A Broke-Ass Mom Christmas

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The Christmas songs have already started which means all you Broke-Ass Moms out there should be thinking about how the hell you’re going to afford presents for your Mom, Dad, sister, brother, uncle, aunt, cousins, nieces, nephews, grandma, grandpa, partner, and of course your own child.

For years now my husband and I have been trying to convince our families to do what’s called a White Elephant.  If you are truly a Broke-Ass Mom, surely you’ve already heard of this game, perhaps even played.  In case you’re new to being a mom, Broke-Ass, or both, the way we play White Elephant (there are many variations) is that all players find something in their house to re-gift.  Then when Christmas comes everyone draws a number and players will choose to open a gift according to their number.  When your turn comes,  you can choose to open a new gift, or steal an already opened gift.  We would set a “steal limit” at three times, and after that a gift cannot be stolen again.  Then you keep going until all gifts have been opened and everyone has a gift (you may not like your gift, but you have one and you’ve spent nothing!). It’s a ton of fun, kids will love it, and it’s FREE.  I highly recommend you start convincing your family that this is the best thing since disposable diapers now.  Then MAYBE by next Christmas, you’ll have convinced them.

If they don’t like the idea of the White Elephant, try suggesting that the adults only get one present, while the kids get all the rest.  Meaning, put all the adults’ names in a hat, draw names, and then buy presents ONLY for that adult and NOT every single relative.  Then you can spend your money on the kids, after all the holiday is really suppose to be about them (minus the religious factor, of course), right?

Worse case scenario is you turn on your right brain, set aside some time for homemade gifts, and make the gifts that will be the envy of Christmas morning (although making cool gifts doesn’t provide incentive for a White Elephant next year!). The great thing about having kids is you no longer have to think about what to get people.  Everyone wants a piece of your child. has these incredible and cheap calendars you can make with every month being a different photo of your children. allows you to make cookbooks (maybe your child’s favorite recipes, or yours) for very little money.  My mother used to take a picture of us each Christmas and paste that photo on a felt star that we decorated every year.  Spend an afternoon with your child and let her decorate some ornaments and hand those out as gifts. If none of these ideas appeal to you, pool your money with some of your relatives to buy gifts. Just remember whatever you do don’t blow your whole bonus on Christmas, there’s still Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and any other birthdays in between to worry about.

Photo By: Istockphoto Liliboas

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Jennifer White - Mommy No Bucks

Jennifer White - Mommy No Bucks

Jennifer has been a bit of a nomad having lived in seven different cities. Her life as a gypsy has settled down for the moment in San Francisco with her husband and two-year old son. Recently, she decided to throw caution to the wind, quit her job as an analyst to be a full-time mom while chasing her dreams (and the Pulitzer Prize). When she's not writing, she's aspiring to be a luddite (although blogging isn't helping), knitting the occasional hat, or running in the park with her son and his secondhand compost truck in tow.


  1. Lucy Schiller - Destitute Dispatcher
    November 12, 2011 at 10:13 am

    Hey! I came across something really cool yesterday that made me think of your column, Broke-Ass Mom — and this post in particular. Chloe’s Closet in the Inner Sunset is a real find for those folks trying to get their wee babe some new threads on the cheap. It’s a consignment store for kids’ clothing and has some real good selection (from what I could tell, anyway). Check it out!

    • Jennifer White - Mommy No Bucks
      November 12, 2011 at 6:48 pm

      not only do I know Chloe’s Closet, but it’s my son’t favorite place to hang out! Thanks for the tip though, I’m sure other people reading this who live in SF will really enjoy it.