We have an unwritten "policy" in our home associated with Christmas.

We have three kids (one young boy, one teen girl, one teen boy) that

all know that they only get 5 things each and possibly one big thing

that the "whole family" gets as a present. Our kids know that it's

mainly about the gift of Christ being born and not so much material

things. We've also used this to teach them how to stay out of debt.

They know not to expect 5 expensive things, either.

Hubby & I usually put items in lay-away at Pawn Shops, in October,

if possible. I refuse to pay over $4-6 dollars/DVD versus paying $19-

26 at some place like Wal-Mart. Sometimes, we also lay-away video

games. Pawn shops offer a 7-day guarantee if something doesn't work,

you can exchange it for credit. We usually ask the clerk at the Pawn

shop to try everything out before we put it in lay-away to make sure

that it works-even though the guarantee is for when the lay-away

comes out. We usually wait until October to do the lay-away because

out kids change their minds about what they want, or buy some things

with their own money that they earn.

Our kids know that they aren't going to get the latest version of

their favorite video game that comes out every year just before

Christmas that costs between $25-40. We also buy DVD's/video games at

GameStop, eBay, Goodwill, Yard Sales and other thrift or consignment

stores. Most of what they get is bought this way, no matter what it

is. We also check Craigslist and we've gotten some great items on

there. Craigslist has a free section and a place for people to post

stuff for sale. The only thing that they might get new are board

games that are on sale at a fantastic price-but some of those they

get used, too. Belonging to a Freecycle group has helped us get items

for our kids for presents when we've had little or no money to buy


My daughter's birthday is Christmas Eve, so we usually have a

Homemade birthday cake, pan of brownies, or cookie cake decorated

with icing that has a dual celebration purpose-her birthday & the

birthday of Christ. A homemade cookie cake is one of her favorites.

She knows that she is going to get one present on her birthday.

Sometimes, it's a bag with 4 or 5 dollar things from the dollar

store, or we put 6 Christmas presents under the tree for her, and let

her choose one to open as her birthday present.

Our older kids are turning out to be fairly thrifty, too, because

they see that we set boundaries on what we are willing/can pay for

something. We've told them several times that even people that are

millionares have to have a budget or they'll run out of money.

Salvation Army helped hook our family up with Christmas Presents one

year when my husband lost his job not long before Christmas. Usually

you have to call them in October to find out about their programs for

Christmas. No later than early November. Our City has an annual

Christmas Giveaway for anyone who needs toys for their kids, too.

This is sponsored by Toys for Tots and other companies, as well as

donations from indiviual citizens.

HTH someone. Have a blessed day!

Beth Ann