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4 Moms of 35 Kids Go Christmas Shopping

The 4 Moms of 35 Kids are discussing gift giving in a large family.

I'm not going to lie. Christmas stresses me out. That doesn't mean I don't love the baby Jesus. It just means that there is a lot to do/buy/bake/make/rehearse/wrap/decorate and not a lot of me.

The "lot of buying" can be particularly stressful for a large, one-income family because, well, we are plentiful and the cash... not so much.

Which is why we are cheapskates.

We decided when our first child was a baby that we would give one gift from Mommy and Daddy and one gift from "Santa-which-is-really-us-but-isn't-it-fun-to-pretend-and-if-you-tell-the-neighbor-kids-no-one-will-like-you".

Now that we have 8 children we still give each child those same 2 gifts, plus a few very inexpensive stocking stuffers, which include nuts, Lifesavers, Chapstick, and the like.

We try to give gifts that the children have mentioned wishing for, but there is a limit to our funds, so all wishes are not fulfilled, and our children know and understand this. Big ticket items are for working hard and saving up for, not for Christmas wish lists.

We usually spend well under $100 per child, which is why I nearly choked on my (knockoff) Cheerios when Suze Orman claimed a second baby costs $700-1000 each month! We don't even spend that much for our family of 10 for Christmas!

Whenever possible, I use Swagbucks to pay for gifts, which keeps me from blowing the budget.

For gifts that the children give each other, we are the tacky types and encourage them to re-gift a toy of their own that they have noticed is admired by a sibling. Alternately, they can make something from supplies we have on hand. There is plenty of secret wrapping of treasured dolls and knitting, gluing, and painting going on around here!

Be sure to see how the rest of my 4 Moms team handles Christmas shopping:

How do you handle gift giving on a budget?

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  1. Love it! We do three from us and one from “Santa”, and I keep them to pretty basic stuff. I totally agree about the need to let them save up for the big stuff.

    I’m filling stockings this year with shampoo and toothpaste, since they’ll take up space but are things they need anyway!

  2. Great ideas! I love the swapping of a treasured gift to a sibling- not tacky at all.
    Here’s why we only buy 3 gifts for our kids (following in the wise men’s lead)..http://www.savvy-spending.com/2011/12/gold-frankincense-and-myrrh.html

  3. Our kids each get 3 gifts. One is a bigger, “want” gift, the other 2 are smaller..like books or puzzles. They get a few stocking stuffers..cheap stuff..and we get one family gift, like a board game. We try to get what we can from thrift stores. Like this year, my daughter’s “big” gift is a wooden doll cradle that I found second hand. I need to repaint it (guess I’d better get on that…) and I made her a rag doll and a small doll quilt. That all cost about $3. My eldest’s big gift was a bit more expensive..he’s on a lego kick..but we got him the cheaper “megablocks” knockoffs that still fit regular lego. The baby is just getting one small toy, and really, we could have skipped that one.

  4. I love that your kiddos give their own toys to each other. My daughter and niece are doing this for Christmas. They all have too much anyway so why buy more?! Neat ideas!

  5. We do a lot less than we used to. Not just because we have 8 kids now, but because we’re really trying to accumulate less! We recently moved into a smaller house (but it’s in the country!!) so it’s a great time to eliminate extra stuff which just adds clutter.

    One thing that helps us to just add to existing sets – like Legos etc. Rather than starting a whole new type of toy, which just means one more thing to minimize.

    This year we also did a lot of buying for Samaritan’s Purse shoeboxes and Voice of the Martyrs’ Action Packs — this really helps kids to see beyond their own wants and focus on others’.

    The dollar store is a great option for gifts for our kids because it’s something simple, fun and cheap and when it breaks, it doesn’t bug me to throw it out!! :)

    We also try to DO things – it makes it much more memorable than an easily forgotten toy. We like trips to the zoo or a hiking outing, etc (we’re in the Dallas area too, so it’s do-able even in December!). Plus those trips are things the kids talk about and remember long after the highly-coveted toy is broken and forgotten!

  6. I don’t think you are tacky or cheap at all. I think gift giving can get out of hand!! It is more fun to be creative and thoughtful. I am so excited to give our kids their gifts this year! It is all second hand..(thank you craigslist) and will help with winter jitters as well as give Dad some time to sleep (Just switched to grave yards). I spent well under $200 dollars for our family and we get an outside game room. Complete with bowling ( I found a used kids game with ball return and resetting pins!!), pool/ping pong, Air hockey/foos ball and a basketball hoops game. I just am so blessed and amazed at these awesome finds.. God knows how to make it work. And I can’t wait to see their faces when they wake up and there are no gifts under tree because it will all be out in the garage.. (insert evil laugh) I am making homemade candies , have some travel size smell goods, and nuts from cellar , to fill the stockings.

  7. I love the wrapping up toys your sibling likes (read: hand me downs). What a sweet way to regift and make a younger one feel special!

  8. This comment isn’t regarding shopping, but merely a thank you. Thanks for posting about Indoctrination. I did a post about it and just wanted to say thanks!



  9. It is not that easy to think of the gifts that the children would like to have. I have 3 kids and each of them writes to Santa for their wish and I would sneak and read one by one secretly. They still has no idea that I’m their Santa, and it hurts to see in their faces the disappointments when they did not received the gift they wanted.

  10. i LOVE the fact that your kids look to their own admired toys to give as gifts for their siblings—my kids do that too, and to me i think it’s giving them an opportunity to give of themselves. my kids have searched the house just to find that “special” toy they want to give as a gift. i love it!!!

    we give our kids 3 gifts each plus small stocking gifts and we stay under a set amount for each child.

    i love your blog and love the ideas and inspiration i get from you! :)


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