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My husband and I have a 16 mo daughter. We are on a very tight
budget and can barely afford second hand clothes. I'm
wondering what creative gift ideas are out there for families
who have very little money. What resources, suggestions,
creative activities, gift ideas do you have for both a toddler
our daughter's age and for family members? I'd love to hear
Tight Budget, Big Heart
Sometimes I'll make pies or cookies for friends around the holidays, and for birthdays (esp my neices and nephews), I do give gifts. But that is manageable, because the birthdays are spread out. The whole gift/shopping thing is way overblown and retail driven. It's not what the spirit of the holidays is supposed to be.
I would love to give you clothes that my girls outgrow. If you e mail me your address, I'll box them up and send them. I donate alot of them, but I'd prefer to give them directly to someone that I know could use them. My e mail is firstname.lastname@example.org. ann
1) Your toddler, at this age, will be more excited by the boxes and wrapping paper than by anything inside them. Strange, but true. Get a cheap box of ribbons and wrapping paper (or use second-hand or already used ones -- she won't know the difference), break a small number of gifts up into the maximum number of packages (ie. if you decide she needs a new pair of shoes, buy them second-hand and wrap each shoe separately), and let her go to town on Christmas morning. She will love it, I promise.
2) Your family will love a photo of your daughter, and/or a piece of her artwork. Get some big pieces of paper, and some fun, cheap nontoxic paints, bits of yarn or fabric, shreds of colored paper (even newspaper ads will do) and glue sticks, and let her paint and glue to her heart's content. Or, if you go to Habitot, help her create some stuff there. A frame (you can even make one) and your daughter's name on the creation. They will be delighted. Karen
Throughout the year if you let her paint on big pieces of paper you can use these to wrap presents (saving a few masterpieces of course). But for the holidays you could help her ''mass-produce'' some appropriate paper using just a few colors, handprints, and stamps you cut out of sponges or potatoes. Good luck! I'm looking forward to seeing other responses.
p.s. I have fond memories as a child one year of our whole family making
candles to give as gifts. Maybe not something for your toddler to do,
but you and your spouse could do it, or wait until your daughter is old
enough to participate.
--trying to live by ''it's the thought that counts.''
This is in response to the mother regarding limited funds and an expectation from her daughter of presents from Santa. I have three children, two of whom still believe. When my oldest son started questioning why Santa used the same wrapping paper as we did and why he got four and his brother got six presents from Santa, I realized I had set myself up for early detection. I was able to mumble through some reasons that satisfied him and decided Santa would change his policies. I now give only one present from Santa to each child. This way if I was in financial difficulties Santa could always fill his part of the deal. I could explain our money situation and the children would understand my financial problems but they wouldn't understand Santa's. I also discontinued wrapping Santa's presents. These changes happened when my sons were 6 and 1 at the time. It has saved me problems with my daughter who is 6 and my younger son who is now 9 and very suspicious.I realize this may not solve your problem now, but it might help future parents.
You might try explaining that only one or two presents were from Santa and the rest were from you. If she really paid attention to the name tags (my kids don't), this probably won't work.
Or you might explain that as she gets older (I don't know her age) Santa gives less and expects older children to help him spread christmas cheer. This year my children were required to give away 5 toys (nothing broken or worn out) to the less fortunate and to give to everyone that gives to them (Aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, etc.) We made/will make homemade gifts, cookies, cloth napkins, picture frames, paper dolls, etc.(we have a large family and started weeks ago). I am trying to instill the spirit of giving and not just receiving. It has been hard. Last year after opening at least 15 presents, my 9 yr old said "Is this all?" It's distressing.
I hope this helps. Susan
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