We've been living in a very small (about 900 sqft) mother in law apartment since July. This was (is) an attempt to save money until a house we're going to rent from friends opens up next summer.
This made Christmas a little...sticky.
We also are on the tightest budget we've ever, EVER had. Which made things stickier.
NO room to store a plethora of new toys + VERY little money to spend on gifts = the emotional equivalent of a sticky paper rat trap.
First of all, I had to be careful what I told friends and family they could get for the kids. There was one thing my oldest daughter really wanted--this helium filled robot shark baloon thing--but my Mom looked it up and it was HUGE. There was no way that was going to work.
Second of all, when you've got a tight budget, but your kids ask for stuff from Santa, it's hard not to try to make ONE of those things work.
Here's where I got lucky.
Well, I don't think luck has anything to do with it. It's almost completely due to a decision we made about five years ago that I'm so very happy with to this day.
Five years ago we shut off cable. That's right. No TV shows, no news, no HBO or National Geographic or PBS. If it wasn't on video, we didn't get to see it.
Recently that has improved, with the advent of Hulu and Netflix and the ability to watch it through our XBOX 360. Redbox movies have been awesome as well. We spend a total of $15 a month on watching stuff on our television. FIFTEEN DOLLARS.
How did this help with Christmas?
Two words: NO COMMERCIALS.
Since my children watch Netflix exclusively, they avoid the constant bombarding media blitz and the resulting capitalistic consumer carnage.
In short, they have no idea what to ask for. They have no idea what new toys are out, what the lastest fashions are or anything. Other than watching regular tv at my parent's house on occassion and looking through catalogues there as well they aren't exposed to very much advertising at all. Other than the radio, and what they see on billboards and of course what they see on shelves in stores (we don't frequent places like Target anyway) they just don't have to deal with it.
What did they ask for this year? Before looking at the catalogues at my parent's house, this is what they said:
My son wanted Halo 4 (not happening since he's grounded from video games for an indefinite amount of time) and the second Warrior's book series set.
My oldest daughter wanted a blanket with fish on it, a book about fish and some fish toys.
My youngest wanted "Hello-Kitty stuff."
Of course, once they got to the catalogues they circled practically every single item, especially my daughters! But my parents are wise and chose great gifts that they knew would be played with for a long time and my kids understood that they wouldn't get everything they asked for. We made a point of discussing that when people get gifts they want the recipeient to be surprised, so we make lists in order to pick one thing out of many to make it a fun mystery! They liked this idea.
In the end we were able to stay UNDER budget. Of course, at home the kids only got two total gifts, one from us and one from Santa, plus stocking items. However, later in the morning family members added well chosen gifts to my children's "meager" haul, as well as money toward purchasing other items as well.
Even so, they didn't bring tons and tons of new 'stuff' home, but carefully and wisely chosen toys, books and clothes that they are going to cherish because nothing is going to get lost in the shuffle. They know who each gift is from and how carefully it was chosen.
I absolutely love it.
And I absolutely love not having cable!
How was your Christmas? Are your children blessed with lots of gifts, or just a few? How do you work to instill gratefulness no matter how many gifts are recieved?
Do you think you could ever part with television? Have you already?
I'd love to hear your stories!!