Dear Santa. Christmas With Kids..on a Budget!

by Cara

The Mama Grind

 

Dear Santa. Christmas with Kids …on a Budget

The C-word. I’ve always been a big Christmas fairy. I can’t help myself. My tree is up by the 1st of December and the grotto is fully decorated to the max with decor that has accumulated for twenty years. It’s such a magical time of year and having little ones to celebrate the day with makes it so much more. As a parent, I think we can all agree it also adds a huge pressure financially. As a single parent, these pressures seem to multiply. So far I’ve had 100% success at surviving Christmas solo. It’s not without heartache, frustration and stress in the early days, but I’m doing things differently this year and have found ways to make it work and cut costs…

 

Budget

As obvious as it sounds, keeping a handle on finances at this time of year can be testing. The adverts. Those adverts. They are everywhere sucking us right in. Then there is the continuous pressure you feel, (albeit self-inflicted) as you scroll through your social media to see endless uploads of beautifully wrapped piles of toys and gifts. This year I decided to set a budget and make sure I was sticking to it by shopping early.. using discount codes…shopping in July…saving any extra I could every month so I knew I could afford something for Christmas. It’s so easy to go overboard with kids, but at the end of the day, it’s no bad thing to keep it small. Often, they are showered with so much they don’t know what to do with themselves and let’s be honest- it’s good to teach them the importance of gratitude from an early age. There are some really helpful online budget calculators that can help you set realistic savings targets and goals if you are not too sure where to start. Saving from January may sound extreme, but a little away whenever you can adds up and relieves the pressure come December.

 

The Wish List

Buying second hand. Is there a stigma attached to this? The jury’s out. With recent headlines putting the fear out there of health risks from buying second-hand toys, it’s obviously important to use common sense when buying and cleaning before use. This year my girl is getting mainly pre-loved toys. The dreaded plastic toys can be so expensive. Throw some sought after character into the mix and it gets ridiculous. I’ve used Facebook marketplace (the new eBay imo.) to source some amazing like-new toys for my little one that I know she will love.. at a fraction of the cost. In their younger years, the phases come and go. They are only interested in Doc Mcstuffins for so long before moving onto something else, so paying sometimes more than 75% less definitely appeals to me! I have also sold a lot of our old clothes and toys on there and I’m amazed at how easy it is to do.

 

Stocking Fillers

Poundland and Home bargains are my go-to for these! They are full to the brim right now of Christmas craft essentials. If your babes are into all-the-glitter then these are a must-have and such a nice activity for them to do on Christmas morning. I’ve already had countless craft afternoons colouring in a huge Christmas tablecloth, making Gingerbread men and decorating Christmas baubles and it probably only cost about £4 for all the supplies!

 

Supermarket Sweep

Don’t forget about all the sales on the lead up to Christmas. The emphasis is always on the Boxing Day sales. But more recently, Black Friday and Cyber Week are coming up with the goods early. Sainsbury’s almost always have a 25% off sale at least once before the big day to grab some sequins and Tesco’s half price toy sale is amazing value too. I used my Clubcard vouchers which are money for nothing really! (Totally recommend all these voucher schemes if you don’t already use them)

 

 

Remember the Traditions

After the wrapping has been torn off and the latest Lol doll has been discarded somewhere never to be seen again, it’s the traditions that stay with you. It’s easy to get caught up in the must-have toys and buying the latest dinner game craze.. but making memories together and enjoying the moments that will be talked about for years ahead will far outweigh the material things.

If you are suddenly in the blur of solo parenthood- making new traditions for you and your children is a wonderful way to focus on creating your “new normal”. The Festive period can be tough as a single parent and it brings a whole set of emotions along with it so having moments to look forward to and plan together is a great way to keep your spirits up throughout. Last year I “launched” our new Christmas Eve tradition, we had a pizza picnic party by the Christmas tree whilst watching the Snowman (in twinning PJs obvs) and I fully intend to do the same this year.

 

 

When they are so little it’s so special to see them experiencing everything for the first time.. their first snowfall, first visit to Santa, first Christmas morning. Remind yourself how quickly they grow.. In twenty years time, the likelihood is they won’t be reminiscing about how they didn’t wake up to the sparkly new toy with a big red bow under the tree. The most important memory will be YOU.

The dancing around the kitchen to the Pogues (just me?)…Trying to get the Angel up the top of the tree without falling flat on your face…The twentieth take on the self-timer to get everyone looking the same way… The TIME spent together fully immersed in the moment is what matters most. So give yourself a break Mama Elf, the love they receive from you is what will be forever treasured.

 

Cara x