Travelling costs, it doesn’t matter how you do it, whether it’s camping or staying in luxury hotels, you will need money to travel!
Lots of people think they can’t save for travel, it’s out of their reach. But if I, as a single mum, can do it so can you!
Each month I will show you what small things I do to help us save money so that we have more for our travel fund.
This month I’m writing about saving on kids Christmas presents.
Christmas is such a hectic and sometimes expensive time! Present’s for the kids can really add up… over the years I have cut back and learnt a few tricks on how to save. I’m not perfect and I’m not where I’d like to be yet with saving at Christmas but I’m slowly getting there!
So here is some tips that I would like to share! I’m also hoping that everyone has their own tips so feel free to share in the comments!
Tips for Christmas presents for the kids!
I would like to mention here that all of my children (yes the 7 year old too!) know that Santa Claus doesn’t exist…. it came about before last Christmas when the youngest asked for the truth. So she was told and to be honest it didn’t change a thing with our Christmas celebrations! So you would think that since they know Santa doesn’t exist that Santa bags / Stockings wouldn’t happen anymore… but you would be wrong. All my kids (including adult children!) get a bag as well as a present. They say it’s one of their favourite parts of Christmas morning …to see what “Santa” put into their bags/stockings!!
Secondly I would also like to note that apart from their Birthdays ( all mid year!) the kids don’t get anything other then absolute needs bought for them. I’m not the type of mum who randomly buys toys or treats when she goes shopping… believe me there has been many tantrums from kids over the years in shopping centers when I refuse to get them that “Must have item!”. There is two reasons for this. Number one I feel that its’s just buying for the sake of buying and contributes to the worlds waste issue (and wastes money!!!) , and two It’s results in the kids appreciating their presents when they receive them.
So… with that in mind each child gets the following from me:
Something they want (to the value of no more then $100, sometimes it is less)
Something they need (for the older girls this could be something like a beauty product that they love)
Something to wear (could be thongs, swimmers, pyjamas etc)
Something to read (this might not be a book as such but could be a notebook, magazine or calendar)
On top of this they also get two lots of food “treats” like lollies /chocolate/ coloured popcorn etc
Lastly: Over the years I have introduced the idea of an “experience’ present, something that they can “do” rather then “get”. This year rather then giving a family experience, I’m going to give each an individual experience that they will do with me and tailored to their individual style. That way I can spend some “one on one” time with each of them.
The “want” and “experience” present is wrapped while all the rest they will find in their “Santa Bags”
It is very important to me that every item that I give to the children has some thought put into it. I try really hard to make sure I don’t rush in and buy anything that will not be needed, used or loved. If I don’t put some real thought behind the presents then it will more then likely be discarded and therefore money wasted.
Budgeting, especially at Christmas, is also very important, so that I don’t over spend. I wrote about budgeting here and how I save money each fortnight to go towards Christmas, and it is this amount that determines how much I spend on each child. Most of the time each child gets no more than $200 spent on them…. add that up and it totals $1000!!! Still a lot of cash, but it is as small as I can get it so far and each year I look for more ways I can get as far under that total as possible.
Some ways I have brought the total of under $200 each throughout the years is:
I love Op / thrift shopping (I wrote about it here!) and there is no better time to do it then Christmas. A lot of the time the “wear” section of the Christmas gifts come from an Op Shop. Books are also something you can save big on at an Op Shop, for $1 or less you can pick the kids up a good read. You can also get some quality second hand toys and sporting equipment for the kids from there… especially for when the kids are little. EBay and Gumtree are also awesome places to get second hand stuff for Christmas… I have scored some cool LEGO, branded shoes in the past and this year a pair of roller skates are coming for my youngest!
Look out for specials /deals:
There used to be a time where I would shop for Christmas all year round, looking out for specials and putting them away. In theory this seems sensible but what started to happen as the kids got older was that they began to change their mind on what they “wanted” or their interests changed as the year went on. So now I only really start shopping around November, checking out specials to save on what the kids are interested in. This saves buying stuff that isn’t wanted /needed and therefore wasting money! I also sometimes check online like EBay etc for any items that might be cheaper. Adding an “Experience” to the present list can add up so because of this I’m always on the lookout for a great deal (sometimes on sites like Cudo etc) or use vouchers. The experience it self doesn’t have to be expensive. For example I don’t always buy the “best” seats for a show /musical, the $50 ones are just as amazing and signing up for presales on shows and musicals always gives me first dibs on the cheap seats!
Hand me downs:
Using hand me downs are free so always save you cash! Last year both the youngest two asked for a camera each. I had two quality cameras in great condition lying around so I wrapped them up and they were stoked!!! I saved heaps and they didn’t even know (or care) that they weren’t new. I have also used hand me down books from the older girls to put in the younger kids Santa Bags and good quality hand me clothes (with tags still on!!) sometimes make an appearance.
I have in the past gifted handmade items to my children for Christmas. I have made capes, dress up wings, pencil wraps, bookmarks, candles, a doll, photo books and bags just to name a few…. and I don’t even consider myself that creative!!! There is so much online nowadays so it isn’t too hard to find some cool gifts that you can make for your kids that are cheap!
So yes Christmas with kids can be very expensive…. but each year I’m working at getting the cost down lower and lower by following these tips I have shared with you here. Of course all savings go straight into the Travel account!
I’m sure everyone reading this has some ideas of their own… How do you save money on your kids Christmas gifts??? Please share by commenting below!! I’m always looking for some more ideas! Also when did you / do you think you will stop with the Santa Bags / Stockings????
( all photos used in this post were taken last year on our trip to Japan!)