No Money for Christmas Gifts: You Aren't Alone
The number of people who have no money for Christmas gifts has risen dramatically in the past few years and the number will be even higher this year.
A survey taken in the city of Boston revealed that 9% of respondents will not be able to purchase presents at all this year for the holidays. Since Boston is a higher-income East Coast city, we are guessing that the figure will be higher in other parts of the country. As many people will just say, "I can't afford it."
Between layoffs, home foreclosures, a rise in medical bills and premiums, medication costs, and household income that goes to pay off debt, many people are simply too stretched already to plunk down cash for retail gifts. Sometimes even the cost of bills from home heating with oil will prevent people from affording presents. So If you have no money for Christmas presents, you aren't alone. Read ahead for suggestions on what to do, and to read quotes from other people in similar situations.
How to Have a Merry Christmas Without Presents
- Have a Christmas movie night with Netflix. If you already have Netflix, then you can settle in for a day of Christmas movies. Having your family in one room together is a blessing in itself!
- Get your kids and/or your spouse wrapped up in Christmas dinner cooking. Have them help you in the kitchen and help make a side dish or dessert that is their favorite. For example, make one person's favorite pie, another person's favorite vegetable dish, and another person's favorite dish that uses potatoes. Every family member will have something to look forward to. Sometimes it's the days when you don't have much to your name and are forced to come up with alternatives that you will remember the most. You will bond in new ways when commercial presents aren't involved. And your kids will learn new things in the kitchen, and if they play too much video games or surf the net excessively you will like this experience.
- Take walks and play in the snow, if you're lucky enough to get any. Get some good exercise as a family. Observe how good the crisp, winter air feels to breathe. Observe the Christmas decorations on houses, poinsettias in windows, and berries on holly. There is a lot to love about Christmas, much more than presents.
- Go to church, and stay a while. If your church has any extended activities after mass, this will fill time up before you work on Christmas dinner. You will also probably see some people at church who live alone or don't have family. They probably aren't engaging in gift-giving, and are thinking about simply enjoying the day otherwise.
- Decorate with DIY Projects. While dinner is cooking, keep your kids and yourself busy with "arts and crafts" projects around the house. Finding ways to beautify your home with old items you already have gives your home an extra dose of personalization and beauty and provides bonding experience for family.
Keep Busy with Easy DIY Projects
Quotes From Other People Who Don't Have Money for Christmas Gifts
"I lost my job in August, and my husband is disabled. We are living on unemployment right now, and just have enough for rent and food. Our two kids are going to have to realize that Christmas is sometimes about just having a solid family unit,. They will be getting a few presents each from their grandparents and that is it."
"We're just poor, plain and simple. We just had another baby this year and all of the extra money we would have had for gifts now goes to diapers and baby food. We started getting food stamps a few months ago, which I don't want to be on long. We have four kids and we will be hitting up Toys for Tots."
"I am overleveraged. We have a big house, three cars, and used to take two vacations a year. It all caught up with us. We now have over $100,000 in credit card debt. It is time to scale back big time. And to be honest, we've come to the point where we just don't have a dime left for extras. Even our credit cards are all maxed out. We live in a wealthy neighborhood but it might as well be just all for show now.
We are not giving anyone Christmas presents. We will be having a nice Christmas dinner, going to church, and walk around enjoying decorations in the neighborhood. That will suffice. I am embarrassed, though, and wouldn't want my neighbors and friends to know what is going on."
"I work at a fast food restaurant and make about $14,000 a year. That covers rent for being a roommate, my cell phone, my half of the utilities, and basic food. I get to take home food that didn't sell during the day at work. So that helps lower my food bill. I am an uncle and can't afford Christmas presents for my nieces or nephews -- or anyone else. I always feel useless around Christmas."
Will you be buying Christmas presents this year?
"I was sued and the other party won. I owe about $23,000. It is going to be an incredible stretch to pay that off. I can't even begin to think about Christmas gifts. It's just not happening. I can't even get credit to charge the gifts."
"My mother told me that during the Great Depression, people were so poor that if you got anything -- socks, underwear -- for a gift, that you were lucky. While things are easier now -- people can get welfare, credit cards, Social Security -- sometimes it still doesn't add up.
I get Social Security and have a small home. My expenses don't allow for extras. I can't buy my grandkids presents. I see other people that are able to give their grandchildren elaborate gifts, and I try not to let it bother me, but it does."
"I lost my home in a flood, and we didn't have flood insurance. My insurance company won't give an inch even though our home has been completely damaged, and so has our car. We will be living in a shelter over Christmas. My wife and I usually exchange pretty elaborate gifts, but we don't have any money for things like that now. We've lost everything. Really, our gift this year is simply that we have each other."
Remember, there is no sin or shame in not having extra money to spend or in being temporarily strapped. It's more of a shame to not enjoy everything else about Christmas!