Don’t Miss 4 Gifts to Make
Your Family’s Christmas Unforgettable
It’s that time again.
But when did Black Friday morph into a shopping frenzy on Thanksgiving Day?
If this were football, I’d throw a flag on that play! Is it just me? Black Friday is supposed to be…Friday.
Whether you are “team” shop-after-turkey or head out at-5am Friday (as it should be), or even if you are team-count-me-out-of-the-crowds-and-chaos-altogether, we can all agree on one thing. The season of giving is here.
Gift-giving has its challenges in our current economic climate. This won’t be news to you – because you’re living it, mamas – but the average American household will likely be hit with $11,500 in additional expenses (food, utilities, gas, housing) over the next year, according to a recent analysis by Nerdwallet.com.1
What does that mean for your Christmas celebration?
It means Santa needs a helping hand, and creativity wins the day. That’s why we have strategies to help create magic on Christmas morning – and for the entire season – without breaking the bank. Let’s start with these four gifts to make your family’s Christmas unforgettable!
#1 Gifts Under the Tree
Does a little less money mean a bit more effort? Maybe, but we know that planning and prioritizing can more than make up for the economic hit your Christmas budget may have suffered. Moms are known for creative solutions – but don’t worry, we’re not suggesting you knit a sweater or turn carpenter-toymaker. Your kids won’t miss the decrease in spending if you plan well. You can turn up the wow power with these ideas for gifts under the tree.
- Pick “The One.”
Often, we tote a list of 20 or more things our kids wish for. If we bought them all, we’d break the bank and end up living under a bridge. Instead of trying to get as many as possible – focus on one main thing they’d love. Then fill in with other less-expensive fun items. It’s easy to get accustomed to the maximum stuff mentality on Christmas morning. We’ve found that if our kids receive one main thing – that they hoped for – it makes all the other gifts icing on the cake.
- Wrap With Gusto.
Spend a little extra to make sure your gifts are beautiful. Carefully select paper, ribbons, and accessories that make the Christmas landscape in your home sparkle. It’s like food – ever heard the saying, “you eat with your eyes first”? Make sure that anticipation builds all season long when you wrap with gusto. We like to wrap up gift cards too.
Special Tip: An inexpensive pack of ornaments can provide great gift toppers.
- Consider Budget-Friendly Options, Like:
*Jammies – Popular and usually budget compliant but consider skipping the Christmas-themed offerings for cozy togs they’ll want to use all year.
* Movie Tickets & Candy – Teens and Tweens will love the promise of a trip to the theatre. A gift card to your local cineplex and their favorite movie candy will be a welcome surprise. Let them pick the flick they want to see- so long as it’s mom-approved. If your budget allows, upgrade it so they can bring a friend. Sometimes big-box stores like Costco or Sam’s have special deals on these gift cards.
* Create Your Own Comic – There are books available with graphic shapes on each page, just waiting for your young artist to build their own comic story. These range from four dollars – a create-your-own comic book – to $20 for an entire kit, including art supplies. We like the less expensive end of that range, then add your own pens, pencils, markers, or crayons to make it a perfect match for your young storyteller. There are plenty of inexpensive art options if your kids enjoy painting, sculpting, or sketching, too – and who knows what will happen when those creative juices start flowing!
* Tech Bargains – A Bluetooth speaker, even one with a nightlight included, could be something your music lover will appreciate, or how about some earbuds. Although some wireless earbud options are budget-busting, there are plenty more reasonable choices that still offer high-quality sound.
*Slipper Socks – Who doesn’t love toasty toes – just be sure to discard the old raggedy ones from eight years ago!
* Subscriptions – These buy now-pay monthly options aren’t for everyone, but they are just the ticket for some! There are subscriptions (often boxes shipped to your home) for kids who love cooking, science, crafts, and books ranging anywhere from $10-40 per month. Don’t miss online streaming options from Minno Kids,2 Yippee,3 or the Adventures in Odyssey Club.4 All of these come in at under $10 per month. Whatever you choose, make sure it works for your budget, and that you can cancel if needed. And be sure to wrap something under the tree representing their new subscription to make this a genuine Christmas surprise.
* Personalized Photo Book or Album – Celebrate your kids’ lives and give them a keepsake they will treasure. This is especially good if your kids are teens or beyond. Start with one or two pages featuring their parents (you), a photo of you as a child, high school, and a wedding shot if you have one, then fill the rest of their pages with images of their life – from birth to now. Finding the photos will take a little work but giving your child a gift of their life story will be a keepsake they’ll go back to again and again. This can vary in price, depending on whether you’re gleaning photos from boxes on shelves in your home (like me) – or sending the digital images to a photo book company so they can do the heavy lifting.
* Patriotic Paraphernalia – Check out our store for books, shirts, hoodies, and even a Patriot Pack for kids. Who doesn’t love a little patriot flair under the tree?
#2 Gifts of Time & Tradition
All the bells and whistles you can squeeze out of your holiday budget can never replace the most valuable gift you can give your family – you.
Time with your kids and family will play in their memories forever. That shiny-new-whatever – under the tree will be forgotten in many cases. Gifts of time, tradition, and togetherness are…priceless.
After you’ve kicked off the season with family tree-trimming, here are some ideas we like. They may become annual traditions for you or even one-offs to make this year’s festivities shine.
- Family-Made Nativity
Grab some clay from your local craft store, music, and cocoa, and gather the family for a truly creative celebration. Together, sculpt your own homemade nativity. No skill or experience is needed. As dad awkwardly makes a shepherd, you may try your hand at an angel. Give everyone different figures to create, or let them pick their own. Make sure you cover all the needed attendees for your manger scene– sheep, cows, shepherds, angels, Joseph, Mary, kings, and baby Jesus. Your 3-year-old’s donkey may look …unique…but that’s part of the fun. This is a one-of-a-kind family-made nativity you can enjoy all season long. Praise all the creative efforts, laugh, have fun, and remind your family of the significance of that holy night. Display it all season, take good photos – then you can discard the clay figures after the holidays.
- Host a Kid-Party
Invite your kids’ friends to your house for a hot chocolate bar with all the fixings (marshmallows, whipped cream, candy canes) and a movie. You can up the fun with an ornament trade – or craft. And if you really want to wow the neighborhood, purchase $1 mugs from the local dollar store and let each friend take theirs home. Your budget will hardly feel a pinch.
- Look For Local Fun
You may not have $75 per person to plop down for tickets to the touring company of The Nutcracker this year, but don’t miss out on more cost-friendly options around town. There may be Christmas light tours, a living nativity, or a pageant nearby. Look for tree-lighting ceremonies, Santa at the mall, or zoo exhibits. These can range from free to pricey, so don’t miss the local fun this holiday season.
- Stuff Stockings Family-Style
This is a bit unusual, but lots of fun. As the stockings hang by the chimney with care, encourage your kids to share the joy by giving small gifts and treats to others in the family – stealthily slipping them into stockings when no one’s looking. This has been our family tradition since our kids were in elementary through their teens. All season long, bit by bit, the stockings slowly fill up with surprises from various kids and parents. It’s so much fun to open them on Christmas morning and find so many unexpected surprises. No peeking!
# 3 Gifts of Service
Gifts of service often provide appreciated assistance – but lending a hand to someone in need goes beyond the act being performed. The memories of your family working shoulder to shoulder for others will imbed that value in your children’s hearts and minds. Let’s face it – an afternoon meeting someone else’s need beats sitting around the house – again. More than that – it will cultivate gratitude and the value of giving in your children’s lives.
Our recent blog offered a list of ideas for your family to consider. Here are a few more specific to the Christmas season:
- Operation Christmas Child Shoeboxes – Their annual drive allows families to fill shoeboxes with age-appropriate toys, notebooks, art supplies, socks, toiletries, and more. In 2021 alone, over 9 million of these gifts were shipped overseas, showing generosity and the love of Jesus to children worldwide. 5 Note: The deadline may have passed by the time this blog is live – if so, this may be one to keep in mind for next year.
- Angel Tree Gifts – Sponsored by Prison Fellowship, Angel Tree allows families and individuals to purchase Christmas gifts for specific children whose parent is incarcerated. You can play a part in giving a hurting child a memorable holiday.6
- Church Outreaches – Your church may have a planned Christmas service project in your community. It could be Christmas gifts to needy families or a food outreach. Investigate what’s happening and how you and your kids can get involved.
- Neighbors in Need – If you know of families struggling with financial concerns, illness, or disability, brainstorm with your family for ideas of how to step up to help.
- Christmas Caroling at Retirement or Nursing Center – Go as a family or with another family or two. Make your dress code- festive! Then get ready to sing carols for the residents who could be a little blue if they are separated from family this time of year. Be sure to call in advance to see what’s allowed and when it is best to visit. See if they permit passing out candy canes, cookies, or a little handmade craft.
- So Many Needs – There are shelters, veteran’s organizations, and hospitals with many who struggle during the holidays, so take some time to decide which options are suitable for your family. Serving others is a gift to the recipient, but often even more to the giver – as it teaches valuable lessons about gratitude, grace, and mercy.
#4 Gifts of Faith
It’s easy to get so wrapped up in shopping, planning, and the general hubbub of the holidays and miss what’s most important.
Be sure to build an essential central theme to your celebration: Jesus’ incarnation. Give gifts of faith and hope by teaching your children the nativity story. Here are several ways to celebrate Jesus’ birth.
- Celebrate Advent – Each of the four Sundays before Christmas is an “advent” Sunday. Use a tabletop wreath with four candles: light one the first week, two the second, and so on. At the table, share a story, a carol, and a special treat. Finish off this weekly gathering with a prayer.
- Candlelight Service – Attend a Christmas service at your church or another local house of worship.
- Christmas Story & Communion – The night before Christmas can be a sweet time to light candles in your home and share Luke 2:1-20. If your kids are old enough – you can even have communion together as a family. Invite each person to take a particular part. One could share a prayer, another suggests a song you’ll all sing together, and an older child could do the reading.
Whatever you do, don’t miss these four gifts that will make your family’s Christmas unforgettable.
Mamas, no matter what’s happening in politics, the media, or the economy, you can create something of beauty and light in a darkening world. Even with a smaller budget, the season’s magic will ring loud and true as you celebrate together as a family.
Merry Christmas, everyone.
6 Angel Tree/Prison Fellowship