Our family has never been focused on Christmas gifts a lot. Aaron and I have never gotten gifts for each other. Last year was the first time my kids received gifts from us. I have always loved getting gifts (my selfishness!) but over the past few years it has seemed pointless to me. The things I need are minimal, if any. The things I want are outrageously expensive, so therefore what do I need anyone to get me for Christmas? Nothing. We have decided this year to not exchange gifts with our family. We started thinking about this a few years ago when we were walking through a Target trying desperatly to find a gift for under $15 for my mom before I had to ship off the box of presents. I ended up getting her some crappy mittens and a matching hat. She lives in Texas. She doesn't need these. They were crappy. They were $15. She took them back. You get my point. I wasn't giving her a gift because I loved her. I wasn't buying something that she would love. I was trying to get her $15 spent so I could check her off our list. STUPID!
I am not saying giving gifts is bad. Remember this is OUR journey and OUR convictions. I am just letting you in my mind and our hearts.
This year we were trying to figure out what to do for our kids for Christmas. I mentioned three gifts because Jesus got three gifts and Aaron said that was cheesy. Oh well. I mentioned no gifts. We weren't willing to go there. I mentioned one gift. Might as well do none. Then my friend Tamara told me what they are doing this year for kids. One need, One want, and One surprise gift. There we go – that's what we'll do.
I don't want my kids to be focused on gifts for Christmas because I was while I was growing up. I can still tell you the MAJOR gifts my parents bought me because I wanted them. They weren't cheap. I was a spoiled brat. My parents were awesome, but I didn't need that HUGE Dooney and Burke purse just because everyone else had one. I was spoiled and ungrateful. Very ungrateful. My parents should get all the money back that I made them spend on me. (just kidding mom, please don't ask for that!!!!) I was an ungrateful spoiled brat. (Mom & Dad – I'm sorry.)
I can't lay my head down at night if I spend hundreds of dollars on gifts while children in Haiti, Peru, Africa, all around the world have NOTHING to eat and I'm busy buying everyone crap gifts just to be politically correct. I can't do it and won't do it.
So, what does your family do for gifts?
With the four of us we each give one gift to the other family members (Each person gets 3 gifts). Next year the kids are going to get just one gift and a stocking full. Extended family is hard. Grandparents cannot say no. So next year we are going to ask for family to donate crocs(for the nannies and kiddos at our O) instead of gifts for us, before we go down to Haiti. We also have nixed the whole Santa thing. Each year is a chance to celebrate the love of Christ’s birth in better and more meaningful ways. I think it is most important to cultivate the heart of Christmas. Then what you get or don’t get, what you do or don’t do really doesn’t matter and it is much easier not to get caught up in the rush that is the secular Christmas.
We feel the same way! Too much money spent on C.R.A.P.
My friend (ironically) named Jamie and her husband are starting this with their little one:
Something they want, something they need, something to wear, something to read.
It’s similar to what you said. Hope that helps 🙂
This year is a change for us, too. We’ve always given our boys just something small in their stocking each Christmas just because we don’t want them to expect more every year (I grew up spoiled like you!) and also our budget only allows for this. They get so much from other family, too, and looking at their play room I can’t stomach adding another toy! They have so much when so many have so little.
SO, we got hubby’s side of the family to agree to not exchanging gifts this year and instead with his parents we will spend the day at a museum in Chicago and create memories that will last much longer than cheap gifts. And with his sister’s family and all the cousins we will spend the day at a jump/inflatable fun center where all the kids can play and we can all visit, without the stress of gifts! But really- that will all BE a gift.
P.S. and what we give our boys in their stocking is something we think hard about and know they will really be excited about- sometimes it’s a hard to find inexpensive gift off ebay, a small car they wanted, etc. But thought is put into it, not just buying a gift to buy a gift.
We’re leaving for Honduras two days after Christmas, and moving the week after we get back. Combine that with the guilt I have over buying “stuff” (for the same reasons) and we’re not gifting each other. We’ll buy something for our parents, and we’re sponsoring children for our nieces and nephews on both sides of the family. I’m not sure what we’ll do with children. I love the one want, one need and one surprise idea from Tamara.
Saw this in Real Simple Magazine and thought it’d be a great gift for kids:
You go there and get a gift certificate for them to use. They go to the website and pick where they want the donation to go to.
They can pick from a few different causes and it could be a wonderful teaching moment.
I asked anybody who asked me what I wanted to make a $36 deposite so i could sponcer a child for a month. Maybe you could ask them for help in funding a charity towards something you are passionate about.
Our family does a lot of handmade gifts or the gift of an experience. (I’ve given hubby a pilot lessons -not as expensive as it sounds!- a skydiving jump, a roadtrip…
I make a lot of baby presents and Christmas gifts. I’ve made Chinese silk patchwork hobo bags, pjs for the kids, baby blankets and little stroller blankets, and this year I’m making stuffed animals. My sister is a designer and she gives a last year she gave her designs to everyone. Of course making things can cost money to, but my point is that you can give something really incredible and personal. Like in hubby’s family it is the Dutch tradition at Sinterklaas (Dec. 5th) to draw names and then buy a 5$ gag gift. The hitch is that you create wrapping for the gift that is something funny about the person (like a papier mache calculator for an accountant) and you also write a silly poem or limerick. We treasure those because they are so personal.
Keep the sentiment, lose the crap. 😉
I googled–my family doesn’t exchange gifts and his does–and found you.
For over 5 years we have been doing a lottery with my family–so each person receives 1 gift–we each make a list–and the max is set at $100 (since it seems that crappy gifts don’t make anyone happy this is a reasonable limit).
Being recently married–my husbands family is very focussed on gifts–and they are rarely useful, beautiful or expensive–I call them wrapped boxes–cuz that is all they are. I am struggling to bring back the true meaning of Christmas and this is starting to make me bitter–I now have to buy a gift for my 2 sisters-in law, mother in law, father in law, brother in law when I don’t even buy gifts for my own father mother and brother ?? I am going to find a solution–but in the meantime–wonder if someone has alread beaten this challenge before me…
Kate…my family is the same way! for the last several years I’ve stressed over how many gifts we have to buy for his family. My family is happy to have one gift if any at all. We’ve never bought for extended family because there have always been so many! I’m in the holiday trenches with you sister! Maybe somehow you could draw names between your in-law family. ??? I pray it gets better for you!
See, this is why I love you, Jamie. I feel the same way but when I try to explain that to my mother I sound like a big Scrooge. She’s still angry with me because we don’t do Santa at my house. She says we’re robbing the children of the magic of Christmas, or some such nonsense. But you make it sound all noble and good, not like you’re just too lazy to shop like I make it sound. I wholeheartedly agree. Cheap, meaningless, “I-have-to-buy-SOMETHING-so-I’ll-get-this-crap” kind of presents just ruin it for me.
This is a great thread! We do santa and give a few gifts to eachother here, but they can ask for 3 things, DH and I choose one to give them, Santa brings a thing they NEED (this year it was sheets for their beds in fun colors) and stocking stuff which is nuts, orange, toothbrushes, toothpaste, socks, ect. useful stuff. For neighbors/family we do handmade items and candies/goodies. I made little blankies for the babies, magnet display boards for the older kids for their pictures n stuff. I work hard on what we do for eachother. Like some of you, I struggle with the being spoiled as a kid thing. DH was super spoiled and thinks that I am a spoilsport. If I had it my way it would be WAY less, LOL!