Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Gift Debate - We Try To Keep It Simple

It's the holidays, obviously. And as you know, I'm a big fan.

The family get togethers, the last minute shopping, the amazing meals, the look on the kids faces - all of it is wonderful to me. Just, wonderful.

Thanksgiving is almost here (yay!!), the Christmas shopping is starting up, and we again face the gift debate as we pick out things for the kiddos.

Life has changed as our family continues to grow. Christmas isn't cheap anymore. And even with that fact set aside, I just feel like the kids get SO much from everyone, when they really already have all they need. We by no means are real flourished with money, and even if we were, the kids wouldn't get everything they want. It just doesn't work like that around here.

We knew that having a big family would mean that everyone would not always get what they want, sacrifices would be made at times, and that we would probably never be real "well off". And honestly, I don't want to be. We're not exactly chasin' the American dream here :). But in my opinion, no money could ever top what we have been given.

The world can keep that dream, I'll take this dream.

Those kiddos are spoiled rotten with love anyway, no material item would ever compare to what they already have. Thankyouverymuch :).

Don't get me wrong though. Those little loves have my number for sure. They ask for this or that, and flash a sweet little smile at me, and I can cave like nothing you've ever seen. I can be weak.

Sometimes its hard to say no to a face like that, but I do. A lot.

I look at the ads, I count what we've saved, map out what I'm going to pick up for the kids, and I get all excited about seeing the look on their sweet little faces when they open it. But at the same time I've always felt this pull, this feeling in my heart that we should be doing Christmas gifts differently, even though that's what the kiddos really look forward to.

After all, it's not about the gifts, it's about Him. The One who gave us all we have, the One who provides for our every need, and the One who gives me the amazing gift of Grace when I open my eyes every morning.

So we asked ourselves - do they get 1 gift, 3 gifts, 6 gifts? When is enough enough? At what amount of money do you spend when you finally say, "this is kind of ridiculous."?

I just want them to really understand that this is all about giving, not receiving, you know? I want them to be thankful for the small things, not always expect the big things.

So last year we started focusing on 3 gifts each, the same amount that the wise men brought Jesus. And then they get some little things or accessories in their stockings.

It's simple. But I think it might just work out :).

Does our gift giving sound anything like yours? How do you do Christmas in your house? Gifts? Traditions? Ground rules?

I'm always up for new ideas :).


Beth W. said...

We're thinking about doing special pajamas to open and wear Christmas eve and then doing one thing to play with, one thing to create with, and one thing to read with. Our oldest is 2.5, so this is the first year she's really been aware.

SnoWhite said...

We don't have any kids yet, but we've decided to do a three gift things too: one to promote spiritual growth, one that meets a practical need, and one that is a gift - maybe fulfilling a want. Our family gets one gift collectively, usually a game we can all play together.

Christmas day we share gifts, go for a nature hike (nothing better than getting out to enjoy God's creation which is also celebrating His birth), and play our new family game.

We also celebrate St. Nicholas Day in early Dec. for our Dutch/German heritage. Our family receives a Christmas book that we can read together.

We've done these traditions since we've been married, and we love the collection of books we are acquiring as well as the great games!

Victoria said...

perfect!!! and i love the meaning behind the number 3 :)

i am one of 7 kids and my parents were never rich in the money sense but we would always get one big gift from them each Christmas. And as I grew up I learned that they also bought our "santa" gift on christmas eve. we have aunts/uncles and a set of gparents to "spoil" us with extra stuff. I love what they did/do because it is't about the giftS it is about THE GIFT of Jesus.

happy thanskgiving to you and your crew!

victoria said...

We try to allow each child (4) to pick out something small (under $10) for each of their siblings, that equals extra gift packages. We do a couple of presents, no more then 3-4 per child. Plus they do get new pajamas, may be I will make the pants and paint tee shirts this year, and an ornament that is significant with something for the balls, back packs whatever. Though books get us everytime, especially when I have snagged them from target dollar spot all year!

Victoria Willer

Thoughts for the day said...

Wonderful thoughts, we do the same thing. It used to be everyone would get 5 gifts not necessarily expensive ones but nice. I would watch sales and do most shopping on line, well now that we have six grand children you can imagine the pile of gifts that sat in front of the tree. So two years ago we set out to do only three gifts per person very similar to what you said, the wise men did that so we can do. For the two sets of adults they get one couple gift and two for 'individual' gifts. The little kids get a 'main gift' then usually we get pajamas and slippers. It stil is a large 'mound of gifts' by the tree but we have made it simple and nice. Everyone loves it.
One year we didn't do gives between us (hubby and I) that was ok but we decided one gift was the choice. Suprises are always nice to receive.

Anonymous said...

In years past we went overboard! And I mean overboard! I only have two boys but really a few years ago I though gee they really don't need all this stuff. So we decided on three presents too. One from Us, one from brother, and one from Santa, of course the stocking stuffers too. Also on Christmas eve they open PJ's from us to wear on Christmas night :) That has been our tradition but its funny every year my younger son says PJ's! LOL Like in a oh mom come one can I open something

Annika said...

We do PJ's and slippers on Christmas Eve. The kids know what is in the box, but they look forward to new PJ's! We let them wear them all Christmas day if they wish.

On Christmas day the kids open stockings. I stuff those with books, small games/toys, socks, underwear, and a few pieces of candy. Simple things.

We have 5 children. They each get 3 gifts under the tree from my husband and I. I try to make one educational; a science kit, make your own ***, explosive experiment (boys love those!), fun game with educational theme...

They also draw names and purchase a gift for each other. The little ones get help from my husband and I, but the older ones who have money purchase the gift themselves. We keep it a secret who has who, and encourage special acts of kindness the weeks before Christmas.

tabby said...

we do 3 gifts each and 1 big to share. Jesus had three gifts and to me thats enough :)
Our girls are only 2 so they don't really ask for anything yet....

Savvy Little Women - Kate said...

I love the idea of giving pj's, and Christmas ones are always so cute! We might have to add that tradition as well :).

Sarah said...

Happy Thanksgiving, Kate! Hope you're going to bed tonight with a full belly and a full heart :)

The Beaver Bunch said...

We've done the 3 gift things since our oldest 3 were little. Now that we have 6 (almost 7!) we'll stay at the 3 gift max. Well, at least from Mom & Dad.

We are so blessed that grandparents buy things for our children as well. A few years ago, they also realized the impact of "too much" and even the grandparents have scaled back, for that we are thankful as well.

I love seeing them open their gifts and really enjoy them rather than just tearing through countless gifts just to tear through them.

The only big tradition we have is that every year on Christmas Eve we get a birthday cake, have the bakery write "Happy Birthday Jesus" on it and we sing Happy Birthday to Jesus, blow out the candles and eat cake.

It's fun and the kids look forward to Jesus' birthday party every year.

Heather said...

Even when I got older living at home, we would give gifts that were a good measure handmade or personalized. Also, when the amount of gifts shrank the hardest part was not the quantity but the time it shaved off the morning opening ceremony, if you will. (I'm sure even with a shorter gift lift, you won't run into this as you have a living room-ful!)

To stretch the time we so loved sitting around the tree I started a tradition of setting up scavenger hunts for people to find my presents for them. I think of lil' Suessical rhymes for clues & get such as much enjoyment out of watching as they do out of searching.

Heather @ Find That Warm Fuzzy Feeling said...

I have three boys......and SAnta has left them each three gifts for about the last 10 years. It works for us. They still have stockings and gifts from relatives too.....plenty!

Ruth said...

I remember you mentioning the 3 gifts last year, and thought it sounded awesome! We haven't really sorted that out yet, the number of gifts. With such a large family though, we're pretty moderate in what we spend!

And I agree with you on having kids vs. chasing the American dream. Um... is there even a question on what's more fun?! =)

Mama D.'s Dozen said...

Our 12 kids each get a new ornament every year. These are given on the day that we decorate the tree. Each child has a list of what ornament they received each year, and each child has their own box (or two) to store their ornaments in. We had 3 kids get married this past year, and they were each given their box of ornaments.

Our kids always get to open new pajamas on Christmas Eve, and that is a tradition that has never gotten old. All of my 20-somethings still want new pjs under the tree.

Each of our children usually only get 1 or 2 presents under the tree from us, as that is all we can afford. Then, we usually have 1 or 2 group presents (new games, movies, etc...).

We do not have any extended relatives that give presents ... so that is all that is under the tree. But, that is OKAY.

Our Big Kids draw names (and buy a present for the person they drew ... with a limit of about $25).

Our 4 young ones also draw names, and we give them each $10-15 to buy those presents. And ... since we do NOT want them at Wal-Mart or Target in the middle of the crazy Christmas shopping rush ... we wake them up at midnight a week or two before Christmas and take them shopping when the stores are quieter. That has been a REALLY FUN tradition.

Even though we only give a couple of presents, we still want to take our time in opening and appreciating each present. Our Christmas morning is very leasurely. We get up and eat cinnamon rolls and hot chocolate. We each open a present. We eat brunch. We each open another present. We play a game or two. We each open another present or two. Each present is opened when everyone else is watching and admiring. We do NOT let the kids just "dig in" and open all of their presents.

Hope this helps. It's worked for us for 20+ years.

:) :) :)

Melissa said...

We have a few holiday traditions:
1. Each child gets a new ornament each year to represent something(s) special from that year. We put "opening a present" in one of our advent boxes the first week of December so we can enjoy the new ornaments all month.
2. Our kids get matching pajamas on Christmas Eve so they always match for pictures the next morning.
3. Christmas morning no one is allowed downstairs without mom and dad. We go past the tree and presents to the kitchen. We sing Happy Birthday to Jesus and dig into a cake that I bake and decorate on Christmas Eve. It is the only day of the year that we eat cake and ice cream for breakfast.
4. We don't have a particular number of presents - I shop from the day after Christmas through the year for the next Christmas. So we spread out the dollar amount through the year.
5. Our kids draw names for each other and they buy a gift for their secret sibling.
6. This year we are starting a Random Acts of Kindness day. We have budgeted money and have a ton of ideas that our kids can do with us.