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How to Give At Christmas When You Don’t Have Enough Money

How to give at Christmas -- even when you don't have enough money and you're on a tight budget!

Guest post from Keelie of Love Hope Adventure

Over the years, we have struggled to afford gifts for our friends and family at Christmas. However, even though our gift budget has been next to nothing, I’ve always found ways to give for free!

What I learned is that people truly appreciate you thinking of them, no matter how much you spend. The best thing to do in lean budget years, is to find creative ways to use the resources you have.

Here are a few ideas to get you thinking…

1. Pass Down Something That Belongs To You

Children are especially excited when they receive something that belongs to you. Of course, this does need to be age appropriate, but you might have a few items you wouldn’t mind handing over.

Consider giving:

  • Old or worn out clothes and shoes for a dress up box
  • A ball cap or hat you rarely wear
  • Jewelry that has sat in your box for a while
  • An out-of-date device that can be used for games or music

Also, you can encourage your kids to go through their own possessions and consider passing down toys or items to younger siblings.

I realize this is not a socially acceptable practice when giving outside of your immediate family, but I think it can be a great learning opportunity for your kids.

We all need to look at what we have as resources and come up with creative ways to bless others.

2. Round Up Items You Own For a Date Night

With the amount of stuff that comes into your house at Christmas, giving clutter-free gift items is a great idea. I love to do experience-based gifts with my family, as well as for others I know.

If you do not have the funds to purchase new items for a date night with your family or spouse, then use what you already own. It is ok to look around your house for things you can do together as a family or couple.

Consider putting together these type of date night boxes:

  • Snuggle night = blankets, pillows, movie, snacks, comfy pj’s
  • Game night = board games, cards, video games, etc.
  • Cooking night = recipe, ingredients, cookware
  • Music and dancing night = put together a fun playlist, gather instruments, pull up music videos

These are just a few of the experiences you can give your kids or spouse. I give my husband an at-home date night every year. It means a lot to him.

3. Write Personal Messages For Those You Love

I know that hand written notes are a dying art, but I love them! I’m a huge fan of letter writing. If you are not that person, it doesn’t mean you can’t give the people in your life words of encouragement.

One of the best things I did this year was to put together an “I’m Thankful When…” notebook. I did this for my friends and they loved it so much that I plan to do if for my children’s stockings this year.

I took a very small notepad and wrote something that I feel thankful for that they do. I put one sentence on a page and filled it up about halfway through with things they do that makes me feel thankful. For example, I might say, “I’m thankful when you text me randomly”.

If you aren’t the type of person that enjoys hand writing notes, consider putting together a short email or Facebook message. You can even send out a few text messages on Christmas day to someone you care for.

4. Scroll Through Digital Pictures

We have a camera at the tip of our fingers these days, but how often do you go through the photos as a family? A simple thing you can do on Christmas morning is scroll through the highlights from the previous year.

You can also take the time to personalize the pictures and make them more meaningful. I love to use the free version of Picmonkey or Canva to edit photos. Consider putting fun phrases on the pictures or encouraging words.

5. Create Spaces In The Home For Activities

There have been years where I put together activity spaces in my home for the kids. You can find a corner in the house where you set up a reading nook, or a place to put a small table that they can play on.

Consider giving them the permission to re-arrange their room with the existing things they own. If you can, give them unused decorations or furniture for their space.

6. Re-Purpose What You Own

If you are craft savvy, you should look for instructions on upcycling what you have lying around. Even if you are not super crafty, there are simple things you can do to re-purpose what you own.

For example, if you have an excess of coffee mugs, fill one with leftover Halloween candy. Maybe you have a house plant that you can take a cutting off of and root. These are just a few ideas that come to my mind.

7. Use Your Existing Budget For Some Items

Take your existing budget and purchase some of the items out of the appropriate categories. This will serve a dual purpose, you won’t go over budget and your kids will receive things they need.

Grocery budget = put together a snack basket for their lunches
Toiletry budget = buy toothpaste, toothbrushes, combs, etc. for their stockings
Clothing budget = pick up one or two clothing items they need
Eating out budget = buy a gift card for your next night out as a family

If you already have certain items budgeted, then you can use those existing funds to make up for a lack of a present budget.

One thing I have had to do in my life is understand that money is not the only thing that can be used as a resource; everything in my possession, including time and creativity are resources.

Keelie is married to her highschool sweetheart and is the mom of three awesome boys. She is a creator and loves sharing with the world around her. One of her biggest passions is to help married couples fall deeper in love with one another. You can read her marriage tips at Love Hope Adventure

photo source

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  • Chris says:

    When I was a teenager, my little brother had a paper route but my parents had to drive him on it. For Christmas one year, I gave my parents the gift of getting up early on a Sunday morning and driving my brother on his route for a month or so.

  • Bethany says:

    I think we all should make a pledge to be an eager respectful recipient of every gift we are given. We gave “coupon” books when we had ziltch to some family members and their response really crushed us. Gift giving to them has always been less of a blessing ever since!

  • Beth says:

    One of my best friends made a quilt for my baby. For her Christmas present we posed him on it & framed it with a love “note” from him. That isn’t fully zero spending but still pretty inexpensive for us & priceless to her.

  • kayla says:

    My husband is putting together my step-mom ‘ exercise machine as our gift to her this year.
    She has had it for at least 6 months still in the box because she can’t put it together herself.

  • Nicole says:

    A nice gift for smaller children is an audio recording of you reading their favorite picture books. My 8yo is doing this for his little brother this year. (His favorite part is ringing the bell for the page turn.) You can find free audio editing software and burn a cd or go old school and just put it on a tape recorder.

  • Emily says:

    This wasn’t a Christmas gift, but for my birthday, my husband spent two full weekends (the one before and the one after!) doing projects on my “to do” list – working in the yard, fixing things around the kitchen, etc. Was SUCH a wonderful gift!

  • Great post I like the idea of making a DIY project for someone you care about. There are tons of great ideas of craft ideas that would make fantastic gifts. Making crafts comes from the heart and cost effective.

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