Thriving on a Low-Budget Christmas

Christmas stockings

Happy December, Readers! Too often this month can become a frantic checklist of holiday planning, last minute shopping (or crafting), readying the house for guests, packing for travel, stressful eating and general busyness. Let's be honest, that is not a recipe for a calm and happy parent. This month we asked our writers to share some of their holiday plans, their reflections on the past year and their thoughts and goals for 2013. As 2012 closes, we are so thankful for the wonderful things that have happened at The Motherhood Collective over the past months. We wish you all a very happy and fulfilling end to your year. ~TMC-- This has been a rather challenging year for our family financially and as Christmas neared, I realized with sadness that we would not be able to spend virtually any money on gifts. We’re not a particularly materialistic family, but there is joy in watching others open your gifts and seeing how happy you’ve made them. Fortunately, the children were the least of my concern as the oldest is just 2 and the youngest only 6 months, too young to correlate Christmas with gift giving. However, we had hoped to watch Osias, our 2 year old, open something from us. He is, after all, old enough to at least open the presents and get excited about them. So this year we have decided to re-define “Re-Gifting”.

For the kids: Avia, our 6 month old, will not be receiving anything from us this year. Fortunately for us, she wouldn’t know one way or another anyway and I feel confident she’ll forgive us when she’s older and finds out her stocking was empty this year. For Osias, we’re using an old trick. About a month before Christmas, we packed away a bunch of fun toys that he loves and we’ll fill his stocking with them. I can’t wait to watch him pull each thing out of his stocking and see that adorable look of excitement (and recognition) at finding toys he hasn’t played with in so long! Whatever won’t fit in his stocking will be wrapped and placed under the tree (okay, on the floor since we’re skipping the tree this year).

For our parents and siblings: I love Pinterest, don’t you? I stumbled upon a DIY pin that instructed you how to make…well, let’s just say it’s a simple but useful gender neutral item that I can easily afford the material for (just in case any of our family are reading this, let’s keep it a surprise). So, for almost no money and just a few hours of my time, we are able to give to our parents and siblings as well this year. Aren’t homemade gifts often the best kind? I sure hope so for their sakes!

For each other: The idea for the kids, in addition to an article I read in an old December issue of Real Simple magazine (Susan Dominus. “Honey, guess what I got you for Christmas?” Real Simple December 2009: 254-255.), helped pave the way for what my husband and I would be doing for each other for Christmas. This year, in place of gifts, we’ve decided to write each other “Gift Certificates” for tasks that we know each other would appreciate. Doing chores, give a massage, etc. How nice is it to think, “I’d love to get out of cooking dinner tonight” and then realize that you have a gift certificate for that very thing! In addition to the gift certificates, we will also be stuffing each other’s stockings with items already in our home. Sounds lame, right? Actually it has been quite the fun and exciting experience to wander our house and come across little lost or forgotten items that I know he enjoys, or would make him laugh, or even bring back a fond memory. We happen to move frequently (especially in the past few years) and so much of our belongings have remained in boxes that we keep storing away. Let me tell you, that has been a gold mine for gifts! So far, I have found the little black jewelry box from Zales that I gave him his 2nd wedding ring in (he lost his first in a waterfall of all places), a mini Maglite that has been missing for-ev-er, his old broken Blackberry that got lost in the move and still has all his photos on it, and some pictures I found of us from high school! Ha! I also plan to throw a piece of fruit in there along with one of my homemade sweet potato biscuits that he loves (wrapped of course). I feel confident that his stocking will be filled to the brim with thoughtfully selected gifts that will bring him laughter, gratitude, warm memories, and more. And all at no cost to our faltering budget.

To tell you the truth, I am really excited about how we will be spending (or not) Christmas this year! I expect these gifts to be just as fun if not more than in previous years! Who says you have to break the bank for Christmas?