Navigating the holidays as a widow can be daunting. There are many challenges both emotional and financial. The one left behind often feels more alone during this time of the year, even in the midst of family and friends.

The task of shopping for holiday gifts for family and friends can be overwhelming; particularly if your income has been significantly reduced after the death of your spouse.

Despite the somber and often practical reasons behind it; your circumstances offer you the opportunity to break from tradition and to think "out of the box" when it comes to presents.

More expensive gifts do not equate to "better" gifts. Practical, sentimental gifts are often times the most appreciated. This presents a unique opportunity to give of your self, not just financially but in the sharing of your life experience and knowledge.

Below are my suggestions for some useful and meaningful gifts:

  • Home cooked meals that can be frozen for later use is a real time saver for busy families today. Particularly as most couples are both working full time and struggling for quality time to spend with their children on the weekday evenings.
  • Groceries and other often used household items would be welcomed by your adult children. Saves them some money and a trip or two to the store! Concentrate of "staples," i.e. laundry detergent, fabric softener, dish soap, bath soap, trash bags, lunch bags, gallon size freezer bags, paper towels, toilet paper, etc. Bundle them all up in a new laundry basket wrapped with a big red ribbon!
  • Themed gift baskets are especially fun. Let your imagination run away with you. One idea is an "Italian Dinner" basket, complete with pasta, sauce, cheese, bread and a good bottle of Italian wine. Another one I like is a basket filled with magazines on a favorite hobby, or interest. A book, a calendar, pads of paper, pens and pencils. Don't forget to include a warm afghan to wrap up in and some hot chocolate!
  • Family games and puzzles can be enjoyed by the entire family and provide years of enjoyment.
  • Babysitting "coupons" for overnights, days or afternoons with the grandchildren. Parents can redeem throughout the year. What better gift for your married children than to give them time to focus on each other. Make sure you have a "fun" time planned for the grandkids!
  • A family membership to a museum is a great gift. It is particularly appreciated during the cold winter months.
  • Share your hobbies. Introduce your grandchildren to a favorite hobby or interest of yours, such as photography. Children love nature and discovering the world around them. Take them on "photo shoots" to places like nature centers, the beach, and the Zoo. They all provide great opportunities to take beautiful photographs. Hiking in the mountains or a state park is always fun and in the fall in particular, offer the most breathtaking scenery, imagine the photo opportunities there!
  • Give your grandchildren the gift of charity. Bake holiday cookies with your grandkids and package them up to be given to those less fortunate. Bring your grandchildren with you and deliver the cookies to; a homeless shelter, a nursing home, or the children's wing at your local hospital. This will quickly become a "new" tradition that you can share with them year after year.

I hope you are able to use some of my ideas as you try to shift to your more frugal goals this Christmas. Let your imagination run wild and think "meaningful and practical" this year.

Related Links:

Recession Christmas - 12 Frugal Christmas Present Gift Ideas

 The Amazing Frugal Christmas Savings Spectacular

 Vacations with Grandchildren

Judy Kline

Judy is retired and recently widowed. She is a contributing author for the Retired & Widowed blog where she shares what she has learned about living on a fixed retirement income as a widow. Judy is an amateur photographer and has nine grandchildren. Compensated CareOne Blogger

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