/2 off.

you can also find good deals at the thrift store and www.craigslist.org

i know older kids start to get picky but my three year old has no idea and could care less that they aren't brand new from the store.

good luck, and happy holidays:)

Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

N.B.

answers from Duluth on

At three toys and presents are very exciting Kmart and some other stores have a lay away for 10% down you can make small payments over time. Or go to a dollar store or someplace that sells cheap toys. Shopko and other stores have great sales on you should check . God bless you and don't worry it will get better.

Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

J.O.

answers from Wausau on

I don't know if anyone mentioned the Salvation Army- but they also do the tree of gifts thing where others purchase the gifts and the Salvation Army distributes them. At least in our area, the child (or his parent) gets to request what gift he would like to receive. The year my husband's family was on their list was a memorable one for him- he was about 6 yrs old, and someone had bought and donated a tonka dump truck, which he received from "Santa".

Also, if you are comfortable asking your friends for help financially, you could always do that; ask for a loan for Santa. I would happily give x dollars to my friends who are not well-off if it meant a happier christmas for their children.

Other ideas: make cookies together, make a gingerbread house from graham crackers, have hot chocolate with marshmallows. Explain that christmas is about giving too, and sit down with the markers and paper and stickers and help your son make "gifts" for the people he loves. Make homemade things for him yourself, and leave the new toy for Santa to bring. Make christmas about doing things together, not just waiting for presents.

You can go to a thrift store like St Vincent De Paul's or Salvation Army and explain your situation and ask if they would donate a plastic xmas tree and a few decorations (if you don't already have one of course), to help make the holiday seem more festive. As a child, one of the major highlights of the season for me was helping decorate the tree. Help him make his own ornaments to hang too.

My sympathies to you for your current financial situation.
<<<<HUGS>>>>>

And turn off that TV!!! The less he sees of those ads, the better for both of you this year.

Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

B.

answers from Omaha on

Hello T.,
I am an avid shopper of a web site called craigslist.com that you can go to and put in your state and area,then are able to pick what you are looking for,like kids/babies and they have tons of toys and other things that your local residents are selling for cheap.You can also request something specific,trade,or sell your own things.Another idea is to go to your church or local church and see if they have some kind of program to help.Also the front section at Target has a dollar area,great for stocking stuffers[the Target at crossroads is a great one.]
I hope this helps and may the holidays bring you and your child many blessings.
GOD BLESS,B. W.

Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

C.R.

answers from Minneapolis on

T., Christmas doesn't have to be some huge thing where you buy your child everything under the sun. Too many parents do that and their children end up with a sense of being entitled to everything they want. Keeping Christmas small will help your child learn that the holiday is meant to be about family and spending time together. I grew up in a family with 7 children and a single mom. For Christmas, we got one toy present and then maybe some clothing and necessities. Our stockings were stuffed mostly with fruit and maybe a small amount of candy. I have very fond memories of my childhood and although my husband and I could probably buy more for our children, we won't. One toy and clothing seems like more than enough for a child's Christmas. Instead of concentrating on what to buy your son, perhaps you could try buying him something like a sled and taking him sledding for an hour that day or soon after. With how much you're working and how little free time you have, I'm guessing it would mean a great deal more to your son to have special time with mom on Christmas!

For Updates and Special Promotions
Follow Us

Related Questions

Related Searches