December 27, 2013

Affording Christmas With A Large Family

Long time ago, or maybe not that long ago, we had the mind set that when December came around we would just charge everything to a credit card and then pay it off in January which then would leave us very tight for that month. We always felt that it was worth penny pinching in January to get everyone something really nice for Christmas. We use to way over spend and get way to many gifts for our children and others. Then we struggled a little financially, took a Dave Ramsey course, and to add a cherry to the top got pregnant with quadruplets. Gift giving at Christmas time has changed a lot in the last couple of years for us. To start we are a family that does not use credit cards anymore. We have one that Paul has hidden for major emergencies, such as the night our dog Bailey ended up in the emergency vet. So now we save up a little the couple of months prior to December so we have money in our budget for the month of December. I also try and grab extra overtime hours during the fall that helps cushion the bank account. We also have started doing family gifts for aunts and uncles. This allows a little larger gift to be given rather than a whole bunch of smaller ones.
Ever since we started having kids Santa always finds a way to bring pj's to us before we start opening presents. During the day on Christmas Eve the girls asked numerous times how I thought Santa would bring us our jammies this year. So fun to see them catch on to some of our family traditions Paul and I have incorporated into our holidays.

When it comes to our own children we do not buy a bunch of toys, rather it is things that can be used over and over and hopefully passed on to other siblings. When gifts are bought we try to either have them be outside toys where they will run off energy and get in some physical exercise without even knowing it or have it be something that they will have to use their imagination. Last year Santa bought them a Wii with dance games and I can tell you that it has not been turned on even once since New Years last year. Our kids thankfully have not been around video games often so they have no idea they even exist. We will keep it this way as long as possible.

The baby boys wanted nothing to do with taking a picture with daddy.
My little family

This year our kids wishlist were very short and that probably had to do with us not getting forwarded a single Christmas catalog because we moved. The girls did get one American Doll magazine in which they spent thirty minutes circling things they liked but then after that it was forgotten. When we asked them what they wanted they would literally look around our house and name things we already had. Our kids are just not that big into toys as I have mentioned in previous posts. Drew did have one consistent 'want' and that was a skateboard!
We have a rule that only one present is opened at a time and everyone waits their turn. The kids do great with this and it allows gift opening to last a little longer than it would if it was a free for all. And of course with my type A personality all wrapping paper is put into a bag before the next present is opened.

I have always had a love for reading but I hate spending the money on books because I read too fast and find it a waste of money. I also don't have time to get to the library and browse the shelves for myslef so I was super excited to learn about being able to borrow books from the Amazon Prime membership we got. The only problem was I didn't have a Kindle device. Paul solved that problem by buying me one for Christmas. I am almost 50% done with my first book and I have enjoyed spending some free moments reading the last couple of days.
The big kids found the following items under the tree this year; a bean bag chair for each, a sleeping bag, an art table for the girls room and of course that wanted skateboard. Paul and I spend a lot of time on the floor so the bean bag chairs will be used by our entire family. The babies love climbing on top of them and truly act like they are the king of the mountain when they reach summit. We decided the big kids are at the point where sleeping bags will get used. Since we moved to our new house they have wanted to camp out in their rooms. Also if we go places most hotels are not equipped to sleep a family of 9 and I can guarantee you that Paul and I will not be the ones to give up bed space which means there will be some big kids sleeping on the floor. We did not get the sleeping bags monogrammed because we know eventually the quads will be sharing said sleeping bags. We also got bags that are big enough to fit an adult, well unless you are Paul and are 6'6"! This means we do not have to get new ones in a couple of years when they outgrow them.

The girls have an area in their room that we knew we wanted to make into an art corner. A couple days before Christmas we decided we wanted to get them a desk to start transforming this area. The desk that I wanted that would fit 2 was from Pottery Barn and only had a price tag of $1300. A tad out of our Christmas budget! So I started searching craigslist. I came across a table that I knew would be perfect and was what I was envisioning for this space. It needs a new coat of paint but it is a solid table and the neat thing is that it has two leaves that are permanently on the table that pull out from the bottom and you are able to pull out one or both of the leaves.  The amazing part was that I got the table and 4 oak chairs for $100. We will be replacing the chairs with a bench but for now the chairs are working just fine. Last thing on our shopping list for the big kids was a skateboard for Drew and he was so excited when he opened this gift. All his dreams had come true.

Their smiles went from ear to ear.
The table is going to be painted white with yellow chevrons and then I will be adding a white bench instead of the chairs.
Next up were the quads. They really do not need anything but we did find a couple B Toys that are sold at Target that we do not have. A keyboard, a guitar and keys that look very real. We also got them two "pop" books that they love playing with during therapy. That was it. Some may say we don't include them but they have 3 older siblings so they have enough toys to get them through toddlerhood, enough books to chew, and plenty of hand me downs for clothing. Santa did bring them a Step 2 roller coaster and they are having a blast with it. I didn't think they would be ready for it and it would sit until this summer but they proved me wrong. Kenzie does think Santa brought it for just her so we have had a couple tears when we have made her share.

Santa usually brings one large gift for the older kids and that is what he did this year too. This years gift was a trampoline and the kids have jumped for hours each day since getting it. They love it and for the most part there is very little arguing when they are on it. It has even made for some very early bedtimes, as in 5:45! Santa does fill stockings with things like socks, art supplies, and of course one treat for all.
I have no pictures of the big kids in the trampoline but I found out that throwing a couple of balls in with four babies makes for lots of giggles...
until they realize they have been trapped.
Christmas could cost us a fortune with the number of kids we have but we really try to not make gifts the main focus of Christmas. I was actually really impressed with the big kids this year when they finished opening their stockings and the couple art supplies that were too big to fit in their stocking we told them that we thought that Santa brought the roller coaster for the babies and the art supplies for them and there was not a single complaint that Santa did not bring much. Instead they agreed with us that the coaster really was for the babies. It wasn't until about 15 minutes later when they walked into the kitchen that they saw the trampoline sitting in the yard. I also watch for sales. Very seldom to I buy anything not on sale. Actually the only thing that I bought for the kids this year that was not on sale was Drew's skateboard. Everything else I bought when it was a least 20% off. Those 20% offs add up when you are buying items in multiples.  So when it comes down to it you can get buy at Christmas time without spending a fortune if you are practical and buy things you know kids will get good use out of, buy items when they are on sale and realize that there is more to Christmas than presents.

And just a few more pictures from Christmas day...
It was gorgeous on Christmas so we spent the entire day outside. I miss the snow on Christmas but mid-60's may be even better.

I asked Kenzie to smile and she tilted her head and did just what I asked. We are in trouble!

Boys will be boys. Can't imagine when there is 2 more in this pile next year.

This 31in hard plastic spiderman was a gift to Drew from my sister. Pay backs are going to be so much fun when she has kids. What is he suppose to do with this but of course he doesn't want me to return it for something he can play with!
My little artist coloring with Grandpa

Finishing the night with birthday cake for Jesus.


  1. Loved this post! With our growing family, I'm looking for ways to cut down on the expense of Christmas, without sacrificing the fun and joy of giving little ones presents. Great ideas here :) PS. I got a kindle paperwhite for Christmas and am currently reading two books! Best gift ever!

  2. Hi! Found you on a Pinterest post and thought I'd come check out your site. We have nine kids (no multiples, but pretty much stair stepped), so I can identify with your situation a little bit. I got some great advice from friends with our first child, before we even knew we'd have nine. They said they got their kids three gifts, to point back to the story of Jesus's birth. It's been a neat tradition for us, and it was especially nice as our family grew! I love your thoughts about gifts for your children. We have things for our youngest (1 yr old) that his 11 yr old sister used to play with!


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