One Christmas we braved the snow to spend the holidays with my husband’s family. That year I snagged lots of Amazon deals and had them shipped to my in-laws. Great idea, right? The trouble was that I stopped paying attention to all the messages from Amazon in my inbox. It was late on Christmas Eve when we realized in horror that we hadn’t received the main gift we had purchased for our eight-year-old son. He had some smaller presents, but nothing that would bring any kind of Christmas morning “Wow.” I checked my email messages to see a really important back order notification…just a little too late. It was probably 1 am by this time and the only gift we could’ve mustered in that small town at that hour was probably a bag of Doritos and a shot of No-Doze from the gas station. We remembered how he had mentioned when he was old enough, he wanted to play the trumpet like his dad. It was down to the storage room, where we shined up, oiled up, and wrapped up his dad’s old trumpet. We were a little nervous on Christmas morning to see if he would be excited about his second-hand treasure. But that boy beamed with delight. He was so excited to have something that had been his fathers, and so excited that we trusted him with it now. I just went to his first band concert tonight, four years later, as he played his afterthought trumpet.
With the memory of that gift fresh in my mind, I thought that perhaps other “thrifty gift suggestions” would be helpful as we try to make the holidays meaningful–and on budget–for our families.
1. Give a Treasure
This picture is of my girls snuggling my favorite childhood doll, “Kissy.” Awhile ago, Sarah also posted a picture of Maverick loving her old doll to death. Do you have an old treasure you could reinvent for your children this Christmas? You could attach a note that reads, “I can’t wait to play dolls with you!” Maybe your parents still have your favorite books, old legos, or even an retro video game system. Even though your kids can probably cream you at pac-man, they’d love an official challenge written along with your gift. Think about Grandpa’s old pocket knife for an older child, or a dress-up box filled with Mom’s old formals for a preschooler. Dig through the storage boxes for that special toy, or find an old favorite movie on ebay. After all, having kids is the best way to re-live childhood!
2. Give a Memory
Think of what experiences you want your children to have, and try to link up a gift that will help make that possible. You could wrap up tickets for you and your child to attend an orchestra concert, play, zoo, or children’s museum. If they have always wanted to go camping, give each child a sleeping bag and buy a big tent for the family. Write your promise to take them camping on a bag of marshmallows. You could fill a jar full of Chuck-E-Cheese tokens (using the coupon from the newspaper inserts, of course) and enclose a promise for a visit over the vacation. You may need to slip a tranquilizer under the tree for yourself to take before you enter that adrenaline-charged madhouse 🙂 but you’ll have a great time building memories.
3. Give your Time
It’s what your kids really want, anyway. Maybe the best coupons that will change hands this Christmas are the ones you make for your children, giving them a bit of you. The certificates may read “Good for one free basketball shoot at the park” “Redeem for two extra stories at bedtime” “Free breakfast in bed” “This coupon good for one free manicure” “Good for a piggy back ride–fast–for as long as you want,” what your kids will really read is, “I love you enough to spend time with you.”
What other thrifty gift ideas can you think of that add meaning to Christmas? Comment here and pass along your great idea!