Enjoy my (holiday) monday musings!
In the past, Hubby and I have typically set a dollar budget for Christmas (and then typically tried to get as many items as possible within that budget). On the one hand it meant we kept Christmas 'modest' in a monetary sense, which I think is good for moving away from the greed and more toward the giving and Christ-centered holiday that we want to teach our children...on the other hand the whole stress over how much stuff can we get for how little money kinda defeated the point of it all.
So this year we were talking about it and I brought up the idea of only having 3 gifts per person (since the Wise Men brought the Christ Child three gifts). Some people make it more specific where "The gold gift is something they want. The frankincense gift is something they need, like socks. And the myrrh gift is something to nurture their souls." (I've also heard the idea of giving 4 gifts: "something they want, something they need, something to wear, and something to read.") These ideas felt closer to where we wanted to be, and yet neither was quite what we wanted, because one of the biggest issues is that we want our kids to care about the giving side of Christmas, so we want to encourage/help them to give to the other family members. Then Hubby came up with a brilliant idea!
We have concluded that from here on out each person in the family will get just one gift from each other family member. While the kids are young we will help them pick out gifts for each other person (and we'll subsidize) but as they get older we'll encourage them to think of gifts themselves (we'll still subsidize--within reason!). So for example Bear will get one gift each from dad, mom, Wolf, Santa, and each set of grandparents (not sure if we're gonna have gifts 'from' the baby brother this year, since he'll only be a few weeks old!). BUT, I'll also be helping Bear choose/give gifts to each other family member as well.
In the long run, we figure we'll be spending about the same amount of money, because there will only be one gift from mom, and one from dad (rather than several from us)...things will just have different 'from' labels, and be thought of/chosen by different people rather than all from mom and dad. (Hubby likes to do the Santa thing, so that will still happen...but I'm currently trying to negotiate for Santa gifts to be things that fit inside the stocking, so they will be small...keep the fun and 'magic' of the idea of Santa, but stay away from the greedy side of it. )
Anyway, I'm really excited because it will still keep Christmas spending/greed/stress to a real minimum, but this idea feels like we're going at it from the other direction--it's not about the dollar amount or the number of gifts, but since we each get to pick out just one gift for each other person, each of us is going to end up making it more personal and meaningful, you know? Especially as the kids get older I'm hoping to encourage homemade things or passing along things (like books or toys that they've outgrown). It feels so much better than if we were just trying to pack in the maximum possible bang for our buck.