I Have No Gift to Bring: 5 Low Cost Ways to Make Christmas Special

Overview: Is money tight? Are you unwilling to go into debt to buy presents? Are you looking for LOW-COST ways to make Christmas special? It’s definitely possible!

God has richly blessed my family. We have our health. We have good relationships. We have a roof over our heads and plenty of food in the pantry. We’ve been able to purchase Christmas gifts for our boys and I haven’t had to stress about where the money was going to come from to make Christmas special.

Believe me, it hasn’t always been this way.

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We’ve had some very lean years! Near the beginning of our marriage, my poor husband had a lot of trials with having a secure job. He went through multiple layoffs and times when his company went out of business. There were several years where we had two young boys and barely enough money to scrape by.

I remember one Christmas when our boys were 3 and 1 1/2. We were broke and we didn’t have any money left over to buy presents. We’ve had LOTS of years where we didn’t have the money to buy presents for anyone except our boys, but this particular year we couldn’t even swing that.

So, I looked around the house to see if I could find anything to make presents with. I found some scrap material that I used to make a Busy Book for my oldest son. It had zippers and buttons and snaps and a lace to tie.

I was also able to find a small, unused scrapbook that someone had given us at a baby shower. So with that and some photos, I made an ABC book for my youngest son.

I have no gift to bring: 5 Low Cost Ways to Make Christmas Special

I also grabbed some fruit snacks and animal crackers from the kitchen and divided them up into plastic baggies. I wrapped those baggies as well so that they would have more to open.

That year, as we sat down to let our boys open their gifts I was very nervous. I didn’t know how they would react to these meager gifts. Would they throw tantrums? Would they be disappointed and cry? Would this be the worst Christmas of all?

I will never forget watching as my 3-year-old opened his first gift and cried out in an excited voice, “Fruit snacks?!? Can I have some right now?” Tears were rolling down my face as I said, “Yes, you may have some fruit snacks.”

Our boys opened the rest of their presents with joy. My husband and I were so relieved. We hadn’t been able to buy anything for our boys and they were alright with it.

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I Have No Gift to Bring

That lean year taught me a very valuable lesson. Christmas doesn’t have to be so expensive!

I know we all know the reason for the season. We know that we are celebrating the birth of Jesus. However, it’s easy for parents to get caught up in the hype of the holiday. We want to create priceless, Facebook-worthy memories for our kids. Memories that will last a lifetime. Christmas is a time when we want to indulge our kids a little bit – especially us parents who don’t buy much stuff for them the rest of the year.

So, what can you do if money is tight? How can you make Christmas special for your family if you have no gift to bring?

Here are 5 Low-Cost Ways to Make Christmas Special:

1 – Shop Thrift Stores

You can get some pretty great gifts at thrift stores for very little money. Our family shops at Salvation Army quite often and it’s amazing what you can find. Garage sales, thrift stores, coupons, and major sales are all great ways to buy gifts at a low cost.

2 – Swap With Other Families

Do your kids have any toys that they have outgrown? Or items they just aren’t interested in anymore? Reach out to friends and family on social media to see if you can do a toy swap. This is a great way to get your kids new things that they will enjoy for no cost.

I have no gift to bring: 5 Low Cost Ways to Make Christmas Special

3 – Make Homemade Gifts

Pinterest has some amazing ideas for homemade gifts. With a little bit of searching, you may even be able to use materials you already have laying around the house.

4 – Get Creative

There are lots of ways you can have a special Christmas without breaking the bank. Give your kids gifts of things they need, such as socks or underwear. Have Christmas music playing in the background. Come up with a scavenger hunt so that the kids search for their gifts.

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5 – Make it Fun

Christmas doesn’t have to be all about the gifts. Attend a special church service together. Build a snowman with your kids. Have a game day. Drive around and look at Christmas light displays. Make a special meal. Try my favorite tradition of the All Day Buffet. Allow your kids to decorate the tree or to put up the Christmas village. Make Christmas cookies together. Watch Christmas movies! My favorite movie that we watch every year is The Nativity Story.

Christmas doesn’t have to be a super expensive affair. If money is tight, there are plenty of ways that you can make the holidays special without spending a lot of money. Like me, you may look back and discover that the lean years end up makingΒ some of the most special memories of all.

Question: Is money tight for you this year? Have you discovered any other low-cost ways to make Christmas special that you could share?  Please leave a comment below.

19 thoughts on “I Have No Gift to Bring: 5 Low Cost Ways to Make Christmas Special”

  1. We have shopped at thrift stores and made homemade gifts many times. It was still a lovely and special Christmas for us. I always tell our children…it doesn’t matter what gifts you do or do not get. What matters is that the people you love are there.

    1. Michelle Caskey

      So true, Erin. And I think that having so many lean years really helped my boys tremendously. Though it was hard on us parents, it trained them not to ask for lots of stuff, to be content with what they have, and to think about the value of money. Thanks so much for stopping by!

    1. Thanks so much, Rebecca. I really appreciate that! Yeah, it kills two birds with one stone. The kids get new stuff and you get a chance to clean out some of the things they don’t need/want anymore.

  2. I use Varage Sale to find new and used goodies/clothes/toys that we can gift! I’m always keeping an eye out for a good deal and keep a “gift spot” for gifts a couple months out. Although it may be our hearts desire to give our children lots of “things”, there is often a blessing in the “less is more” approach…especially if you are able to instill a desire to give rather than receive at a young age. Grateful for your post!!

      1. Thanks for this post and the comments I’ve read after. I’ll share this on Facebook so others would be blessed too. πŸ™‚

  3. What a beautiful story! I have similar stories of how we made it the lean years. You can sometimes find brand new toys at resale shops at a fraction of the cost. If you pray before you go, God will supply what you need with the few coins you have.

    1. Michelle Caskey

      Yes, that’s so true, Susan. God is good, isn’t He?!? No matter how little we’ve had in our pocketbook, the Lord has always provided everything we’ve needed. It doesn’t always come the way we would like it to… or in a way we would expect… but He has never left us high and dry. Thanks for sharing your tip – and for stopping by! πŸ™‚

  4. I love your ideas. This center around the real meaning of Christmas. My children are teens so we are putting more emphasis on volunteering this Christmas . (Working at Home School Library, Operation Christmas Child warehouse and serving at the Rescue Mission. ) We are so much happier when doing these types of things.

    1. That’s wonderful, Bonita! Sounds like you’re helping to make some AMAZING memories with your kids. Great job!!! I hope you and your family have a very Merry Christmas. πŸ™‚

  5. Yes. It is comforting to remember that these times are ‘common to man’ – we aren’t the only people to ever experience hard times.

  6. I love the idea of a scavenger hunt for presents! I’m definitely going to use that one. I hadn’t thought about a toy swap with other families, but I will keep it in mind. Money is tight this year for the hubby and I. But, we still managed to get out gifts to our family back in Ohio. What I did was make a lot of different presents from materials I had already. In fact, I get most of the tutorials I use off of Pinterest and I make a lot of candles, sugar scrubs and knitted items. This year everyone got a cowl scarf. I have a huge amount of yarn that I received from my great grandma and so we didn’t have to spend money on any of the presents except for shipping. One thing that the hubby and I usually do to make holidays extra special is make really nice cards for each other. I’ve never been a fan of buying cards at the store and so every year we design and write these cards. Most of the time they include poems while yes they can be cheesy, I treasure them so much!

    1. Oh, I love your card idea. That would be SO special! Great job on the homemade items as well. I also think that those types of gifts mean so much. Thanks for sharing your ideas with us, Gina. πŸ™‚

  7. We have certainly had some tough years ourselves. Thankfully, with extended family my kids never knew that we were doing without. It goes to show that you are raising sweet little men who are thankful for things big and small.
    I remember one time having to forgo a visit to Santa because it would cost too much. That one was hard to swallow.
    Wishing you and your family a Merry Christmas! Thank you for sharing your story and ideas with us.
    I’m thankful my kids are okay with thrifting, it’s fun!

    1. Yes, going without has a way of making you VERY appreciative of what you have. Merry Christmas to you, too! πŸ™‚

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