Sub for Santa, I Need Ideas on How to Shop for a Family.

Updated on December 17, 2007
J.S. asks from Bountiful, UT
16 answers

I'm doing the sub for santa shoping for a family of 6, My budget is 400 dollars. I will be getting the details of the family tomorrow but there are 4 boys, a mom and dad.
The boy's are between the ages of 8 and 14.
I'll be getting a picture of them and will do the best I can to give them something they will like w/o me knowing much about them.
I'm just hoping someone has some good tips and advise on Sub for Santa Shopping. I dont know if I should make a budget for each person, if I should buy a family gift. Clothes, Toys, Should I have equal amount of gifts or should I just focus on spending equal amounts of money?

I'd also like to know if there are any really good gift ideas to give when your doing a sub for santa. Something that's a "Sure Winner" for families.
I do plan to buy a Ham for a nice christmas dinner.
Should I buy the parents anything? and what do you give the parents? (I know as a parent, I'd just want my kids to have a nice christmas, I'm OK not getting any gifts but I dont know what's appropriate).

I just want there christmas to sparkle the way mine does and I dont want to mess up.

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So What Happened?

I did my shopping over the weekend, and I'm go grateful for all your wonderful Ideas, it helped so much.
The information I was originally given was incorrect, it was an 8 year old boy, Twin boy/girl 15 year olds and 17 year old boy.
This is what I ended up getting.
For each child I made stocking's and put Granola bars, chips, candy and a pocket video game (20 questions for the 8 year old, Solitaire and Deal or No Deal for the 2 middle kids and Poker for the oldest.
1 pair Levis.
2 shirts

The 8 year old was easy to buy for (Bionacles(sp) Magnetic toys, Magic tricks set) -and the older kids I got games for each of them that everyone can play, (Dart board, 11 Games Set (chess, checkers, chinese checkers, etc.) Skip-bo, and some cool 6 game Rubix Cube) I also gave the 15 year old girl a cool makeup kit.
I also bought the kids PJ's because its a tradition every year in our family to open 1 gift on Christmas Eve, and its always Pajamas so we are all in nice, new PJ's for Christmas Morning.
I also made the kids flese blankets. I figured they were cheep and have that extra special personal touch. I had my son help me pick them out so if he likes them, hopefully the kids will like them. My son also helped me tie them so he's involved in this.
I got the mom some bath and body works hand soap, a little candle holder and one of those air freshners that has the scent in the glass jar and you put the sticks in it. and I got the Dad a Salami gift set.
Then I got the whole family a Cranium Game (thanks to your ideas which now I have to go get me one, it looks fun).

I know there are a few other items I got them too (gloves, slippers, body spray for the older boy and earrings for the girl)
But the thing I feel good about is I did spend an aproximate dollar amount on each child, the levis I got for the 17 year old were Old Navy and more expensive so He got the body spray instead of an aditional toy. But the Piles look the same, the cost was close to the same, the toys are things they can all use together or exchange between them for more fun.
I just want to thank all of you, I think I got bits of my ideas from each response. The Games were such a great idea.
Oh, and I did have money left over for a Ham.

I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas.

Featured Answers



answers from Omaha on

I don't really have any great ideas for you, but I just wanted to say I think it is awesome that as a single mom you are pulling this of for a needy family! Best wishes to you this Christmas season!!!!!!11

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Salt Lake City on

As far as the parents, give them a game. That way it's for them, but the whole family as well. It also gives them something fun to do as a family on Christmas. The kids are at the age I don't think they need the same number of gifts. As far as a Sub for Santa, I think something practical and something fun for each kid is the best bet. If they're in need then they probably need a little of both.

More Answers



answers from La Crosse on

I did a secret santa shop for a family once and it worked out nicely since I was able to ask the mother and father what the children liked and was able to get an idea of items for them. I would suggest you shop for them like you would your own and pick out things for their age bracket. Clothes are nice but kids would rather have other things for Christmas and sizes are always a problem. I would worry more about each getting the same number of gifts rather than the monetary value being the same. Mom and dad should get something too but it could be something small for them.

Good idea on the ham. How about getting a nice inexpensive basket and filling it with food for a meal: couple cans of veggies, instant mashed potatoes, a bag of nice salad mix, a package of rolls, can of gravey, and a cake mix to go with the ham.

I know when I had it rough and someone did a santa shop for me I felt so embarrassed for needing the help, but I was oh so grateful that my daughter had a wonderful Christmas morning.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Appleton on

When we buy for children for our church, we like to give a toy/movie/cd/jewelry (depending on age) and a clothing item. That way the children are happy they are getting something fun, yet they are getting something useful as well. I definitely think focusing on the children is the most important thing, but a family gift sounds like an amazing idea! Maybe a budget of about $50 per child and then the rest for a nice family gift and dinner (don't forget a yummy pie). Good luck and have fun!
God Blesses those who bless others with their abundance!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Great Falls on

As a recieptiant of Sub for Santa, I would get the kids at least one toy item the parent asks for. Then, I'd get clothes. I'd try to have the kids' items be almost the same in price and the amount. It's not fair for one kid to have two or three gifts and another child only one. I rarely ask for anything for myself. Like you said having a nice Christmas is for the kids. I'd give the parents a gift card. It's nice that you are buying a ham but there are a lot of programs out there besides yours that offer food. I always find that snow pants and gloves, hats, boots and warm coats are needed and expensive to buy. I don't know where you're from. Thank you for doing this for a family. It really means a lot to them. Happy hunting and Happy Holidays.



answers from Saginaw on

We did something similar through the local Salvation Army last year. Their list was pretty descriptive with sizes and the kids had a few items they listed like toys, art supplies, etc. We did get something small for the parents because they had small kids and we didn't want them to think that Santa forgot mom & dad. We got mom a pj set with slippers (what mom doesn't like cozy new jammies?) and dad a small home tool kit (with a cute note about assembling the kids toys & installing batteries). We did also get a family gift which was a game that the whole family could take part in along with a family DVD and some microwave popcorn for a great "family night." (One of the kids had listed a dvd they wanted so we knew they had a dvd player. That's one thing to be careful of since they may not have a DVD player, VCR, TV, etc if they are in a very bad situation.) They had also listed a toaster on their list, so that was kind of a family gift also.

We bought meal items also so they could prepare a nice meal for the holiday. We chose to stay away from gift cards because we didn't want them to be used for undesirable things.

I'm sure when you get your information there will be some more specific things for you also. Have fun with it as the family is sure to appreciate you as well as your gift! Happy Holidays!



answers from Salt Lake City on

When I do this I try to get things that don't need additional things that cost. Board games seem good, plus food and maybe something small for the parents. Something warm and new for the kids is always good too. I favored cars and dolls and blocks, some school supplies and other essentials that every kid needs but may not have much of. Slinkys and sometimes books were a hit too.

Ask your son for suggestions, he'll probably have some very good ideas and it will involve him more in understanding what it all about.



answers from Des Moines on

I would spend $75 for each child, buy a ham and split the rest between the parents. Pay close attention to the 14 year old boy because they usually feel left out because "they are no longer children, they are teenagers" they don't have much interest for toys. Maybe an mp3 player and some nice clothes. Nothing you can do will mess up their Christmas. I think they will be greatful for anything nice that you do for them. I might buy Mom a nice Terry bathrobe and some nice bath stuff or some perfume. For dad I would buy him a nice long sleeve shirt and pair of jeans. If you have any money left over might I suggest buying the new naturals series of Tide, Downey, and Bounce. I would apprecieate this! I know people who will never spend the extra money to buy the name brand smell good stuff for their clothes because of the cost. I would think it was a great gift. Maybe with a wicker clothes basket. Not as an individual gift but as an extra little something.



answers from Salt Lake City on

How nice of you!

I agree with some of the other postings - that you'll most likely get some sort of wish list (every Sub for Santa I've ever done has always had a list). If not, I think a family gift and then individual gifts. I would think at least one toy and one item of clothing. As for the parents, you really can't forget them (although I know if I was in need of asking for help, I'd want it all to go to my kids) - a small item like bath items (soap, lotions, etc) for the mom and something like tools for the dad.

I think the fact that you are doing this to make someone else have a wonderful holiday is just so admirable. I'm sure no matter what you give them, their holiday will certainly sparkle! God Bless!



answers from Boise on

Please, don't forget the Basics. Maybe some dish soap, Laundry soap, toothbrushes, new shoes are usually a good Idea for most kids at that age. I'm sure you are right about what the parents want for their kids.



answers from Salt Lake City on

I would set a limit on each person and buy something small for the parents. I had a family to do this for one time and the children were worried that their parents was not getting just a little something for mom and dad. I did find setting a limit was easier than trying it with just a gift for one and another for the other one and then you can go over budget easily.. God Bless you J.....this world needs more ladies like you...Merry Christmas



answers from Omaha on

That is so wonderful that you are helping another family this Christmas. I myself have 4 boys although they are younger. One idea might be to get a board game or a new Christmas ornament as a gift for the whole family. Also a small little gift for mom and dad is nice but not a necessity. One thing might be dish towels, new Christmas decoration or perfume for the mom and something similar for the dad. If their kids are like mine they also like to see what santa brings for us. Even though my husband and I only get one maybe two gifts they too are excited to see our gifts. Have a very Merry Christmas. I hope I could help.



answers from Cedar Rapids on

I have done this before and I would buy the parents a small gift certificate to go out to eat. Most parents spend every penny on their kids and bills. None of them have anything extra for themselves.
As far as the boys go most boys like fishing and video games. A hit for the boys would be a video game system and a couple of games. You can get used games and systems at mr money video games ect and game stop for alot less than new. Clothes help the family out alot. Also if you know shoe sizes. Boys are very hard on shoes. If you want to do indv. presnts the older ones would like music. Like a mp3 player and you can get them for 25$ at wal-mart. You can never go wrong getting educational toys V-tech has a large line for all age groups and prices. I have a ton more ideas if you are interested email me at



answers from Des Moines on

I would do one or two toys, one outfit or clothing item, etc per child and try to keep in the same price range for each. You may find that you have to spend $5-10 more on the older kids to get them something comparable. I'd also get a game that the whole family can play and if you have something left over, I'd get one or two gift cards for the parents to somewhere like Target or Best Buy, where they can choose to spend it on themselves or the kids.



answers from Denver on

Sometimes, especially for kids that age, a gift card for Walmart or Target or something is the best idea. Maybe a $50 gift card for the parents for sure, and then focus on clothes and toys for the kids, I guess. A ham is a great idea. But my main suggestion would be gift cards. I know that's not as fun, but then the family can pick out what they know the kids want or what they really need.



answers from Lansing on

I think a family gift is nice. If you don't know if they have a VCR or TV, like the other mom said, you could give tickets to the local movie theater w/ enough for treats.

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