Holiday Help for the Single Moms

Guest post from Carrie

As the holiday season approaches and you think of giving charitable gifts and donations, please don’t forget single mothers.

Many of us single moms have a job outside the home. While we get a paycheck, it is often used up with the necessities of the day… food, mortgage, car, child care, etc. And if we are fortunate enough to get child support, it usually ends up going for expenses.

For all the other single moms out here, here are some of the ways I’ve been able to stretch our Christmas budget:

  • Start early by shopping clearance racks, dollar stores, and garage sales. You should start shopping for the next year’s Christmas right after the current Christmas ends. A gift storage area in the house, hidden from little ones, can be a huge help to prepare for the holidays.
  • Start a small savings account and have money taken out each pay, or sell items to add to the account.
  • Keep a list of people you need to buy for, what you’ve bought, and how much you’ve spent.
  • If people offer to help, take them up on it. You don’t have to be supermom.
  • Start with simple Christmases right from the beginning. It is hard for children to not be disappointed when you’ve gone all out for the holidays and then scale back to very little.
  • Mass produce inexpensive gifts for friends and family. There are hundreds of websites with ideas for inexpensive Christmas gifts. Many people appreciate family pictures, homemade candies and cookies, and craft items more than the store bought items.
  • Scale down on your holiday expectation. A perfectly decorated house with an abundance of presents and homemade feasts may not be attainable. Good enough is good enough.

For those of you that would like to help single moms, here are a few ideas:

  • Offer to babysit so we can go shopping. Not all single moms have an ex-husband that is willing to take the children, and she may not have family to help either.
  • Gift certificates are a wonderful gift. I really appreciate the fast food gift certificates for those nights after work when I am exhausted. A movie ticket, a movie rental, or a day at the YMCA is also a special treat.
  • Offer to help with the holiday decorations, setting up lights, and bringing items out of storage.
  • Give a monetary gift. This will help with expenses, special food items, or last minute gifts for the children.
  • Include the single parent and children in holiday events. If you are going to the movies or out sled-riding, ask them to go along.
  • Invite the single mom and children to your church service and offer to help them at church with the children.
  • Share your baked goodies or extra food. You never know how many times that may be just what the mother needs to stretch out her food budget.

These are just a few of my ideas, feel free to leave your suggestions in the comments! 

Carrie is a single working mom with five handsome and energetic boys who lives in Pennsylvania.

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Comments

  1. Ms. NewMom says

    I started the gift area in the garage last Christmas and had ALL of my gifts together before October.LOL

  2. Bridge says

    Thanks for addressing this topic. These are great ideas. Although I am still married, my husband is often gone for 2-3 weeks at a time for work, and after Christmas, he will be leaving for a year long deployment, so I can definitely relate to having to do everything solo. Being a single parent is a difficult job.

  3. Jen says

    Great ideas, Carrie! My sister is a single mom of four, and the ideas to help are excellent. I know she always appreciates it when then these kindnesses are shown to her.

  4. Deb says

    I volunteer weekly at a Pregnancy Resource Center. We have coats for mamas and formula, diapers, wipes, clothing and nursery items for the little ones. In two weeks, we are having our toy giveaway where moms get to come in and pick out toys for the littles, (these are donated at the mall from one of the trees)…………

    We cannot do everything but we try to give them the love of Christ and put them in touch with whatever resources they might need, i.e. legal help, housing, whatever.

    If you have a Crisis Pregnancy Center/Resource Center in your town, they would definitely be able to use your donations of time and or money and it is such a blessing to truly help.

  5. Lauren says

    My mom had the unfortunate expereince of becoming a single mom after her 8th child was born. She could not have done Christmas without help from family and friends. One uncle sent her $50 every December and she really counted on that. Our Christmases were very simple, but we felt loved and continued our happy traditions. My mom always says that she knows God approves of giving Christmas gifts because somehow, He always blessed her to have just enough to provide some gifts for her children! My suggestion is to pick up a few extra stocking stuffers if you know a struggling single mom. These small items can add up and it is always fun for kids to find a bulging stocking that Santa has left them!

  6. says

    This is one of the most houghtful giving posts I have seen in a while. Thank you for sharing it. I was mostly raised by a single mom and I realise how hard it must be to make ends meet and keep a smile on your face especially at this time of year. Thank you for sharing these tips.

    • Carrie says

      Thank you for your kind words. I have learned so much since becoming a single mom and now I feel a calling to encourage other single moms.

  7. Beth says

    And don’t forget the single Dad’s! We have a wonderful father of five that I work with. Last year us girls got together and made his family Christmas dinner/cookies and donated enough money to get him a 500.00 gift card. The smile on his face and tears in his eyes was the best gift I received last year!!

  8. Katie says

    I am a single mom too, of 2 girls with no help, including Child support, thanks for all the ideas, this time of year the money has to stretch even further!

  9. Margarita says

    Thank you for this post, I am a single mother of a special needs child and was really feeling sorry for myself this holiday, even though I know there are many others in my situation or it may be worse, but this post made me feel a little bit better that someone actually took the time to write a post about being a single parent and how just a little thing can make all the difference. I started following the tips from this blog and have found that just makng lists of small goals each day and getting them accompished feels like a payday everyday and reading the posts are encouraging to me. Happy holidays.

    • Carrie says

      I’m so glad you liked this post. It isn’t easy to do this by yourself and stay positive. Take care.

  10. says

    Great post! This is something near and dear to my heart because I was a single mom for a long time in very difficult circumstances.

    I wrote a post with the help of my sister that give some great ideas to help single moms in “small” ways you may not even think of.

    When you have no income but what you can provide for your family, and no adult help EVER for days, weeks, months, and years on end, “small” things make a world of difference in helping a family make it or helping a mom hang on.

    http://adustyframe.com/2006/12/14/how-to-help-a-single-mom/

  11. Laurie says

    Carrie thank you for the beautiful post. Since most blogs are written for dual income families it is nice to see us singles come together for the same reasons. With the rate of divorce so high more and more mothers are becoming single every moment. I am a single mom by choice having adopted 2 babies from China who are now 5&8. We are blessed to have a great God who has always served us well. But I just love all the idea’s alrady listed. A few othernthings I ask my family for at birthdays and holidays are getting the dog groomed and a hair certificate to get my hair done.

    • Carrie says

      I’m so glad you liked it. The gift certificates are a great idea. Sometimes I save them to buy other people gifts and stretch out my budget.

  12. Joyce Bulmer says

    As a single mom, I just want to say thank you for posting this. My ex does pay support, but I have been looking for a job for 6 months with no luck. I feel like sometimes people forget I am a struggling single mom because I don’t ask for anything. I know God will provide, but it’s hard knowing that it’s December 8th and there are no presents for my kids this year yet, and with one more child support check left this month, knowing that it is already spent paying bills and putting food on the table.

    • Natalie says

      Joyce- are there any churches or centers in your area that are giving away presents for those in need? no sure where you are located, but where I live we have a center that helps out families in need. You might check into it.

    • star says

      Joyce I don’t want to be pushy or nosey but what ages are your children and are they boys or girls? Do you live in the chicagoland area? I only ask as I have some extra stuff that I have to give to you depending on your children’s ages etc. I hope I can help you. If you want to email me that would be fine to. I hope tis helps as I understand completely and I wish there were more help for single parents and posts. This was a great post.

    • Carrie says

      You are in my thoughts. Is there anything you could sell for cash. I sold most of my gold jewelry. I sold lots of items to a kids consignment store. I sold old video games and game system.

      Is there a close friend you could confide in? I just had a friend at work confide in me that she is struggling and I would never have known. I will be able to get her some help through a charity group at work. You never know who may be able to help.

      Take care.

      • Carrie says

        Also do you have any friends with kids in close ages? My friend and I will often swap toys to use as gifts.

    • says

      Oh Joyce, I’m sorry you are carrying this heavy weight. While I’m glad you are trusting God to provide, He does use the people around us to help. That means, sometimes, we do have to let our needs be known. In my case, I’ve had to swallow my pride and sign up for the giving tree at my son’s school. I so wanted to be the one to give this year but it’s not just possible. I’ve also signed up for the single parents program at my home church AND the Christmas program at the local church we currently attend (something’s wrong with my car preventing me from driving far to my home church so we’ve been going to a local church). It was hard for me to do but as the pastor said, this time I need help, maybe next time I’m the one helping.

  13. Jaime says

    Carrie,
    Do you have a blog? I’m wondering more about how you manage as a single mom of 5 boys. I may be in your situation soon, but with 4 boys.

    • Carrie says

      No I don’t. I just love money saving mom and all the positive comments on this site. I wanted to write this to help.

      As far as raising them on my own…I try to take it one day at a time. I try to remember there is always somebody that would love to have my problems. It isn’t easy but I’ve become a much stronger person.

  14. Carole says

    In our area there are a lot of places to turn to for free Christmas gifts for kids or low cost gifts. Some also have low cost coats and winter gear for families. I would seek something like that out if I were in a position to need help. Our church tries to help struggling families when we are aware of a need. also. I suspect that sometimes mothers are busy and isolated and don’t realize help is available especially at Christmas time.

  15. says

    I appreciate your tips for single moms. I’m a single mom of 2 beautiful girls (14 & 11). I’ve come to realize that as they get older, the gifts get more and more expensive. I struggle on a monthly basis just to make ends meet and Christmas is a hard time of year for me especially.

  16. Susan says

    As a single mother, I really appreciate this post.

    Regardless of their financial situation, single parents really need is a support system. Someone to tell you you’re doing okay. Someone who loves your children and will gladly take care of them if you have an emergency. Or even if it’s not a emergency — all parents need a break now and again.

    The gift of time is golden! Finding enough hours in the day to work a full time job, raise children, and maintain a home is challenging at best. It can be very difficult for a single parent to ask for help. Offering to take care of the children for a while so that single parents can have some time to themselves to Christmas shop, wrap gifts, or whatnot, is a gift that would be appreciated more than you will ever know.

    My suggestion for helping out a friend or neighbor who is a single parent — take their child shopping to select a gift for you. You can be sneaky about it or up front, depending on the relationship. Or offer to have their children over and help them make a gift for their parent, a craft, or baked goods or something. I think most, if not all, children delight in giving their parents gifts, and it certainly doesn’t have to be anything expensive.

    I have a dear friend who takes my child shopping every December so that she can select a gift for me. They go out to lunch, do a little shopping, and maybe even get a pedicure or other special treat. I appreciate this so much! It’s not about the gift I receive, although I do always love it. I appreciate that she is so sweet to my child. I appreciate having a little time to myself. And more importantly, it’s important to my daughter to have gifts for me at Christmas. If there are gifts for her (and there always is) but not much for me under the tree, it makes her sad. I’m blessed that I have a friend who gets it and blesses my little one and I both in this special way.

    • Carrie says

      What a wonderful friend. Last year two of my friends gave my kids a gift for me from the boys. They were so excited to give it to me on Christmas morning.

    • Sue says

      Taking a your child out shopping. That is an area that has always been a struggle at our house. My guy would love to buy a birthday and Christmas present for me but I have always been the one to take him. It just isn’t the same plus even the littlist gift can be a struggle to puchase and troublesome to explain to your child. Truly you have a great friend.

  17. says

    These ideas are wonderful – not only for single moms but for those who are caregivers. I have a friend whose husband is battling cancer, and while she always puts on a brave face, I know she has her internal struggles as well.

  18. Carolyn says

    I work for a middle school and every December we do an Angel Tree that is made up of our students. The guidance department graciously sets this up and the teachers enjoy making a difference in the lives of their students. While every school doesn’t offer this, it is something to look into or ask your children’s school about.

  19. Angela B. says

    I may not be a single mom, but this was an EXCELLENT post for anyone! It also gave me a few ideas for single parents (dads included) that I know (I married a single dad, so I know both sides have the same issues). I personally think simple is the way to go for anyone, and I’ve already told our kids we are doing more giving than receiving this year. We did Operation Christmas Child boxes as well as donated locally and to my surprise, the kids really responded well to more giving. I think I will play elf and leave some gift cards and other things on doorsteps this year! heehee

  20. Stephanie says

    I’m another single mom by choice to a 6 yr old daughter adopted from China. I love all your suggestions! Another great gift for a single mom would be gift certificate for yard work sometime during the year. It is a struggle for me to get the yard mowed at the beginning and end of the mowing season. I can’t afford to pay to have it done. I also really hate dealing with the leaves in the fall. So offer to help a single mom with yard work.

  21. says

    I love this. Thank you for posting something so thoughtful. It is always so good when we can take a step back and evaluate the needs of those around us. Something as simple as babysitting or some baked goods can make someone’s WEEK! :)

  22. says

    I am not a single mom, but money is tighter in our house, and I get a lot of my Christmas gifts and decorations at yardsale and on Craigslist.

  23. Joy Smith says

    I have two good friends that are single moms, one of which this is her first Christmas as one. I put out an email to several of my good friends and asked for small gift card donations to our grocery store, gas stations, coffee places and of course Target & WalMart. I’ve put all those cards in gift baskets with a new ornament, a holiday candle and soap and a pound of coffee and am giving one to each of them next weekend, before Christmas. Never underestimate the power of community! It’s my hope that these baskets will not only lift their spirits, but will help with the practical things so they don’t have to worry so much about spending on some fun things for their kiddos.

    • Carrie says

      You are a wonderful friend. It isn’t just the gifts that you are giving. But to know that somebody is thinking of you means the world to a single mom.

  24. Elisabeth says

    Carrie,
    thank you for sharing that. I have been a single mum since my husband died when my children were 1 and 3.

  25. says

    Thank you, Carrie, for writing this, and thank you, Crystal, for publishing it! It’s such an encouragement to see single moms getting acknowledgement and encouragement in what very much feels like a blogosphere dominated by blissfully happy homemakers with their awesome hubbies and predictable “normal” lives. This contribution in no small way has helped me feel validated and “seen” as a newly single mom, and judging by the comments, I’m guessing I’m not the only one.