When your family is struggling financially, special occasions such as a child’s birthday and Christmas can become daunting prospects. As the old saying goes, “Santa doesn’t visit the projects.” Yet by getting creative you can still celebrate these special occasions on a budget of very little money. Hopefully these tips will allow you to scrape by.

  1. Who says toys have to be new to be special? Shop at garage sales or flea markets and you can find quality items for one-tenth or one-twentieth the cost of what it would be to purchase them new. Clean the items up, maybe even hunt for a box to put them in, and you can still give your child presents that they’ll enjoy and which are new to them.
  1. Need a low-cost cake? Check in with the bakery department at grocery stores. These bakeries often have errors or overstock that they are willing to sell for pennies on the dollar. If you don’t care that your child’s birthday cake reads “Happy anniversary Bill and Jane,” it can be a great way to go. If you explain your predicament, you might even find a sympathetic clerk willing to slip you a cake for free that they were going to throw away at the end of the day. Here’s another tip: If you live in a poor part of town, you might have better luck with this in some of the richer neighborhoods, assuming you have a way to get there.
  1. When it comes to getting gifts for others, remember this: research has shown that it really is the thought that counts. “People assume that the more they spend on presents, the more those presents will be appreciated, but we find that that’s not the case,” says Francis Flyan of Stanford University. (Bower, 2009) Adults may see lavish gifts as ostentatious gestures rather than generous ones. So give within your means.