It’s a blue christmas without green

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I’m a young mom who used to work from home. Recently, I’ve taken a pay cut and my husband’s job cut his hours down. I’m worried about what I’m going to be getting my family members (especially my kids) this Christmas. How do I get them to understand what’s happening? What should I do to keep Christmas the way it always has been?

-It’s a Blue Christmas without Green

Dear Blue,

Many families have had to change their Christmas plans this year so you’re certainly not alone.

A good way to keep kids out of the fray is to make cuts the in gift-purchasing to those who might not be so dismayed at Santa being stingy this year. One idea for cutting back on adult spending is establishing a Secret Santa.

Call up family members and friends and let them know that, since everyone is in a financial pinch, you’re scheduling a one-gift Christmas. Have everyone create a list of things they want with a ceiling of about $100.00 (less or more depending on your budget) and collect them in person, over the phone or via email.

If they aren’t sounding too excited about it, you can pitch the fact that they’ll be getting one $100.00 present that they actually want instead of five or so $20.00 presents that they might not want at all! They’ll also only be spending $100.00 since they’ll only be Santa to one person in your family or group of friends.

Keep it fun by baking cookies together and sending low-cost cards to everyone. On Christmas, make sure you’re opening all the presents together to make sure the Christmas feeling is still there.

For the kids, look for deals online at amazon.com and eBay. Since you have more than one child, aim for presents that give the option of playing together like Nerf gun sets or doll pairs. If you’re putting candy and sweets in their stockings and you’re filling several stockings, buy in bulk packages. Let your family know that the Secret Santa won’t apply to the kids and that you can go bargain hunting together.

Another way to cut costs on stocking stuffers is actually making them yourself. Cookies wrapped in cellophane and ribbon are an inexpensive way to bake some love and, if you’re feeling creative, personalizing them can make them a gift. Make an oversized chocolate chip cookie for each kid or family member and write their name on it in icing – it’ll take up space in the stocking and show everyone that you (or Santa!) cares about them.

Chocolate spoons will please pretty much anyone on your list and are just as easy as cookies, once you get the hang of it. All you need are plastic spoons, bulk chocolate and a topping like crushed candy canes, nuts or sprinkles. Once solidified, these are easily wrapped in cellophane for yet another creatively cooked gift!

If your kids are hurt or feel like they might have fallen out of Santa’s favor, be honest, and keep in mind that it feels personal to them. Let them know that times are tough for everyone and it has nothing to do with them being on the “nice” or “naughty” list. Just as you have had to spend less at home, Santa has had to spend less running his workshop!

For future Christmases, shopping in early November will get you some of the best deals. After Christmas, you can expect a lot of things to go on sale as well so make sure to keep an eye out for toys/cards/decorations that might last until an upcoming birthday or holiday.

-Sandy

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