The Cost of Christmas

When your Kringle is short on jingle

By Kylie Cordell For Clay Today
Posted 12/7/22

CLAY COUNTY – Every child dreams of waking up to a roomful of Christmas presents. If you are a parent, you know the joy of seeing their little faces light up when Santa Claus visits.

Parents …

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The Cost of Christmas

When your Kringle is short on jingle

Posted

CLAY COUNTY – Every child dreams of waking up to a roomful of Christmas presents. If you are a parent, you know the joy of seeing their little faces light up when Santa Claus visits.

Parents want Christmas to make their children happy regardless of their financial situation. This usually involves the hottest toys: a $250 Barbie Dream House, a $150 electric train set and a $50 science kit. Unfortunately, the gift of Christmas can come with a burdensome price tag.

Nearly 217 million Americans (84%) plan to buy gifts for friends and loved ones this holiday season. On average, shoppers spend $800, contributing to more than $178 billion in gift spending.

Toys at the retail price can cost many parents more than a week’s pay. Some have to make the impossible choices between buying their child a Christmas present or paying rent. For families, the cost of Christmas presents can make the holidays financially stressful.

But it doesn’t have to be.

Here are free or low-cost gift ideas for the child in your life:

• Buy secondhand. Buying second-hand is a smart option for families on a budget. For families with young children, places like Moonbabies Children’s Resale on 1805 E West Pkwy, Fleming Island, also caters to low-cost children’s clothes and toys. For older children, Gone Broke Gaming on 686 Kingsley Ave in Orange Park and Games Galore on 66 Blanding Blvd buy and sell used video games, electronics and consoles.

• Shop for deals where Amazon returns are sold. Every Thursday, The Value Bins Store at 1433 S. Orange Ave. in the Cove Plaza in Green Cove Springs stocks its 63 tables with items returned from Amazon to be sold for $7 a pound on Friday. The price decreases daily until what’s left is sold for $1 a pound on Tuesdays.

• Experience-based presents. Explore what’s to offer in your hometown. Many Christmas presents end up on a shelf collecting dust, so make your gift memorable by doing something fun as a family. The wonder of shared experiences can make magic that can last a lifetime. They never need new batteries, go out of style, get left out in the rain or become obsolete in a few months.

Go on a hike at Camp Chowenwaw and explore the history of the Girl Scouts. Rent bikes along the Black Creek Trail. Go geocaching at St. Mary’s Shoals in nearby Baker County.

Suppose your child is interested in military history. In that case, you can explore the Camp Blanding Museum or the Military Museum of North Florida in Green Cove Springs, which are homes to a colorful collection of US and foreign weapons, photo exhibits, and mannequins. The exhibits tell the story of Camp Blanding, the units that trained there, and the surrounding areas during WW2. The Military Museum at Reynolds Industrial Park explores the military history of Clay County.

Hit Clay County’s many art studios, such as the Jason Wright Studios and Augusta Savage Arts and Community Center at 1107 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. in Green Cove Springs, or watch a show at the Thrasher-Horne Center on the St. Johns River State College campus at 283 College Dr. in Orange Park.

The Clay County Storywalk is another fun, family-friendly outdoor activity that combines exercise and a love of reading. Families can enjoy Spring Park’s beautiful river view while reading the pages of a children’s book posted along the walking path. It’s a fun activity that builds early literacy skills.

The Orange Park Mall Play Area and Bungee jump is another fun activity for children. Children can jump high in the air, and parents can take a break from shopping and relax while getting a bite to eat in the Food Court.

Non-Profit Organizations: Many local organizations and charities help distribute toys to needy families. J.P. Hall Children’s Charities will be celebrating its 41st annual Christmas Party for the underprivileged children of Clay County on Dec. 17. The foundation has donated more than 30,000 toys to children in Clay County. At the party, children 14 and younger will receive at least three new toys. In addition to the festive Christmas bag, they can select a used bicycle.

Another great organization is Marine Corps.’ Toys for Tots. One of the best features of Toys for Tots is that it’s really very easy to receive a toy from them if you qualify. All a family has to do is select the Request a Toy link on their site, fill out the toy request form, and the charity will send a toy if the family qualifies. In addition, the charity also has a lot of holiday-themed events that are designed to help out families that are struggling during the holiday season.

The Salvation Army also provides a variety of services to those in need. Among them is the Rescue Christmas program. Donations help provide shelter, food assistance and other services to those struggling to meet their financial needs. Whatever your financial situation is this Christmas, you can make the Holiday special for the loved ones in your life, because it’s not about what or how much you give but the love with which you give.

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