This year more than ever before I’m trying to keep the holidays simple. With 4 kids you’d think we spend a lot on Christmas, but we manage to keep it cheap by using these 5 simple strategies.
1. Pay attention to what the kids you are shopping for like.
Usually a few times a year I do a toy purge. I go through the toys in the playroom (which is really our family room, but is theirs for the next few years), and pull out anything broken, missing pieces or that hasn’t been touched since the last purge. I box it up and put it away in the garage and it sits for a month. If no one asks for anything from the box, it goes.
The broken or missing pieces items will be recycled or reused, tossed if they are dangerous. The fair condition items will be donated or given a new home by a friend, or someone from Freecycle. The good, quality items will be sold on Craig’sList, Ebay or at a yard sale. Once a year we also do a toy swap, so some items get put aside for that purpose.
Learn more: Earn Extra Cash By Selling On Ebay
If you are purchasing for someone else’s children ask them for a list. It will save hassle for them, and you know you’re bound to get something the child wants that way. If the child(ren) you are shopping for have a lot of stuff already, consider buying the family a membership to a local museum, children’s museum, garden, arboretum, zoo, aquarium, etc. These make great gifts since often you can get reciprocal benefits at other local attractions, or reciprocal benefits to a group of national attractions.
2. Look for items on sale, discounted, or discontinued throughout the year.
The day after Christmas is a great time to shop for next year’s gifts. Occasionally I’ll get together some friends to purchase things together (called a co-op) for a website or product. We’ll end up getting a discount, and a deal on shipping.
3. Don’t give many gifts throughout the year.
Especially in the fall and through the winter. Usually our kids earn money or get gift money they can spend on themselves. Don’t fall into the trap of buying something just because you went on a business trip, had to go to the toy store, etc. If you do purchase those items, put them aside for the holidays.
Learn more: 8 Ways To Teach Kids The Value Of Money
4. Don’t buy a lot.
Our kids don’t play with toys that much, and even kids I know that do really don’t need a room full of various things. Choose a few really wonderful toys like blocks, train tracks, play food, Legos, etc. and rotate other items in. Too many choices leads to chaos and broken toys.
Our kids each get one “big”gift from Santa, and a few other small things, as well as stocking stuffers. We deal with the family by having each person buy or make something for each other. So the kids each end up with 2 gifts from us, and 3 gifts from their siblings. We’re focusing on making gifts this year, and it’s fun to hear what they are coming up with.
Learn more: 5 Ways To Shop Smarter This Holidy Season
5. Stick to a budget.
Come up with a reasonable Christmas budget, and don’t waver.
I was able to purchase everything on my list since some of the things were on sale, or I had coupons. We also combined some early birthday shopping from one catalog to save on shipping.
If you do find something you have to buy, write it down for the next birthday or Chrsitmas, chances are likely they’ll love it just as much next year. The alternative is to take something back that you aren’t crazy about, that way you don’t end up spending more than you intended.
Below is a list of what each child is getting minus stocking stuffers which are usually items I have stockpiled already (games in tins, etc.), clementines, some chocolate, and other candy.
Nathan (boy, age 11): Spore (big gift), a wooden pogo stick, Wii Lego Batman, Inkheart series of books, and a few Bionicles.
Emma (girl, almost 7): roller skates, 2 wheel scooter, art box, Playmobil Grand Mansion (big gift to share with Audrey), jump rope.
Audrey (girl, age 4 3/4): Playmobil Grand Mansion (big gift to share with Emma), art box, Russian nesting dolls, thermos, word game (What’s Gnu?).
Aidan (boy, almost 3): bowling game (he’s obsessed with bowling!), 2 wheel scooter, sled, Jack-in-the-Box, thermos, Wii sports accessories.