Enjoy Christmas With Your Young Children On a Limited Budget

Christmas can be a time of joy for you and your young children, without the need to spend a fortune. Here's how to make the celebration of Christmas special for your children, without breaking the budget.

Free Christmas treats

Look at entertainment that costs you very little or is free. You could explore Christmas displays at your local shopping centre. If you have a car, take a drive in the evening and see the neighbours' Christmas lights and displays. Take your little ones to free Carols by Candlelight events.

Your local library is a great source of free material. Here you can borrow books for young children that tell both the religious Christmas stories and those involving Santa Claus. You can borrow Christmas CDs, DVDs and videos at most libraries.

Save on Decorations

Decorating your home at Christmas need not be expensive, particularly if you are crafty, or are prepared to spend a little time making decorations by hand. Young children love to watch and participate in all Christmas preparations. Use your library as a source of inspiration by borrowing from the variety of Christmas how to books available.

Another tip is to look in the magazine section of your library. At Christmas time, there are usually features on how to make your own ornaments and also decorating ideas for your dinner table.

If you do not have a Christmas tree there is no need to buy one. Gather small thin tree branches .These can be painted and placed into an empty pot-plant holder or a child's beach bucket. Even a large empty food tin is fine. This base can be decorated with any spare Christmas paper you may have (keep some used wrapping from the previous year).

Decorate your tree with cut out cards, also saved from the previous year, and back them with cardboard .An alternative idea is to hang the branches with home made cookies. The cookies can be eaten by your children on Boxing Day.

Save on Christmas food

Christmas food need not be expensive to prepare. Remember young children have basic appetites and do not require rich food, in fact they usually don't enjoy it. Try making a plain vanilla cake with vanilla icing and then adding green and red lollies to form holly and ivy. This is a very inexpensive cake to make and children love it, especially if you allow them to help you bake and decorate it.

Plain biscuits cut into Christmas shapes, such as bells, stars, and trees are also a great hit with children. If you do not have Christmas cookie cutters, just use cardboard (cut from a cereal box) to make your own shapes. Roll out your biscuit dough and place your cut-outs on top. Cut around the cut-out with a sharp knife. Decorate the biscuits with different coloured icing and sprinkles or lollies. The children will be sure to enjoy them.

Keep your main meal simple. A traditional roast is nice and if you are roasting a chicken make a special stuffing. There are plenty of recipe books at your library, so do not spend any money on specialty cook-books.

The Christmas meal will look special if you decorate the table. Christmas bon-bons or Christmas crackers are easy to make with rolls of cardboard covered in wrapping paper. Add some lollies inside and a small written joke suitable for children. Children like to see place cards with their names on them and you can make these by using a small amount of cardboard and old Christmas cards.

Save on Xmas gifts

The type of gifts that your child or children receive from Santa depends on your budget, but you can make savings. Have your child leave out a pillowslip for Santa to fill. You will save on the cost of commercial Santa sacks, stockings, or paper Christmas bags and wrapping paper.

There are many toys that can be made for very little expense. Doll's clothes, for example, use very small amounts of material, especially Barbie style dolls. Turn to the craft section of your library for ideas.

Fill the pillowslip with items your child will need in the near future, such as clothes, underwear, beach wear and towels, school bags, lunch boxes, drink bottles, coloured pencils, and school supplies.

Involve your young ones in making gifts for other people. School teachers' love home made biscuits and treats.

Now that you have made your plans for an enchanted Christmas on a budget, take a breath and enjoy Christmas yourself. A happy parent makes for a happy and excited child over Christmas. You can thoroughly enjoy the holiday period, without breaking your budget.

author: Gail Gill

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