Money is scarce. The stress of figuring out how to provide clothing and gifts for your kids is always with you. You know birthdays and Christmas will come again and this will all repeat itself unless your situation improves. Perhaps planning ahead, beginning now, can help lessen the frustration and feeling of letting your children down. Here are a few ideas that may help you accumulate gifts for the special occasions every child should be able to enjoy:
Keep Lists of Gift Ideas
Being open to strategies for providing gifts for your children for those special occasions, such as birthdays, Hanukkah, Christmas, good report cards, graduation, or any other accomplishments they achieve throughout the year, should be among your top priorities. I’ve put together some helpful ideas that, hopefully, will help you achieve that goal.
- Buy a cheap 3 section notebook on sale or at a dollar store.
- Label a section “Needs.” Make a list of necessities each of your children needs.
- Label a section “Gifts.” Make a list of the toys and other gifts your children wanted this Christmas and their last birthday.
- Label a section “Sources.”
- Label a page “Free.” Make a list of sources where you can possibly find free items you included in your first two lists, such as: Craig’s List and FreeCycle.
- Label a page “Charities.” Make a list of local charities that provide help for families in need. (In order to receive Christmas help, you need to be associated with some places as churches and food pantries.)
- Label a page “Cheap.” Make a list of sources where you can buy items on your lists a very low prices, such as: local Consignment Shops and Thrift Stores.
Take Time to Do Your Research
You’ll need to do some research because your local area may offer different resources for families in need for gift assistance and don’t forget to ask for their requirements and deadlines to receive help.
- Ask others who receive assistance for information. Also ask at the food bank or pantry, Salvation Army, churches, etc. for programs you may contact. Wherever you inquire, ask for another possible source before you say good-bye.
- Remember to write all suggestions down, then complete your entries with address, phone number, and important information.
- Use Google.com and search for charities or help for families in need or help for low-income families including your town and state.
How Planning Ahead Can Help You
By staying organized, you can turn searching for free and low-priced needs and gifts for your children into a productive act of love throughout the year.
- Visit local thrift and consignment shops when you do have a few dollars.
- Shop clearance racks at the end of each season. (My daughter found sneakers for $4.00, and clothing between $3 and $4.00 for her nieces on the clearance racks of upscale stores. They loved the clothes…they were in style, too.)
- Check out coupons online. Make a list of coupon websites such as coupons.com. Print out the coupons you might be able to use. Check back often for new coupons.
- Find a current discarded newspaper that has the sale flyer and coupons included, such as Wednesday’s issue. Cut out the coupons, store them in a ziploc bag or envelope, and place that in your purse or car…just in case the opportunity to use them comes along you’ll have them with you.
Shopping Online Can Save Money
I shop online for great gift ideas at bargain prices in the clearance sections. If you stay vigilant, you can find great gifts for your children without getting into more debt and with free shipping which is very important towards finding real bargains.
- Sign up for a safe, free PayPal account to have payments taken out of your checking account instead of paying with a credit card.
- In your notebook, make a list of store websites that have good clearance selections for the type gift ideas you will be looking for throughout the year for your children.
- You can use PayPal to buy gifts on eBay and other sites they partner with.
- When you use PayPal, your checking (or credit card) account and personal information remain private.
- Only use PayPal after you’ve saved up enough money in your Gifts Jar and deposited it into your checking account to keep yourself within your “children’s gift budget.”
New Ideas to Help You Plan Ahead
Do you have your own planning ahead for gift giving ideas? You’ll be helping other mothers and dads by listing your planning for gift ideas in the “comment” box below.
Idea #1 contributed by Shana:
- Set aside a large jar labeled $ Gifts $ with a permanent marker.
- At the end of the day, throw your lose change into the jar. Keep the jar where no one else can “borrow” form it.
- Once in awhile, count the change. When you have enough to buy a gift for one of your children, be sure to do that. You’ll be surprised how this can add up to enough to buy gifts throughout the year!
- In order to keep the gift a surprise, don’t forget to wrap it as soon as you get home, add a gift tag, and hide it. Make a note to yourself in your notebook as to where you have hidden the gift and a code as to what it is – just in case your children find your notebook.