Decorations are in the shops from August in some places, carols are playing over the speakers in shopping centres, and Christmas comes earlier and becomes more commercialized every year.
Even kids are organized early, these days. When my children were younger, a lengthy Christmas wish list of various items ranging in price from in expensive to earth shattering out of my budget, expensive, would appear on my bedroom wall, about a month before Christmas Day. Just in case I was unsure of what exactly to buy for them for Xmas.
There is expectations around gift giving now. Mind you, can’t really blame the kids for trying, even if the follow through does not reach such dizzying heights.
Humbling was the child from a family, at school, who said, when asked what they got from Santa, “A new lunchbox for school.” Did this pull at my heart strings? Oh yes, indeed. Makes me think of many possible alternative options for low cost or free activities, as gifts, that one can request and give for Christmas.
(Write these up onto pretty gift cards, placed in a “surprise bag” and could be pulled out by each child/ adult, as a kind of lucky dip/Christmas game)
* A warm and cosy evening/day spent doing whatever each child wishes, one on one, without disturbances from computer, phone, mobile phone or Ipod, Ipad etc etc. It might be a board game, cocoa and a chat, playing games, like hide n seek, or pictionary/ monopoly.
* A Christmas themed movie or power-point presentation for Grandparents and/or extended family
* Building a cubby house, go cart, or raft together. This can be as complex or as simple as you like: the full wooden hammer and nails bit, or a large cardboard box.
* Sewing or embroidering a calico/reusable plain shopping bags, with permanent markers or paint
*Make low cost decorations for the tree with pre-printed felt, ribbon and glue.
* Making the Christmas cake/ lolly or cookie jars to give to others.
* Setting out tea light candles all along your street and letterbox dropping others on surrounding streets to do the same. We do this and call it ‘Santa’s highway’.
* Making a card or memory album for Grandma
* Constructing a year in my family chronicle to give out to family members at Xmas with recipes, funny stories, and photos.
* Challenge the kids to present a puppet show or play to family members on Christmas Day. Make a video to give to them when they are older
* A talent quest for family members with a Christmas theme
(Chocolate Prizes for all entrants)
* Swimming or running races or even Trampoline competitions if you have one
* A Forest hike
* A walk or play on the beach, perhaps with the promise of ice cream afterwards.
* If the kids are into books, a trip to the library or bookstore or book exchange
There are plenty more ideas available on the net or in books, so these are just a few that came to me, off the top of my head. This kind of experience will stay in a child’s memory for longer than the short lived joy of getting a cheap plastic toy that may be broken/forgotten in a few months time.
Christmas need not be super expensive. Be creative and have fun, and still be giving a priceless gift that has the bonus of being environmentally friendly.
These activities will surely be something kids might ponder about when they reminisce about Christmas past.
How do you manage Christmas spending?
Have you got a way to save money and still have fun with the children?