The holidays can be a most stressful time for a single parent who doesn’t know how Santa is going to be able to “visit” when the bills have to be paid. I have learned of many programs that help provide presents and food when things are tight. Some food banks can offer such a program or the Salvation Army can help. Also, check with the County Department or local police force.
There are things you can do to help teach your little ones the meaning of sharing and the value of homemade gifts to give or get. Children are blessed with the gift of imagination and to create things out of almost nothing. Some ideas you can do to carve the cost out of doing to all is to see what is the most important ideas and traditions you want to pass along to them. Do you want to teach the value of sharing the message of Christ and sharing the love the season brings? A menorah can be made simply by using small colored toilet paper rolls with flame-colored tissue coming up from within them and a covered pizza box base.
Cutting postcards from old cards can be one way. Grandparents love anything your children can give them. Teachers can help give ideas if you are in short supply of craft materials. Remember using empty toilet paper rolls for things in school? At home, we used to make play dough out of salt, flour, water and food coloring!
- Hand-milled soap by using old soap, herbs or dried flowers, water and a double-boiler (on low). Grate up soap first.
- Pom-poms from yarn—great as gift decorations!
- Shell boxes made by using inexpensive plain boxes at craft store or hobby sections, shells and glue.
- Snow globes from baby food jars, glue gun and glue, glitter and miniatures.
- Swedish wooden spoons, painted wooden spoons.
- Quilted story blocks by the more experienced.
- Knitting or loop pot holders from looms, great decorations.
- Family scrapbooks or photo collages.
- Fabric flowers in dolly “tussie-mussies” (bouquets). Use twist ties from bread in the middle of round pieces of fabric.
- Candy or “mini-egg” trees for Valentine’s Day, Easter or whatever.
- Paper snowflakes.
- Paper shamrock pinwheels or Independence Day pinwheels out of a square piece of paper, diagonally cut halfway down each corner and fold and pin to a straw.
- Homemade cards for Valentines or whenever.
- Celebrate Easter with coconut nests with candy bird eggs and Empty Tomb buns made from pop-out can biscuit or cookie dough folded around a marshmallow and baked until it disappears.
- Candied apples (I like chocolate) or caramel apples.
- May Day daisy crowns.
- Ice Cream Day sundae parties.
- Thanksgiving centerpieces.
- Popcorn chains and paper chains for decoration.
- Make different ethnic foods to celebrate diversity.
- Sugar cookies are great for learning the alphabet!
Homemade wrapping paper is easy with plain brown paper, an apple (or potato to cut into a shape) to make a stamp and some finger paint. They can also just use crayons and paper and their imaginations. This can also apply to tree or table decorations. It doesn’t always have to come from a store to be special.
Sheryl Knapp is a freelance writer and has been a single mom for over twenty-five years.