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(www.theprudenthomemaker.com ).