Monday, November 19, 2007


Being a single mom at holiday time presents extraordinary challenges. No matter how or what well meaning relatives may contribute, it is still up to the person who has the kids on Christmas morning to provide the filled stockings and half a dozen gifts per kid under the tree. My ex and I split up when our girls were 12, 8 and 2 and so I spent a lot of years pulling it all together myself

Keep an eye on the prize as you navigate through the labyrinth of holiday obstacles. Don’t give out gifts early, no matter how tempting. Keep envisioning the tree, the gifts, the stockings on Christmas morning. That is mandatory, all else is expendable.

Artificial trees and wreaths are a single Mom’s best friend. If you store them carefully, they’ll last forever and believe me – most kids don’t give a hoot if the tree is real or not, as long as there is one. It doesn’t cost you a thing to get that tree out each year, dust it off, decorate it, put out the nativity scene, hang a wreath and stockings and voila … abundance! The house looks swell and the kids are happy. It’s amazing how much unneeded stress adults put on themselves and how little it really takes to satisfy the kids.

Beware of hidden holiday expenses! Those include new holiday outfits, gift & cookie exchanges, parties, traditional outings, etc. Very few single Mom’s budgets can handle all these December expenses. Be very careful about what you agree to and what traditions you establish. If it’s a yearly ritual to attend The Nutcracker at the ballet, suggest staying home instead popping popcorn and watching it on TV and see how that goes over.

On Christmas morning my Mom would always carefully budget a certain amount to be spent on each child. That led to some rather uneven gift giving. Someone getting something expensive might only get one or two items. Everyone else would get a whole bunch. I didn’t follow that with my kids. I tried to keep the number of gifts the same and give the big ticket items at birthdays. Most kids don’t have cash registers as brains. They don’t notice how much was spent on their siblings, but they do notice if one person runs out of gifts to open way before the others do.

Also remember – it’s all in the presentation. Wrap gifts as soon as you get them and make them look pretty. Put small items, like CDs, in bigger boxes. It makes the pile under the tree look bigger and disguises the item. Make the gift opening last as long as possible. Make everyone take turns, starting with the youngest. Stop periodically for refreshments or bathroom breaks. Save the stockings for last.

More holiday tips to follow …

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