Would that all moms could have their kids wake up this Christmas morning with a sea of gifts from Santa spreading out across the living room. But the reality for many families this holiday season is that the piggy bank for this year's gifts is not quite so full.
The financial strain is not just impacting the unemployed. Circle of Moms member Tina M., who works full time and has a large family, is also looking for ideas on "how to have a great Christmas" when money is tight.
She is one of many Circle of Moms members who are trying to make the holidays merry and bright for their kids in a season of financial strain. Here we share some suggestions for reinventing the holidays and explaining the budget crunch to your kids.
1. Agree on What to Skip
Many Circle of Moms members suggest some creative alternatives to gift giving, especially when it comes to gifts for members of the extended families. Kenisha S. doesn't like to skimp on presents for the kids, but the adults "draw names out of a hat and get a gift for that person."
Jaime G.'s family eliminated adult sibling gifts and says no-one has missed them. "The best gift for us at Christmas is enjoying a fantastic meal together and watching the kids enjoy themselves and their gifts." Her kids each get "their big Santa present," which does not have to be expensive, just "what they want the most," plus two gifts from she and her husband.
2. Emphasize Appreciation and Helping Others
Chelsea M. believes tough economic times can be a blessing in disguise by teaching kids to "embrace what they already have."
"I think if you choose to teach your children about really embracing what they already have and that the holiday time is not about the gifts and glamor, they will learn at a very young age to appreciate what they have."
Gena C. agrees. "I wish someone in my family would suggest having what I would call a 'real' Christmas.' My kids would probably die of shock but it would be a good lesson." She suggests focusing on children who do not have anything at all: "Allow the children to wrap up old toys and clothes and have them deliver it to a family in need. A child will remember those memories for a lifetime."
Brittany G. plans on having her daughter "help me make treats to give out and help out at the food kitchen."
3. "Sub for Santa"
In at least one Circle of Moms member's family, adult brothers and sisters help their siblings when times are tough. Shera H. and her adult siblings do what they call "Sub for Santa," where one adult brother or sister will buy all the gifts "for another [sibling's family] who is not doing so well."
"In the seasons when money is tight we pick one or two gifts for the 'Sub for Santa' family and in more plentiful years we provide an entire Christmas," she explains. "We also pared down our immediate family Christmas to one or two small presents each and a couple of "family gifts," [which were] mostly experiences we could share as a family. Sometimes the experience is a project we can do together, sometimes an outing. "
4. Make Homemade Gifts
Sometimes the best gifts are the gifts with heart. "Instead of buying things for each other, we all made things for each other out of things that we already had in the house," says Jackie T. describing her childhood. "My mom was a single mother and that is what she did for us when my two brothers and I were little. [Those were] the best Christmases ever!"
Kenisha S. also suggests homemade gifts: "There are all kinds of ideas out there, like making ornaments, or getting cheap photo frames-and decorating them with glitter, fuzzy balls, paint, buttons, etc. Or, make cookies in a jar or soup in a jar (basically putting all the dry ingredients in a mason jar with the receipe attached) and hand them out."
5. Just Be Honest
Several Circle of Moms members feel that when a family is going through financial strain, there's little use in hiding it. As Karen L. shares, you can tell the truth without worrying your kids if you also take the time to be reassuring:
"I have said this to my children: "Everybody goes through a hard time in their lives. . . it is our turn right now. Things will get better soon. May not be tomorrow, next week, or next month, but we will get through this with lots of love and hard work. My job is to take care of you, and your job is to go to school. Let me worry about adult issues and you worry about having fun being a child."
Are you scaling back your holiday this year?
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, POPSUGAR.