Creative Christmas Giving

Kids, Holidays and Financial Gifts

Question: I have your three books and have read about the MoneySmart Family System; I have a question regarding giving money for holidays (to your children). Do you give money to your children for holidays or do you have a rule to not give money?


We don’t usually give money to our kids for Christmas, as our family enjoys the tradition of opening presents. Yes, it is more work for us, but so much more fun! We do set a dollar amount that we spend on each gift recipient, but the cool thing is that because we shop all year long, we’re able to lavish them with a larger number of gifts. This is because we can usually find things at steep discounts as we watch and wait all year long. While a flat dollar amount might be easier, being able to give lots of presents for the same amount we might have given is more rewarding.

We also try to find appropriate presents for birthdays, but depending on how busy we are, sometimes we do simply give money, especially  if we know the kids are saving for something in particular. The older married kids get a gift card to one of their favorite stores. Our son John is a new homeowner so he loves Home Depot gift cards.

 Image courtesy of Danilo Rizzuti/

favorite Christmas movies from America's Cheapest Family

Christmas Movie Favorites

We have a wooden crate near the hearth of our fireplace where we store all of our most favorite Christmas movies. Steve just went over and pulled a bunch out and created this list of the ones we love the most. Some are deep, some are moving and some are just plain silly and fun. Here are our top 15 favorites in no particular order - it was just how they came to mind.

  1. It's a Wonderful Life with Jimmy Steward and Donna Reed. We watch this movie two or three time each year and it always makes us cry.
  2. Jingle All the Way (silly and Fun) with Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sinbad
  3. A Christmas Carol with George C. Scott 
  4. All I Want for Christmas with Lauren Bacall
  5. The Ultimate Gift (we just watched this one and it's great - got it from the library, then ordered it from Amazon)
  6. White Christmas with Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye
  7. While You Were Sleeping with Sandra Bullock and Bill Pullman
  8. March of the Wooden Soldiers (Laurel and Hardy) a New York family tradition
  9. The Christmas Box with Richard Thomas and Maureen O'Hara
  10. Miracle on 34th Street  with Edmund Gwenn, Maureen O’Hara, John Payne and Natalie Wood. We watch this a couple of times each year.
  11. The Santa Clause — Tim Allen. Great family fun to watch.
  12. Home Alone (silly and fun)
  13. Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer (Burl Ives)
  14. How the Grinch Stole Christmas — original animated version. We love the way Boris Karloff narrated this classic story.
  15. The Best Christmas Pageant Ever — Loretta Swit

Do you have a few "must see" Christmas movies that you watch every year? Send us your list so we can share it with everyone or post it as a comment below! We love hearing about your favorite movies and books!


How to cook a turkey - Thanksgiving, economides, america's Cheapest family, Annette, Steve, economides,

How to Cook a Turkey - New Video

Over the past 32 years, Annette has cooked more than 120 turkeys. In this new video she shows you her "secret" process to defrost, stuff, sear and cook a delicious turkey every time.

Cooking a turkey isn't an overwhelming task if you follow these steps! Students & Money Survey

Students & Money Survey

Very telling survey of 2820 UK students about their views about how money effects their lives.

Read the survey here: 

Save the Students & Money Survey


Students and Money – An infographic by the team at Save the Student.

Kenmore 20.5 cubic foot refrigerator

Cool Deal and Spicy Left-Overs

A Read Cool Deal: We just bought a new (used) refrigerator last week - a 4 year old Kenmore 20.5 cu ft for $275 off of CraigsList. What a deal for us and for the mom who wanted it out of her garage. Our old 17 cu ft was about 20 years old and failing - the door seal magnets stopped working and it wasn't worth repairing (see the black tape to keep the doors closed?). Steve has repaired this fridge several times, but it's time had come. 

Remember that whenever you have a need: There's always someone who desperately wants to get rid of the very thing you want. Find that person . . . Find a deal!

Building with Left-Overs: One of the projects Steve just finished was building a 7' long spice rack shelf for our kitchen cabinets. Steve was able to use left-over solid oak and oak plywood from previous projects. Total cost was $8 for the polyurethane finish.



Close Up:

We just love getting deals buying someone else's unwanted items and making beautiful things out of "left-overs."



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