2020 has been very difficult for many of our client mothers. So many of us have lost jobs and have less income than last year. When it comes to your baby, regardless if they are 1 or 18, it can be heartbreaking not to have the budget that allows for gifts under the tree this year.
Before we share ideas for 2020 “budget gifting,” we want to remind you that the greatest gift a child could ever have is YOU. In a day and age where technology overruns our lives, children long for human connection and attention. If all you can afford this year is the gift of time, your children will feel the true Christmas spirit that will last their entire lives! Don’t underestimate the power a mother has to make her children happy by just being herself.
Here are 5 ideas for mothers looking for ways to put something under the tree for their children this year.
Use What You Have
If your child is younger and more easily impressed than an older child, we suggest one of the most memorable gifts you can give is something meaningfully homemade. For example, one mother told a story of filling a shoebox with her office supplies like tape, rubber bands, color paper, sticky notes, and paper clips. She printed “your creative box” on the top, and wrapped it in festive paper. Her 8-year-old was thrilled because he had something unique that none of his friends’ mothers had given their boys. He made paper airplanes, crafts, drew paper food, paper crowns, and created all sorts of imaginative novelties. Another idea for a younger child is to buy a cake or cookie mix (usually about $1.50) and add a wooden spoon, and then let them bake (with supervision, of course.) Younger children's greatest motivation is to mimic their parents, and if you give them the gifts off your desk or from the kitchen they will feel special because they are "doing what mommy does!"
Remember that children will not need intensive therapy in adulthood if you can’t give them the latest iPhone this year. All a child really needs and wants is YOU and your love and your attention. The best memories are often made in hard times when you put your heart and mind into a simple gift.
Thrift Store Finds
Just because you find something at a thrift store does not mean it won't be a cool gift! Thrift stores are full of inexpensive treasures. Often you can find like-new board games, movies, and video games for a few dollars or even a few cents. Thrifters often find vintage toys that maybe you played with as a child and can spend Christmas Day playing enjoying it with them. Often new toys are sold at half price at thrift stores as well, and you never know what you can find!
Another thrifting pro-tip is to shop at thrift stores in well-to-do neighborhoods where items are often discarded and sold at discounted prices even though they are brand new with tags still on!
Shop The Clearance Section
Even though stores like TJMaxx and Ross look glamorous on the outside, they are actually large clearance stores (and they even have a clearance within the clearance section.) They sell last year's “hottest items” or overstock from other stores at drastically discounted prices. If you have a little cash, this could be a great place to find a neat toy or gift for a budget-friendly price. One mom found solid wood blocks with a wagon set for $5 and a $7 babydoll set. Her baby ended up playing with them endlessly after Christmas, and it only cost her $12! Dollar Tree and Five Below chain stores also sell fun toys, creative thinking books, and crafts for $1 or $5. Just because a store looks expensive and neat on the outside does not mean that they don’t have rock bottom prices. A pro-tip here is not to forget to sign up for their emails and receive coupons before you shop!
A Privilege Coupon Book
The internet is full of some pretty ingenious alternative gifts to wrap under the tree this year. One really popular idea is creating a book of privileges, or "coupons" for your child. And the best part is, all you need is wrapping paper, a printer (or some pretty coloring pens) and paper.
A book of privilege coupons is basically a stack of privileges you give them to redeem throughout the year. The “coupons” are only redeemable once a year, so this will encourage them to spend their coupons wisely. (This gift is really great if you have a teenager who is harder to please than a toddler.)
You can give them things like, “One Mental Health Day To Skip School And Stay Home.” “One Week Off Chores.” “Eat At Your Favorite Restaurant.” “You Get To Pick The Movie Tonight.” “One-Hour Extension On Curfew.” The internet is full of awesome coupon ideas!
You know your child best so customize it according to their needs and wants and make it as fun as you can! Don’t forget to add clear instructions and rules to remind them that they are one-time redeemable coupons. For example, “You can use one coupon per-week and each one is only good once-per-year.” A coupon book can give your kids an excuse to spend time with you, or give them privileges throughout the year, or be more focused on spending time together. You are the author and have full control ver the theme.
Local Christmas Toy Resources
If you are in need of toys and the ideas above aren't working for you, then here are some local resources that can help families get toys for their children this year.
-Contact Local Churches
Often local churches will offer toy drives or they have benevolence funds for families who inquire. Don’t be afraid to ask! Church workers are there to serve the community and they love to do so! Churches can often share local resources with you as well for the holiday season.
-Even though it is late in the year to register, the Salvation Army has an Angel Tree Program to help get gifts to children this Christmas Season. You can register here and still contact them to see what is available for you in your community. https://salvationarmyflorida.org/holiday-assistance/
-Toys For Tots is a popular program provided by the U.S. Marines. You can reach them here to request a toy. https://www.toysfortots.org/request_toys/apply-for-toys.aspx
We hope you have a Merry Christmas Month and enjoy the gift of your children and the memories you will make together in spite of a crazy year!