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Christmas on a Shoestring Budget


Today we leave to stay at my grandmother’s in Georgia for a month.  I cannot wait! I get to sleep in a bed, have heat day and night and have indoor plumbing (have to go over to the trailer to use the bathroom where we are at now.)  It is going to be joyous.  These are things I will never take for granted again!

I have less income now than I’ve had all year with the cut in the twins’ adoption assistance and being informed yesterday that there would be no work hours until Dec. 14th and I didn’t have any the last two weeks either.  Needless to say, Christmas is going to be almost non-existent.  Almost…

Princess and I learned to knit in the last month.  This is something I have wanted to do for YEARS!  A new store opened up here locally and offered $10 beginning classes along with 10% off the supplies.  We’ve taken off like gang-busters.  She has become a whiz at making hats, teaching herself after learning the two basic stitches, and I’m quite adept at knitting straight lines now.  We’ve both been working on making presents for anyone we could think of who would enjoy them.

A couple of the hats Princess has knitted as presents.

A couple of the hats Princess has knitted as presents.

The little ones dad sent them both $50 at the end of September for the state fair, and both of them managed to save some of it.  Gymnast cleaned my car for another $10 this week, so I took him shopping last night.  He managed to buy thoughtful, practical gifts that I think everyone will enjoy staying within his budget.  (He shopped at $5 and Below and got some really great presents if I do say so myself.)  He has also gotten creative with reusing some canvases he had previously painted.  Painting over them and creating new masterpieces to give as gifts.

Original paintings that have now been repurposed to Christmas presents.

Original paintings that have now been re-purposed to Christmas presents.

I have not had quite as much luck in figuring out what to do for gifts for the kids, but at this point am planning to try and fill their stockings with goodies and that will be it. I’ve been collecting free samples of soaps (not hotel kinds, but more homemade stuff,) notebooks and anything else I can find. This is the first year that we will not be in our own space for Christmas. No Christmas decorations, no menu planning, no traditions from the past. I did dig out the stockings and will be taking them with us (the kids don’t know.) I think it will be nice to have something from our old life with this new Christmas. I have been thinking that I could create a certificate for a “mom and child” date so when I do have some money I could take each child out to eat at a favorite restaurant. Thought that might be kind of special and something to look forward to.

I’m not going to pretend and say it’s been easy to be so broke especially with the holidays here, but we have more than enough and in the end, it truly is being together that counts the most, not the material things. We are blessed that we don’t have needs, just wants. There are many who truly need.

Updated to add Amazon Wishlist…http://a.co/el2mc7W




Follow a single mom's journey to be DEBT FREE while managing this crazy life's conflicted choices with regards to kids, pets, homeschooling days and self-employment!
The sorrow and joys of this roller-coaster overwhelm her at times, but she is committed to this course.
Hope plans to dig out of debt using any resource possible including her small business EPOH, her blog and any other resource that comes to mind!

Latest posts by Hope (see all)


  • Reply cyndi |

    I think if you put an amazon link with a wishlist up ( not sure exactly how those work but I’ve seen other blogs do them) that people would be more than willing to sponsor some Christmas gifts , I know I would

    • Reply Hope |

      Thank you for the suggestion, Cyndi, I have added a Amazon Wishlist link to the post. It will be a wonderful surprise for the kids as I haven’t mentioned it to them.

  • Reply Kili |

    Hope you are incredible.
    Incredible strong,i incredibly humble, incredibly resourceful.
    I Hope your Family gets to enjoy a wonderful Christmas.

    And with All your skills i hope for new job opportunities soon

    • Reply Hope |

      Thank you, Kili, I continue to apply for work AND rebuild my business website. My recent undertaking is building my LinkedIn profile. Definitely continuing to sharpen my skills. There is always something new I want to learn to do.

  • Reply Anonymous |

    Things will change. You will see. During the financial meltdown of 2008, my middle-age husband was unemployed or underemployed for 3 years. Unless one is in that situation, you have no idea how difficult it is to rise out of it, and people do tend to judge, believe me! Hundreds of job applications later, he finally landed a job. The tide will turn, Hope. God is still in control. I hope you and your family have the merriest of holidays. Don’t worry about gifts. Just being together is the most important thing. That’s what kids remember. And awesome with the knitting, Princess!

    • Reply Hope |

      We are enjoying being together. The pace changes dramatically when we are at my grandmothers. Less gym time, less struggle to stay warm or find places to work. Tomorrow I will go deliver Meals on Wheels with my grandmother and then the kids and I will head to the local library for school time. I love it here!

  • Reply Pam E-P |

    I soooo want to learn to knit, but I have a habit of getting crazy frustrated when I’m not good at something right away. Looks like you’ve picked it right up!

    The certificates sound like a great idea. I did a coupon book for my husband one year when we were really tight. If they have regular chores, you might put coupons in for taking one of those or things like getting to control the TV remote for a period of time or getting to choose meals.

    • Reply Hope |

      Hey Pam! I love getting coupon books, especially if they include a foot rub. Every time tone of the kids asked me what I wanted, I said a foot rub. We’ll see if that comes to fruition!
      Since all my kids cook at least one meal a week, getting to choose the meal isn’t a treat…maybe if they could choose and someone else cook. And we don’t have a TV. I did settle for coupons for a meal out for “mom and me” and then also included a sweat treat coupon for each of them…ice cream cone, milkshake or yogurt depending on teh child.

  • Reply Maureen |

    This post made me smile. We have all become to materialistic (I get it. It’s hard for kids sometimes this time of year). But, your post made me think of Little House the Prairie, On the Banks of Plum Creek. Laura and Mary were excited to get peppermint sticks, new shiny pennies and new socks. Although we live in a different world than 1870, it reminded me of your Christmas. Happy Holidays!

    • Reply Hope |

      I love, love Little House on the Prairie! I was an avid reader of the books growing up and the show still makes me smile. Very different times for sure!

  • Reply Natalie |

    Have you ever thought about opening a Wishlist on Amazon that your readers can donate to? Another blogger does that and she is in a very similar situation as you. Its a way for the readers to help her out with a few things that she needs like extra food, clothing for the children, housing essentials, etc. Just a thought. I certainly would not mind donating 🙂

    • Reply Hope |

      Natalie, I appreciate the suggestion. I did create a Amazon Wishlist, my first time ever doing that. I have added the link to the post. I am grateful most of ours are wants rather than needs. Any gifts would be appreciated and a total surprise as I didn’t want to get the kids hopes up. It was fun to look for things!

  • Reply Jenna |

    My family’s Christmas always had a very practical lean – it was “normal” to receive a container of laundry soap as a gift, a pillow, your favourite chocolate bar or the offer to clean your car. Just because this isn’t how you have hosted your holiday before Hope, please don’t feel you are missing out. Be together and love one another.

    • Reply Hope |

      I have always leaned toward practicality, and probably our favorite gifts to give have been those that we wrapped with a brick or rock just to confuse the received. I keep seeing the ad with the gift wrapped in zip ties. I have no idea what I would I give, but the fun of the unwrapping, that makes it worth it. Makes me chuckle just thinking about it.

  • Reply hp |

    My husband and I subscribe to a very minimalist Christmas approach also (sorry kiddos!). We have more than enough of everything we need and honestly, it pains me to see waste in the form of toys. I am so sorry for everything that your family has gone through recently and I am so thankful that you have friends and family willing to help you out. Your Christmas sounds great and I love the hats your daughter made. I am a knitter also so I love to see other’s work. Ravelry is a great resource for patterns and I love challenging myself to see if I can make more complicated things. For a challenge for her and you (and a cheap but long knit), there is a sweater called $5 in Paris that uses inexpensive yarn but looks really nice when knit up.

    • Reply Hope |

      We have recently joined Ravelry and sought out free patterns. Unfortunately, we are still too novice to follow them completely. Princess is going gangbusters in creating her own styles. And I love it! We can’t wait to learn more. We are enjoying the free knit nights at the local store. Everyone is always willing to guide us when we have questions!

  • Reply sheila |

    I LOVE the idea of a dinner date with each kid. I am the mom of 5. The combination of eating out and 1 on 1 time is almost priceless!

  • Reply revdrmd |

    Thanks for sharing. Your name describes your spirit. I am praying that the right job opens for you soon and that you have a wonderful time with your family. I think the amazon wishlist is a great idea so if you create one, please share the link. I think it is wonderful that you are teaching and modeling for your children the difference between needs and wants. Merry Christmas!

    • Reply Hope |

      Thank you for your prayers, they are coveted! I did go ahead and create a Amazon Wishlist and have added it to the post.

  • Reply Walnut |

    Thank you for the link to the Amazon wishlist. A little bit of holiday cheer has been sent your way.

So, what do you think ?