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Can't Afford Christmas - What do you tell your kids?

post #1 of 29
Thread Starter 
If you can't afford the gifts your children want, what do you tell them? How do you handle Christmas when you really can't afford it?
post #2 of 29
I just flat out tell him that I cannot afford it. I give him the Toys R Us ads and he flips through it or if he sees a toy on a commercial and if he mentions he likes it - I note it down.

I do shop year round for gifts so it doesnt become a financial mess. Id rather spend a bit here and there during the year, rather than having a huge credit card bill or just plain spending too much in 1 month.

Hes always happy with what we give him. Though, he is 7 and pretty easy to please.
post #3 of 29
1) We tell them Santa's on a budget.

2) We had to switch from opening gifts in front of the extended family to having our own Christmas at home first so that our kids didn't notice the huge difference between our gifts (one $20 item) and the gifts their cousins gets (hundreds of dollars worth of stuff).

3) We are honest but never use 'poor speech'. We never say 'we can't afford that' but we'll encourage them to make a list and say we'll try and surprise them with one thing off the list.

4) We feed the homeless and low income families as a family on Christmas afternoon. (My Dad worked in a soup kitchen while I was growing up so this is just a part of our family culture.) My kids feel so blessed with their $20 gift when they see the kids there on Christmas day getting their charity gift. It would break your heart to see these kids. One family has 8 kids and they are there every year. Their kids have nothing.

The most difficult thing we face is not being able to give back as much as is given to us. Our family knows our situation and they don't begrudge us but it makes me feel sad when people are generous to us and we don't give back with equal measure.
post #4 of 29
three years ago we could not afford christams dh had been laid off and was working a job that paid alot less than he was making. ds was only 3 so he did not notice there was only 4 small presents under the tree. we just never made a big deal out of kids now know they can ask santa for two things they really want and santa will try to get one of those items. then they get what they get. they have never been disapointed ever. we do buy thru out the year to help ease the burden and in past years when we were not prepared and did not have the money we cut out all extra family gift giving. we have also been fortunate enough that family has stepped up and gotten our kids nice things.
post #5 of 29
Ya know, I really only had to deal with that one year. We got help with the younger kids gifts, and only had to buy something for the older one. I don't think I really explained anything. They knew things were tight, and were happy with what they got. It helps that they get things from other family members.
I think it would be hard to tell a kid that even santa wont be bringing them something. I haven't had to deal with that.
It does bother me when I can't help others out at Christmas. That year was the only year I wasn't able to buy a gift for the angel tree.
post #6 of 29
Tell the truth, kids understand more than you know.

My kids know we don't have money, they are grateful for anything they get. One thing we've done to make it easier around here is they know they only get ONE gift from me, so they don't have expectations for more. If we're able to get more, it's a bonus. Then we have a family gift exchange for a second gift. Each of us draws a name and they have a $10 budget to get something for that person. The kids are more excited to find gifts and see what the other person thinks of thier gifts than they are to actually get ones themselves. The older kids each help a younger one get their gifts and I buy the gift "from" the baby. Since everyone has the same budget, no one gets anything more than anyone else.
post #7 of 29
Thankfully, I've never been in this situation, but it does break my heart to think of those who have. I always donate something to the giving trees set up at my church and my ymca and to schools because I can imagine how hard it would be to not be able to give your kids something for Christmas.
post #8 of 29
Thank GOD we've never been through this.
I agree w/ daymom03 that donating is fabulous, for people aren't as fortunate at times.
I've always taught my ds & dd that a gift is a gift regardless of what it is and that they should be thankful. My dd is really into collecting food cans nearing Thanksgiving and Christmas for donations.
post #9 of 29
If it's too much, I tell them I don't have that much money. And if they say they will ask Santa, I remind them of how many kids Santa gets presents for and that they have to be reasonable and fair or Santa won't be able to get presents for everyone.

They are fine with that.
post #10 of 29
We've had times when there was less money available, but we tried to limit the amount of gifts our kids receive from when they were little. Fortunately, we've been able to afford something for Christmas, and we generally give to Salvation Army, etc. during this time.
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