Personal Finance

6 Ways to Put Gifts Under the Tree When Money Is Tight

A young child holding hands with his parents and looking at a holiday window display.

Image source: Getty Images

If your family is struggling financially this year, you don’t have to skip the holidays.

Key points

  • If your family is going through a difficult financial time, you may feel stressed about the upcoming holiday season.
  • Programs like Toys for Tots, USPS Operation Santa, and Santa’s Little Helpers could make it easier to put presents under the tree.

This year has been difficult for many people. If you’re struggling financially, please know that you’re not alone. It can be hard to feel the joy of the season when facing financial difficulties. If you’re worried that you won’t be able to make the holidays special for your kids because your bank account balance is low, there are resources you can use. Keep reading to find out how to get assistance putting gifts under the tree when money is tight.

1. Marine Toys for Tots

The Marine Toys for Toys program spreads joy during the holidays. The organization accepts unwrapped toys as donations and distributes them to kids and families needing extra holiday cheer. You can contact your local Marine Toys for Toys campaign for assistance.

2. USPS Operation Santa

USPS has been helping make holiday wishes come true for over 100 years. Through its Operation Santa program, volunteers can adopt a child or family and help fulfill their holiday wish lists. Kids and families who need extra help can write letters to Santa with their wish list items. Be sure to mail your letter soon, because letters must be postmarked by Dec. 12.

3. United Way

The United Way helps its vulnerable neighbors in many ways. This includes providing shelter, safety, and food during times of crisis and taking actions that address social and educational disparities. United Way provides meals and gifts to families in need during the holidays. If you need help with gifts, you can reach out to your local United Way chapter.

4. Santa’s Little Helpers

Santa’s Little Helpers is an online community on Reddit that calls itself the “Happiest Place on Reddit.” Those who need help making magic happen during the holidays can register and post a wish list, and Santa’s helpers volunteer to make wishes come true. Interested families must register by Dec. 10. Once registered, you can post a wish list to request assistance.

5. Boys & Girls Clubs of America

The Boys & Girls Club of America is committed to helping kids succeed. The organization provides a safe place for children to learn and grow and gives them access to great mentors. During the holiday season, the organization collects donations through toy drives. Families can reach out to their local club to see if toys are available.

6. Operation Homefront

Operation Homefront supports veteran, wounded, and active-duty military members and their families. One way the organization makes a difference during the holidays is by collecting toys nationwide. Military families can register through their local distribution center to receive gifts. This organization also provides holiday meals.

Don’t forget to see what resources are available in your community. Community centers, schools, churches, food banks, and other places that offer community support may have donated toys available. If not, they may be able to help you with other financial needs — such as paying your utility bills and putting food on the table.

If your personal finance situation is not ideal, don’t hesitate to ask for help. Resources like the ones above can make it easier to navigate a challenging time in your life. Remember that your current situation doesn’t have to be your reality forever. Focus on getting through your current struggles one day at a time.

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