At some point in our lives, most of us experience a very lean Christmas. Ours was probably when my son was 6 or 7. I had been out of work for almost a year, but would start a new one on January 2. In the meantime, we made do. Still, I had nothing extra to spend for Christmas that year.
I wasn't the only one in a panic over Christmas presents. Most of my single-parent friends were in similar situations.
A bunch of friends suggested we go through our kids' toy boxes and pick out stuff that was still good but hardly or never used. We would get together at one of our houses and have a toy swap! That way, all the kids would get something new, and we wouldn’t be spending our last dollar on presents. Actually, each child got lots of new things, which might be the secret of that swap's success.
My boy loved the puppets and puzzles and paint sets he got that year, and never once noticed that he didn’t get anything from his wish list. Oh well, maybe next year...
In this economy, more parents might want to try a toy swap, if they haven’t done so already. The grown ups had a good time going through all the toys and "auctioning them off," and the kids loved opening the presents on Christmas morning.