How to afford Christmas as a single parent?


Dear Anxious and Broke Mom,

I can understand your situation. We all look forward to this time of the year that brings us joy and closer to our loved ones. But planning for Christmas with very limited resources can be very stressful. To get started, first of all, I would like you to take a deep breath and not stress too much about it. You are not the only one in this situation. There are thousands of single parents like you who are dealing with the same.


However, there is a piece of good news. You can give your kids a fun Christmas without burning a hole in your pocket. Below are some tips:


1. Think Differently - The Christmas season in modern times is heavily commercialized and puts a lot of pressure on everyone to spend a lot of money. However, you do not have to do so. You can think differently about Christmas and make it more about time together, doing creative stuff as making decorations and gifts at home, and cooking.

2. Make A Budget - Make a realistic budget for buying Christmas items without borrowing money from credit cards or other sources. Your budget should not pull out money from any emergency funds or delay the payment of any bills.

3. Shop at a Thrift Store - By going to a thrift store you can fully decorate your house and buy some cheap gifts for as little as $50. Similarly, you can buy cheap crafts to engage your kids in fun Christmas activities. Dollar stores and yard sales are also great for finding some bargains. 

4. Use an Online Marketplace - Online classifieds and marketplaces can help you get several Christmas items for free. A lot of people are either giving away stuff for free or just want to replace last year's decorations. By reusing those items you can save some money and the environment. Stores such as Ikea and Walmart may also have some special deals on Christmas items.

5. Skip The Real Christmas Tree - Real Christmas trees are cut from tree farms or jungles. That is not very environmentally friendly. They are not very budget-friendly either. Instead you can get an artificial tree from the thrift store or decorate a pot plant. There are several parts of the world where they do not have Christmas trees, yet they celebrate Christmas with the same passion.

6. Set up a Savings Account - You can set up a separate savings account to save money for special occasions such as birthdays, graduations, and holidays. While coming up with $500 at once to buy items for holidays can be difficult, it is much easier to deposit $25 - $50 per paycheck in a separate saving account every month to do the same.

7. Check with Charities, Churches, HOAs, and Shelters - Several organizations help needy parents celebrate Christmas with their children by giving away items for free or at a deep discount. 

8. Find Cheap Activities - To keep your kids engaged, you can find cheap activities such as a visit to a local zoo, a movie show during the day, an evening Christmas parade at a local mall, or a festival. Also, a drive around the town to see Christmas lights can be a great activity as well.

9. Get a Side Gig - To finance the purchase of Christmas stuff, you can get a side gig at a freelance marketplace such as Doordash, Fiverr, Lyft, Instacart, and Uber. You can also babysit or tutor.

10. Celebrate it with Others - If you know other single parents who are in a similar situation, you can celebrate Christmas together at each other's homes.  You can share expenses and children from the entire group can have fun together.

In the end, remember that your children won't remember the gifts you will be giving them a few years from now. Instead, they will remember the time you spent with them. Make the best of your time with them.


Merry Christmas



How to split the Christmas bonus with your ex?

How to split expenses with your ex?

How to handle money after divorce?

Divorce Finance Tips

Raising Money Savvy Kids






Warning:  This post is neither financial, health, legal, or personal advice nor a substitute for the advice offered by a professional. These are serious matters, and the help of a professional is recommended as it can impact your future.

Thousands of co-parents around the globe have tracked and reimbursed their children's shared expenses with Cent.

Get Started Today