Category Archives: Gifts

What to Give a Single Mom for Christmas

As one of the nation’s 10+million single mothers, I always look forward to Christmas, but not without a sense of wistfulness.  Half of my Christmases are spent without my child (not this one, however! Yay!), because I have split custody.  I have spent a few Christmases alone.  It can be relaxing, but it can also feel very lonely.

merry christmas sign

Photo by Brett Sayles on

Just as there is usually no one around to take care of the single mom of young children when she is sick, there is usually no one around to fill her stocking or buy her a special present at Christmas.  Believe it or not, I make a modest stocking for myself, partially for my son’s benefit, so he won’t think Santa Claus forgot Mommy, and partly to make myself feel better.

Do you have a single mom as a friend or relative?  Here are some ways to help a single mom feel jolly at Christmas time.

  • Send her a Christmas card with a kind message inside. There really is no single better way to remember the single mom during the holidays.  I’ve been divorced twice, and lost two whole families, and of course, I miss connecting with them during the holidays.  Christmas can feel really lonely, but Christmas cards from friends and family help immensely.
  • Call and check in to wish her a Merry Christmas on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day (even if you only leave a voice mail message).  You don’t have to include her in your family celebrations (that would probably feel awkward to her), but a quick call could mean a lot to her, especially if she doesn’t have her kids that year.
  • Invite her to your holiday parties. If you are having a big holiday party with lots of people, be sure to invite her.  Single moms get left out of events a lot, because they are often socially isolated after the divorce.
  • Offer the gift of time. Single moms are often on a very tight budget.  As a Christmas present, why not offer a few hours of free babysitting one evening so she can shop for and wrap toys for her child?  I had to spend $60 on a sitter one night just so I could buy my son some toys for Christmas one year. The sitter cost me more than the presents!
  • Spoil her a little. Single moms are used to putting themselves last.  Some great pampering ideas for single moms include a Bath and Body Works gift set, a restaurant gift card, a gift certificate to a hair salon, gym membership, or a manicure/pedicure.
  • Take her photo, with her children, if possible, and give it to her in a pretty frame or in a key chain, as a keepsake.  Single moms get left out of pictures a lot because they are usually the one holding the camera.  She will love this present most of all.

Stocking Stuffer Ideas

christmas stocking

Here are some ideas for stocking stuffers that work well for people of all ages.

  • Candy coins, chocolates, and Christmas candy
  • A sparkly toothbrush
  • A magazine, rolled up tight
  • Mascara, lip stick, or nail polish for girls or women
  • Lip balm
  • Carabiner clips
  • Sample size fragrance or cologne; or bubble bath
  • USB flash drives
  • Small combs or pocket-size hair brushes
  • Pocket kleenex
  • Keychains, especially those with lights
  • Notebook or small journal or diary
  • Inexepensive small toys (slinky, yoyo, balloon balls, etc.)
  • Small pins, earrings, or necklaces for girls and women
  • Movie tickets, Starbucks card, McDonald’s card, or other gift card
  • A special pair of socks
  • Tiny hand puzzles, bouncy balls, or fidgets
  • A pack of chewing gum, or Life Savers
  • Pocket album with photographs or small framed photograph
  • Cards, card games, or other small games
  • Silly Putty
  • Small stuffed animal, like a beanie baby

5 Cool Yule Tips for Saving Money when Shopping

How to Save Money on Shopping

1. Shop early, before Thanksgiving if you can manage it. There are lots of reasons for this.  First of all, the selection is best and you can find plenty of sales.  For example, this year I found great Hallmark Christmas cards at $5 a box, which is the lowest I have ever seen.  Also there are fewer crowds, which means the shopping experience will be less fatiguing and you will make smarter decisions.  Nothing beat the feeling this year when I found a whole cache of beautiful Christmas candle sets and knocked out 14 people in one fell swoop!  Not having the pressure of deadlines will also help curb impulse purchases.  It also gives you time to put some thoughtfulness into your gifting.  I have worked plenty of Christmas Eves and always felt sorry for the poor people who would buy anything, at any price, just to get off the hook for Christmas.

2. After Thanksgiving, just don’t go to the mall (or Target, etc.). If you get your shopping done in advance, you can spend all that time you would have spent looking for parking spaces and standing in line at the cash register doing really fun stuff — like ice skating, baking, or going to tree lightings or Christmas concerts.  And you may be very glad you planned ahead this year.  One very good reason is to stay well.  Ever notice how the poor salespeople get sick in December?  I hate being sick around Christmas, so I avoid elevators and any crowded places when I can manage it.  But I also like to shop, just to look around.  So, my advice is when you get a shopping bug, go on a Tuesday night, or other low-volume night, and buy yourself one small present, such as a piece of costume jewelry from Claire’s or a nice scented candle.  Or check out the wonderful museum shops in our area.

3. Lose (or unplug) your television. Do you know, I have not had a television for nine years?  Not only do I save loads on cable bills, but I am not exposed to all those commercials.  If I watched TV, I am sure I would buy a lot more stuff, probably stuff I didn’t need in the first place.  A TV-free life is awesome.  We spend so much time doing fun things that we would have ordinarily wasted in front of the TV.  I get my news from the Internet, and I also download shows for free, and rent movies from iTunes, so when I need a TV fix, I can always do that.  But on balance, I spend a lot less time in front of the computer watching those shows than if I had a TV.  If you’re brave, just try unplugging your TV for the holidays.  The empty space is PERFECT for a Christmas tree 🙂

4. Buy the same thing for everyone on  your list. The reason why this saves money is because you can often find bargains this way and you don’t spend a lot of time trying to find presents and then spending more than you intended in frustration.  For example, I have to buy more presents for more than a dozen people who work with my son at his school.  It can get very expensive buying fourteen or more presents.  When you buy gift bags in bulk, or you find a nice deal on candles on ornaments, snap them up.  I also have three women in my life: my mom, my sister, and her girlfriend.  It is pretty easy to get them all the same thing (such as shower gel, but in different scents).

5. Buy small presents that you supplement with home-baked cookies. Most years, I am on a budget.  If the present is really small, I try to throw in a small cellophane bag of homemade cookies and candy.  Make up a cellophane bag (or a dozen) with some Tollhouse cookies, sugar cookies, little chocolate candies, and a candy cane.   If you like to bake, this is a nice solution to consider.  Very sweet gift for neighbors, the mailman, etc.  It really is the thought that counts.