$100 Christmas for 10...Ideas?

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by Jena, Dec 2, 2005.

  1. Jena

    Jena Well-Known Member

    Aug 13, 2003
    I have $100 to spend for Christmas this year. That's it and that was hard to come by. My kids (ages 22,19,18,17,12), their significant others and one grandbaby make 10 people to shop for and cook for. I also have to stretch a tree out of this same $100.

    I'm looking for ideas that are fun, memorable and will help us all (expecially me) get over the whole failure feeling of not being able to provide for Christmas. I've always managed to pull Christmas off, but not this year. At least my kids are old enough to understand. I have told them all and not one of them has said anything negative, just "It's ok Mom". I sure love those guys.

    One idea I had was that I take everyone to a dollar store. We draw names and each get $10. Then we shop till we drop at the dollar store for that person. I figured it would be fun to hunt for things to get, lots of little junk to unwrap and the fun is both in the buying and the getting.

    I also thought of buying poster board, get a bunch of old magazines, family pictures and everyone has to make a collage for the name they chose. That would be fun, except the significant others haven't been around long enough to have many pictures. We could always do theirs just from magazines of what they like, etc, but I'm not sure. I have plenty of picture frames to frame the finished products.

    I thought of taking over a part of a wall in the house and hang all the ornaments in the shape of a tree. No tree, but we can hang the stuff on the wall???

    Cheapo dinner ideas? I do have a couple hundred pounds of hamburger still and chickens. I guess I could do a fancy chicken recipe and whatever else. We do have grocery money, just not enough to spend it all on one big meal.

    I remember one year that all my kids had chicken pox at Halloween. I thought the day was ruined for them, but came up with an idea. We had a long hall and I would hide behind a door. They went down the hall, knocking and saying "trick or treat" until they found me. I gave them candy, they left the hall, I switched doors and they did it again. That was at least 15 years ago and they still talk about that one with fond memories. I'm hoping to come up with something for Christmas that is equally memorable.

    I refuse to go to the Salvation Army or any of that for help. I refuse to have to register like a criminal, though I understand why they have to do it that way. I was on welfare years ago and broke as heck. I thought that was hard, but I tell you, it is much harder to have to go backwards and do it all over again when I thought I had worked my way out of it. Fault me if you wish, but I just can't do it. We will do Christmas on $100 and make the best of it.

    Please give me your ideas. I need to come up with a "tree", "presents", "wrapping paper" and a meal.

  2. mightybooboo

    mightybooboo Well-Known Member

    Feb 10, 2004
    So Cal Mtns
    Jena,the adults should be made aware of the situation and why we arent doing gifts this year.

    Beyond that,I dont know how to stretch/divide it out.The creative folks will know more though.

    Wishing you well as always.

    Mr and Mrs. BooBoo

  3. Wanda

    Wanda Well-Known Member

    Dec 19, 2002
    Glad to see you posting and hope the worst of your problems are over! I am a typical male so I do not have a clue about shoping. As far as the tree I do have a sugestion, why not use a local red cedar? We never had anything else when I was at home. They smell like Christmas should and they are free. You might also give some thought to bartering some of that premium burger and chicken, you could get some neat things and all would be the better for it :)
    Mr Wanda
  4. Cornhusker

    Cornhusker Unapologetically me Supporter

    Mar 20, 2003
    Several years ago, my sister and I lived in a duplex in town. We both worked, but small town, small wages, and we were dirt poor for Christmas.
    I went out on a dirt road and found a tumbleweed, fairly common around here, and took it home.
    We filled a can with sand for a stand, and decorated our little "Tree" with popcorn, toy cars and bits of colorful paper or whatever we could find.
    At the time, my son was only 2 years old, so he was happy with the inexpensive gifts and just happy to see Dad and the pretty tree.
  5. dlangland

    dlangland dlangland

    Jul 7, 2005
    NW Iowa
    I would definitely try to save by not buying and wrapping material since it gets thrown away anyway. Once someone gave me a gift. They didn't have any large enough wrapping paper without buying any, so they used the colored funny paper from the newspaper. Even black and white would be cute. If you don't get the paper, I bet a friend or neighbor would save them for you if you ask. Also, once my daughters used store paper bags and decorated them to use as gift-wrap. It was a sweet idea. It seems harder to find stores that even offer paper instead of plastic bags these days, but you could sure ask.

    Another idea. My kids instead of spending money on me when they were little would make little hand-written coupons, then eventually they used the computer, and stapled them into a book...things like one free dishwashing...one free baking episode...one free carwash...I enjoyed that so much that one yr. even when my teenage daughter asked what I wanted, and I knew she was broke and I wouldn't have wanted her to spend money on me anyway...When she asked I reminded her of those coupon books. People could do something like that for all dif. age levels...The gift of your time. Deb
  6. snoozy

    snoozy Well-Known Member Supporter

    May 10, 2002
    Kitsap Co, WA
    You could make up gift certificates for, say, a special dinner for each offspring & SO. Space them out over the year. You could even do up the menu as the gift certificate, knowing perhaps what each person would like or simply doing up a dinner YOU'D like to try. Or special brunches, etc. Set the dates even. (Spaces out your expenses over the year and allows you plenty of time to scope out the best deals for ingredients.)

    You could also donate the money to Heifer International in their names.

    You could do the drawing type of Christmas where each person draws the name of ONE other person in the family and gets a present for that person only.

    You could also do like I saw in a movie once (Running on Empty, maybe it was) where everybody could only give something they made or something they'd found. You could make it a contest to see who could spend as little on presents as possible with a special prize for the person who comes up with the mostest coolest frugalest gift.
  7. Jan in CO

    Jan in CO Well-Known Member Supporter

    May 10, 2002
    Jena, just an idea, but there is a game my family plays and it can be done with "white elephant" items--things everyone has that they can't use any longer. Everyone brings an item wrapped but no tags on it. (you can wrap in anything--comics from the paper, pages from magazines, bags made from fabric, etc. The wrapped items are placed under the tree, whatever it may be, a wood cut out, tumbleweed, etc. I think your idea of ornaments on the wall is a good one, too! Maybe make a shape from yarn if you have it. Back to the game:

    When everyone is there, you draw numbers from one to however many you have there. Number one goes first, picking a package and opening it. Next number two person either takes that gift, or a new one and unwraps that. If they take the gift from number one, then number one picks another gift and unwraps it. You set a limit before hand as to how many times a gift can change hands. We usually use three, the first person and two others. The third person gets to keep it, and no one can take it from them. After you go through all of the people, then number one gets one more shot at the gifts, and can either keep what they have, or take someone else's if it hasn't been in three hands already. It stretches out the gift unwrapping, finds a new home for things you no longer need, or gag items, whatever you decide on. We no longer stress over what to get for each of the people in our family, and enjoy the day so much more. Of course, there are some who insist on buying something new, but could find something I'm sure if they looked around. One year, my brother in law brought an old fence stretcher. I grabbed it when it was my turn, as we can always use another one! You just never know. You can make a loaf of pumpkin bread as your "gift" to wrap if you have nothing you can think of bringing. This might make everyone get involved, no one will feel deprived, and it's fun!

    Another idea is to look at family "treasures" you might have and intend to pass on to the kids someday. Wrap something for each one with a little card or note describing what it is, a scarf great gramma had, an inkwell your father used, etc. Give each child and their significant other something special and maybe one small gag gift from the dollar store, and spend the rest on dinner.

    Make a recipe book of family favorites for each one, either hand written or print the pages on your computer printer with notes about the origin of the recipe, maybe it's the dressing your mother made, candy great aunt matilda always brought to dinner, etc. Add pictures copied of them if you have them. These might mean more to them than something boughten and forgotten. Maybe make each person a homemade ornament?

    Be sure to let us know what you do and how everyone likes it!

    Jan in CO
  8. Fire-Man

    Fire-Man Well-Known Member Supporter

    Apr 29, 2005
    South Carolina
    Jena---to make it fun------Go to the dollar store and get the kid $10 worth of gift's, then take $40 and buy 9 items that everyone could use---like personally or their home, shampoo, napkin holder, salt and pepper shaker, just what ever you think------Wrap the items and number them, 1-9. When you get ready to open the gifts---everyone draws a number -----who ever gets no. 1--opens the number 1 gift---then whom ever gets no. 2 can take no. 1's gift---or open number 2 gift---then whom ever gets no. 3 get to choose what no. 1 or no. 2 has or gets to open number 3 gift--on and on till the 9th person gets to choose from all gifts or open gift no. 9----if they decide to open the gift then they have to keep it-------unless the ones that have numbers behind them take it. This is so much fun!!! Then take the other $50 and get food or what ever you need. May God Bless You this Christmas Season. Randy
  9. TNHermit

    TNHermit Well-Known Member Supporter

    Jul 14, 2005
    East Tenn.
    First of all if in your own mind you know youv'e done the best you can then failure shouldn't be in your vocabulary. Let them do a gift exchange for each other. Make time to go with each one personally to help pick out the gift for whoevers name they have. Get a foo foo coffe and talk. You'll have spent personal quality time with each one. Take your 100.00 and go to Golden Corral or what ever buffet you have there. They can eat till they puke and be glad to get home let there belts out and exchange gifts. You don't have to cook , theyget a good meal and once again you can spend quality time with the group.
    Just my 2 cents
  10. Jen H

    Jen H Well-Known Member

    Jun 16, 2004
    Does it have to be a tree? The year I divorced my first husband, I went into the yard and got enough clippings to make a big wreath. I put lights and a few ornaments on it, and still remember it. It was funky and pretty ----- and the price was right.

    There's no reason you can't roast chickens instead of turkeys for Christmas dinner. Stuffing is cheap, made with old bread and veggies. You can roast sweet potatoes for a side dish, the same way you roast regular potatoes. Pumpkin pie is easy to make - I use the recipe printed on the canned pumpkin label.

    For presents, my family has a tradition of drawing a name and making that person a present. It keeps the costs way down, and the resulting gifts really are treasures.
  11. Terri

    Terri Singletree & Weight Loss & Permaculture Moderator Staff Member Supporter

    May 10, 2002
    Are there cedar trees in Illinois? Perhaps some on the highway right of way, tht are too close to a fence or power pole to get mowed? A 1' to 2' tree on an end table looks very nice.

    I am afraid that cedars are prickly, but you can use gloves and they smell SO good!

    I remember one year everyone ran out of trees before I got one. But, we had an overhead light fixture. So, I ran swags and such from the light fixture and under the table in as tree-like shape as I could manage, and then I went round and round. With tinsel, it looked really nice. Ornaments were too heavy, but they weren't missed.
  12. Terri

    Terri Singletree & Weight Loss & Permaculture Moderator Staff Member Supporter

    May 10, 2002
    OH! Stuffing is basically dry bread, salt, and thyme. Perhaps you could save day-old bread, and use bouillion for both salt and moisture?
  13. mommagoose_99

    mommagoose_99 Well-Known Member

    Jan 25, 2005
    I have been there and I am very sorry you have to go through this right now.
    I think you should explain things to the kids and let them help with the situation. They may have a few ideas themselves. Please do not feel terrible if you have to ask for help either. It is as much a gift to let someone help you. I know its very hard but sometimes you just have to let someone help. My first husband died when my kids were 2years and 4 years old. It took 14 weeks to get the first Social Security check. In the mean time I had just enough money to feed the kids and we ran out of fuel oil. I hated it but I called a local charity and a very kind man came and put 50 gallons of fuel oil in my tank. Luckily it lasted until I got a check from Social Security. We also had a guardian angle who mailed me $20 every month. I never figured out were the money came from but it sure was a blessing. When things look the darkest , sometimes a miracle will happen. Take care.
  14. Iddee

    Iddee Well-Known Member

    Sep 25, 2005
    Middle of NC
    When I was growing up we always used the cedar trees. They make the whole house smell better. As for presents, my mother made all of them on an old Singer treadle sewing machine. Placemats for the extended family, pillow cases for some, shirts and blouses for the immediate family. That's just a few of the items I remember right off. The cloth came from rummage sales, feed sacks, ETC. The kids always made presents ,"with mom's help, of course", for each other. Slingshots, paper dolls, button on a string, and many others. I think the two gifts I got from the store the whole time I was growing up were a red wagon and a basketball. All others were homemade. The biggest and best thing I remember is we never done without, the spirit, the love, and the effort were always there. As for meals, we had squirrel, rabbit, our own yard chicken, and home canned fruit, berries, and veggies.
  15. frogmammy

    frogmammy Well-Known Member Supporter

    Dec 8, 2004
    How can you be a failure? Your family understands, they love you..sounds like you're a success to me!

    My first Christmas...no money, went out and chopped down small ceder. Decorated with strung popcorn, chains made out of aluminum foil and pictures cut from magazines..tree was propped in the corner!

    My daughter and I established the tradition that we had to "get" our tree each year, just a day or two before Christmas. Most times, it was a trip into the country and a long, cold walk and much searching to find the "right" tree. Some trees were better than others, and they were different types, but the hunt, together was the main event. I do remember one year, we'd both been sick and Christmas eve we *desperately* needed a tree...luckily a nearby Catholic church had held a party that day and threw out their tree when they were done! Great! We not only had a nice big tree, it was partially decorated, too! Wee little problem...15 foot tree, 10 foot ceiling..had to kinda prop the tree at an angle and it took up half the livingroom, but it scented the house up REAL nice!

    Wd'd buy presents from the thrift store and repair or repaint that special something...Christmas, after all, isn't about what you give, but rather the spirit in which it's given...the thought involved in the present choice. A lot of times we'd make presents...a special tea, a scarf, fudge, a pie, an afghan, a picture.

    You don't have to have money to make Christmas a "success", all you need are those you love...the rest will work itself out.

  16. Barb

    Barb Well-Known Member

    May 14, 2002
    West River SD
    Get out your material scraps and make stockings. I buy my material after Christmas at 70% off but you can use anything - doesn't have to be Christmasy. I did 4 stockings today. They're nothing you keep just a quick run up thing. Draw stocking onto paper - the size of those large fuzzy ones they sell at Walmart or Kmart. Cut them out and attach a cuff piece to the top and then just stitch together. Cheap or free if you have some old material or sheets or something. If not stockings do some square bags add drawstring. Glue some foil stars on. Get the 12 year old to help.

    gift certificates to McDonald's or Burger king
    lottery tickets (scratch off)-Adults
    disposable camera
    Divide up a pack of flavored coffee or teas
    Flavored hot chocolate mixes
    Gift certificate to video rental store - one free video ( yes they will do this)
    homemade caramel corn
    homemade candy
    peanuts in the shell
    certificate for pizza ( give to couples - one certificate for two people)

    Think of something each person likes . For instance my youngest loves maple sugar candy and my middle like chocolate covered peanuts.
  17. kitaye

    kitaye Well-Known Member

    Sep 19, 2005
    Canada - Zone 5
    I like the idea of creating a tree shape on the wall from ornaments. Maybe you can have the families each bring a piece of green construction paper and you can create the tree together.

    Do you have something sentimental from each of your kids, something they may have forgotten but would love to see again? Give your adult children something of that nature. The spouses you can give personalized Gift Certificates for a Parents Day Out or a Home Cooked Meal for their birthdays. The dollar store is a great idea for the children.

    Chicken is way more popular here than turkey, so chicken could easily work. Make gravy and serve it over white rice, or mashed potatoes if you have any in your cellar. Brown and serve buns and a can of cranberry sauce will make the meal complete.

    With all that being said, the best gift of all is being with your family, sharing love, warmth, and the joy of the holidays.
  18. southrngardngal

    southrngardngal Well-Known Member

    Oct 18, 2005
    Philadelphia, Mississippi
    Jena, this is something we did for a Christmas tree one year in a childcare center where I worked. We let the children draw their hands on green construction paper (you can use white paper and color it green) and then we taped the hand cutouts to the wall in the shape of a Christmas tree. We cut a piece of brown paper for the trunk and a star from yellow paper. It turned out really cute and the children were so proud of their tree. We put any gifts on the floor and they looked like they were sitting under the tree.

    I like the idea of giving your children gifts of pass-alongs. Things that you may intend to give to them later on. When I divorced my children's father I put the wedding band away. My oldest daughter told me that she would like to have the ring some day. Well, one year when it was especially hard to get gifts for them, I gave her that wedding band. I will never forget her face when she saw that ring and the tears. She still wears the wedding band to this day. And that was twenty years ago. Sentimental gifts are the best kind.

    My inherited daughter's other family (on her Mom's side) never buy gifts. They get together for a day of fellowship and food. She tells us about what a good time they have and her children are learning that Christmas isn't a time of "gimme, gimme, gimme"

    I wish you the best. Just remember "Memories aren't bought, they are made".

  19. scgirl

    scgirl Well-Known Member

    Jan 25, 2005
    Gifts for the family aren't nearly as important as we make them out to be. This year is very tight for me, also, and my kids say that just being here and able to spend time with the family is enough. I'd say draw names and require the gifts to be homemade. Makes them so much more special and they will be kept for a much longer period of time. I think the ornament for each person is a great idea. $1 store gifts are just that--$1 store gifts--not important enough to take care of and only make the giver feel good. Not trying to say don't get any, but a $5 gift that can actually be used is better than 5 $1 gifts that will break or be ruined within a few days, if not hours.

    Here's a couple things we've done over the years: place mats sent to "gramdma" with the kids handprints.
    decopauge a shoebox with favorite pictures or things to make a personalized storage box--can even put names on it.

    Okay, I'm going blank, but I'll think on it more.
    Good luck, and God bless.
  20. skeetshooter

    skeetshooter Well-Known Member

    Oct 1, 2005
    somewhere over the rainbow
    I'd get a turkey on the loss leader sale. The potatoes, carrots etc are relatively cheap. Cake from a box always on sale for 69 cents. Throw in a gallon of vanilla ice cream. And a big bowl of jello - I like plain jello myself-which I never get.

    My GGM always gave us the same things - the kids got hand knit mittens, the adult men got a pair of socks and the women got pantyhose. (dunno)
    I still have the last pair of mittens she gave.

    They know there is a financial problem and have kind of let you off that hook. How about the old fashioned stockings - make mine a pair of those $1 magic stretch gloves, chapstick, a Butterfinger candy bar, homemade popcorn ball. (99 cent stocking cap, windshield scraper, barrette) You could easily handle most of it at the dollar store.

    Rent a couple of videos, pop some corn, cheap soda pop and enjoy each others company. And a couple decks of cards or a board game! (from an only child who never had anybody to play with)