Good Gifts for Families in Need

Originally posted December 9, 2011

Guest post by  The Prudent Homemaker

Good Gifts for Families In Need

Do you know a family who is unemployed, underemployed, or just having a really tight year this year? Here are some of the best things to leave at their doorstep this Christmas.

1. A box of oranges

Fresh food is a great help to those who are struggling. A family might have boxed and canned goods in their pantry, or they may be getting those items from a food bank, but fresh fruits and vegetables are a much needed luxury item for many. Food is always a great gift. Refrain from giving junk food, however; most families desperately need nutritious items more than they need candy. Apples, oranges, lettuce, carrots, milk, cheese and eggs are especially helpful.

2. A warm blanket

Many families are turning down their heat to keep their bills lower. Some may have periods where they can’t afford to have the heat on at all. Others struggle with inadequate clothing. A warm blanket or two will be a great help. It doesn’t have to be brand-new. Just make sure it’s freshly laundered.

3. Socks, underwear, and gloves

It’s a common misconception that the thing children need most for Christmas is a toy. More useful than several dollar store trinkets are socks, underwear, and gloves. There are many children (and adults) who cannot afford these items at all—and have to go without. Socks can span several sizes, so if you know the approximate size of your recipient’s feet, you can easily include socks in a gift. If you have children the same size and age, you can determine the sizes for underwear. Gloves are usually multi-sized. Besides warm gloves, work gloves—especially for adults and teens—are helpful, whether for bringing in wood or doing other chores.

Sweatpants and sweatshirts are also helpful, especially for families with growing children who are struggling to keep their children warm at night. A package of undershirts is also helpful.

A warm coat may be the dearest wish of many. A used coat is fine. Thrift stores and children’s consignments stores are good sources for inexpensive coats.

4. Items from your stockpile

Any of the following would be helpful:

Hygiene and cleaning items: Toothpaste, toothbrushes, cleaning supplies, laundry soap, stain remover, dish soap, bar soap, baby wipes and diapers (if there is a child in diapers), shampoo, washcloths, toilet paper, tissues, cotton balls and swabs

First aid and sickness items: children’s and adult ibruprofen, throat lozenges, Band-Aids, hydrogen peroxide, antibiotic ointment

Kitchen items: Aluminum foil, plastic wrap, Ziploc bags, muffin papers

5. A gift card or cash

A gift card to a Walmart, Target, or a grocery store can greatly help a family to meet unseen needs (including buying underwear and warm clothing).

A jar of change or other cash may be the best gift of all to a family who is struggling to keep the lights on, the water running, and to keep warm this winter. Even if you just have a small amount to give, it can be the perfect gift.

Is your family unable to make ends meet this year? If someone were to leave a box at your door this Christmas, what would you most hope for it to contain?

Brandy Simper has several ideas for making gifts from items you already have on hand, for a $0 Christmas. She writes about gardening, cooking, frugal living, food storage, sewing, and homeschooling at The Prudent Homemaker( ).

Tell us what you think:

  1. Survivingateacherssalary says

    This is a GREAT list!! Being on the needy end in the past our family would have been extremely grateful for any of these to show up on our doorstep! Toys are nice, but when you have no money it’s the necessities you need!

  2. Rachel says

    Great Ideas. The bestgift we were given when we were struggling was a grocery store gift card. Then I could use it to fill in gaps from our storage and buy milk and fruit.

  3. Donna says

    Great post! All of those items would be a blessing to any home!
    Love that pretty box of oranges! —-People don’t think that’s important anymore, but it is. My kids LOVED a Christmas service that we went to one year where they passed out paper bags with an apple, orange, nuts, 3 pieces of chocolate, and a candy cane. It was a BIG deal to them to have their own apple and orange to eat whenever they wanted!

  4. Stacie says

    I’ve been thinking about picking up a couple of gift cards for our local grocery store just to have on hand!

    Thanks for the ideas!

  5. Laura says

    Love those ideas! We’ve been trying to do less for ourselves and more for others in my house so these give me some great ideas! And my stockpile is an open grocery store for most which is what I love the most about being a couponer

  6. says

    I love these ideas! And it’s great that the items that can help the most are so very easy to put together for someone who’s struggling. I’ll definitely be incorporating these items into this year’s donations.

  7. Kimberly Oberklaus says

    I actually “adopted” a family with four kids this year for Christmas. I’m planning on buying them each a little something fun for them and then a gift card somewhere so they can buy things that they need. We’ve been lucky and my husband has great job security, we have a roof over our head, food in our bellies and can pay our bills…which sadly, some people just cannot do. I just wish there was more I could do.

  8. CrankyCutter says

    This is why I follow your blog. You don’t just hand out money saving ideas, you point out that as we save, we can and should give to others from our own blessings.


  9. says

    As a mom of two that is just barely (and sometimes can’t without begging help from parents) making the basic bills; this is a wonderful post. When I was young our stocking had onrage apple and a banana in it. Id love to be able to do that for mine esp as the youngest (2) likes fruit. Those are all great ideas on the list. (I try to fill in the gaps with 2nd hand items, freebies, giveaway prizes etc)

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