So, I was sitting here today trying to think of where I am going to get money for Christmas this year. I have found myself in a little better situation this year than in the past because I have had the opportunity to participate in some surveys to earn a little extra moo-lah and have started to save them towards the Christmas funds. Still, that isn't making much of a dent in what I know it will cost me this year.
Over the past few years our budget has grown smaller and smaller each year and with me being a Stay-At-Home mom it has REALLY made it tight. I have a rather large family though and it is really hard to skimp by. Our Christmas list consists of 2 kids,4 parents,2 grandparents,1 bro and sis in-law,2 nieces,5 aunts,5 uncles,16 cousins(including 10 young cousins) and each other. We have been skipping each other because we really don't need anything and will be celebrating our Anniversary in January anyways.
So, as you can see it is very hard to figure out where all this money is coming from. We have resorted to Christmas cards with our pictures in them for a few of the Aunts, Uncles and cousins that are older. The younger cousins we try to buy the smaller, inexpensive toys that they will still enjoy. I have an idea to make this a bit easier on ALL of our family-and yours-down below. ;) So, how can I possibly come up with all of this? Here are a few of my ideas so far:
1. For the kids: Create a swap-each set of parents either buys toys for another child, counting by however many the have. i.e. I have 2 children so I would buy 2 gifts for 2 separate children-2 gifts in all because that is how many I have. Another simpler idea is to buy small gifts for your own children, since you know what they will like, and wrap and hide them in whatever other gifts you are bringing.As long as the kids are young enough(and even if they aren't in some cases) the gifts can all be marked from Santa. Be sure to set a limit of $5 or so on each gift so that one child doesn't get a barbie doll whereas another child gets a dollhouse-you want it to be fair.
2. For the Aunts and Uncles and older cousins(and other close relatives): Bake and Create-if you love to bake, bake them some goodies and wrap them in colored cling wrap on a dollar store holiday plate, can't get easier(or cheaper) than that! Just don't go overboard like I did one year! I made WAY too much, used expensive ingredients and, well, defeated the purpose!If you are crafty or artsy, create something! You could make a pretty wooden sign for them to hang over their door to say "Live, Laugh, Love" or "Peace" and "Joy". You could really do all kinds of things, just be sure to check your craft stores for coupons to maximize your savings! I will also be considering family pictures and cards for some of my more distant relatives.
3. For my Grandparents: I am considering creating for them this year and I may combine it with baking something special. I am thinking about creating a No-Sew blanket-very easy to do and if I can find materials on sale or clearance then it will be cheap too! :) Creating and Baking will let them know I care and they will have something to treasure after the cookies are all gone!
4.For Siblings and Parents: You always want it to be meaningful and you want to give them something they will love and know you put a lot of thought into, so you are going to just have to bite the bullet and do what you think they will like. If you know they like the artsy, from the heart stuff, then maybe you can make them a blanket or sign or something of that nature, but if they would rather have a gift card or something store bought then your best bet is to watch for those awesome after Thanksgiving sales, but remember you may be able to combine something store-bought WITH something homemade, to keep that cost a bit lower.
5. For YOUR kids-keep an eye out for those MASSIVE sales and coupons on toys and electronics. You know they are coming and be sure to even check online. I know that Amazon does Black Friday and you don't even have to leave the house! :) Start watching now though, as the sales have already started and you don't want to miss anything. Remember if you buy it now and know your stores return policy, most likely if you find it cheaper somewhere else before Christmas, you will be able to return the more expensive one! Also, check around for Layaway programs if you need to. I know around here our KMart and Sears both offer Layaway and it doesn't hurt to check them out!!
One more tip for next year:
I have to say that one great thing that has helped us with money this year and last is my Points program through our bank. You should really check to see if yours offers any rewards for using your debit or credit cards and sign up. We use a Points system and I let it build up all year. We do not use our card all that often and yet this year I was able to send off for a $50 Amazon gift card and $10 Panera Bread gift card(we thought it would be nice to have a little for ourselves:) It was even more last year, $75 in Gift Cards, but since we have spent less this year we have not built up as much, but still we earned $60 for doing NOTHING!
PLEASE feel free to share your money saving tips and ideas in the comments, I would love to hear them!