It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been divorced: the holidays can be a challenge, especially when you have kids who are enthusiastic about the latest iPhone or video game. As the last week of December draws closer, the financial and emotional pressure can be considerable.

Fortunately, there are ways that you can give your kids and your extended family a happy holiday without dreading the arrival of your next credit card statement.

Emphasize quality time

Younger children, in particular, tend to be excited by experiences rather than material things. If you celebrate Christmas, then spending Christmas Eve tracking Santa on NORAD will generate so much excitement that they might not be able to sleep!

Another enjoyable yet inexpensive holiday project is the homemade advent calendar. Each day represents a new festive activity, such as making gingerbread men, going on a neighborhood Christmas lights tour, or an afternoon of ice skating. Doing something exciting yet meaningful every day will add to the holiday spirit.

Create a list

Whether you intend to do your shopping online or at the malls, create a list ahead of time. Otherwise, you might make a lot of impulse purchases that blow your budget without you realizing it. It’s also a good idea to stick to stores you’ve already planned to visit, or you could be tempted to spend more.

Shop for deals

Both physical and online stores offer discounts in December, despite the fact that this is the busiest time of the year for them. Some give you a special code if you’re a first-time shopper, while others will discount your purchase if you spend over a certain amount, so think about doing most of your shopping at the same store.

Pick up online purchases in-store

Many retailers give you the option of picking up your online purchases at your closest store. You can save $10 to $20 in shipping for every purchase, which saves money without forcing you to whittle down your shopping list.

Do Secret Santas

Talk to adult family members and friends about organizing a Secret Santa gift exchange. This can be a fun way to exchange presents while staying within a tight shopping budget.

Talk to your ex

Before you shop for the kids, talk to their other parent about setting a spending limit for gifts. If he or she buys some expensive items, you could feel pressured to spend more than you can afford.

Planning ahead can help you stick to a post-divorce budget and avoid stress while still living your loved ones a memorable holiday celebration. While you’re at it, don’t forget to relax and enjoy the festivities yourself—you deserve it!

Jayson Lutzky is a highly experienced divorce attorney. He has an office in the Bronx, New York and offers free in-office initial consultations. Mr. Lutzky handles both contested and uncontested divorce cases. Lean more about his office at or call 718-514-6619.