Budgets may be stretched to the breaking point after a divorce – so think about concentrating on experiences vs a mountain of presents during the holidays. If you reminisce about your childhood, it is the fun times during the holidays that you remember – not the particular Barbie outfit or model airplane received.
Taking the focus off materialism and on to what is really meaningful, is a life lesson in itself. The children are now getting two sets of presents after divorce. Do not try to compete with your former spouse in the gift arena nor try to make up for their divorce experience with extravagant material goods. Shift traditions from having the opening of gifts as the main event, to more of a short activity before the festive feast, visiting grandma or whatever.
Explain to the children that you have less money to spend on gifts and to let you know one (or several) things that are most important to them. My sons’ favorite present is their stocking bursting with chocolate and small goodies. Decide together what holiday activities would be fun to do. Here are a few suggestions mainly supplied by my sons, to do before Christmas instead of blowing money:
- Go to a live nativity and especially enjoy the animals who are stealing the show. A nearby church has one every year with hot chocolate, cookies and carols. The sheep, donkeys etc. are just adorable (and ornery).
- Walk downtown in the evening and enjoy the festive holiday displays. It is like wandering around in a fairyland of lights. We top that off with lattes and a treat afterwards at a coffee shop which is opened late.
- Check your Chamber of Commerce or another local guide for free holiday events, such as a tree lighting, Santa parade, children’s chorus and so forth.
- Some Christmas concerts are free (or a small donation) in various venues around town, including churches. Christmas bazaars have yummy homemade treats that can save you some baking. I have picked up presents at very cheap prices and they are fun to attend.
- Have a neighborhood party where everyone brings a holiday dish. Or do a course at several houses nearby for a fun meal. It is much easier entertaining when you are only serving appetisers then the party moves to someone else’s place for the next part of the dinner.
Some co-parents communicate about bigger presents so there are not expensive duplications. Dad might buy the X-Box and mom might purchase some games. Here is what some of us do for the smaller presents. Buy a super fancy version of a commonly used product or apparel. For example, I bought my 22-year-old son several pairs of high-quality socks with the Guinness Beer logo on them. They still look like new several years later and he loves them. Sports ones are good too. My younger son is proud of our Scottish clan, so he gets items in our tartan plaid: china mug, tie, scarf, refrigerator magnets and so forth.
Gift cards in small amounts, such as ten to fifteen dollars make nice presents. I put them in boxes and wrap them up which is more fun than handing the kid envelopes. Gifting family heirlooms (in their interest area) make memorable, yet free gifts. Daughters may like jewellery. Post-divorce, my sons just expect a few presents which we open before going to a movie. A few families just have stockings and one family gift, such as a trip or something for at home like a trampoline.
Lower your expectations of the perfect Christmas. Mishaps will happen and just laugh them off as if they were in a holiday movie comedy.
More from DivorcedMoms.
- 10 Ways to Survive the Holidays While Going Through Divorce
- Memories, Money: Holidays Past and Present
- What the Divorced Mom on a Budget Gets Her Kids For Christmas, Or, Now What?
- Need State Specific Divorce Resources?