Simplifying the Holidays

Christmas is my favorite holiday. As I’ve probably mentioned before, I start planning for Christmas on December 26th…a year in advance. For me, it is the thought that is the most important part of the gift, so I work most of the year on trying to discover what is most meaningful for each recipient. I pay close attention to their likes and dislikes and try to make something truly special for them.

As I attempt to make most gifts homemade, both because of budget and because I pour my love for each person into the time and energy homemade gifts require, I also try to finish all homemade gifts by Halloween. Why? Because I want to ENJOY the holidays. I don’t want to get to the point where gift giving is stressful or obligatory. I want to relish in it.

The only problem I run into is that a year’s worth of planning often leads to more ideas than I should really have. So while we may not spend much money on our children, they end up with way too much under the tree because I was able to get so many great steals at yard sales during the summer or we were given bags of clothes or toys from friends, and so on. Last year, we went really simple…or so we thought until we saw the pile under the tree. As we opened gift after gift after gift (and all wonderful, purposeful, full of love gifts) I found myself feeling a little ashamed at the waterfall of presents that had descended upon our family.

Christmas is not about the gifts. Christmas is about love, family, service, hope, and our Savior Jesus Christ. When our children lose interest in opening the presents, isn’t it indicative that there are too many?

This year, I want to simplify Christmas by adopting a gift giving philosophy I recently heard about. I know it’s been around for years, so we’re a little behind in jumping on the wagon, but I’m excited to give it a go this year.

This year, our children will receive 4 gifts from my husband and I:

  • Something they WANT
  • Something they NEED
  • Something to READ
  • Something to WEAR

Santa will also bring one gift, plus they will have little things in their stockings, like an ornament, cereal, a grapefruit, a treat, and something small (like lipgloss or nail polish or a toothbrush). We also decided to have our 3 older girls draw each other’s names to give to just one sister this year. Of course, they will also receive presents from grandparents and aunts/uncles/cousins. But at least what we prepare for them will be confined into these parameters, keeping us sane and them grounded.

I’ve heard great success stories with this philosophy and I can’t wait to give it a try this year. I’ll let you know how it goes. I hope I’ve given you enough time to implement this tradition this year. I can’t believe it is really Christmas time again already.

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About Cheri

Hi! I’m Cheri and I’m so excited to be blogging with you! I am a stay at home mom with 4 little girls and one little boy, with another baby girl on the way. We have a third grader, first grader, kindergartner, 3 year old, and 18 month old. So, I guess you can say life is pretty busy. But my heart is even more full than my hands, and I wouldn't change a thing. Like my post? Please comment.
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4 Responses to Simplifying the Holidays

  1. Claire says:

    We’ve adopted this starting this year as well! Only we’re doing 3. Maybe I’ll add a fourth since you listed so many great ideas here! Thanks!

  2. Kerri says:

    Cheri also had other ideas for family gifts she told me. Maybe others would like to use them, too:
    Something for the family to watch,
    Something for the family to play,
    Something for the family to do (maybe an experience together or something).
    And I added Something to believe in — something that helps to teach the children about Christmas, about God, or about the values you are teaching at home.

  3. emily says:

    Ha! I am going through the exact same thing. I’ve been wanting to do the want, need, wear, read thing for a couple of years now but I keep ending up with all the free, handed down, or home made stuff that I save for Christmas. I decided to go with the four special gifts and then put all of the other STUFF I have into a “mommy store” where I put price tags on the items and the kids earn money and can take a trip to the mommy store for whatever they can afford. 🙂

  4. Pheobe says:

    I love that idea! We only do 3 gifts. One homemade, two others. I like having a more specific guide. Simple really is better. Oh! And I love the idea of cereal in their stockings! My kids never get cereal at home. It would be special, AND I wouldn’t have to cook first thing!

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