It’s true – children are a blessing. And having a large family can be really fun during the holidays! But how do you manage gift giving? And what suggestions can you offer to relatives who want to bless your children with gifts without spending their whole holiday budget on your family?
The Family Gift
Because I’m the oldest sibling in my family and the first to have kids, I was able to suggest that we make a policy amongst the siblings. Once a couple has children, we only give gifts to the children. And a whole-family gift is fine. We set a maximum cost for the total.
Some of the easiest family gifts to give are books, board games, movies, and audio books.
- If you checked out a library book as a part of your studies this year that the kids were sad to see returned, this will make a great gift suggestion. They’ll know immediately upon opening what a treasure they’ve received (instead of “Oh, it’s a book …”) and the giver will be blessed to know the gift was a hit! I keep a running list on Amazon during the year.
- Books in a series are also a great gift idea. If your kids are enamored with a character or series (especially if it’s been a family read-aloud that they’ve enjoyed), the next installment can be another immediate-win gift. (This is also true for audio books, and movies!)
Bigger Family Gifts
My grandparets have a per-kid gift budget, but they enjoy it when I pick out something all the kids can enjoy. Often times we’ve found things that are fun for the kids, but also a boon to our homeschool, like this or this.
- For digital memberships, join The Homeschool Buyer’s Co-op (it’s free to join). They often offer memberships to online programs at huge discounts over the cost of buying directly from the program website.
- Local memberships are often offered at a discount rate through services like Groupon or Living Social. If you have one on your shopping list, sign up for the appropriate email notifications – at least for the season. You may also be able to get on a mailing list from the park, museum, or other site in case they offer discounts around the holidays.
- If one of the above looks like a great fit for your family but is outside your budget or the budget of the family member looking for suggestions, consider seeing if folks want to go in together on the gift. Perhaps it could be a joint gift from grandparents and an uncle or aunt?
One of Each
Some family members (like grandparents) really like to have something for each child to open individually. They also want to spend similar amounts on each kid, so giving individual wish lists gets tricky. Our solution has been to think of things that could be given to all (or most) of the kids.
Usually I keep my eye out for sales (especially Black Friday and Amazon deals of the day). Here are some of the things family members have given in the past:
- Razor scooters
- Kindle Fire Tablets and Cases
- Bikes (This was a big year and a multi-relative gift. You can see a video of the big surprise and the kids’ reaction to it here!)
- Buy things like slippers or robes in neutral colors (like navy blue) so that, boy or girl, you can hand them down in years to come. It usually works best to search for “boys slippers” or “boys robes” to find what you need.
- Go back after Christmas when all the prices are slashed and buy all the sizes in between the ones you needed for this year so you’ll be set in your hand-me-down lineup!
It can get expensive to fill stockings for all the children in a large family. And, personally, I’m not a fan of oodles of cheap, plastic toys that become cheap, plastic, foot-stabbing trash around the floor in a few days. So this is what we do:
We grab large multi-packs of food items – fun things we don’t normally eat during the year. I divide the packs into piles for each kid and sharpie names on each item (takes time, but worth it – keep reading). Then on Christmas eve, I stuff all the labeled items into the appropriate stocking.
Save a big box. As the kids unload their stockings, they dump all the items into the big box. (No need to keep them separated because you pre-labeled them all!) Then, when you’re wiped out on Christmas evening (or the day after), send all the kids to grab a snacky dinner from among their stocking treats. It’s a holiday tradition around here!
You can grab multi-packs at Wal-Mart or Target. But my favorite is to order them all from Amazon Prime Pantry. Easier to get everything in the house secretly when it comes in a brown cardboard box! Here are some ideas:
- Gum or Bubble Gum
- Single Serving Cereal (or these)
- Fruit Snacks
- Chips (or these)
- Cookies (or these)
- Candy (or these)
- Jello or Pudding
- Rice Crispy Treats
- Granola Bars
If you have Amazon Prime, you can get free two-day shipping. But often times if you choose a slower shipping speed (usually 5-7 days) Amazon will thank you with a bonus. Sometimes it’s credit towards a digital product like (music, movies, or audiobooks).
Sometimes the bonus is free shipping on Prime Pantry orders. If you place a Christmas gift order in late November or early December and can spare the time, chose standard shipping and earn yourself free shipping on your stocking stuffers!
The kids love to give gifts to each other and to their father and I. But with seven kids shopping for nine people each, that could get quite expensive! Recently we started a fun tradition. Each year, the grandparents take the kids to the Dollar Store in pairs.
The grandparents go armed with pre-labeled post-it notes (“From: Ruth, To: Joey”). The help the kids pick out appropriate gifts and label them. Then they wrap and deliver all the gifts to use by Christmas. (I know, we’re spoiled, right?)
- If you don’t have someone who can do all of the wrapping for you, let the kids play “Santa” on Christmas morning. Put all of the gifts from one child into a pillow case. Then the kids can take turns wearing a Santa hat and handing out gifts from their “Santa sack”!
- If you don’t have someone who can take your children to the Dollar Store without you present, perhaps you can find a friend who’d be willing to trade off with you – you can take her kids and she can take yours and you can wrap for each other (or use use the Santa sack method)!
Pay Yourself a Shopping Bonus
If grandparents or other family members want your help in shopping for your children, it can be a big task. But you can reap a benefit, too!
- Sign up for a service like eBates and get cash back on purchases from all over the web.
- Take advantage of credit card rewards. Use an Amazon Prime Visa along with an Amazon Prime membership to get 5% cash back on all of your Amazon purchases. (This is another reason I order all the stocking stuffers from Amazon Prime Pantry!)
- If you’re ordering from a site that charges shipping, order your own purchases at the same time to save on shipping.