I was at the store with all 5 kids today (as usual) and I got a new question from a random stranger. “How can you afford Christmas with that many children?” I just sorta smiled and walked away, but it got me thinking. People have asked me similar questions about all the birthdays and its never been an issue for me. So, here he how I do it:
First of all, I’m not rich. It’d be fun to spend $1000 per kid (a standard a friend of mine actually uses), but that’s just not possible. Plus, I’d hate for my kids to think that they should expect that much crap from me.
That brings me to me second point: I don’t want my kids to expect to be given stuff just because they’re sitting in front of me. I want them to appreciate everything that they get and truly be thankful for the extras. I’ve spent years telling them that, beyond basic food, shelter, and clothing, all the other stuff is extra and not needed. Sure, its fun, but it isn’t essential.
Third, I have some how managed to convince my children that cool versions of essentials are the best gifts ever. Case in point: last year, all 4 of the kids (#5 was a fetus) needed new sweaters. I could have just gone out and bought them new sweaters and put them in their closets but they wouldn’t have noticed. Instead, I let them pick out the yarn at craft store for their own sweaters. I then told them a little story that went something like this: “Remember the Weasley’s from Harry Potter? Mrs. Weasly makes all of her kids new sweaters for Christmas. Since we have a big family like them, we should do the same thing!” They were all super excited and watched me knit each of their sweaters, though I did the finishing at night when they were asleep. When they opened the boxes of sweaters with all the fun additions they never noticed before, they were ecstatic. A year later, those sweaters are still their favorites and cost me way less than buying 4 sweaters.
This year, we’re sticking with the homemade and Harry Potter themes. The kids need new hats and scarves. Thanks to a great friend with a co-op, I’m buying them hats and scarves in all the Hogwarts Houses.I’m also getting them individualized wands from the Harry Potter movies. Less than $100 and the kids are pretty much set.
Persephone has asked for new clothes for her American girl doll and I’ll be making those. Dimitrios and Lucius have asked that I make them new underwear, so that’s easy. Calandra just wants anything with Tinkerbell on it, so I’ll be making her some twirly dresses (her favorite) with Tinkerbell on them. I’ll cook them things from my Harry Potter cookbook (yes, I have one) and maybe knit them some more scarves and socks and they’ll all be perfectly happy.
My kids now ask for practical things and I can make most things for them. They have more toys than they can ever play with (usually given as gifts by other people) and we’re actually planning on giving a bunch away this year. And by “we” I mean that my kids came up with the idea of giving them away.
Oh, and the “big present” my kids are asking for this year? Another hiking and camping trip. 🙂