I like providing a festive, bountiful Christmas for my family, but I do not like going broke over it. While I tend to be a pretty modest person, I want to lay this out here: I'm good at making Christmas cheap.
It's only September, but I want to give you this tip now because, well, you need it now for it to work. If you have older kids, this probably won't work for them. This tip is aimed at children three and under.
If you're a typical parent like me, when a toy runs out of batteries, it takes you months to get around to replacing them. Well, take those toys, clean them up and replace their batteries. Get them looking as good as new. Then, put them out of sight.
If they haven't had batteries in months, and you hide them for a few months, your kids won't even really remember them. They're going to be like brand new toys for them at Christmas time.
So, this week, go out and pick up a few packs of batteries. One evening, when your kids are asleep, spend an hour or two scrubbing toys, replacing batteries, and getting them looking good as new. Stick them up in your closet behind some sweaters or something and know that you have a couple good gifts for Christmas that only cost you some batteries. Don't forget to dig at the bottom of your kids' toy boxes! It's probably been a while since they've seen anything down there ;-)
I cleaned a spinning alphabet wheel that had been Oliver's. That will be a gift for Jo. I replaced the batteries in a mailbox toy that Oliver had gotten for his first Christmas. That will also make a great gift for Jo. Let me just tell you: our baby won't care that Santa gave her hand-me-downs!